A Very Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas everybody! I hope y'all are stuffed full of yummy food and have gotten everything you wished for. I'm very happy (flat-screen HD tv!!!) and also very full. Christmas dinner was delicious, and in my opinion, waayyy better than Thanksgiving dinner this year. My mom and I decided we were going to make the same main course we made last year (because it was just so darn good): Roast Duck with Lavender and Honey. Amazing!! We also did a repeat of last year's best side dish, Herbes de Provence Red Potato Wedges. We tried out a new side dish with Baby Carrots with Tarragon. Last but not least, I made an absolutely beautiful dessert, a Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries. Ho ho ho!
This duck is the best thing I think I've ever made. I'm a huge fan of duck in the first place, so I'm probably somewhat biased, but the flavors and aromas are so delightful. Not to mention the fact that this is actually easy. I'm sure I'll be making it again next year...
Roast Duck with Lavender and Honey
- 4 tsp. fresh, or 2 tsp. dried, lavender blossoms
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
- 4 Tbsp. lavender honey or orange flower honey
- 5-to-6-pound duck
Baby Carrots with Tarragon
- 4 bunches (8-oz each) baby carrots, peeled & trimmed
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon or 3 tsp. dried
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. honey
Herbes de Provence Red Potato Wedges
- 2 pounds red potatoes, washed
- 3 Tbsp. EVOO or enough to coat
- 2 Tbsp. herbes de provence or dried parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, combined
- 1 Tbsp. grill seasoning (such as McCormick Montreal Seasoning) or 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries
(courtesy of Bon Appetit)
This frozen dessert worked out great for us this year since we had a Florida-style, 80-degree Christmas (complete with thunderstorms and a tornado watch). My mom said this was her favorite dessert I've ever made. Not sure I would go that far (I'm not a fan of tart things as much as she is), but it sure was yummy.
- about 9-oz. of chocolate biscotti
- 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. water
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 2 c. chilled heavy whipping cream
- 5 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
- 3 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
- 1/2 c. ruby Port
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. honey
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 5 c. fresh cranberries
For filling: Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium metal bowl. Set over saucepan of simmering water and whisk vigorously until candy thermometer registers 175°F, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add spices. Using mixer, beat until thick and cool, about 5 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, sour cream, Grand Marnier, orange juice concentrate, and grated orange peel in large bowl until peaks form. Add egg yolk mixture and fold together. Pour 2/3 of filling into crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumb mixture. Gently spoon remaining filling over. Cover; freeze overnight or up to 3 days.
For topping: Whisk Port and cornstarch in large skillet to blend. Add sugar, honey, and spices. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, stirring often. Add cranberries; cook until mixture boils and cranberries begin to pop but still hold shape, about 5 minutes. Chill topping at least 6 hours or overnight.
Release pan sides from torte. Transfer torte to platter. Spoon topping over filling.