Changing up holiday meals |

Changing up holiday meals

Roberta DesBouillons
Special to The Union

Dear Roberta: My husband and I have been making the same Christmas dinner for many years, the traditional spiral ham and roasted turkey. We would like to do something different this year and hope you can shed a new light and guide us into a more interesting menu.

I am happy to shed a new light onto your Christmas meal with hopes that you and your family will enjoy them enough to make them your new tradition.

Roasted Crab

Serves 4

1 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and crushed

1 bunch fresh parsley, trimmed

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tbsp. red pepper flakes

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cooked 2-lb. Dungeness crabs

1 lemon, quartered

Combine fennel seeds, parsley, thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes, and oil in a food processor. Pulse until puréed.

Pull top shell off crabs and remove gray gills. Scoop out and discard any soft fat. Crack legs with a nutcracker and split crabs in half down middle. Place in a shallow baking dish, pour marinade over crabs, cover, and refrigerate for two hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast crabs, uncovered, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cut crabs into sections between the legs and garnish with lemon quarter.

Fennel Crusted Rack of Lamb

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 (12-ounce) French-cut rack of lamb, trimmed (6 ribs)

Cooking spray

Rosemary sprigs (optional

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl. Rub lamb evenly with garlic mixture; place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145 degrees (medium-rare) to 160 degrees (medium). Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired

Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

1 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

4 ripe red Bartlett pears, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into wedges

8 ounces Gorgonzola dolce, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir sugar and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and maple syrup into a large saute pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add nuts; toss to coat.

Transfer nuts to a rimmed baking sheet.

Sprinkle with sugar mixture; toss to coat. Toast in oven until fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let nuts cool completely on sheet on a wire rack.

To serve, arrange candied nuts, pear wedges, and Gorgonzola on a serving platter.

Roberta DesBouillons is the in-house chef at Tess’ Kitchen Store in Grass Valley. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and used to own/operate Apron Strings Cooking School in San Francisco. Email questions to

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