One thing I need to set straight with you my friends. No matter how organized I think I may be—or appear to be; no matter how many lists or timelines I create; no matter how ahead I think I may be. I’m usually not. OK?
Seriously. I had Chateau Bonaparte decorated the day before Thanksgiving. We got the crooked tree the first weekend in December. I wrapped gifts as quickly as I could after purchasing them–well most of the gifts. Food shopping was completed yesterday with just a few odds and ends needed. And Bonaparte picked that stuff up today.
Come on in. The cyber kettle is whistling and I’ll fix you a cup of tea and proceed to tell you about my chaotic Christmas preparations of today.
So yesterday I got up really early. I had a busy day ahead of me. Manicure. Pedicure. Hair. Then it was home to start on the meringue mushrooms for the Buche de Noel.
Presently, my nails are the prettiest part of me. Like the color? It’s “Opi Red”
No sooner did I leave the hair salon when it started to rain. For once, I wasn’t thinking about my hair. I had a hat and umbrella so my tresses were protected. My thoughts ran more about the fact that meringue and damp, rainy weather do not make a good pair.
Anyway, when I got home I made the meringue mushrooms. In order to protect them from the elements, I put the stems and the tops in a plastic Ziploc bag and sucked the air out of them. I’m still hoping that they last until Christmas day when I decorate. If they don’t survive, I’ve got almond paste as a backup. I’ll make marzipan mushrooms instead—but I like meringue better.
My little meringue mushroom caps and stems in the oven. I’m soooo
pissed upset that they will be ruined because of the f u lousy weather!
Next I decided to bake the rest of the cookie dough I froze. Corn cookies and Chocolate Chocolate cookies. Then I started to obsess. Would biscotti, sugar cookies, corn cookies and chocolate, chocolate cookies be enough? Would the candied nuts I made be enough? Should I make another brioche?
I decided to make truffles. Chocolate truffles and caramel truffles. Then I made a sauce for the frozen Nougatine that I had in the freezer. I opened the freezer door and a heavy brick of frozen dough fell on my foot. At that point I realized it was late so I went to bed. I figured I would just get up extra-early today and do more preparation.
I went a bit truffle crazy. Caramel truffles. Chocolate Truffles. Topped with Sea salt, chopped Butterfinger bars, chopped pistachios, cocoa and my favorite…..
Chocolate truffles covered with Momofuku Milk Crumb. Y.U.M.!
I woke up early and ambitiously reached for the remote control. Well, I did wake up early. And while enjoying a cup of coffee in bed, I started watching a movie. Then I realized I was being a lazy sloth. So I got dressed—and by dressed, I mean I went into the laundry basket, pulled out the same pair of plaid Old Navy pajama bottoms I’ve been wearing for a week and my stained Sriracha tee shirt that Chippy has happily been licking for the past few days. He’s licking all the baking ingredients that have fallen on it. It’s an economical way of doing laundry!
My first chore task was to bake the genoise cake for the Buche de Noel. Then I looked out the window. At the pouring rain. Mother Nature just shit all over me. The rain affects my baking.
Two genoise cakes rolled up to cool in towels. One fell apart. Thankfully, I made a backup!
I went back to the counter. Chippy was quite the sight as he tried to get the buttered parchment paper out of the sheet pan. It. Was. Going. To. Be. A. Long. Day. Not one, but two cakes were baked. Oh yes! I baked a backup. Just in case—and it was a good thing I did. One of the cakes fell apart because the moisture in the air was just too much. Luckily the other cake was fine.
The nerve of this
child rascal! He tried, but failed! Well on THIS he failed..
Next task. Macaroni and cheese—or shall I say “Cheese and Macaroni”. I know. Mac & Cheese isn’t exactly refined for a nice Christmas dinner, but this dish became a tradition a couple of years ago because it was a safe bet for Bonaparte’s granddaughter. Um…it was suggested I made the crap from the box. No. If I’m serving this at Christmas dinner, the only thing coming from a box is the pasta.
Cheese and macaroni, seasoned with lots of pepper, I’ll top with more cheese and panko before baking on Christmas day!
Time for a well-needed rest. I sat in the sun room and cursed the rain while enjoying a cup of tea. Then I realized Oona was flying from Arkansas to LaGuardia later in the day. Now I was really in my gutter-mouth frame of mind. Mutha Nature is a bitch on wheels. I messaged Oona asking her to give me ALL of her flight information. She sent me a photo of her boarding pass. THIS meant she did not wish to speak to me because I make her stressed out when I’m in my present frame of mind. My daughter is one very smart young woman.
Some view. I would much rather see snow than rain!
I wish I drank during the day. I could use a cocktail right now—but it’s only 11:00AM!
I settled for Craisins instead. It’s the healthiest thing I’ve eaten in a week!
More preparation to be done! Potatoes are next. Bonaparte wants his crispy potatoes in duck fat. I know there are others at the table who will not want their potatoes in duck fat. I decided to make Duchess Potatoes: The Endless Meal. Duchess Potatoes. I prepared the potatoes and put them in the pastry bag. On Christmas Day, I’ll just pipe and cook. To me, this is a great way to do potatoes ahead. And, they will look very fancy!
The Duchess potatoes are in this pastry bag. I wrapped cling over the tip so it wouldn’t leak!
Time for another break. Chippy needs to go outside and “make”! Let me tell you, this little rascal will “make” a huge mountain from all the garbage he’s stolen today. Macaroni, paper towels, a stick of butter—unwrapped no less. As I write this, he had the nerve to try to eat the wrapping paper that Bonaparte left in the office. Chippy has a “thing” about paper.
That look either means I want more crumbs or I need to go out to “make”. NOW!
Time to get the buttercream out of the fridge to soften so I can apply the filling to the buche.
Buttercream filling is behind the ganache that’ll be the top frosting for the Buche!
Time for a TV break. Oh. It’s Nigella Lawson. She’s making a dressing for smoked salmon. Hey. I have salmon in the fridge. I also have the ingredients that Nigella is using. Back to the kitchen to make Nigella’s dressing for the smoked salmon that is in the fridge. I make the dressing then realize that I forgot about the pate I made the other day.
Now my brain is in high gear. Bonaparte invited one of his tennis buddies and his “lady” friend over for an aperitif tomorrow evening—which is nice. The kids are having dinner with their dad in New York and will be arriving here later tomorrow night. I can put out a nice spread of the pate, salmon and cheese. Oh…and the Alain Ducasse’s Gougeres I made in advance.
Gougeres. Little puffs of chou pastry with cheese. They are the perfect appetizer. I baked, froze. And when I need them, I just reheat!
More prep. Now for the Sprouts of Brussels. Everyone except Bonaparte loves Brussels Sprouts. I will be serving them with shallot, dried cranberries, and bacon. Topped with a reduction of balsamic vinegar. I cut the sprouts, blanched them, and put them in a bag. Also in the bag are smaller bags of the shallots, craisins and chopped bacon. Nice and easy.
I blanched these little cuties to bring out their color!
I cleaned the kitchen mess I made to the best of my ability. Bonaparte recleaned the kitchen after dinner.
Time to get the gifts from downstairs and embellish them. I decided to do this in the living room so I could get my lazy on and watch cooking shows. Ina “Barefoot Contessa” Garten, my delusional BFF, is having some fabulous holiday offerings. I love Ina so much. She is the Waspyish Jewish woman I don’t personally know. I love her recipes, her home, her voice and all her gay men friends. She’s just so great at all things Christmas!
Do you think Ina ever lazes around the house in the same Old Navy PJ bottoms for days on end? I wonder if she will ever invite ME over for Christmas dinner?
Ribbons, bows, strings, hot glue gun, scissors. Burns from the glue. It’s all good!
Like my festive wrapping? The things I do for Bonaparte!!!
Bonaparte calls me from upstairs. He wants to know where a few gifts he got for Jake, Roman and Oona are. I tell him I wrapped them. He tells me in his thick French accent. “Non. I deed not geev zem to ou”. “Whut deed ou wop?”
Now I think I have dementia. I run back downstairs to the closet where more “wopped geefs” are. I grab the wrapped gifts and run two flights of stairs back to Bonaparte. I do some explaining and Bonaparte realized that I “deed”, in fact “wop” the gifts.
Run back downstairs and finish the embellishments.
One of many embellished gifts! I finished up the rest today!
Holy Mother of God (I’m not cursing—it’s Christmas time) it is now 6:30 PM. I need to start dinner AND check on Oona’s flight status. Flight is delayed more than an hour—but I don’t dare call her. She will say I am stressing her out. ME????? Stress someone out????????
I get dinner ready. I also realize that I need to iron clothing.
But you know what? I’ll get up extra-early tomorrow to iron. And to take the brioche that I baked last week out of the freezer. And take the cinnamon buns I prepared out to rise.
This also freezes well. I’m so happy I made this in advance–the weather would kill this if I made it today!
And I’ll actually take a nice and relaxing bath and shave my legs and put make up on and dress in something other than my Old Navy PJ bottoms and a tee shirt and I’ll look pretty and I’ll have a nice relaxing Christmas Eve.
Isn’t it funny—I mean, the way that we think we are all prepared and all “I’ve got everything under control” when we kind of aren’t. But that’s the fun part. We all vow (at least I do) that next year will be different, but it never is—and that’s what so great about Christmas Chaos.
Bonaparte is looking forward to me being dressed in something other than this. Tomorrow I will make his wish come true!
Christmas chaos can be fun—stressful but fun stress. So do whatever it is you have to do tomorrow as the countdown to Christmas continues—but have a GREAT TIME doing it!
Today’s Christmas song is an oldie but greatie. Remember the group “Yes”? Remember Jon Anderson, the one-time lead singer of Yes? He had a Christmas Album “3 Ships” and it is incredibly hard to find. I had the vinyl and this song “The Holly and the Ivy” was my favorite. Enjoy!