It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas all around!
Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. In my country (México), begin the 16th with "las posadas" and end on January the 6th with "Día de Reyes" and with the family. It's the time with incredible food, fabulous wine, and of course, Tequila! We enjoy the music, fireworks and Christmas decorations. We decorate our Christmas tree; we light the fireplace and, family, friends, and pets sit around a big table. It is the magic of the moment and feels terrific and nostalgic at the same time.
But Christmas is also sometimes pure panic! We may not feel ready; we have to think about and plan the Christmas menu, how many people is coming this year at home, etc. Christmas could also be much to handle!
This year, I may be able to help you a little with this Christmas food and wine pairing menu. Trying to make this Christmas a little different but not less traditional because food and wine had always been, in other words, a focal point of the holiday season, right?
Maybe this year you will feel like celebrating Christmas differently!
I hope you like it!
Jules Feraud Brut NV, Champagne FranceWe never need an excuse to drink champagne, particularly at this time of the year. You can pair champagne beautifully with food, and this time, I chose Champagne Jules Feraud Brut to open my Christmas Menu. Christmas Menu Match: Champagne works so well with smoked salmon accompanied by cream (as a canape or amuse-bouche), so, to start, I propose Smoked Salmon Blini Canapes.
Smoked Salmon Blini Canape (This is a recipe for 20 portions)
*1 lemon zest and juice only
*200g/7oz smoked salmon
*20-24 ready-made cocktail blinis
*1 small shallot finely chopped
*142ml/5fl oz soured cream
*Small bunch fresh dill
*Freshly ground black pepper
1.-Use a lemon zester to remove thin strips of zest from the lemon, taking care to avoid the white pith, which tastes bitter. Put the strips to one side.
2.-To dice the salmon, pile up the slices of smoked salmon into a stack. Using a very sharp knife, cut across the stack to give you thin strips. Turn the stack 90 degrees and cut across the strips again to end up with a fine dice. Place into a bowl.
3.-Add the juice of half of the lemon, or more to taste, and season with freshly ground black pepper.
4.-Add the finely chopped shallot and mix well.
5.-To serve spread a layer of soured cream onto each blini. Place a spoonful of the salmon mixture on top of the soured cream and garnish each with a small sprig of dill and a strip of lemon zest.
Clos Des Orfeuilles, Muscadet Sur Lie, France
A clear, straw yellow in colour, intense and complex Muscadet, the nose offers exotic fruit, citrus, and aniseed aromas. This Muscadet maintains its characteristic freshness, exploring the upper limits of minerality. Christmas Menu Match: Muscadet and Oysters are a match made in heaven; for this course, I have chosen Hot Oysters.
*2 cups butter, softened
*1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
*1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
*1 teaspoon paprika
*1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
*1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
* 2 dozen large fresh oysters on the half shell
1.-Preheat grill to 450°. Pulse the first eight ingredients in a food processor until well combined.
2.-Arrange oysters in a single layer on the grill. Spoon the butter mixture into each oyster; grill, uncovered, 7 minutes or until edges curl.
Ken Forrester The FMC, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa
From the 'King of Chenin' Ken Forrester and our bestselling premium white wine, The FMC Chenin Blanc: this flagship wine is rich, seductive, and very sophisticated. Layer upon layer of candied lemon, dried apricot, and vanilla, with a touch of honey and spice, effortlessly supported by gentle oak and a lovely freshness. Christmas Menu Match: Lobster Bisque
Traditionally, lobster bisque is made with a stock made of whole lobster shells. This version is much easier and just as robust, with a simple stock, aromatics, spices and simple ingredients!
*4 lobster tails
*2 tablespoons butter
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 onion, finely chopped
*2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
*2 stalks celery, finely chopped
*1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
*1 teaspoon fresh chopped tarragon, plus more to serve
*1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
*1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*4 cloves garlic, minced
*2 tablespoons tomato paste
*3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, (or plain flour)
*1 1/4 cup dry white wine, or sherry
*4 cups lobster stock OR seafood or fish stock
*3/4 - 1 cup heavy cream
1.-Heat butter and oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat, Sweat the onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with the bouillon powder, salt and pepper/s. Stir in 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2.-Mix in tomato paste, cook for a further minute to coat vegetables. Sprinkle over the flour and cook while occasionally stirring for an additional 2 minutes.
3.-Pour in wine, simmer and let reduce to half. Stir in lobster stock, reduce heat and gently simmer while occasionally stirring until the liquid has thickened slightly and flavours have blended about 30 minutes.
4.-Take off the heat, transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, purée with an immersion blender until very smooth. Return to medium-low heat and stir in heavy cream.
NOTES: To add even more flavour, you can also add in chopped lobster meat, and for this, you can melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant—season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Lightly sauté until lobster meat is just warmed through, then add into your bisque!
Lucien Muzard Rouge, Burgundy, France
Lucien Muzard’s sons, Hervé and Claude now run the Domaine. They are the ninth generation of a family that can trace its lineage in Santenay back to 1666. While they respect traditional wine-making practices, they also keep an open mind to modern changes in viniculture. This is an exceptional wine; it is a deliciously light drop of black fruit flavour excelling with a distinctive silkiness and aroma. Christmas Menu Match: Duck a L'Orange; there is a reason this retro recipe is a classic - it is stunning!
Roast duck a l'orange goes well with a wide range of braised green beans and Jersey potatoes. Prepare the green beans and potatoes as usual and sautéing them in butter or rendered fat from the duck.
Roast Duck a L'Orange
*Two 5 1/2- to 6-pound Pekin ducks, trimmed of excess fat.
(Necks, gizzards and hearts reserved.)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*1 cup water
*1 tablespoon vegetable oil
*2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
*2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
*2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
*1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped
*1 small onion, coarsely chopped
*2 garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled
*2 bay leaves
*1 teaspoon dried thyme
*3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
*2 tablespoons tomato paste
*1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
*1 cup dry white wine
*5 navel oranges
*1/3 cup sugar
*1/3 cup cider vinegar
*2 tablespoons currant jelly
*2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
*2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1.-Preheat the oven to 450°. Cut off the first two wing joints of the ducks and reserve. Chop the necks into 2-inch length
2.-Prick the ducks around the thighs, backs and breasts. Season the ducks inside and out with salt and pepper. Set a rack in a very large roasting pan. Set the ducks breast up on the rack as far apart as possible. Add the water to the pan and roast the ducks in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°. Turn the ducks on their sides, propping them up by placing two large balls of foil between them, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the ducks to their other sides and roast for 30 minutes longer.
3.-Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the hearts, gizzards, wing joints and necks and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring until richly browned, 10 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, celery, leek, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and tomato paste, then gradually stir in the stock and wine. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing on the solids.
4.-Meanwhile, remove the zest in strips from 1 of the oranges. Cut the zest into a very fine julienne. In a small saucepan of boiling water, blanch the julienne for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water; pat dry.
5.-Halve and squeeze 2 of the oranges; you will need 1 cup of juice. Peel the remaining oranges (including the one you stripped the zest from) with a knife, removing all of the bitter white pith. Cut in between the membranes to release the sections into a bowl.
6.-In a medium saucepan, boil the sugar and vinegar over moderately high heat until the syrup is pale, caramel-coloured, for 4 minutes. Gradually add the 1 cup of orange juice, then the currant jelly and bring to a boil. Add the strained duck sauce and simmer over moderate heat to reduce slightly for 8 minutes—season with salt and pepper. Add the Grand Marnier and remove it from the heat. Swirl in the butter, one tablespoon at a time.
7.-Pour off the fat in the roasting pan. Turn the ducks, breasts sides up, and roast for 40 minutes longer. Remove the ducks from the oven and preheat the broiler. Broil the ducks 6 inches from the heat, rotating the pan a few times until richly browned, about 3 minutes.
8.-Insert a wooden spoon into the cavities and tilt the ducks, letting the juices run into the pan. Transfer the ducks to a platter and keep warm. Scrape the pan juices into a fat separator and pour the juices back into the roasting pan. Simmer over moderate heat, scraping up any browned bits and coagulated juices. Strain the contents of the roasting pan into the orange sauce.
9.-Garnish the duck platter with the reserved orange sections and scatter the blanched zest over the ducks. Carve the ducks at the table and pass the sauce separately.
Chateau Du Levant, Sauternes, France
Sauternes is the ultimate dessert wine. The production area of the Sauternes appellation is located on the left bank of the Garonne, about 30 km south of Bordeaux. The nose is elegant and expressive, with fruity and exotic notes of peach, apricot, citrus fruits, and dried fruits. The palate is round, fruity, rich, fresh, and smooth. Christmas Menu Match: Xangos.
Xangos, or fried cheesecake chimichangas, is a delicious Mexican dessert consisting of a creamy, light banana cheesecake wrapped in a pastry tortilla, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with warm caramel, ribbons of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. (My mouth is watering just writing about it).
*6 to 8 large thin size soft Tortilla Shells
*Cinnamon and Sugar mixture
Toothpicks for securing
Oil for frying
Chocolate of Hot Fudge Topping
Vanilla Ice Cream
For the Cheesecake Cream Centers:
*1 8-ounce package of Cream Cheese
*1/4 cup of white granulated sugar
*1 tsp of Banana Extract
*100 gr of vanilla buttercream
DIRECTIONS for Cheesecake Creme
1.-Using a heavy hand mixer or stand type mixer, beat the cream cheese and the sugar together until soft and smooth. Add the vanilla buttercream and flavouring and continue beating until smooth.
For the Xangos
1.-Place a generous portion of Cheesecake creme down the centre of the Tortilla shell. *I removed 3/4″ on both sides, but this is optional. Fold in sides, then begin rolling from the bottom – up and over the cream. Roll as tightly as possible, then secure with toothpicks before frying in hot oil. Once golden Brown, place on paper towels to drain. Coat thoroughly in Cinnamon and Sugar mixture.
To serve your Xangos
1.-Place swirls of hot fudge sauce in centre of plate. I poured my sauce into a squeezable bottle to easily make stripes from the centre – outward.
2.-Cut your Xango in half diagonally. Place one half standing tall and place the other on its side. Place a scoop of ice cream to the right, and drizzle with warm caramel sauce. Top with banana slices if desired.
Churchill Graham Port LBV 2005, Porto, Portugal
To close my Christmas gastronomic festival this year, we cannot miss the traditional Port and a cheese board of your choice! This LBV Port is lushly fruity, with raspberry, blackberry, wild berries. This Port works well with cured cheeses with intense flavour, wild fruits and why not? Dark chocolate. Christmas Menu Match: Cheese Board of your choice!
If you wish, you can purchase all my delicious wine recommendations together in the below mixed case:
Well, guys, I can only wish you a Happy Christmas time! Wherever you are and with whom you are, enjoy! And see you next year! With new recipes and new wines, there is always something new to discover!
Cheers! Ana X