feasting and more

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festive eclair

feasting and more

We’ve eaten too damn well this week. Christmas eve we staggered home from Paris (because of the tiredness, not the mulled wine) and then pulled together this marvel:

vino verde poached salmon, cauliflower gratin, lemon butter new potatoes and haricots vert

 If I hadn’t had it all planned it never would have happened. We had figs stuffed with chevre, wrapped in prosciutto for a starter – which I’d prepared earlier in the day. I felt committed so, hang the lethargy, we continued with the plan.

After that feast dessert seemed unnecessary but there’s a tradition we were hoping to have a go at: the thirteen desserts of Noël. One of which is truffles.

I made the mixture in the morning, hoping to have time to involve Louis in the making – balling up spoonfuls and coating them in something… but Louis was in bed by this time (and hallelujah.)

Making the truffles

We were too full to eat so making the dessert was a good way to delay eating it… I know there’s something wrong with that sentence.

Luuk went shopping for liqueur to put in the truffles at about the time I made the mixture. He brought home several options and we didn’t have time to add them. But we concocted a plan to inject the truffles with a little something something. Luuk had the vital job of choosing a liqueur.

Hannah, lacing the truffles with poire william and/or cognac.

Truffles!

My recipe was a total made-up-as-you-go jobby: a packet or two of biscuits bashed up in a bag, added to about 125g of butter, a couple of tablespoons of cream fraiche, some icing sugar…

For the lemon I added rind and juice of one lemon.

For the chocolate I used chocolate biscuits to begin with, and then added chocolate chips, cocoa, and vanilla essence.

I balled it up in plastic bags (glad wrap would do but reusing a plastic bag is vaguely environmentally more friendly) and refrigerated it – making it easier to ball up without having a big sticky mess.

We dipped the finished truffles in icing sugar, cocoa, desiccated coconut, chocolate sprinkles and/or a few star sprinkles.

All thirteen desserts, from the top:

  • Calissons (almondy biscuits that everyone loved except for me… too sweet)
  • Pistachios (not one of the traditional ones but we skipped walnuts)
  • Nougat (we only did one kind but traditionally there might be two)
  • Orange segments
  • Raisins
  • Bread (couldn’t find a ‘fougasse’ which is the one we’re ‘meant’ to have…)
  • quince ‘cheese’… jam.
  • cashews and almonds (only almonds is on the traditional list)
  • chocolate truffles (and lemon too because I wanted to try them)
  • casse-dents (or something like it – a biscotti sort of bickie)
  • slices of pear

We skipped the apple and winter melon in favour of more nuts and truffles… can you blame us?

Delicious but of course far far too much. Tradition dictates that it is all meant to sit out to be nibbled at till January. Most of it is gone or packed away for the sake of food safety and space on the dining table to have other meals…

We were all rather surprised to be hungry come christmas morning. I made choc chip banana pancakes – Luuk’s request – and then Hannah made bacon and hash browns because I couldn’t be bothered – or perhaps I was on skype… anyway, pictures of christmas and presents will be on a later blog post. Today it’s all food food food…

We did christmas dinner late in the afternoon, almost at dinner time. That’s how long it took to get an appetite again…

The table, all set, ready to go!

The marshmallow santas we made last week, a few tea candles, a few glittery stars… trés simple.

Escargot was up first – our amuse-bouche. We got them pre-prepared with garlic and pesto.

Luuk and I have had them before but this was a first for Hannah and Will. Hannah didn’t like the texture and Will found some nicer than others. The sauce was an all-around winner, sopped up with bread if not liked on the snails. Myself, I like them.

A little apertif: kir royale. Champagne and cassis. Voila.

Fresh baguette with everything, we are in France after all, and the bakery is open christmas morning! Can’t go without this stuff for a whole day.

Luuk picked out a 1/4 ham thinking we’d have it with the main course… but it was a dry cured… ie. not to be cooked up for christmas. This type of ham is for slicing and putting on sandwiches. So we sliced off hunks and tasted it between courses.

The entree was prunes and pears wrapped in prosciutto. Not overly classy but yummy and little – very important.

For mains we did an old school roast: potatoes, kumara (probably more a sweet potato technically) and stuffing, a big fat chicken, and cranberry sauce (of sorts).

For vegetables I wanted to make a dish I’d done before. This one was fiddly but delicious – only I didn’t have the recipe in my folder, and couldn’t find it online. It didn’t turn out quite right (too much egg, and so it was too filling) but still yummy.

Courgette’s rolled up with eggy nut mixture, and baked in a capsicum relish.

We were all, of course, overloaded at this point. The next course on the traditional french christmas menu, according to my sources, is the ‘green lettuce intermittence’ which actually had some appeal. And while we nibbled on lettuce we skyped with Luuk’s sister. Then, a good while later, we dished up the cheese…

Five types, count ’em… from the front, brie de meaux, neufchâtel, comté, bleu d’ambert and morbier.

To finish: champagne and the Bûche de Noël.

We had this with fresh raspberries and coulis. The buche has a biscuitty chocolate base and is mostly made of dark chocolate mousse. The middle was ‘crémeux de framboise’ which was surprisingly juicy and a perfect compliment to the rich mousse. The topping is more raspberry something or other. It was fantastic!

I got Louis this, mainly because it looks so cool. I think all he ate was the holly leaves… but perhaps that’s for the best. It is an eclair, on a chocolate ‘sleigh’. Santa is hollow and probably made of white chocolate. But very pretty.

We watched Ratatouille, a kids movie set in Paris, and the DVD was christmas present, while we ate dessert at a very leisurely pace. And that was our christmas meals.

What a feast!