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Christmas 2010 Menus


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We've got a Christmas sweets topic,but not one for 2010 menus. I'll get the ball rolling.

This year, the extended family (both sets of grandparents will be here) has requested "French," broadly defined. A few years ago, a daube built from Saveur Cooks Authentic French and Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France was the centerpiece, and there's been a request to have a version again this year. (Click here for the link to a discussion of my experience with that recipe.)

In addition, the family wanted some "classics," so I'm trying to balance that with a desire to keep things more or less southwest. Here's the menu as its shaping up:

Gougéres

Champagne cocktails avec Duval LeRoy Champagne Brut, Cointreau, Suze, & Grand Marnier

* * * * *

Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinée

Oignons Farcis a la Farce "Noire" (Michel Bras's Stuffed Onions from Wolfert)

Salade Campagnarde (Salad of Duck Ham with Chestnuts & Walnuts from Wolfert)

Daube de Boeuf

Castelmaure Col des Vents Corbières 2008

* * * * *

Glace aux Pruneaux a l'Armagnac

Marie Duffau Napoleon Bas Armagnac

I'd love to have feedback on a starch for the daube. I was going to go with las pous, the fried cornmeal porridge that Wolfert suggests in SWF, but I've been asked for something a bit lighter. Fresh noodles? Gnocchi Parisienne? Still thinking....

What're you planning to serve?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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How to reply after being blown away by Chris's menu?

We are serving the same thing we have served for 50 years. The family would not allow anything else: turkey with stuffing made by Ed, cranberry sauce (only I will eat it), ditto for Brussels Sprouts, mashed potatoes, green peas...I think I won't go on any longer.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Christmas I get leeway I don't get at Thanksgiving -- my Thanksgiving menu is a lot like your Christmas one! -- so I take advantage. However, most of the stuff on that menu is do-ahead, so that I can enjoy the meal with the family.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, that menu looks absolutely mouthwatering. Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France is a great book for the holiday season. I just got my copy a few weeks ago and made foie gras au torchon for Thanksgiving, and it greatly surpassed my expectations.

My brother & sister in law will be hosting the Christmas party this year (and they will for sure have turkey on the menu). I have volunteered for appetizers and dessert.

For light appetizers I am considering a duo of rillettes (a traditional pork recipe and the salmon rillettes from Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France).

For dessert, I am tempted to steal your idea and add the glace aux pruneaux à l'armagnac to the menu (are you using the recipe from Wolfert as well?). Maybe I will serve it with a traditional bûche de Noël.

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If you're gonna do that glacé, get started now: the prunes need two weeks to macerate in armagnac after they've spent a bit of time in tea. And that's before you start the ice cream itself!

ETA: Wolfert's salmon rillettes is excellent....

Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Just the two of us for Christmas dinner, so nothing fancy and since I already have a turkey and lots of bread ends in the freezer:

Roast stuffed* turkey

*Bread stuffing with onion, celery and mushrooms

Giblet gravy (lots of it)

Garlic mashed potatoes

Green peas

Homemade dinner rolls

Cranberry sauce

And lots of leftovers for the week until New Years.

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Chris, that sounds delicious and ambitious. Two questions: does the Salade Compagnard have a goodly amount of lettuce? If not, perhaps something green and vegetal could be added. Also, and maybe this is just me, I might not go with two onion dishes following eachother. Maybe instead of one of them you could sub a green soup like tangy sorrel? Or if you are stuck on onion soup (does sound very yummy), instead of the stuffed onions have something colorful and refreshing. Something with beets? Or a palate cleanser sorbet? Icy and tart, like maybe grapefruit tarragon? That's what popped into my mind when I read your menu.

Once I made Elizabeth David's daube and served it as she suggested, with saffron flavored white rice. I used basmatti, and it was very good. She also says noodles are common, but she calls the noodles a Macaronade, which sounds very alluring and mysterious.

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There will be four of us and Mom is laid up after surgery so I am doing as my present. They have requested a whole ham which I ordered today. Have to think on sides tonight, but with just me cooking and my parents liking traditional American fare, I will probably err on the side of caution. A mussel app for sure as my Dad loves them.

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Chris, that sounds delicious and ambitious. Two questions: does the Salade Compagnard have a goodly amount of lettuce?

There are greens of some sort; I have to go home to check which.

Also, and maybe this is just me, I might not go with two onion dishes following eachother.

It's a good point, but in this case I'm trying to showcase onions for a guest who "hates" them. I also wanted to have the Bras dish on there as the onion is encasing all sorts of good things, some of which are green. Hence the soup to onions to salad progression, with the soup very simple and veg-free leading through the stuffed onions (with, I think, chard) and the salad.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If you're gonna do that glacé, get started now: the prunes need two weeks to macerate in armagnac after they've spent a bit of time in tea. And that's before you start the ice cream itself!

Thanks for the reminder! I should buy the prunes tonight (I already have the armagnac) and start the process asap.

I've made pruneaux à l'armagnac before as an accompaniment to seared foie gras or gâteau basque, but never as an ice cream. That seems like a perfect ending to a holiday meal.

I will need to decide which recipe to use (Paula Wolfert, David Lebovitz or Anne Willan - I have these three to choose from).

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It's a take off of the Venetian recipe Sfogi in Saor.

Dust shrimp in flour, fry them in a generous amount of olive oil in the bottom of a skillet. Remove the shrimp, drain off all but a couple tablespoons of oil, then saute celery, red onion, currants. Add sugar (1/2 a cup or so), then 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup white wine, and reduce to a syrup consistency. Stir back in the shrimp to coat in the sauce, hit with parsley, spearmint, and pine nuts (or almonds). Set aside to steep at room temp, the longer the better, but serve on the same day you make them.

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I would happily replace the traditional turkey Christmas dinner with Kevin72's Feast of the Fishes. Unfortunately the family is not very "fishy", although the Aussie niece visiting this year is used to seafood "on the barbie" for the holiday. I am thinking about doing an "orphans" Christmas eve with that theme next year so I will be watching for any updates.

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The fish thing is done Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day, not that that matters much. My Italian ex-brother-in-law and I introduced the tradition to our then-wives' Irish-Catholic-Polish family about 25 years ago. We were inspired by the Philadelphia Italian Market, which, at the time anyway, was an amazing place to shop for such a feast. We're both divorced from the sisters we married, but the family continues to celebrate Christmas Eve with a massive seafood dinner (though I hear that Mrs. Paul is a frequent guest, along with a supermarket-prepped shrimp tray.)

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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I can experiment more with Thanksgiving than I can with Christmas dinner. Partly in memory of my mom and brother who wouldn't accept anything else, and partly because my husband and son demand it, we will have Prime rib, roasted potatoes, and yorkies. The veg can be played with.

Although this year, we'll be having Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. (and thus, are new traditions born).

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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My company generously gives its employees half a ham or a side of smoked salmon every year. We get the ham, because if eternity is two people and a ham, a side of (delicious) smoked salmon and two people is a short trip to smoke-induced insanity. And the ham is fantastic.

But I'd really like to try doing a whole fish on the weber this year, so we will have the ham at breakfast, and then everyday after that for the next few weeks....

These are our plans so far. It's only two of us at home, so I want to keep things pretty simple and not overshop, etc. Hey, it could happen!

Christmas Eve (cold):

Green salad (possibly with chevre and toasted walnuts, walnut oil dressing)

Steak Tartare with rye bread toasts (for me)

Prawns (not sure what I'll order yet) with home made mayo and soft white rolls (for Gerg)

Asparagus vinaigrette

Sago pudding with fresh mango

Christmas morning:

Fresh fruit (mangoes, cherries, nectarines and whatever looks good in the few days leading up to the weekend)

Ham (probably not fried as it's so delicious when it's fresh)

Fresh cornbread with honey (we were given some local honey recently, only roughly filtered and unpasteurised)

My current cornbread recipe is completely non-US traditional: I soak polenta overnight in buttermilk, and used whipped eggwhite in the batter before cooking it in the cast iron pan. It's very light.

Christmas Lunch (late):

Whole fish on the weber (fish species to be determined this weekend), possibly wrapped in a banana leaf, if I can find some easily.

Sides: If I go the banana leaf route, probably some coconut rice of some description (time to pull out the Charmaine Solomon books!) and maybe a cucumbery-salad of some sort or whatever else looks good from one of her books. If no banana leaf I will probably stuff the fish with lemon slices, dill and parsley, so maybe a pressed cucumber salad and a lemony potato salad on the side. But if anyone has better ideas, please lay them on me!

Dessert: The rockmelon ice cream from Sean Moran's 'Let it Simmer', hopefully successfully stuffed back in its melon shell. I'm going to make the 'ginger jewels' for it (ginger pieces simmered with beetroot and sugar) for it this weekend I think.

We're probably going to a friend's house that night to hang out - I'm bringing over some homemade grissini for her family lunch the next day and our traditional giant platter of lebanese pastries from a shop in Greenacre. Because for some reason, it's not Christmas for me anymore if it doesn't involve obscene amounts of syrupy, flaky lebanese pastries.

If we're hungry when we get home we'll have some ham!

Boxing Day:

We're having lunch with family that day, so to get me through I was thinking of girding myself with eggs benedict (maybe homemade muffins...), wilted spinach and something like a tropical mimosa. I love eggs benedict and am invariably disappointed when I order it at a restaurant. And hey, except for the pastries, the menu is otherwise, healthy, right?

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I'd love to have feedback on a starch for the daube. I was going to go with las pous, the fried cornmeal porridge that Wolfert suggests in SWF, but I've been asked for something a bit lighter. Fresh noodles? Gnocchi Parisienne? Still thinking....

Chris, the las pous recipe looks to me like a heavy version of polenta (never mind if you fry it in goose fat! yum, but...). If the general idea appeals but you want lighter, go to Paula's recipe for oven baked polenta, which I got from her Slow Mediterranean Kitchen cookbook. It's been my go-to recipe ever since I tried it--not only the best polenta I've ever made, but easiest. If you want something a little more fancy, then I've had good luck by making a firm version in advance, spreading it on a baking sheet, chilling it, and cutting it into diamonds (or whatever shape), and last minute brushing them with butter and baking--they fluff up inside, get crisp outside, and are great as a base for daube.

I don't cook Christmas dinner, but I am thinking about a menu for my Christmas tree decorating get-together. Must make discerning adults and kids happy, serve 12+ with little last-minute fuss. Always Christmas cookies for dessert, but the general menu is still open. Last year I made a portuguese pork and clam stew--with the polenta. Fantastic. This year I am craving brandade, but am not sure if that will work with kids. Maybe as an appetizer only.


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I am doing the Christmas Eve dinner for friends, and going to their house for Christmas Brunch.

Christmas Eve for the Poles is the big holiday, called Wiglia, and I will be doing a semi-traditional meal. Pierogies, of course, but only the ones stuffed with mushrooms and sauerkraut. I'll make some stuffed with hamburger and 'kraut and potatoes and bacon, but they won't get eaten until after Wiglia, which for the Catholic Poles is a meat-free fast day.

So.....

Appetizers, probably crostini with sundried tomato jam and goat cheese and maybe a baked brie or something else meat-free...

Roast salmon with herbs

Potato gratin of some sort (possibly Bourdain's Gratin a'la Dauphenoise)

Pierogies (meat free), with caramelized onions and toasted bread crumbs

Vegetables of some ilk (maybe roasted asparagus or roasted Brussels sprouts)

Cranberries

Christmas cookies for dessert.

For the brunch, I am thinking of bringing either homemade cinnamon rolls or a Swedish Twist.

For my own Christmas dinner, after the big brunch, I'll probably just do apps and bubbly. At some point during the holiday week, I'll bake a small, 1/4-ham for me, maybe with roasted potatoes or sweets. And I have a lovely beef rib roast tucked away in the freezer for maybe NY Eve. It was on sale locally a couple of weeks ago, and I snapped one up.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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My actual Christmas dinners will be spent with family and will be quite low key, but I am doing a huge dinner for 15 a week before Christmas that will get all my 'festive dinner'energy.

Menu:

Belgian Endive soup, topped with crispy pancetta, served with cheese/sage biscuits

**********

Salad of shrimp with shallot/orange butter (the exact name escapes me right now, it's the recipe from Wolfert's Slow Meditteranean)

**********

Duck confit

Panfried red cabage with port, chestnuts and walnuts

Watercress salad

Potato/kabocha squash puree

**********

Dorie Grrenspan's chocolate Armagnac prune cake, with whipped cream.

edited to add: Christmas dinners is not a typo. Here in the Netherlands, we have a 1. Christmas Day (25) and a 2. Christmas day (26). In unlucky years, when the 25 is a Friday and the 26 a Saturday, we add a 3. Christmas day to that. Pretty exhausting.

Edited by Chufi (log)
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