As I write there is a huge grin on my face. I am remembering the lead-up to Christmases past, and those excited telephone calls from my mum at home in Franche-Comté. ‘Don’t forget to bring the Christmas pudding,’ Maman Blanc would say (though in French, naturellement).
She need never have worried. Always I prepared our pudding many months in advance of the Christmas Day feast. A crumbly, perfectly matured pudding, enriched with fine cognac (should you wish to make it, please see my Christmas recipes). I recall boarding Eurostar, laden with gifts, and then my mum at the door, waiting to greet me with the words: “The pudding – have you remembered it?”
This is our third Christmas without Maman Blanc. However, I’ll be visiting my French family in Franche-Comté and, of course, I’ll be taking the pudding …
As the snow drifts outside, we’ll enjoy a spectacular feast with Christmas pudding served after the bûche de Noël. I’ll upturn the gently steamed pudding on a platter, crown it with holly leaves and berries, douse it in cognac, set it alight and then carefully carry it to my family at the table. Yes, this is certainly a dramatic, little triumph which brings cheers and applause. (Though one year I almost set Chez Blanc ablaze with the wild flames of my glowing pudding!) And together we will raise a glass to our beloved Maman Blanc…
The tastes of the festive season are all about those celebratory moments and comfort food cravings. Here you will find recipes for those occasions and I urge you to look at my Christmas recipes. These include glazed ham with piccalilli, as well as the perfect roast turkey and cranberry sauce, and favourite trimmings such as roast potatoes and celeriac purée. If you fancy an alternative to turkey, how about roast goose or beef Wellington? The recipes are here, too. If you are searching for dessert inspiration, may I suggest the iced coffee parfait or the reverse chocolate crumble. Meanwhile the deeply moreish dishes in my Winter section offer heaps of comfort: onion soup; coq au vin; or wholesome, creamy fish pie; as well as poached winter fruits in spiced wine, roasted pineapple, bread and butter pudding and riz au lait (yes, rice pudding).
Follow Raymond Blanc