Now that the mantle is done, next up is the dining room table. Over the next few weeks many a meal will be served there as my gift to friends is dinner at home. I can promise you the centerpiece will not change every time so the solution is to think of something that will work with different table settings.
It is tied with the same ribbon used on the candleholders in the living room. For many years I’ve collected glass and crystal bells and love bringing them to the table for a touch of sparkle and shine.
There is plenty of time to use Christmas themed dishes, so I’m starting out with the china that once belonged to my mother. These days I’m trying to use it more often rather than just leave it in the cabinet, and I like setting a table, sometimes casual, sometimes dressy, with it.
but with trees on the table it seemed a perfect time to break out the Spode Christmas tree glasses. These will be used again and again the next few weeks, both for table settings and for sipping eggnog.
The dinner this time around is simple Italian starting with the palmiers that were mentioned by Mary here. They are every bit as good and easy to make as advertised.
Tomato and Bread Soup with Basil Oil
6 c. chicken stock
4 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, chopped
11 ozs. stale ciabbatta or crusty Italian bread, crusts removed and thinly sliced or made into crumbs
3 closves minced garlic
4 ozs. grated Parmesan
Heat the stock in a large soup pan. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and tomatoes and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Puree and add to stock. Add the bread and garlic. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the soup is thick and creamy. Stir from time to time to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
While the soup is cooking, process 1/4 c. olive oil, 3 T. basil and 3 T. arugula in a blender until smooth.
Just before serving, stir parmesan and salt and pepper to tasted into the soup. Ladle into bowls and pour roughly 2 T. of basil oil on top. Serve extra Parmesan on the side if desired.
Makes 6 servings
If you serve this soup as a first course, keep the portion small as it is quite filling. With a green salad, it is easily a satisfying main course and the double bonus is that it’s very easy to prepare.
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