Nativity and Visitation of the Shepherds from Duc De Berry's Tres Belle Heures, Begun circa 1382 Nativity and Visitation of the Shepherds from Duc de Berry's
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Réveillon - A Creole Christmas Tradition



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The Nativity, Late 15th Century
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Revealing Réveillon
Christmas dining, New Orleans style
By Lorin Gaudin
New Orleans Magazine, December 2000

"Eating in New Orleans is always a historical experience. Stretching back
many years, virtually every traditional dish we eat evokes connections to family, ancestry and the land. Many foods that were once eaten in luxury
are now viewed as historically exotic or are attached to a particular holiday celebration. Réveillon and the foods typically eaten during this time of year remind us of the special foods of the season. It is a celebration that provides
a connection to our past and our cultural diversity and is also an excellent
way to show off the city’s restaurants.
"Traditionally, le Réveillon, or "the awakening," was the morning feast following midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Popular with Creole families
in the mid-1800s, it is now much a part of our restaurant scene. Réveillon
was and still is something special to New Orleanians.
"In the early days, most Catholics recognized Christmas Eve as a day of fasting and abstinence. Following midnight Mass, everyone was hungry
and ready to celebrate with a Réveillon feast. Upon their return from
church, family members sat down to an elaborate meal of daube glacé,
chicken and oyster gumbo, pies filled with game, egg dishes, sweet-
breads, soups, soufflés, grillades, grits, hominy, homemade breads,
crystallized fruits, fruitcakes, lavish desserts, wine, brandy, eggnog,
and dark-roast coffee. The celebration lasted until the wee hour of 3
a.m., when the ladies and children would retire. The gentlemen, how-
ever, smoked cigars, drank and talked until dawn of Christmas Day.
"When social changes caused many of the old ways to be lost, the Ré-
veillon celebration disappeared from New Orleans for a while. Church
laws about fasting and abstinence were relaxed, and that may have also
contributed to the demise of Réveillon. Now, to help fill restaurants
during a time when the convention business is slow, the Réveillon name
has re-emerged in New Orleans, although its current manifestation is a
bit different.
"Réveillon runs on a different schedule than the original version. During December, it’s served as prix fixe dinners at restaurants throughout the
New Orleans area. A typical Réveillon menu is a complete dinner of four
to six courses, chosen with the season in mind. Typical menu highlights
are roasted duck and other game birds, as well as beef, soups, meat pies,
and many unusual desserts. Local chefs tailor their individual styles to
the traditions of Christmas, and most menus offer choices in some or
all of the courses..."

The Réveillon Returns

After a year's hiatus, the holiday
theme dinners are better than ever
Tom Fitzmorris, November 2006

December - especially its second half - is slow for restaurants and hotels
that serve visitors. Eighteen years ago, the French Quarter Festival organ-
ization came up with an idea that would help that situation, particularly for restaurants in the French Quarter. They revived and promoted an old
French-New Orleans holiday feast called the Réveillon.
The modern Réveillon has restaurants serving special menus of four or
five courses, and including dishes that fit with the season. Not only do
you find such Christmasy items like roast goose and Yule logs, but also
food that lends itself to cool-weather eating.
To make it even more appealing, these Réveillon dinners are served at
prices below - often well below - what such dinners would ordinarily cost.
Unfortunately, restaurateurs report that the Réveillon promotion is only
mildly successful in bringing visitors in. It has, however, been enough
of a hit with local diners that restaurants all around town - including
many who are not part of the official Réveillon promotion - are now
offering Réveillon-style dinners.
This is a wonderful development, and it needs to grow even more, into something in which every white-tablecloth restaurant in town participates.
If that were to happen, December could conceivably turn into a legendary
time to visit New Orleans. Among avid restaurant-goers, the Réveillon is
already a tradition, both among locals and people who visit town often.
And the rest of the population is getting interested.
After a complete bust last year (of course), the Réveillon resumes this
year with at least as many restaurants participating as ever before. Those officially in the program are scattered all over the city, although the main
concentration is still in the Quarter. Quite a few major restaurants are in-volved for the first time: Emeril's, Nola, Peristyle, Café Adelaide, and
the Marigny Brasserie among them.
Looking over the menus, I note two evolutions. First, the menus are
more ambitious and more appetizing than at any time in the past. Second,
the prices have risen considerably at some restaurants. A couple of years
ago, only one restaurant went over $50; this year, several have. Even at
that, it's a good deal.
As I write this, it's still a couple of days before the Réveillon begins on December 1. (It runs nightly until Christmas Eve at most restaurants; a
few keep it till the end of the month.) So the recommendations that
follow are based on past Réveillons, plus current experience with the
restaurants involved...
...Enjoy the holidays with the distinctive New Orleans style of holiday


The Bombay Club’s Eggnog Noel
Chef Brian Fisher
New Orleans Times-Picayune December 21, 2000

5 large eggs
1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg,
plus some for garnish
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 cup bourbon
1/8 cup brandy
3 large egg whites

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, beat together the eggs and sugar.
Stir in the half and half. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly,
until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film
and reaches at least 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat. Stir in the
cream, nutmeg, vanilla, bourbon and brandy. Cool, then cover and
refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric
mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the eggnog.
Serve cold in punch cups and sprinkle with nutmeg.


Galatoire’s Oysters en Brochette
New Orleans Times-Picayune December 21, 2000

Serves 4 as an appetizer or two as main course

12 strips bacon, cut in half
2 dozen oysters, raw
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for deep frying
Toast point and lemon wedges for serving

Fry bacon until not quite crisp. Alternate six oysters and six half strips of bacon folded on each of four 8-inch skewers. Make a batter with egg and
milk and season well with salt and pepper. Dip each skewer in batter.
Roll in flour and deep-fry in hot oil until golden. Serve on toast points
with lemon wedges.


Rotisserie Tenderloin of Beef with
Roasted Pepper and Basil Aïoli

Executive Chef Anthony Spizale, Rib Room
New Orleans Times-Picayune December 21, 2000

Serves 6 as appetizers

One 18-ounce center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 fresh thyme sprigs
12 French bread crostini (thin slices of
toasted French bread)

Season tenderloin with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Place
thyme sprigs on and around meat and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Roast on a rotisserie or in a grill over an open flame until internal
temperature reaches 120 degrees F., about 25 minutes until beef is
cooked rare. Let rest for 15 minutes.
To serve, carve into thin slices. Place crostini on plates, top with
slices of beef and drizzle with aïoli.

Roasted Pepper and Basil Aïoli

4 egg yolks *
8 cloves garlic
2 roasted red bell peppers
1 cup basil
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, or a combination
of extra-virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil

To roast peppers, place under or over flame in broiler or on stovetop
until skin is blackened. Peel off black skin.
In a food processor, combine egg yolks, garlic, roasted pepper and
basil. Add oil very slowly in a thin stream with food processor running
until the ingredients form an emulsion. Store in refrigerator. This may
be made one day ahead. Makes 4 cups.

[* NOTE: If egg safety is a problem in your area, you may use your favorite
brand of prepared mayonnaise and add garlic, roasted peppers and basil.]


Bûche de Noel
Letter from France
Susan Herrmann Loomis
Bon Appetit Archives

"This is a simple recipe for a wonderful bûche de Noel. The cake is a bit
heartier than the typical génoise, which suits my taste, and the hint of
cinnamon gives it an aromatic layer of flavor. You may change and ad-
just flavorings, drizzle the cake with a rum or a sugar syrup flavored
with vanilla after it's cooled, or do any number of things to make
it your own."

For the cake:
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling and frosting:
21 ounces bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt
1-1/2 cups crème fraîche or heavy,
non ultra-pasteurized cream
1/2 cup chestnut purée

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a 17 x 11 x 1-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Brush it
with melted butter, and dust it with flour.

Prepare the cake:
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together onto a sheet of parchment paper. Beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar with the whisk attach-
ment in an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and lemon colored. Add
the dry ingredients at low speed, mixing until just incorporated. Add the
vanilla, mix quickly and thoroughly, and set aside (the batter will be quite thick).
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they
form soft points. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whisk until the
egg whites are glossy and form points that stand up but are not too stiff.
Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the cake batter until they are in-
corporated, then fold in the remaining egg whites, working quickly.
They should be incorporated into the batter, but do not overmix it.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan, and bake until the cake is golden
and your finger makes a slight indentation in the top of the cake when
you press it, 8 to 10 minutes.
While the cake is baking
, sift the confectioner's sugar over a clean
kitchen towel.
Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert it onto the
sugar-dusted towel. Peel the parchment paper from the cake, and starting
from one long side, gently roll the cake up in the towel. Allow it to cool
for 30 minutes.

Make the frosting:
Melt the chocolate and the cream together in a medium-sized, heavy
saucepan over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally, and when the
chocolate has completely melted, whisk the mixture so it is completely
combined. Let it cool to room temperature, so it is thick enough to spread. Transfer 3/4 cup of the chocolate mixture to a small bowl, and whisk in
the chestnut purée. Season with vanilla if you like.
When the cake has cooled, unroll it and trim off the edges so it is perfectly even, reserving the trimmings. Spread the filling evenly over the cake to
within about 1/8-inch from the edges, and roll the cake back up. Roll the trimmings into spirals, and affix these to the sides of the cake with any<<
leftover filling (usually two "knots" are sufficient!).
Using the frosting, generously frost the cake, including the knots and the
ends. Let the cake rest for about 15 minutes, then decorate it, first with
the tines of a fork, then with the decorations of your choice. Let sit for
at least 8 hours and up to 24 before servings. Serves 8 to 10.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Antoine's Oysters Bonne Femme
Christmas Eggnog Collection
Christmas Goodies
Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Mushroom,
Onion and Wine Sauce

The Major's Christmas Tenderloin
Christmas Ambrosia Collection
The Major's Bodacious Baked Brie
Christmas Pudding with Brandied Butter
Julee Rosso's Date Nut Pudding
Christmas Trifles
Christmas Truffles

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