Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Eve

We started Xmas Eve in Sezanne where they, believe it or not!!, absail Santa and his elves off the large stone Cathedral into the cobbled square, helium filled balloons are released and bags of gorgeous chocolates and sweets are distributed to all of the children present...
 Wee pop up shops under the cathedral sell crafts, 'vin chaud', waffles and crepes...the Merry-go-round also does great business....
 French families then head home to start the feasting....oysters, champagne, salmon, foie gras, cheese and 'bouche de Noel'....elaborately decorated sponge roll or log to finish....presents are then shared and opened...possibly followed by a trip to the local 'Eglise' for Midnight Mass...although this seems less popular as time goes on....
For the past 3 or 4 years we have dined in the traditional French way on Christmas Eve on many gorgeous treats at the home of local friends....then after numerous courses with wine to match we go out to our car and dig it out of the snow before heading our families English tradition for the children is to wake early to open your stockings and then try your best to get the adults washed and fed as soon as possible so you can unwrap the pile of presents under the tree...

These two traditions enacted simultaneously cause quite a bit of sleep deprivation in the household meaning that the huge Xmas bird ends up being eaten closer to dinner than lunch and on it goes....
This year we did not attend the long meal on Xmas Eve and as a result awoke fresh and ready to attack the day come Christmas morning with cheerful rested children and smiling chirpy adults...

At our house the traditional dessert is Pavlova...a typical Kiwi meringue dessert that is made by all aunts, mothers and daughters up and down the sun drenched land at Xmas....dressed with cream and fruit...passion fruit, kiwifruit, raspberries or strawberries...

This is my mothers recipe and one that takes some looks complex but is all very simple...give it a go!

My Mum's Soft Centre Pavlova   

3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of cold water
3 tsp cornflour
Pinch salt
Half a tsp vanilla
1 tsp vinegar

Beat egg whites until very stiff. Add water (a tbsp at a time) and beat. Add sugar gradually, beating well. Lastly mix in cornflour, salt, vinegar and vanilla. Place mixture on baking paper which has been wet under tap. Spread mixture to create hollow-ish centre. Bake at 130 deg C for 1 hour, then turn oven off and leave for 1 hour. Take out and place on wore rack to cool.

Hints for Pav making –
Bowl and beater must be clean and dry.
Add sugar a little at a time & beat well when all is added.
Don’t over-beat egg whites or they may go runny.
Separate eggs very carefully....

Pavlova was standard fare for birthday’s and Christmas. Hearing Mum’s beater going was a sound associated with birthday celebrations.
Home to whip up Liliana's stocking...she has nagged me for years for one the same as the older here is is...all ready for the big boy to fill!!


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