December Happenings

Like most people, the end of the year has been a whirlwind of activities for us. We wrapped up school with the children, caught up with friends here in Mexico for a Christmas drink or two, tied up a few business loose ends and cleaned up the boat prior to us leaving for the holidays. It was a hectic time in the galley, I can tell you: my mission was to accommodate whatever produce I felt would not survive 2 weeks in the fridge, which basically included anything fresh. Salt fish was turned into Bul Jol (a Caribbean salt fish salad),

bul jol

beef shanks made a great “cheats” osso buco (I admit taking a shortcut and used V8 juice for the gravy!) with polenta,

osso buco

every vegetables became fair game for any kind of soups and we lunched on more grilled cheese sandwiches than I care to remember. The baking of Christmas cookies and Buche de Noel were actually a welcome distraction, reminding us that it was a special time of the year to be enjoyed by all.

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Then, there was our 2 weeks holiday in Paris. I have mentioned the lead up to the Christmas feasts in the previous post. But as I flip thru the hundreds of pictures taken, I feel compelled to share some of other moments of this “Food and Wine festival” of ours:

  • A family reunion around a buffet of salads (tabouleh, rice), Mexican chicken drumsticks and guacamole, and petits fours…
  • The very first taste of rabbit for the children: shot by our neighbour (a keen hunter), and smothered in mustard cream sauce by my mum.rabbit in mustard sauce
  • The very taste of wild boar for all of us: shot by the same neighbour, roasted with herbs and served on a bed of tagliatelle. An acquired taste, but the clafouti and apple galette for dessert were delicious. And our hosts’ hunting tales were hilarious!wild boar
  • Caneles, Chichis, Cupcakes or Kouignettes…all deliciously rich pastries we ate as street snacks while strolling along the Champs Elysees and Boulevard St Germain (the French would rather savour them eating neatly at the table, but I can’t convince Terry to sit down to eat more than three times a day, and that’s even one too many!)
  • chichiskouignettesAsian buffet in a suburban restaurant, at the initial request of Anne craving for sushi. Everyone ended up loving the mix of Japanese sushi, Vietnamese spring rolls, Chinese fried rice and so on…best value in town at 15 euros!asian buffet
  • Expensive pasta in the city, after a busy day of touring around the Quartier Latin. The price to pay for a casual Italian in the 6th arrondissement? 40 euros per person. Ouch!pasta vongole
  • Let’s not forget the wine: most memorable reds came out of my dad’s cellar (saved for special occasions, he said), some dating back as far as 1998! As did the champagne, which somehow never seemed to run out (though I am sure it has by now). And as for the beer, Terry kept a steady supply on the window sill. The good thing about winter in Paris is that there is no need for a beer fridge!!!

Back on the boat, I could not help but feel nostalgic for all this food, thinking there just hadn’t been enough time to eat everything. Looking forward to a New Year’s Eve party organised by a friend, I jumped for joy when she asked me to bring over some desserts. Now was my chance to indulge my French pastry craving, so here I give you, my last (and most popular) desserts of 2013: Tarte aux Pommes and Gateau Tout Chocolat.

desserts 2013

Tarte Aux Pommes :

 

Serves 6-8 people

For the pastry:

170g plain flour

80g maizena (cornstarch)

1 tsp sugar

2 pinch of salt

180g butter (cold, cut in small dice)

1 egg yolk

5 tbsp. /100ml cold water

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

For the filling:

6 apples

Juice of 1 lemon (lime OK)

1 egg

50g sugar

200g sour cream

2 tbsps. calvados or rum

Icing sugar

Prepare the pastry: Place the flour, maizena, sugar, salt, butter in the bowl of a food processor.  Blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, water and vinegar and pulse until the dough just comes together. Sprinkle with a little flour, wrap in plastic film and cool in the fridge for 1h.

In the meantime, peel the apples, cut in quarter and in thin slices. Place in a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over them so they don’t turn brown. In another bowl, mix the egg with the sugar, sour cream and the alcohol of your choice. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 22cm tart dish. Roll the dough out and line the tart dish. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork. Spread 2 tbsps. of the egg/cream mixture in the bottom of the pastry case. Place the apple slices in a neat overlapping circle, Pour over the rest of the egg/cream mixture, sprinkle a little extra sugar and cook for about 30mn. Serve warm dusted with icing sugar.

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