My college-aged children arrive home for the holidays like most people’s: mere shadows of themselves, survivors of the semester, starving for mom’s cooking. I am all too ready to comply as I’ve been in the seasonal spirit for weeks. The French build up to the holidays with lovely dinners beginning in early December, each replete with the special foods of the season from oysters to smoked salmon, pâté de foie gras and coquilles St. Jacques, so we are primed by the time the big days of Christmas and New Years’ eve arrive.
But I’m faced with a small challenge that many of you may have: my daughter is vegetarian, my son vegan. They aren’t averse to occasionally falling off the wagon for a nugget of butter or an egg folded into a cake batter or cookie dough, but forget meat or seafood. These are “interdits” or forbiddens. I was vegetarian for a decade and I’m still vegetable-oriented, thus empathetic. So, I fill the refrigerator with hummus and raw vegetables, make sure that I have plenty of soups in the freezer, and check that lentils, bulgur, chickpeas, polenta, and various varieties of rice are all where they should be. I then make plenty of peanut butter, and set that next to the almond and hazelnut butter on the shelf. The children – who aren’t really children anymore – arrive, and I’m prepared.
But I still want to make something fancy and special for the holidays, I like to dress it up. This year I found a lovely solution for a first course that I want to share, quickly, because you may still find yourself with the desire to serve something elegant and delicious that meet dietary demands. What follows is one of my holiday menus, and recipes to help you along the way with merriment, flavor, and color!
Roasted Almonds with Honey and Thyme
A Trio of Soups* (recipes or links included)
Potato Galette with Green Salad
What follows are recipes or links for the three soups. The Galette recipe is in French Farmhouse Cookbook – simply substitute olive oil for the duck or goose fat.
I suggest that to make it very lovely you’ll need a demitasse for each soup (they don’t have to match). You’ll have to decide if you want a separate spoon for each soup. And you may want a pretty napkin on the plate to keep the cups from spinning and sliding as you serve them. Try these, enjoy them all together, and Happy Rest of the Holiday Season!
You can make and freeze the soups, then get them from the freezer right before you plan to serve them. The recipes, or links to them, follow:
- 1 2 pounds;1 kg head cauliflower , cut in florets
- 1 large shallot minced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Ground cinnamon preferably Vietnamese
1. Place the cauliflower and shallot into a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water by 2-inches (5cm). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low so the liquid simmers, add about ½ teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper and cook, partially covered, until the cauliflower is tender through, about 20 minutes. Test the cauliflower with a sharp knife to check for tenderness. 2. When the cauliflower is cooked all the way through, puree the cauliflower using a wand mixer. Taste the soup for seasoning. Adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper, and divide the soup among six shallow soup bowls. Dust the top of the soup with cinnamon, and serve immediately.