Sunday, December 18, 2016


While shopping the other day at El Corte Inglés, a big department store with its own supermarket, I picked up their brochure advertising take-out catering for Christmas dinner. What a great inspiration for menu planning!

In Spain, the family Christmas meal, often very elegant, with an abundance of food and many courses, takes place on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, the family eats leftovers. And, what great leftovers!

What’s on the menu? The Corte Inglés a la carte lists all the classics—shellfish to start, whether in soup, stuffed shells, salad or croquettes; besugo—sea bream—or another fish main course, as well as meat—baby lamb or kid, especially in Andalusia; roast suckling pig or beef tenderloin; stuffed chicken, turkey, pularde or capon.

There is also a fixed price menu, at €28 ($29) per person, that includes starter, main, side dish and dessert. Here are the choices, with links to recipes.  I’m making the turrón mousse for dessert!

Turrón--almond nougat candy-- is essential at the Spanish Christmas table. Here it is whipped into a foamy, creamy mousse.

Starters (Entrantes)

 Fish terrine (Pastel de cabracho).

Mille-feuille with boletus and truffle (Hojaldre de boletus y trufa).

Ham croquettes (Croquetas de jamón)

“Tigers” (stuffed mussels) (Mejillones tigres).

Main dishes (Principal)

Salt cod with garlickly pil pil sauce.

Salt cod in garlic pil pil sauce (Bacalao al pil pil).

Basque-style hake (Lomos de merluza a la vasca).

 Boneless roast leg of lamb (Pierna de cordero deshuesada)

Roast suckling pig (Cochinillo asado).

Side dishes (Guarnición)

Oven potato casserole (Patatas panaderas).

 Potato Gratin (Gratén de patata),

Vegetables sautéed with ham--a favorite side dish.

Vegetable sauté (Salteado de verduras).

Red cabbage is traditional for Christmas meals.
Red cabbage (Lombarda).

Dessert (Postre)

Chocolate pyramid (Pirámide de chocolate).

Mousse of almond nougat (Mousse de turrón).

Turrón is almond nougat candy, confected of almonds, honey and egg white. Soft turrón, made of ground almonds, is like fudge in consistency. Hard turrón is a white nougat studded with almonds.

Almond Nougat Mousse
Mousse de Turrón

Mousse of almond turrón.

Use one 250-gram (8.8-ounce) bar of soft turrón for this recipe. Crumbled and lightly packed, that equals about 1 1/3 cups. Chill the beaters and bowl before whipping the cream.

Serves 6 to 8.

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons water
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup + 1 ½ cups whipping cream
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
1 1/3 cups crumbled soft turrón
Pinch of salt
Grated chocolate to garnish

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let soak 15 minutes.

Beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale and thickened.

Heat ¾ cup of cream and the milk. Whisk the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks. Return the mixture to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened. Do not boil.

Remove from heat and add the orange zest. Whisk in the soaked gelatin until it is completely dissolved. Beat in the turrón.

With clean beaters, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.

Beat the remaining 1 ½ cups of cream until it holds soft peaks.

Fold the cream into the turrón-custard mixture. Fold the egg whites into the mixture. Spoon the mousse into 6 to 8 dessert cups. Chill the mousse at least 8 hours.

Grate chocolate on top of the mousse before serving.

Traditional at the finale of the cena de Noche Buena--almond turrón candy. On the left is soft, fudgy turrón; on the right, hard nougat studded with almonds, encased in white wafer. More about turrón from Spain at

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