Updated: Mar 18
Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. There is always a festive feeling leading up to Christmas, from the Christmas music to stringing up lights and holiday decorations. It doesn’t help that I live in one of the most picturesque Christmas towns, Excelsior.
When I was a young child, my grandmother always threw the most extravagant Thanksgiving dinners. The entire family would gather at her house, eat a massive dinner, attempt to figure out how to turn on the most complicated TV for an hour then the grandkids would run around the house playing games with one another.
Naturally, when I became a more experienced cook, I took the reins for Christmas. You’ll soon find that I talk a lot about my family traditions and experience with cooking. Some of my fondest memories of the holidays and cooking center around my family, who are more important than anything else to me.
I’ve always prepared large Christmas dinners and tried to invite as many people as possible during the holidays. It wasn’t till last year, 2019, that I truly went all out. Everything was planned down to a T. The tablescape was planned months in advance, the cooking process took multiple days, and was timed on a schedule down to the minute. I even went so far as to collect spring water and make special ice cubes that were completely clear. As you can probably tell… I take Christmas VERY seriously; some would say a little… ok, significantly… over the top. But I don’t do it for unique Christmas pictures or compliments; I do it to make those who attend happy.
My goal is always to make each dish I make, each Christmas party I host, the best anyone’s ever had. If my guests leave with a full stomach and a smile, my Christmas is a success.
To put on such an event, I had to go to great lengths in 2019. New tableware had to be bought, I had a Gammon, an uncooked ham commonly eaten in England, special ordered from a butcher in Minneapolis, and it was all hands on deck in the kitchen. Everything was strictly from scratch and made the day of. You should have seen me running around in the kitchen, chef coat on, and managing the entire stovetop and multiple desserts in the oven. In the end, I really put myself through the paces to see what I could do.
Immediately following Christmas 2019, I feverously began working on Christmas 2020. I wanted to bring myself back to traditional cooking and thus began work on a French cuisine menu. I decided on a five-course menu, starting with a humble Soupe à la Bonne Femme, Oranges en Cointreau, Poulet sauté archiduc, and Fromage, followed by the most amazing Mille-Feuille or Gâteau aux Crêpes au Chocolat.
Or for us native English speakers, a humble potato and leek soup, oranges in liqueur, chicken thigh with a creamy brandy veloute sauce with my secret bouquet of herbs, a selection of cheeses, and puff pastry with cream, raspberries, and a raspberry lime coulis or a chocolate crepe cake. Many of the recipes used or inspiration I received was from the late 1800s!
The dinner was followed by a selection of traditional French cookies and la Chocolat Chaud- a rich Parisian hot chocolate.
I once again put myself through the paces this Christmas. As usual, a new tablescape had to be designed along with a massive grocery list and timeline. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, a large Christmas party was not possible, and many family members could not make it. So, our party was only six people on Christmas Eve.
And so, to make as many people happy through my cooking this Christmas, I did what I’ve never done before. I began selling a few of my most requested items to those around me. Orders started to come in slowly but grew almost exponentially in a day or two. I was inundated with orders!
I bought cake boxes and wrote extravagant thank you letters signed with calligraphy and sealed with a wax seal. Everything was again done to the highest standard. I woke up early and went to bed late to fulfill every order on time. It was a lot for one person to fulfill, especially since every was hand made from scratch.
From a five-course French dinner that was an absolute success to special holiday orders, I’ve had my work cut out. I’ve enjoyed every second of the stress because I know I’ve made someone’s holiday memorable. I hope and pray that I made Christmas all the more remarkable for those around me.
I think now it’s time to sit back, drink a steaming cup of hot chocolate and watch the flames in the fireplace dance about. It’s time to spend time with my family and be grateful for the fantastic friends and family around me.
Have a very Merry Christmas,
“The Flying Chef”