The holidays bring family and friends together to celebrate the festive season over delectable feast and drink. To help make your holiday dinner a mouthwateringly memorable holiday affair, Chef Jacques Haeringer of Washington DC’s legendary restaurant L’Auberge Chez Francois, shares his holiday feast philosophy and three elegant, yet easy, holiday recipes.
An Elegant Holiday feast
Chef Jacques Haeringer, author of Two for Tonight, a collection of recipes that inspire romance through food and togetherness, and the Chez François Cookbook, the bible of classic Alsatian cuisine featuring some of the restaurant’s most popular recipes, believes that combining great food and a warm, welcoming environment is the key to a memorable holiday evening.
“Unforgettable meals are a tradition at L’Auberge Chez François,” explains Chef Jacques. “It’s a tradition based on our philosophy that life’s memorable moments are not complete without a festive meal – the ambience, the artful presentation and the anticipation of delightful tastes merge together to indulge the senses and help create a wonderful holiday experience.”
You can create your own deliciously unforgettable feast by serving your holiday guests the following holiday recipes, courtesy of Chef Jacques.
Pumpkin Ginger Soup
The quintessential and humble holiday pumpkin soup gets an elegant update with the addition of succulent chunks of lobster. One delectable bite of this and your guests will never want plain ol’ pumpkin soup again.
- 1, 28-ounce can pure pumpkin
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 teaspoons raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1 (1-pound) lobster
- 1 large pumpkin, top removed, seeds and membranes removed (for tureen)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine pumpkin, broth, water, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Meanwhile, fill a pot fitted with a steamer top with salted water and bring to a boil. Place the lobster in the steamer, cover, and cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the lobster is just cooked through. Remove and allow to cool.
- Crack the lobster claws to remove the meat. Split the lobster tail down the center and remove the meat. Reserve meat with the lobster claws.
- Remove pumpkin soup from heat and stir in the half and half. Divide the lobster meat between 6 warm serving bowls. Pour the hot soup into the pumpkin tureen and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds before serving. Ladle the soup into the warm serving bowls.
Roast Sea Bass Provencal
For an intimate holiday meal, serve this flavorful, tender sea bass swimming in a rich white sauce.
- 2 pound sea bass, rinsed with cold water, patted dry
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
- 3 branches dried fennel stalks
- 2 bunches fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup dry white vermouth, divided
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, warmed, divided
- 8 ounces butter, diced and chilled
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper. Stuff with fresh and dried fennel and half of the tarragon, and rub the outside of the fish with oil.
- Place the sea bass in the center of the parchment paper. Gather the edges of the parchment, partially close, and pour 1/4 cup vermouth over the fish. Seal the edges of the parchment paper.
- Roast fish for 18 minutes or to desired doneness. Remove from the heat and set aside, keeping warm.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, bring the remaining vermouth, tarragon, and 1 tablespoon black pepper to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until reduced to one tablespoon. Remove from the heat, strain, and return to low heat.
- Into the vermouth mixture, whisk in half of the cream. Gradually whisk in the butter to form an emulsion. Add the remaining cream to desired consistency. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, and season with salt and cayenne to taste.
No holiday meal is complete without a little bit of the “bubbly.” Try this delightfully light mousse. For an extra elegant and sweet touch, garnish with fruit marinated in Champagne
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice or sugar
- 2/3 cup Champagne
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon water
- Whip the heavy cream to firm peaks and refrigerate.
- Combine egg yolks and evaporated cane juice or sugar in a heat-safe glass or stainless steel bowl and whisk until the mixture whitens. Whisk in the Champagne.
- Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook, beating constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a light hollandaise sauce. Remove from heat and continue whisking for about 1 minute. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Combine the gelatin and water in a small saucepan and let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Heat the softened gelatin mixture until the gelatin dissolves and the liquid clears.
- Whisk the dissolved gelatin into the Champagne mixture. Fold in the whipped cream with the aid of a rubber spatula. Chill for 1 hour before piping the mousse into chilled Champagne flutes or dessert dishes.
Visit www.ChefJacques.com for video cooking demonstrations, the schedule for cooking classes, or to make a reservation at L’Auberge Chez Francois.