Four holiday appetizers… and countdown to Christmas

Christmas Eve is less than a week away, and I have quite a few holiday recipes to share and so little time to do so! Finally done with work, I can fully abandon myself to the Christmas spirit.

First, I’m very flattered to be included (actually, not me, my watercress soup!) in a post for a vegetarian Christmas feast by my wonderful fellow blogger Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes. Check it out for some awesome ideas!

Can I just say what a shameless Christmas nut I am? To give you an idea… you know that song, “All I want for Christmas”, that Mariah Carey version from Love Actually, the one that has been playing non-stop in department stores, malls and Starbucks for the past three weeks? Well, I admit it, I just love that song. Can’t get tired of hearing it. Just puts me in the Christmas spirit, makes me want to get up and dance and be silly and festive and joyful… I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but not really. When I hear that song, I want to be in the moment, recklessly in abandon in the Christmasy moment, with the tree, Santa, stockings, gifts, friends, songs, good will and hope. So be it.

If Christmas means all those things and so much more, it is also indelibly associated with cooking in my mind. I couldn’t visualize Christmas without days in the kitchen, elaborate meal plans, dishes piled up in the sink, running out of plates, glasses and silverware, both ovens going and guests salivating, savoring, or happily digesting with full bellies…

So… I’ve listened to that song a few times while preparing this post, and I am pumped up for Christmas, and ready to (finally!) share our culinary plans for the holiday. Maybe it can spark some last minute ideas. Look for back-to-back posts this week:

Wednesday night – Recipe for chestnut sunchoke soup with vanilla and truffle oil

Thursday night – Recipe for a hot and cold scallop dish with avocado dressing (my mother’s signature dish, a great holiday appetizer for a smaller dinner party)

Friday night – Buttermilk brined capon with chestnut apple stuffing, celery root puree

I am always thrilled to host a Christmas Eve dinner, which is always kind of a big deal for me. My mother and I cook it together, and the menu is usually a mix of traditional French Christmas dinner and recipes I want to experiment with. So here’s our menu this year:

Amuse-bouche

Chestnut sunchoke soup with vanilla and truffle oil

First course

Oysters and clams on the half shell

Foie gras

Second course

Roasted capon with chestnut apple stuffing, served with a celery root goat cheese puree

& kabocha puree made by my good friend Elleni from Deer Eats Wolf.

Cheese & Salad

Cheeses and mâche endive salad with pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs (Christmasy colors),

with homemade spelt sourdough bread from Mummy I can cook!

Dessert

Yule log (brought by guests), accompanied by this

toasted oak ice cream with sea salt and lapsang souchong caramel swirl from Local Milk. 

As gifts, I will be making this coconut bread from A Baker’s Daughter and these awesome black sesame cookies from Nami at Just One Cookbook, as well as some lavender olive oil madeleines (hoping to share that recipe this weekend.)

But first things first. Today, I wanted to share four holiday hors-d’œuvres recipes, which I picked because they give a good variety, sure to please every palate.

Starting with Tahitian poisson cru, for an exotic bite, a short escape to the tropics between Christmas songs. We brought back this recipe from our trip to Tahiti a few years ago, it also makes an excellent lunch.

I found some tiny crimson apples recently and decided to adapt the baked apple and goat cheese millefeuilles recipe I blogged about recently. The tiny apples baked in individual parcels make an awesome Christmas hors-d’œuvre, looking like a tiny gift to open, and can be picked by the stem and devoured in one scrumptious bite!

Then, I decided it was about time I use the French Laundry cookbook that’s been sitting on my shelf for the past few years, untouched. It’s always intimidated me a bit, but I figured when it came to the classic French Gruyère gougères (like a cheese puff of sorts), Thomas Keller couldn’t lead me astray. They are so delicious, I hope you give them a try.

Finally, also inspired by the French Laundry cookbook, sharing this very easy and delightful goat cheese mousse, a definite crowd pleaser (and kid pleaser too.)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

 

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