Abigail Bassett is a Senior Producer with CNNMoney.com. She lives in New York with her husband and two very helpful dogs who clean up all her cooking messes. This is her first in a two-part series as Abigail tackles her first joint family Christmas dinner.
"And the lion shall lay down with the lamb..." - or in my case, the foodies shall cook for the conventional foodies, and none shall order pizza.
I've got a confession to make: I've been dreading Christmas since Thanksgiving. Well actually, Christmas dinner to be exact.
I know, I know, bah-freaking-humbug - but hosting my first combined family holiday has sent me rummaging through cabinets and family recipes for days. Upending plans for a mellow holiday and sending me (and my poor husband) into a tizzy.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about family holidays and tradition. In fact, I really like my family’s Christmas tradition: A big turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and stuffing is like a dream Thanksgiving do-over. My husband’s Italian family however, does things very differently - and that’s where the issue arises.
iReporter ChrisMorrow sidled backstage at the finale of "The Sing Off" to ask the heavy-hitting questions - like what Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men) and host Nick Lachey hanker for amidst all the holly-ing and jolly-ing.
(Pssst! Perhaps we've been hitting the eggnog too hard with Nick, but does Ben Folds bear a striking resemblance to one Mr. John T. Edge?)
For more than 40 years, pastry chef Alfredo "Billy" Buffalo has been making the Italian sweet bread, panettone, steps away from the Pantheon in Rome, Italy.
According to iReporter AraceliRome, Billy's recipe "includes a little bit of this, a little bit of that, but a whole lot of heart."
Always dreamed of standing and stirring in front of the camera? Grab a spatula and get rolling. Film your "It's not the holidays without..." kitchen tale for iReport and we just might feature it on Eatocracy.
Do we dare take Eatocracy's own deep-fried indoor turkey into the ring for a head-to-head matchup? Ring the bell on round one!
Chef Richard Blais burst onto the national dining scene in 2008 when his stint on Top Chef allowed him to highlight the innovative cooking style that had earned him a devoted following at BLAIS restaurant in Atlanta. He finished as runner-up, but returned home to open Flip Burger Boutique with his creative culinary company Trail Blais and works with corporations to develop new products and kitchen tools.
As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with stints under food world luminaries like chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Ferran Adria, Blais honed his classical skills and now continually seeks to marry them with innovative techniques that borrow heavily from the chemistry lab. He's currently taking shot at the title as a cheftestant on Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, and his new show Blais Off premieres tonight at 10 ET on the Science Channel.
Blais spoke with Eatocracy about the balance between tradition and technique, the power of nostalgia and his place in culinary history. Oh yeah - and he carries nutmeg in his pocket.
Nitro-chilled eggnog and a turkey sous-vide - do these things say "Christmas" to you? Later today, we'll share highlights from our chat with Top Chef All-Stars contender, Blais Off! host, and madly, wildly, wonderfully experimental chef Richard Blais, along with his recipe that knocks traditional 'nog on its noggin. Earlier, 'Cooking for Geeks' author Jeff Potter dropped some serious science about using an immersion circulator to ensure an ultra-moist turkey.
But does all that whiz-bang gadgetry jibe with your notion of what a holiday ought to be?
For Sri Lankan iReporter Shari Atukorala her mother's jam tarts aren't just a delicious holiday treat - they're a link to her childhood.
Is it all about the Belsnickel or are you feverishly awaiting Pfeffernusse? In some families, it's just not the holidays without a particular food tradition. It may be a cookie your Aunt Sadie has always made, or perhaps a big pancake breakfast after the presents have been torn through.
We want to hear all about it. Immortalize your food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video, submit it as an iReport and we'll show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy food blog through the end of the holiday season.
Pass the Lebkuchen and and get clicking!