Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Croque

I just finished washing the last of the wine glasses from Sunday dinner, which turned out to be a very relaxing and warm way to spend a December evening. It rained like crazy here on Sunday, with big dramatic gusts of wind, thunder that sent our dog trembling into the corners and downpours that soaked me as I ran about doing the last of the dinner errands. I now know that San Francisco rain is the poor man's snow, so I was excited about the "storm", since inclement weather of any kind makes it feel cosy indoors.

I never did find a pig foot, but the boeuf bourguignonne didn't seem to suffer much. It actually ended up being the perfect party dish since I was able to stretch its preparation out over many days. By Sunday all I had to do was reheat it and make a salad. Thankfully, since as ever I was a bit ambitious with my other plans: alphabet Christmas cookie seating cards, a bevy of other sweets and a croquembouche.

I had a few extraordinarily clumsy days last week (grace incarnate I am not) and the croquembouche was the prime showcase for this klutz. The pastry cream threw itself from the refrigerator when Sarah unwittingly opened the door, spilling and invading the crevices between the floorboards of our rustic pine floors. Our dog, for once, came in handy. Then, as is inevitable, I burned my thumb on the molten caramel I was dipping each cream puff into. But the result was really lovely, I thought. Dear Sarah made a comment, somewhere between baking the cream puffs, whipping up the filling and swirling pans of caramel, that she hoped this dessert (for which I had enlisted her help and used many, many pans) would taste as good as it looked. Actually, I think the comment was more along the lines of, "do you think this will be worth it?"

What can I say?

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