31 December 2009

Christmas Dinner - Chestnut Soup

En français ici.
There's always a point in the Christmas preparations when I lose proportion, when I forget what the heck I'm doing all this for, where I curse the commercialization, where I consider disowning some parts of my family - particularly the ones that are hard to shop for - and holing myself up under my comforter until at least Jan. 4. But finally, by Christmas day, it all comes together.

The tree is trimmed.

The table is set.

Camille is cooking foie gras in the kitchen. (Or is that just me?) And a host of wonderful dishes are on their way to your happy stomach, followed down by some delicious wines, and all in good company.

Our super foodie Christmas began with foie gras, because you cannot have a French Christmas without it. Camille decided to take the radical step of cooking it herself, seared in a pan with light seasoning and proceeded to make an amazing sauce with the drippings, a shallot, fig jam and some balsamic vinagar. All that was accompanied by brioche toasts and a distinctly delicious montbazillac wine.

We followed it with chestnut soup, the recipe for which I obtained through barter. I'm taking care of my friend's cat (who is currently sitting on my arms and making it hard to type) for the week, and she gave me her recipe. (See below.) After tasting, I can safely say, I don't regret it!

Then the pièce de résistance, as the French would say: the goose! Roasted simply and deliciously and accompanied by the most amazing potatoes cooked in goose fat, and broccoli sautéd with garlic (so we could feel good about eating something green). It was worthy of a Dickensian description - but I will spare you. After all, I'm not paid by the word... or at all, for that matter.

I could've made an entire meal out of the cheese course, but then I'm a big fan of cheese and our new fromagerie is pretty much my new best friend. Man are those cheeses good! We chose a creamy roquefort, a fresh goat cheese with baie roses (pink pepper), a comté that we were not intending to buy but they were giving tastes and we couldn't resist! And finally a washed-rind cheese called trou du cru that my inner 14-year-old boy could not resist trying. All were delicious.

The final course was Camille's buche de Noël, one she conceived of and which was sold at the pâtisserie where she works, involving bananas, rum, and praliné mousse. (Are your mouths watering yet?) She even saved ours from a fate worse than death: being glazed in gross sparkly glaze. She smothered it in chocolate instead. Ah, a girl after my own heart.

Chestnut Soup

600g (21 oz) shelled roasted chestnuts (I bought my frozen, but you can also roast them yourself, or buy them canned)
5 1/2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
3 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 tsp dried sage (or a few fresh leaves, but I didn't have any)

Bring the stock to a boil in a medium-sized pot and mince the fresh herbs. When the stock is boiling add the chestnuts and herbs, cover and let simmer on low heat for about 1/2 an hour, until the chestnuts are soft. Add salt to taste and puree the soup until smooth. Serve hot with an herb garnish to make it look pretty!


Heather S-G said...

What an absolutely breathtaking meal!! Happy New Year :D

Cicero Sings said...

The Christmas season sure can have its frustrating moments! But, yes, it all does eventually come together in the end.

Your meal sounded delish. D's family are all too traditional to step out of the norm, which for them is turkey ... but we had a good, orannically grown own, which we brined. Very good it was too, for turkey.

No good cheese shops up here but we are able to take advantage of the ones at the coast and usually stock up with some of our favourites and any new ones that we are tempted into. When in Vancouver, sometimes we do just make a meal of cheese and bread and wine. Very satisfying.

The best of New Years to you and your D!! Have you added a pet to the mix yet?

Ivy said...

Everything looks beautiful and it sounds like you had a wonderful dinner! My best wish for Happy New Year!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, I love foie gras and chestnuts! what a gorgeous meal!

Best wishes for 2010!



Tony said...

Yay Christmas feast! I'm going to have to try the chestnut soup this winter. Also, do you have a better picture of the tree? It looks pretty but very dark so I can't really see it.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Thanks for the recipe! Nick got a great photo of the two of us digging into the cheese platter and trying to say "trou de cru." I'll have to email it to you. :)

Hopie said...

Girlichef - Thank you, and happy New Year to you as well!

Cicero - Funny you should ask about pets. I may have something to report in the next couple of days :-) Your organic, brined turkey sounds good. And I definitely agree that there's hardly a meal more satisfying that cheese and bread and wine! Happy New Year!

Ivy - Best wishes to you as well for a new year full of wonderful meals :-)

Rosa - I had never had chestnuts any other way than plain roasted. The soup was delicious though and now I'd love to try other recipes with chestnuts, especially since I have some left over...

Tony - Yeah, I think you'd like the chestnut soup. It's very warming. I've sent you more pictures of the tree!

Camille - Thanks for the priceless photos - yay trou du cru!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Happy New Year!



Sam said...

What a feast! That all looks absolutely fantastic. I've never tried foie gras before though I really want to, it's almost impossible to buy here.

Is goose traditional for Christmas in France? we always have turkey which is ok but I'd love to try cooking a goose!

PG said...

Very classy! The soup looks really good. You are very brave to make foie gras...I've had a jar of it in my cupboard since our trip to France and I don't know what to do with it. Does that stuff go bad?