Season’s greetings to you and to yours.
I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas.
These weeks have been a whirlwind of activities, from keeping up with work to cultural events, bake sales, holiday parties and playdates galore. It is at times hard to keep it all under control, on time and as planned, and I am always impressed with so many people who seem to breeze through it all. Every year, I promise myself that I will do things earlier come next Christmas. I did manage to do all of the gift shopping in advance, get some decorating going, build the gingerbread house and get all of the gifts for teachers just in time. But you can never have enough time to bake all of the Christmas cookies, and my new favorite cookie – with dark chocolate, sel de fleur and chili – took over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and will certainly take over Boxing Day, my birthday, for sure.
Luckily, the climate has been mild and gentle here. No snow, no frost.
In what Kjetil calls ‘Spring weather’ (for a Norwegian, yes, it is indeed Spring weather) we had a very laid back Christmas without formalities or duties. The Eve was spent with friends and kids exchanging gifts over champagne (and champony for kids – an apple cider fizzy pretend champagne), salmon terrine, smoked salmon with capers and creme fraiche and an abundant cheese plate. We took a long drive home to watch the illuminations on Champs Elysees, the Opera and la Madelaine as Magnus yawned and we arrived home comfortably sleepy after a long day of going to a Christmas circus and walking around the Christmas village which was brimming with visitors and tourists.
Today, Christmas Day, I roamed around the neighborhoods first thing in the morning in search of fresh croissants and fearing that nothing may be open. Luckily, I found the best bakery around to be open until noon. Such are the moments that I am reminded of the good things in Paris. You can always count on the French to know that certain things count in life. Like fresg bread. Cheese. Wine. Good oysters….
I thanked the shopkeeper profusely as I paid for the fresh batch of croissants, brioches and baguettes, still warm and steaming, and ran home to prepare hot chocolate and coffee.
We then lingered around the tree opening gifts with Magnus spending the morning on the floor with his new toys.
The afternoon, we went out to Parc Monceau filled with families in need of fresh air with our tennis rackets and a snack by the merry-go-round before the afternoon drizzle chased us out of the gardens. We headed back home to prepare the stuffed pheasant with chestnuts, figs and foie gras, green beans with almonds, olive and pancetta, rice with shiso leaves and sea salt, cranberries with ginger and lemon zest and a cheese plate with fresh green salad. We ended the meal with a chocolate mousse Christmas log with the new chocolate cookies – which I am calling Crush Cookies, named after my initial encounter with a similar kind of cookie over the summer – which I never forgot, but could never find. So I have tried and tried to come up with my own version, which I finally succeeded in doing this month. Hence my obsession with the oven and all things batter based. We ended the evening with skype calls with family, baking some more and me putting to fridge-rest the chocolate and raspberry charlotte that will be our post-Christmas and my birthday cake of tomorrow.
A Very Merry Christmas to you, and looking forward to sharing some of these holiday recipes with you in the coming days….