Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Corner View - December Holidays

Well we are feeling a little like this in L.A. this week.  (WET!) But maybe not quite so placid!

Martha Stewart Living 6/99;  Photo Anita Calero

Isn't it a beautiful image though?  I found it while I was looking for a recipe for my Christmas Day dinner.   In Martha Stewart Living.

I am not the kind of person who has ever wanted to eat the same thing at every Christmas dinner of my life.  I really like to mix it up a bit.  Usually on Christmas Eve we like to go out somewhere special with friends, or family, for a very festive dinner.  With lots of champagne, hopefully.  Christmas Day is quiet and mostly just Mr. Paradis and me, if we are not in England.   In the week before, as the shopping gets finished and people leave town and a nice kind of quiet descends, I am tucking up in a comfortable chair with stacks of Marthas on the floor all around me, foraging for exceptional Christmas eats.  

Martha Stewart Living 12/00; No photo credit

When I am looking for recipes for the meal, (we have fish since Mr. P. does not eat meat) like a Coulibiac or Seafood Sausages or a Lobster Salad, I will find it in one of my French cookbooks.  (Because I'm so curious about those old school tastes.)  But for dessert, it is usually Martha.  Because sometimes you JUST HAVE TO TRY some of these fabulous things!  One year I made the Pistachio Charlotte above.  It was beautifully delicious, but it was alot of work. Especially if you try to make the ladyfingers yourself, and hull and toast and de-skin FAR TOO MANY (bloody!) pistachios all by yourself.   I would recommend having lots of little elf-ey helpers for this recipe.  Or you'll end up swearing like me.  And that spoils the Christmas cheer.

Photo: James Scherer; Julia Childs' Menu Cookbook

Another year, I made this Triple Chocolate Bombe, and decorated it like an English pudding with a holly leaf and a dusting of powdered sugar.  I can highly recommend this one.  The chocolate mousse inside is dense and creamy and the outside cake is like a very luxurious brownie.  Heaven on a plate!  And really quite easy to throw together once the brownie is baked.  Which of course you can do ahead.  Julia Child and her assistants tried this recipe something like 12 times in their search for a certain perfection.  You can just imagine, huh?  Just imagine, how good it MUST be!????

Martha Stewart Living 12/00; Photo: Gentl and Hyers

I haven't made this white chocolate "Birch de Noel" but I have made other Buches.  (Well, I mean, ONE!)  They are lovely and quite easy really.  And how fun are the meringue mushrooms?  They really get you into the mood.  I made them the night before the main baking action took place.

Martha Stewart Living 12/98-1/99; Photo: Gentl & Hyers

I know that for other people, having the same thing every year is a way to grab Old Father Time by the scruff of his neck as he rushes by in his busy way, and wrestle him down to some safe place where children don't grow up, and friends don't move away, jobs don't disappear and .....you know what I mean..........  But I, just CAN'T.  Eat the same "old thing".

I guess since I'm too old to wait up for Father Christmas anymore, or creep downstairs early to see him still at his work....  Since it's not really about that breathless surprise at the opening of the packages under a tree, or the amazement that some white-beard stranger actually brought you EXACTLY WHAT YOU DREAMED OF!!!!!  - - - - 

At least what I put in my mouth on that day, and what stays with me mostly in memories forever after, (since these recipes are rarely prepared again) is something that is fresh with wonder and delight and the soft shiver of discovery. 

Find more Corner Views:  jane ian - bonnie - joyce - kim - kay -trinsch - ritva - francesca - state of bliss cabrizette - isabelle - janis -kari - jgy - lise - cate - otli - dorte - b -sophie - mcgillicutty - sunnymama -daan - ibb - pienduzz - kelleyn - ninjasammi - theresa - cherry b - juliette -shokoofeh - cole - grey lemon -lucylaine - lynn - skywriting - anna -dorit - conny - l´atelier - kamana -anne marie - rosamaría - victoria -tikjewit - juniper - annabel - andrea -valerie - merel soisses - mlle paradiscacahuete - wander chow - barbara -emily - tally - nadine - matilda - don -flowtops - susanna - tania - dana -ingrid - tzivia - mezza - lollipop - mari


  1. I like your approach and although we have a few traditional foods and Christmas rituals we do every year try to make something new- at least one new part of every course. Your deserts are very inspiring! The pistachio cake sounds really enticing but I have to admit it seems like too much work for the Christmas rush, I would surely be swearing by the end too.

  2. ici aussi c'est mouillé, il pleut, il pleut...
    j'aime bien ta vision de noël
    belles fêtes à toi

  3. All looks extremely delicious! I love to have some little traditions for christmas and a large space for variety...shouldn't be always the same and as we don't have small children anymore and we are all grown-ups, it is no longer that christmas of former times with eagerness but it is a nice time to spend together with family! :-)
    Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you!

  4. Hope that your holiday is all about desert! The Birch de Noel fascinates me. I have always wanted to try one but don't have the patience to make it look so cute.

  5. oh dear! oh dear! what an incredible cook you are! That is just wonderful. Thanks for your kind words and have a lovely Christmas. I am certain it will be delicious! yes... Samarkand will try and take some nice photos. Mille bisous!

  6. La bûche aux champignons me fait bien envie ... (et la musique chez nous est de Pascal Comelade, à découvrir en urgence !!! )Belles Fêtes à toi !!

  7. Oui c'est vraiment bien Pascal Comelade!
    cette bûche aux champignons ressemble à une robe haute couture! amitiés ma belle!

  8. Yeah! Let's start cooking and baking, can't wait1

    Love the Birch de Noel, I have to try that one, those mushrooms are the best!

    Happy holidays!

  9. I just ate my way through Christmas with your wonderful photos of desserts! Merry Christmas!! xo

  10. I love food, but I am not a good cook. I don't have the patience. And I love going to the restaurant sooo much !! I cook very simpl and quick foods and I am a vegetarian, so always quite healthy. But I have the smallest kitchen, no patience and always too much appetite to wait until everything is prepared!
    The Birch of Noel...I think i could die for it.
    If we don't "see" again, Merry Christmas to you too!!

    so lucky your cats don't climb the tree.

  11. MMmmm, Girl you're making me hungry with all those pictures! I think, it's a fabulous idea to make something new every year, you get to try out so many idea's :D


  12. but you make my mouth water, dear!
    and i like the fishies in the most wonderful bowl too.
    well, is it a bowl when it has four side, i wonder?
    merry holidays!