Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve….the big dinner

Ever year we have a big dinner for Christmas, generally on Christmas Day….but this year we had it the night before as it suited best for everyone. Some of my Mums family comes along for this so this year we were with 11 people. So “De Gouden Garnaal” (The Golden Shrimp in Dutch) was opened and serving up the following menu:

Mousse de sole a la truffe
Terrine de Lapin aux Pistaches
Filets Mignons en Croute
Plateau de Fromage
Meringe aux Pignons et aux Myrtilles

We also had irish soda bread with the mousse and pate. For the cheeses we had some Stilton with port, Bleu de Gex, Tomme de Savoie, Camenbert, soft goats cheese and Old Rubens. Then various biscuits and truffles with the tea and coffee to finish. With all this food we drank some lovely wine, with the starters we had the choice of Tavel (a rose from the Provence) or Touraine (a Sauvignon from slightly south of the Loire). Then with the main course and cheese we drank a Morgon (a Beaujolais from the Cote du Py). For dessert we had a Banyuls, a very spicy sweet red wine.

The pate was made a few days in advance which was fairly straightforward...although watching the fat bubbling away in the oven around the pate made my hart already feel tired, but the smells were amazing the taste was great, crumbly, meaty and very subtle with the pistachios. The meringues and the filet mignons were prepared/started one day in advance so we did not have much to prepare on the day itself. The mousse was fairly straightforward and we made a gratin accompany the Filets mignons. The dessert was lovely, the meringues were nice and gooey on the inside and the nuts added a lovely flavour. It was a great evening, catching up with every one and eating all this lovely food.

Mousse aux sole et truffe (serves 11)
300 g sole fillet
1 vegetable stock cube
splash of white wine
125 g sour cream
salt and pepper

Boil the fish in water with the stock cube and white wine, then take it out of the liquid and blend it with some seasoning and the sour cream. Leave in the fridge to harden. Serve with blanched asparagus, sweet peas, a boiled quail egg and a slice of summer truffle

Terrine de lapin aux pistaches (for 8 people)
1 nice boned rabbit
125 g cooked ham
125 g pork shoulder
200 g soft bacon fat (+ more to line the mould)
100 g peeled non-salted pistachios
5 dl white wine
5 cl cognac
1 onion
2 shallots
1 carrot
1 garlic clove
Herbs (parsley, tarragon, thyme and bay leaf)
10 pepper corns
20g salt

For the marinade, peel and cut the onion, shallot, carrot and garlic. In a large pot add all the other ingredients for the marinade and mix well. Clean the rabbit, cut the meat into stripes, cut the pork and 200g fat into pieces and add to the marinade. Leave for 24 hours in the fridge. The next day, fish out some of the onion and drain the rest. Pick out some nice pieces of rabbit and cut into bit sized pieces. Mince the rest roughly. Cut the gammon into cubes and mix this with the pistachios, rabbit and mince. Line a pate tray with fat or with puffy pastry (to make a pate en croute), fill with the mix, making sure the pistachios are covered (otherwise they burn) and bake at 200C covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes and then for another 15 minutes without cover. Take out of the over, leave to cool for 15 minutes and put a weight on the pate. Make this two days in advance and store in the fridge.

Filets mignons en croute (8-10 people)
2 pork fillets
500 g puff pastry
2 glasses of white wine d’Alsace (preferably Riesling)
3 garlic cloves
1 egg yellow
salt and pepper

The day before, put the fillets in a dish and add the wine, peeled and chopped garlic , salt and pepper. Leave to marinate overnight. The next day, drain the meat, divide the pastry in two and roll one half out 8mm thick. Put the fillet lengthwise on the middle of the pastry, roll out the second part of pastry and put this on top. Join the edges of the two parts, decorate the top and cut some holes into it to let the hot air escape. Coat with egg yellow and bake for 45 min at 225C, halfway through the process, pour a few spoonfuls of marinade into the holes. Serve hot or cold.

Meringues aux pignons et aux myrtilles (Serves 4-6 people)
3 egg whites
200 g caster sugar
100 g pine nuts
oil, for greasing
300 ml whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
200 g blueberries

Preheat the over to 145C and lightly grease two baking trays. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peakse, then gradually whisk in the sugar, a third at a time, until the meringue is glossy and fairly stiff, holding soft peaks. Using a large spoon, carefully fold in the pine nuts and spoon heaped teaspoons onto the baking trays (±12). Bake 1 hour, then turn off the oven, leaving the meringues to cool inside. Lightly whip the cream and mix in the icing sugar, serve the meringues with the whipped cream and blueberries

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