Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bouche Noël to vous

Christmas Eve day Lara took us to the farmer's market at a neighboring village, where we picked up some last-minute provisions for our holiday feasts. At the impressive seafood stands people lined up to slurp freshly-opened oysters with crisp white wine. I picked out some spices from a gorgeous array, cursing myself for forgetting my camera. We stepped into a pastry shop where I picked up this charming bouche Noël, a thin cake rolled with a cream filling and decorated like a little log. Ours had a truffle filling with a mushroom and a little gnome.

It was terribly cold that morning. When we passed a cheese stand with the beautiful snowy-white buttons of chevre I was daunted by the long line. But the more I walked around the more I needed one of those goat cheeses. So at the last minute I returned to a shorter line and picked one out. I'm so glad, too. It tasted incredibly fresh -- I could taste the grass. It made me want to sing the lonely goatherd song from the Sound of Music. Yodeladeyodeladehooo.

We returned, dropped of the goodies, and then Lara and I set out for the grocery store. I love visiting grocery stores in other countries. The yogurt aisle was amazing -- every kind of yogurt you could imagine, just tons of it. The boxed cookie aisle was also impressive, as was the pate/foie gras section.

When we got home I had just enough time to make my Thanksgiving sweet potatoes to go along with Lara's turkey. That's right, the legendary Lara turkey -- it had been roasting for us all this time, getting juicy and golden. She was kind enough to release the recipe, and you'll find it at the end of this post.

It was spectacular -- juicy and flavorful, everything you could ever want in a turkey. If this turkey were a man it could only exist in Harlequin romances.

Lara had some additional friends over for Christmas Eve dinner, two expatriate couples, one Polish-Scottish. Jasper had fallen asleep just before dinner, visions of sugarplums dancing through his head.

On Christmas morning we had a gift-unwrapping orgy. We were given far more presents than we deserved -- I am blushing now just thinking of it. Santa scored big-time with the Wonder Woman action figure, something Jasper wanted so dearly we'd resorted to toting around a paper cutout of WW all over Venice. He was showered with lots of fun loot, including a cow on a spring and beautiful colored pencils.

Following this we had egg nog French toast and then spent the rest of the day noshing on turkey leftovers and the sumptuous foie gras and gelee Diana brought from her favorite butcher, Maurer Freres. Oh, a very good Christmas for Adriana indeed. Yes, I love the force-fed goose liver, sinner that I am. And I will believe any story any farmer wants to tell about how it's not really as brutal as it sounds. Because I love my foie gras.

As if that weren't wonderful enough, Di also brought truffles and chocolate bars from Brändli in Basel. A friend of mine once told me that the Swiss make phenomenal chocolate, but they send the merely good stuff (Lindt) to the US and save the best for themselves. I'm afraid it's true. This was the smoothest chocolate I've ever tasted, made with 100% cocobutter. I brought home one (ONE) dark chocolate bar and now I'm kicking myself for not having bought 20 more bars. Unlike the dark bars I'm used to here the Swiss doesn't leave a sooty coating of chocolate on my tounge. It slips down like silk and I am left... bereft.

But let us not dwell on sad things. On Boxing Day we decided to get off the couch and tour Geneva. It was bitterly cold, though, so we didn't get far. I remember having a sandwhich in a cafe, passing a musem through Old Town, crossing a bridge, and then taking refuge at Starbucks. Yes, the readers I didn't alienate with the foie gras are now disgusted with the Starbucks in Switzerland. But you weren't there -- it was freezing cold outside but inside were big, soft chairs and hot, oversweetened holiday coffees. After that it was time to pack ourselves back into the cars for the 2 1/2-hour drive to Basel.

Lara's Turkey

(1) (You may have to skip this step). Homemade broth from last year's turkey. Every time I make a turkey, I make a soup from the leftover bits, and then strain and boil it down until it is jelly-like and very small, and then freeze it. I use this in cooking the turkey.

(2) Get your turkey. Name it. (Very Important). Wash it. Lovingly rub it inside and out with kosher salt. Cover it with waxed paper and let it sit in the fridge for 12-24 hours.

(3) Rinse Wilhemina (or whatever you named it) out getting all the salt off. Rub her insides with garlic salt.

(4) Take 1lb of butter, and mix it with fresh herbs and get it nice and soft. Rub this all over the inside. Gently separate the skin from the meat, and rub the butter mix into this area (just stick in clumps if you have to).

(5) Stuff the turkey and truss it.

(6) rub the remaining butter into the top layer of skin.

(7) cover the turkey with a slivered garlic and cheesecloth, soaked in broth. Pour more broth over the cheesecloth once it is on. put several small onions (preferrably pearl onions) around the base of the turkey in the pan.

(8) tent the turkey with foil.

(9) start cooking the baby, basting every 1/2 hour, adding more broth as needed. (BTW, use the broth to flavor the stuffing as well).

(10) make sure the turkey can sit out for at least 1/2 hour before attempting to remove stuffing.

(11) Use the turkey drippings and the broth to make the gravy

(12) make sure there is a giant pot on the stove into which all excess turkey bits (ALL OF THEM - bones, skin, fat) can be tossed for making of next round of broth. Toss in celery, carrot, onion, peppercorns, garlic, and boquet garni. And a little white wine.


Swizzies said...

Gah! I hate that picture of me, eating the cake, although the cake was delish! I do like that I look so TALL...never mind that it's all down to my shoes, and your and Lara's bare feet. :-)

The turkey was SO yummy, as were the sweet potatoes - just incredible food all around. I too love Lara's house, just love it. We had a great few days there.

I think Lara's friends are Scottish, not Irish? And I have no shame of my enduring love of Starbucks, regardless of what country I'm in. I drink plenty of local coffee too, but sometimes you just want a gingerbread latte. :-)

Anonymous said...

I LIKE that picture of all of us! The friends are Polish-Scottish...any news on the Polish Pottery, BTW?

Adriana, great summary of the holiday - I am so glad you guys all came and that we all got to enjoy the house! :)

We have to repeat!