French Farmhouse Christmas – A quartet of festive French inspired recipes for Christmas and New Year which I have created with The France Show as their ambassador for 2019. Here we have a fabulous salad which is the prelude to roast duck with cherries, fresh seasonal vegetables and a stunning frosted fruit cheesecake for dessert.
A Quartet of Festive French Recipes
Just across the channel, the French celebrate Christmas in a different way to us, with the main event being Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. And, in some parts of France the children receive gifts on the 6th December, St Nicholas’s Day, when they leave their shoes outside the door for St Nicholas to fill them with sweets and small gifts, so Christmas starts early for them. When I first moved to France over eighteen years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a special “Reveillon” party on Christmas Eve – and it was a wonderful introduction into a typical French farmhouse Christmas, as indeed my neighbours were local farmers.
We arrived at 10pm and had drinks and “amuse bouche” before all trooping off the Midnight Mass. The main meal was not served until after those who had attended Midnight Mass were back, and then it was a sit down dinner all through night until the wee small hours. Oysters and champagne were served first, before a fish course of carp (although trout and pike are sometimes served) was served and then the main event of the special Reveillon meal, a plump capon with morels mushrooms and a huge tray of pommes Dauphinoise.
Next the cheese course was brought out and our wine glasses were refreshed and a lovely local Bordeaux wine was served with the cheese. In between courses, bowls of fresh salad leaves were brought out to “refresh” the palate and the wine flowed all evening. The desserts were then brought out – a fabulous array of patisseries from the local baker, with fresh coffee and cognac and liqueurs were offered alongside. Log fires were replenished throughout the evening and French Christmas carols were playing softly on the background, it was a truly magical evening.
We staggered home at about 3am in the morning, the first ones to leave, and left our wonderful French neighbours enjoying roast chestnuts, nuts and bowls of sweets and nougat. Although I cannot manage a full night’s entertainment French Style every Christmas Eve, I am keen to replicate some of the food that I enjoyed on that evening as well as subsequent evenings, such as roast duck with fruity sauces, simple salads, a local cheeseboard and of course something sweet to end the meal with.
This is a menu I have created with The France Show 2019 as their ambassador for 2019, and there is a fabulous opportunity to win some tickets to the show below. I hope that you will enjoy my French Farmhouse Christmas menu this year as a slightly alternative way to celebrate and serve Christmas dinner, whether it be on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Karen
Now to some exciting news, at the bottom of this post, I have shared a SPECIAL CODE for the FIRST lucky 100 Lavender and Lovage readers to WIN a ticket (or tickets) to The France Show 2019. Just use the special code and then click on the link to get your FREE entrance tickets worth £12 per person.
*Disclaimer: I am The France Show 2019 Ambassador and have received a fee for working with the show and creating recipes for them*
Festive French Salad with Bayonne Ham and Walnuts
1 x 20og bag of mixed salad leaves
8 slices of Bayonne Ham or air-dried ham of your choice
100g walnut halves
2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons walnut oil
Salt and pepper
- First mix the salad dressing together in a small jar with a lid.
- Arrange the salad leaves in individual bowls or on a large serving platter and tear the ham into small pieces before adding the ham to the leaves.
- Scatter the nuts over the top and dress the salad just before serving. Serve with crusty bread
Roast Duck with Cherries
1 x 1.4 to 1.8kg Duck
Sea salt and pepper
1 x 600g jar of Cherry Compote
4 to 6 tablespoons ruby port
Zest of one orange
- Pat the duck dry and then prick the skin all over with a skewer, not down to the flesh, but just through the fat – make sure you prick the duck all over, underneath too.
- Place the duck on a roasting rack in a roasting tray and then rub sea salt all over the duck.
- Place the duck in a pre-heated oven 220C/425F/Gas 7 and cook for 20 minutes before turning heat down to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and continuing to cook the duck for a further 2 hours, draining off the duck fat regularly. (Keep the duck fat to roast potatoes)
- When the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes, before carving it and serving it with the cherry compote sauce.
- Cherry compote sauce: Place the whole jar of cherry compote in a saucepan with the port and orange zest and bring to the boil. Take the sauce of the heat and allow to cool slightly to thicken before serving with the roast duck.
Citrus Buttered Haricots Verts
400g fine green beans, topped and tailed
Zest of one orange
Zest of one lemon
- Cook the beans on a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until just soft but with a bite.
- Drain the beans and then put them back into the saucepan and add the butter and citrus zest, reserving a little for a garnish; heat them over a low heat until the beans have a slight buttery glaze.
- Serve them straight away with the reserved citrus zest as a garnish.
Frosted Winter Fruits Baked Cheesecake
12 crushed chocolate digestive biscuits
50g melted unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
300g cream cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g caster sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons raspberry jam
320g frozen mixed fruits of the forest
Pre-heat oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Line a 20cm spring form tin with greaseproof paper.
Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and press the mixture into the lined tin, pressing down well with the back of a spoon. Chill for 30 minutes to firm up.
Mix the cream cheese, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar together, beating well until smooth. Pour the mixture into the tin with the biscuit base and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set.
Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack, before carefully unclipping it and taking it out to cool until cold.
Slice the cheesecake onto a serving platter and spread the jam over the top; then scatter the frozen fruits over the top and allowing the fruit to thaw slightly before serving.
Serve in thin slices with cream.
WIN 100 free entrance tickets to
The France Show 2019
Use the special code below, and proceed to the checkout,
where the total will show as £0:00
The Promo code is: TFLL29 for 100 free tickets – valid until the
1st January 2019
Link to the checkout is here: Checkout
or here: Tickets
About the show:
The UK’s greatest celebration of France returns to Olympia London
The UK’s greatest celebration of France returns to Olympia London on 25-27 January 2019. Whether you love French food and wine, enjoy holidays in the sunshine or want to find your dream property, The France Show is the place to be.
Be inspired by top French chefs and authors on the Flavours of France stage, sample French wines in the Wine Theatre, listen to the live French music and pick up some goodies in the French Market – don’t miss the can can dancers! Get language tips and holiday ideas from the experts, even try your hand at pétanque, and just enjoy a great French day out!
Thinking of buying a property in France? The France Show hosts the UK’s largest French Property Exhibition; a unique opportunity to browse thousands of properties for sale, talk to agents about your plans and get free expert advice on buying or living in France at the seminar theatres. There are plenty of property bargains to be had so don’t miss out!
The France Show – a fabulous French day out in the heart of London.