Internationally known Chef Nora Pouillon is famous for her superb, organic-only cuisine. Her namesake establishment, Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C., was America's first certified organic restaurant. Her other restaurant, Asia Nora, serves organic Asian food. Every year, Chef Pouillon goes home for the holidays to the picturesque lakeside town of Zell am See in Austria. Here, she shares her holiday traditions and recipes for Christmas Eve with FoodFit.
"My family and I normally go skiing in Austria, so the Christmas and holiday traditions are those from my native home. There is always a manger scene. We purchase a tree, and my daughters, Nina and Nadia, decorate it. The tree's decorations and its placement are both unique because the tree is set up in the garden in front of our French doors, covered in electric lights and snow. Every year there is a 'theme' to the colors of the lights, cycling between silver, gold and red colors. The tree is decorated with homemade candy and small baked goods, so it's edible. There are often red candles on the tree as well as little sparklers.
"The food creates the tradition because everyone becomes involved in the preparation. The appetizers are caviar or smoked salmon with champagne. For Christmas Eve dinner, I usually cook roast duck with vegetables. The meal includes an excellent red and white Austrian wine pairing. The family all arrive, my sister and her husband and children, but it is only a small gathering of 10 to 12 people. The girls create the desserts, combining Austrian and American recipes for their cookie platters. The one cake made is always my grandmother's classic chocolate cake.
"On the evening of the 24th, everyone places presents in front of the tree, and then we open them. At midnight, the family travels into the village to go to midnight mass, which is always filled with beautiful music."
Nora's Christmas Eve menu: Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast with Dried Cranberry-Balsamic Sauce, Pumpkin Purée and Brussels Sprouts