Our French inspired Christmas dinner

christmas buche de noel

So Christmas is over and let’s see if I’m in to cook another feast for New Year’s!

I haven’t cooked a huge meal for a while. Now see, I don’t cook everyday, but if I do cook a big meal, it’s definitely an occasion. Christmas is one of those times where I LOVE TO COOK AND PUT LOTS OF FOOD ON THE TABLE!

Yes. it is.

christmas table food

Tired! BUT I can’t wait to share with you guys how I managed to bone the duck, and the recipes for all the dishes I made. I gotta say, some of them were really yummy! *pats on self back* but gotta say I got those from cookbooks la. Mainly, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Around My French Table. I was going for a French inspired menu to save my a$$. not.

Christmas - pate de canard en croute slice

A couple of weeks before December, I watched Julie & Julia again for the -nth time. Every time I watch that, I feel like doing a project like that too. So anyway, in the show, she kept emphasizing that she had to bone a duck. Is it debone or bone actually? Julia Child calls it bone, but doesn’t removing bones be called debone ? Anyway.. I had this crazy idea of making the dish.

I just need an occasion to do it.

Christmas it is! I read MtAoFC’s pages just on this dish and it says that it serves 12. You know, really it does (with other side dishes of course!) So Pate de Canard en croute will be the center dish replacing Turkey. or the main meat dish. Last year I made pork roulade with stuffings.

Since it’s from a french cookbook, I’m going to then plan the entire meal having some french dishes

The only other requirement is, there are kids, and my mom is a vegetarian that doesn’t eat onion or garlic too. in most dishes of salad or veg, I have to take out garlic and onion, so obviously a garlic mushroom dish doesn’t work here, nor a caramelized onion too.

christmas - moscato

In the end, I came up with a main, 2 salad, 2 vege sides, an appetizer and a dessert, spread on a table. But a salad to me is not just torn iceberg lettuce in a bowl with a squeeze of thousand island or coleslaw dressing (boring). A salad needs to have some sort of identity and structure to it.

In all planning and looking for recipes, here’s what I came up with

Christmas dinner menu

 

Gourgeres (cheese puffs) or cheese sticks or pepper crackers

French beans and potato salad

Orange vinaigrette salad with baguette croutons

Sauteed mushrooms with breadcrumbs

Maple & thyme braised baby carrots

Pate de Canard en croute

Cranberry sauce

Buche de noel

Fresh berries & Moscato

I try to keep it ‘french’ and around the palate. The potato salad is filling and quite healthy actually (mostly lightly poached thru to cook then toss in a capers dijon mustard dressing), the orange one was very refreshing, easy to make. Mushrooms was more earthy and filling for non meat eaters, baby carrots in maple was quite sweet (though it’s not any french at all) But all 4 of these dishes can be done easily before dinner.The duck took the longest, so I didn’t want to spend a gazillion hours to do other stuffs.

Christmas - orange salad

 

It started on the eve, bought all the grocery lists. I preordered the duck on Sunday because horror kinda striked when there wasn’t any duck in the poultry section! So after i got the duck on the eve, I went to watch a movie first. Lol. came back home, and I removed the bones at 12.30 midnight, trying not to ruin any of the skin. And I probably took 1 hour to do so, wondering what went thru Julie Powell’s mind when she did this. At a point in time, I could understand why she went to be a butcher after that because it was, somewhat …. surprisingly…. calming boning a duck. But who am I kidding, you don’t JUST bone a duck in a butchery. you slaughter a whole cow or pig. Too much to handle.

christmas - mushroom

Next, made the cheese puffs and chuck into the freezer so I can bake it right before dinner. and also made creme patisserie for my suppose to be fruit tartlets. but I burnt my tart shells I couldn’t be bothered to line them again..

Printed the menu and some paper props..

Then I planned out my cooking itinerary. Writting the stuffs I need to cook or roll out. Since the duck takes 2 hours to cook, I gotta be sure the bird is in the oven at 4.30pm – 5pm, so dinner can be served at 7 onwards. (or incase anything would happen, I can still fix and serve dinner by 8pm, the latest.

christmas berries

So planning the itinerary is quite cruicial when it comes to cooking a full blown dinner. Work the time backwards. Here are some tips to share:

  • If there are things that can be made ahead, do so. (like defrosting, or marinating, or any cutting / chopping)
  • If there are things that must be served right after cooking, put that last but make sure ingredients are ready.
  • If there are things that need lots of chilling time, roll that out the day before.
  • Try not to plan the dishes that needs cooking ALL TOGETHER. Consider your stove top space
  • You cannot bake a bird and a cake in the same oven at the same time. Just fyi. (I have a 60cm built in oven and a 90cm range cooker oven, so this didn’t really affected me but do keep in mind)
  • Chill drinks the night before. If the fridge is too full, blast chill in the freezer (I have the luxury of a chest freezer, so some of my drinks went in there 1-2 hours before dinner) 
  • Have a drink or two before cooking madness begins and try not to stain your camera with pork fat.

Christmas bean potato french salad

Christmas carrot

Then on Christmas Day, I wanted to start early so I can get everything done early, and change for dinner. But it did not, I was still in my Campbells soup shirt. (like wake up at 9am, but of course I did not, I woke up at 12 instead)

Went to the grocer to get more last minute stuffs, grab some coffee and off it is!

Since I boned the duck the night before, I started off by trying to finish off whatever left to do with the duck at 1.30pm. Make the stuffings and skew or truss it then, tie the duck to make it look like a cocoon. After, let it rest in the fridge while I make the Buche de Noel with almond dacquoise, cointreau and chocolate mousse. I know right, on the very last day.

Then in between that, asked the maid to wash and cut the vegetables.

christmas gougeres

AND also in between that, my mom boiled some potatoes and eggs for the salad and was chopping up chicken to make another dish and fry some rice, because she said not enough food wor… Moms…Deep inside, it was for the Chinese in all of us. LOL

After all the cake components were complete and assembled, it was around 3.30pm

Based on my planning, the duck needs to be in the oven at 4.30 or 5pm, damn, I still have to fry the bird and make the pastry! So I quickly chuck everything into the mixer and get the pastry done in no time and with some pork fat in it too. put in the fridge. Most pliable pastry. ever. Now the duck.

But before that I wanted to make the mini fruit tarts, like lining the tart with dough. There weren’t many, probably about 12, juts to complete the display table. But I was probably too busy with the duck again I forgotten and burnt the tart shells. I could smell something buttery and vanilla, but it never did occur to me that, there was something baking in the oven! Nevertheless, we had berries in Moscato instead.

Frying the duck came to be the hardest part because we did not have any flat pans BIG ENOUGH for the bird!

Mom suggested to use a wok. In case you are rolling your eyes thinking, seriously ? I am serious. a wok works wonderful for frying up the bird. It took 2 of us to turn the duck in the wok, and swirling the wok so the duck fries beautifully. in the end, we had a glistening golden fried duck skin. Julia Child would approve and would be proud.

christmas fried duck

It’s 4.15pm now.

Rest the duck.

Take the burnt pastry tart shells out from the oven. put in some breadcrumbs and sliced bread.

Roll out pastry for duck. pat dry duck, wrap it. seal it. wahtever. put some nice touches to it. Egg wash.

5pm ON THE DOT! chuck in the oveennnnn.

Breath.

PS: In case you’re wondering, why I did not buy a ready boned duck from the market.. I’ll tell you why, because boning a duck is the whole damn point of making this dish. If you watch Julie & Julia you’d know what I meant, tho actually it wasn’t filmed how she boned it, but it’s said in the movie all the time… 

Christmas duck

So once the duck was in the oven, it’s about getting the head back again and do the rest of the dishes. since mom has helped me blanch the french beans, boiled potatos and eggs, I jsut had to make 2 dressing, one for the potato and another which has orange. Big bag of mesclun salad leaves, wash and dry. Cut out some orange segments, make the vinaigrette then put in the fridge.

christmas cranberry sauce

Cook the mushrooms, carrots, bake the gougeres, cook the cranberry sauce. clean up. Arrange the dessert table with store bought fruit cake, snowmen doughnuts, fresh berries and gougeres. Had my niece to help me write the labels. Cutsey writing 🙂

At about 6.45pm, the duck was ready. Took it out and let it rest abit before cutting the pastry case out and put on the table.

Dress the salad, put some croutons and then take alot of pictures, then let the feast begins! Cheers with some beer!

Christmas dessert table

 

After dinner, I took the buche de noel out. Eyeball measured some cream and chocolate and melt in the microwave. Poured on the log, sprinkled some cocoa nibs and tadaahhh, we’ve got a very very rustic looking log 😛 sorry no plastic santa or reindeer.

Had some moscato, popped some berries in.. take some photos, open presents! woot

christmas - present yiyi

christmas presents opening

Wow, next year during my birthday, I wanna do something like this too!!

Hope you have had a great celebration and Happy New Years 🙂

 

Credit :

Holiday printables from HWTM

 

6 Comments

6 Comments on Our French inspired Christmas dinner

  1. Sharon @ Feats of Feasts says:

    Really hats off to you for cooking this awesome spread! I have yet to even attempt an all out christmas dinner. But seriously, the food looks delish!

  2. justonecookbook says:

    I love how you put the menu in the picture frame. SO CUTE! I love all the details and everything looks so delicious! Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas. 🙂

  3. Chef and Sommelier says:

    Wow! What a spread! Wish I was invited… 🙂

  4. Jeannie Tay says:

    Impressive spread! Beautifully set up table. A healthy menu is good as people tend to overeat at parties! Happy New Year to you:)

  5. Nasi Lemak Lover says:

    Oh, look at the spread, all foods look so delicious and impressive,somemore got menu, so pro!Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

  6. Kelly Siew says:

    I think over the years I got increasingly lazy and this year I didn’t even have an menu until the night before. Best yet I only started cooking at 5:30. I think I need to started challenging myself again. Bone (debone) a duck? Why not? Lol

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