[Zucchini and Mushroom Crumble]
On Christmas day, Maxence and his mother joined us for lunch at my parents’. My mother and I cooked for this meal too, preparing most of it the day before.
As a first course, we served a Zucchini and Mushroom Crumble, a recipe we had come up with a week before, during our Christmas-menu-brainstorming session. Elaborating menus is one of my favorite activities, and practicing it with my mother was a lot of fun : the ping-pong mode we fell into, throwing different dish ideas into the air, catching them, morphing them, and throwing them back, keeping an ingredient but changing the method of preparation, staying with a theme but putting a different twist to it, until we settled on a combination that suited our needs in terms of taste, festiveness, ease and fun of preparation.
After this, we served a roasted turkey, which I unfortunately didn’t get to photograph before the carving, stuffed with a walnut chestnut stuffing. I had never made stuffing before, but my mother had numerous times, and the walnut chestnut idea was from a magazine clipping. But as we started making the stuffing and I was asking about ingredient X or Y or some step the recipe called for, I quickly realized and pointed out with a laugh that she needed no recipe at all : what she really intended to make was her usual (delicious) stuffing, adding walnuts and chestnuts in the mix. And I can’t really tell you how it was made, as I spent the entire recipe-making time chopping walnuts and chestnuts, sneaking teeny bits in every now and then. We served the turkey with a celery root purée, a traditional Christmas meal fare in France, and a sweet potato purée with maple syrup, inspired from the Thanksgiving meals Maxence and I were lucky enough to partake in back in the US. The turkey was fantastic, moist and flavorful, and the trimmings were equally wonderful.
Next came a cheese course of dry goat cheese, Mont d’Or (a.k.a. vacherin, served in its pine bark with a spoon as is the custom) and Etorky, a sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrénées.