First blog post

Merry Christmas! 

It’s that time of year again, time to slow down and enjoy whatever it is you love, in my case it’s cooking. Cooking for myself but also cooking up gifts to give to friends, family and to hosts that will be welcoming me into their celebrations. I made some lovely gingerbread cookies, caramel and cranberry chutney. Finding the right wrapping is just as much fun as making the food! I do love Christmas, the festive spirit, the decorations, gatherings and of course all that fantastic food! As this year came with some sadness in the family, I had no plans for Christmas dinner and really wasn’t feeling up to facing people, but that didn’t stop me from planning out a beautiful X-mas dinner just for me, bubbles and all. I even made some gifts for the cats, which they opened enthusiastically and played with for my greatest joy providing me with fantastic entertainment 🙂

A very special Christmas menu for one :

Foie gras pôelé and cranberry chutney on gingerbread

Duck confit, roasted brussel sprouts and gratin Dauphinois

Festive fennel and orange salad

Bûche de Noël

Timing:

  • The crêpes can be made and assembled a day ahead.
  • Gratin can be made ahead and warmed 15 minutes in the oven before serving.
  • An hour before you want to sit down, put on some festive holiday music, serve yourself a glass of bubbly and start preparing your meal!
  • Start with the salad, plate and set aside.
  • Prepare brussel sprouts and gratin if not done ahead.
  • Place duck in oven to warm
  • Prepare foie gras, plate and serve.
  • Remove confit, brussel sprouts and gratin from oven. Plate and serve.

Special notes: you can make the confit, cranberry chutney and gingerbread, or buy prepared, whatever suits your time constraints. I made everything but the confit as I didn’t want to commit to buying all that is required to make it, however, I will eventually get to posting a recipe, as it is pretty easy to make even though it requires planning. The ginger bread is a recipe from my Gourmet cookbook. The chutney recipe will be posted within the week, so stay tuned!!!

Foie Gras pôelé

75-100 gr. duck foie gras

I slice gingerbread

30 gr. cranberry chutney

45 ml champagne or bubbly

Place gingerbread slice on plate and spread cranberry chutney on top. Season and sear the foie gras in a very hot pan. Flip over when caramelised and repeat. Keep a close eye on the foie gras as this does not take more than a few minutes and if left too long, will melt away to nothing. Place on top of the cranberry and gingerbread and serve immediately.

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Duck confit, roasted brussel sprouts and gratin Dauphinois

 1 duck confit

Pomegranate seeds

Prepare roasted brussel sprouts and gratin, cook together in the oven, add duck confit to the oven after 20 minutes of roasting. If needed, broil the confit for a few minutes until well browned. Serve with brussel sprouts and gratin, decorate with pomegranate seeds.

Roasted brussel sprouts

1 cup of brussel sprouts, cut in half and blanched for 1 minute in boiling water.

1 slice bacon cut into squares

1 tablespoon pine nuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon in an oven proof pan, add brussel sprouts, pine nuts and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes or until browned.

Gratin Dauphinois

1/4 cup cream

1 small russet potato

1 large tablespoon grated gruyère cheese

1 clove garlic

Grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Warm cream over medium heat with garlic clove and grated nutmeg. When just bubbling, remove from heat and let infuse for 10 minutes. Thinly slice potato and add cream ( without garlic clove) and cheese and pour into a ramequin, season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes or until browned. Let sit for 5 minutes. Run a knife on the edges to loosen and unmold on plate.

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Festive fennel and orange salad

1 orange, peeled and supremes collected

1/4 fennel bulb, shaved

Baby spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon grain mustard

Salt and pepper

Pomegranate seeds

Collect the orange supremes over a bowl to collect the juice and make vinaigrette with the juice, olive oil and mustard. Season to taste. Mix spinach, oranges and fennel and vinaigrette, plate and decorate with pomegranate seeds.

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Bûche de Noël

3 large or 5 small crêpes

Roasted chestnut cream

Chocolate ganache

Whipped cream

Grated chocolate

Pomegranate seeds

Roasted chestnut cream

Chestnuts

Vanilla pod

sugar

Cut x’s into chestnut peels and roast in a 350° oven for 45 minutes or until the chestnut skins peel back. Cool and peel. In a saucepan, add chestnuts, grated vanilla pod and add just enough water to cover. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until chestnuts have softened. Let cool, put in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Measure mixture and add half the amount in sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let reduce for roughly 20-40 minutes. Keep an eye out for the right constitency. Can in sterilised jars. The cream keeps in the fridge once opened.

Chocolate ganache

1/3 cup 70% chocolate

1/3 cup cream

1 teaspoon sugar

vanilla

Over low heat melt chocolate and cream in a small saucepan. Add sugar and vanilla and stir to combine. Let set roughly 30 minutes.

Assembling on a work board, apply a thin layer of ganache on first crêpe, follow with a thin layer of chestnut cream on second crêpe and continue steps until you reach the last crêpe, finish with a layer of chocolate ganache. Carefully roll crêpe into a log. Slice off one end and place down against log. Decorate with whipped cream, grated chocolate. Place in fridge to set. When ready to serve decorate with pomegranate seeds.

So now it’s time to uncork some bubbly and enjoy your dinner, and since you can now buy small or single serving champagne or bubbly, there’s really no excuse not to indulge! Now if you don’t feel like singing christmas songs after this, I really don’t know what would!

A very merry Christmas all, enjoy your holidays. Will see you in the coming week for my special New Year’s Eve preparations!

Love and JOY!

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