As the year draws to a close, there’s no better way to bid adieu to the old and welcome the new than by indulging in some culinary excellence.
In France, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are traditionally celebrated with a lengthy dinner party called le réveillon, loosely translated as ‘the waking’, as the revelry, sumptuous dishes, and wine typically continue to flow well into the small hours of the morning. Although there is no set menu for le réveillon dinner, the consensus amongst hosts is the more lavish the better!
If you’re keen to infuse your own end of year celebrations with a twist of French flair, whether you’re having a formal dinner or serving finger food, these French canapé ideas will set the tone for an elegant start to the new year.
Savory Cheese Bites
Le fromage, is a quintessential French holiday delight and is often the star of festive gatherings, with creamy Brie to crumbly Roquefort piled on platters laden with fruits, nuts, and preserves. However, melt-in-the-mouth cheese puffs and fritters made with gruyère or brie are a perfect way to enjoy this ingredient whilst kicking-off your soirée. We particularly love this recipe for Brie Fritters with Stewed Black Cherries from The Complete Book of French Cooking, featured in our November/December issue of the magazine.
Presented on a dazzling bed of ice, oysters are a universal symbol of abundance and celebration. Considered an aphrodisiac, you’ll find these salty specimens gracing tables at every festive occasion — or any cause for celebration — and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Served chilled, with a squeeze of lemon or mignonette sauce (comprising vinegar, pepper, and sometimes herbs) to highlight their briny essence, and garnish with a fine dusting of minced shallot.
Seafood also holds a revered place in French celebrations, embodying luxury and refinement and showcasing the country’s coastal riches. Load up airy blinis or toast squares with cream cheese, caviar, shrimp or smoked salmon and finish with a sprinkling of chive and squeeze of lemon for a traditional canapé. Or, for a more adventurous take on a celebratory shellfish dish, we recommend Alain Ducasse’s recipe for scallops roasted in their shell.
Foie Gras Bites
Revered for its velvety texture and rich, buttery taste, foie gras is often served in various forms – as terrines, pâtés, or simply seared slices (you can find a variety of ways to prepare charcuterie and other canapés in the recipes section of our March/April 2023 magazine). Its decadent and complex flavor is the perfect cold-weather treat and its presence on many New Year’s Eve tables is a toast to the finer things in life. Scooped atop toasted brioche or crackers, its buttery richness offers a luxurious start to your New Year’s Eve festivities.
For our vegetarian and health-conscious readers, why not try out our recipe for Faux-Gras, made with lentils, mushrooms, and rosemary!
Finally, not strictly a canapé, but a dessert that is easy to share, Yule Log, or “Bûche de Noël,” holds a cherished place in French festive gatherings. Resembling a rustic log, the Yule Log features a delicate sponge cake, expertly rolled and filled with velvety creams or ganaches. What makes it truly special is its meticulous decoration, as the simple sponges are adorned with edible elements like marzipan mushrooms or powdered sugar to evoke a winter wonderland.
Try Sharon’s preferred Yule Log recipe, filled with chocolate mousse!