‘Just a little bit more.’
I’ve been saying that a lot lately, particularly when asked if I would like more of something delicious. I’m borrowing the well-known phrase from John D. Rockefeller, of course. In his case, he was answering the question ‘how much money is enough?’ As for me, I’m more titillated by a perfectly grilled lamb chop than by a big wad of cash. It’s probably why I’m feeling like a fattened Christmas turkey these days.
For weeks now, since Thanksgiving really, I have entered the altered state otherwise known as ‘holiday excess.’ Aided in large part by holiday parties and a three-week visit by my Italian parents, who are accustomed to sitting down daily to two scrumptious meals complete with generous glasses of red wine and something sweet for dessert, I have been testing my stomach’s ability to stretch and flex beyond its accustomed limits.
I can’t even say I’ve been engaging in mindless eating, as everything I have been putting in my mouth has been a deliberate act and worthy of conscious thought and appreciation. All it has taken, if I am to be perfectly honest, is a little encouragement.
Would I like another Campari soda, I am asked. Yes!
Have I ever tried the delights of a walnut pistachio cake? No, but there’s no time like the present.
How come I’m not eating more of that delicious roasted leg of lamb? I didn’t realize I was holding back, but sure…I’ll have another slice.
Eating has practically become a pastime at this point. Years ago I would have felt guilty about my gluttony. I would have fretted over my newly purchased tight jeans and my ability to shrink into them. I would have eaten boiled broccoli before attending a party just so I would eat less. Worst of all, I would have reluctantly feigned satiation as others eagerly dug into their second slice of rich Chocolate Salami.
Perhaps sadly for my husband, those days are gone. Now, I wear stretchy tights over cute mid thigh-high tunics, I attend parties on an empty stomach, and I never pass up a second slice of a decadent dessert unless I just have absolutely no room left in my tummy. Consequently, I risk gravity driving my heft deep into Mother Earth if I linger on my lawn for too long. I have only myself to blame, for I am but a helpless hedonist lost in a sea of holiday goodies.
My parents’ visit has brought an additional element of voracity to this already filling tale because they did not arrive alone. Opening up their suitcase was tantamount to prying open a time capsule and revisiting every single traditional Christmas treat of my Italian youth. Out came apanettone, the sweetened dome-shaped bread loaf brimming with raisins and candied fruit. Here was a pandoro, the soft and airy eight-pointed star-shaped cake that is served with generous amounts of powdered sugar. Make way for the slab of torrone, a confection made with honey, sugar, egg whites, and toasted almonds. And leave a little room for the panforte, the Italian equivalent of fruitcake. My oh my. And let’s not even mention the endless array of chocolate bars. My oh my indeed. I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store.
And I’ve been acting as such.
Somehow, I sense an abundance of protein shake-replacement meals and a consistent exercise routine in my immediate future. Perhaps even as early as next year. In the meantime, can I interest you in some Christmas Chocolate Salami? It’s so simple to prepare.
making christmas chocolate salami
With a rolling pin, gently crush 24 butter cookies in a plastic freezer bag.
Place 12 oz. of semisweet chocolate in a double boiler along with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and an optional 1/4 cup of Marsala wine (coffee may be substituted) and cook, stirring occasionally, until melted. (Alternatively, you can use a medium-sized bowl over a small pan.) Remove the bowl from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool down for a few minutes before adding 2 egg yolks. Mix well and then add 1 stick and 6 tablespoons of room-temperature unsalted butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Add the crushed cookies to the chocolate mixture and stir well. Add 1/2 cup of toasted almond slivers and stir well once again. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden for 1 hour.
Place 1 cup of powdered sugar into a shallow rectangular pan and set aside until ready to serve.
Transfer the chocolate/cookie mixture onto slightly-oiled waxed paper. Shape it into a sausage, tapering the ends so that it looks like a salami. Wrap in clear food wrap and refrigerate for 5 hours.
When ready to serve, gently and carefully roll the salami in the powdered sugar until it is evenly coated. Transfer to a cutting board and serve. Makes 10-12 servings.