Posted by: njbrown | December 6, 2009

Bûche, saffron and possibly chocolate ruffles

December 6, 2009

The undecorated 9′ Christmas tree is standing in a corner of the living room, so today is the day to get it done, and as much of the rest of the house as possible.  Yesterday’s cooking plans went sideways, meaning that my Bûche experiment was postponed until this afternoon.  When George and I went out for late night dessert for me and green tea for him, we ran into another couple who will be at the men’s pot luck.  The lady graciously offered to trade her dessert assignment for my appetizers, so I’m now back on track for chocolate orange cheesecake with approximately 30 chocolate ruffles.  While I’m taking Friday afternoon off to work on the dessert, I’ll feel better if I can get at least some of the ruffles made before then.  Alice Medrich said the cake needs between 15 and 30, and I only made about 10 out of one pan’s chocolate.  Alice said one of the biggest challenges of doing this is finding room in the refrigerator for all of the pans of chocolate that need to be sufficiently chilled before ruffling.  (For more details on this process, please see previous posts about chocolate ruffles where I give the link to the video.)

One of the reasons for deferring my Bûche attempt was finding that I needed bleached cake flour – not a staple in my kitchen.  After our dessert trip, we hit the all-night grocery, and the flour is now in my cupboard.  In the cupboard, too, is real saffron I was finally able to find in the farthest speciality store in our town.  It is in a very tiny box – slightly bigger than two postage stamps.  However, when I tried some in hot water – because my memory from years ago is that the minute I put saffron into something hot, the dish turned saffron color – the saffron produced only a half-hearted tint.  I have no idea whether dried saffron can get too old, but I’ll use this in a dish recommended by one of my globe-trotting staff:  scallops in saffron sauce.

All of this may be too much for one day, especially when we have about 150 decorations accumulated over the years to be strategically placed on the tree.  I began buying special decorations for the children after they were born with the idea of giving them half when they got their own homes.  A few years ago, in a stressful time, I decided the tree needed more glitter and now I have a number of glass snowflakes and sparkling gold and silver balls that are interspersed with the more child-oriented ornaments.  When the children were very young and I was more energetic and ambitious, I decorated the tree with gingerbread men and women and red and white candy canes as well as the children’s ornaments.  It made a very cheerful tree that also smelled good.

My menu planning for Christmas dinner so far has been limited to Portobello mushrooms stuffed with not-in-the-turkey-made stuffing for my vegan daughter, and hopefully Bûche de Noel.  At least there is time to come up with other things.



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