What the heck – Early Christmas recipes – Part 3

Oysters with Pine Nut and Bacon

24 oysters
2 rashers rindless bacon
30g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
125g rocket leaves
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp pine nuts, chopped and toasted

1. Remove the oysters from their shells – clean and dry the shells
2. Finely chop the bacon and fry for 2 minutes until just soft – remove from the pan
3. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the onion and stir until soft
4. Add torn rocket leaves to the pan and stir until just wilted
5. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce
6. Divide the rocket among the oyster shells, replace the oysters in the shells and top with the combined bacon and pine nuts
7. Grill under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp
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Glazed Gammon

3-4 kg gammon
1 x onion
1 x carrot
1 x stick of celery
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns
500ml apple cider
glaze of your choice
cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C
2. Put the gammon in a large casserole dish together with the chopped onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and peppercorns
3. Add the apple cider and cover with foil
4. Cook for 20 minutes per 500g of meat – allow to cool in the liquid
5. Remove the gammon from the liquid and vegetables
6. Remove the rind by running your thumb around the edge and carefully pulling the rind back, easing your hand under between the fat and the rind
7. With a sharp knife, lightly score the fat to form a diamond pattern – do not cut through to the gammon, or the fat will fall off while glazing
8. Spread half of the glaze of your choice over the gammon with a palette knife or the back of a spoon and press a clove into each diamond
9. Put the ham on a rack of a deep baking dish and pour a cup of water into the dish
10. Cover the dish securely with greased foil and cook @ 180°C for 45 minutes
11. Remove from the oven and brush or spread the remaining glaze over the gammon
12. Increase the heat to 210°C and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the surface is lightly caramelized – set aside for 15 minutes before carving

HONEY GLAZE
Mix 125g soft brown sugar, 3 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp hot English mustard together in a bowl

ORANGE GLAZE
Stir together 250ml orange juice, 140g soft brown sugar, 1 Tbsp French mustard, 175g honey, 2 tsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier in a bowl

MUSTARD & REDCURRANT GLAZE
Put 90g Dijon mustard, 315g redcurrant jelly, 4 crushed cloves of garlic and 2 Tbsp each of oil and soy sauce into a small saucepan. Stir and gently warm over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the jelly has melted. Take care the glaze doesn’t catch on the base of the pan.
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Pork Fillet with Apple and Mustard Sauce and Glazed Apples

750g pork fillet
30g butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp fresh, grated ginger
1 Tbsp seeded mustard
60ml apple sauce
2 Tbsp chicken stock
125ml cream
1 tsp cornflour
GLAZED APPLES
2 green apples
50g butter
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar

1. Trim the pork fillet and remove any fat and sinew – tie with kitchen string at 3 cm intervals to keep in shape
2. Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the fillet and cook until lightly browned all over – remove and place on the rack of a baking dish – retain pan juices
3. Add 125ml water to the baking dish and bake @ 180°C for 15 – 20 minutes – leave for 10 minutes before removing string and slicing
4. For the sauce, reheat the pan juices, add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minute
5. Stir in the mustard, apple sauce and stock
6. Slowly stir in the combined cream and cornflour and stir until mixture boils and thickens
7. For the glazed apples, cut the apples into 1 cm slices
8. Melt the butter in the pan and add the sugar – stir until dissolved
9. Add the apple slices and pan-fry, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and glazed
10. Slice the pork and serve the apple and mustard sauce over it – serve with the glazed apples
NOTE
Pork fillets can be thick and short or long and thin and the time they take to cook will vary accordingly
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Roast Chicken with Bacon and Sage Stuffing

2 x 1.2 kg chickens
4 rashers bacon
2 Tbsp oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped, fresh sage
125g fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 180°C – trim the chickens and pat dry inside and outside with paper towels
2. Finely chop 2 of the bacon rashers
3. Heat half the oil in a pan, add the onion and bacon and cook until the onion is soft and the bacon starting to brown
4. Transfer to a bowl and cool
5. Add the sage, breadcrumbs and egg to the onion, season to taste and mix lightly – spoon stuffing into each chicken cavity
6. Fold the wing back and tuck under the chicken – tie the legs of each chicken together with string
7. Place on a rack of a large baking dish, making sure they are not touching and brush with some of the remaining oil
8. Pour 1 cup of water into the baking dish
9. Cut the remaining bacon into long, thin strips and lay across the chicken breasts – brush the bacon with oil
10. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a skewer
NOTE
This chicken dish is delicious served with a gravy with wine sauce and roast vegetables
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Roast Turkey

3 kg turkey
1 quantity of stuffing – see below
2 Tbsp oil
500ml chicken stock
2 Tbsp plain flour

1. Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey and wash the turkey well and pat dry
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C
3. Make the stuffing you prefer and stuff into the turkey cavity
4. Tie the legs together, tuck the wings underneath and place turkey on a baking rack
5. Roast for 2 hours, basting with the combined oil and 125ml stock
6. Cover the breast and legs with foil after an hour if the turkey is overbrowning
7. Remove from oven, cover and leave for 15 minutes to rest
8. To make the gravy, drain off all except 2 Tbsp of pan juices from the baking dish
9. Place the dish on the stove over a low heat, add the flour and stir well
10. Stir over medium heat until browned
11. Gradually add the remaining stock, stirring until the gravy thickens and boils
NOTE
Do not stuff the turkey until you are ready to cook it. Stuffing can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to a month in an airtight container. If you prefer to cook the stuffing separately, press it lightly into a greased ovenproof dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Small muffin tins can also be used (bake for 15 – 20 minutes) Alternatively, you can form the mixture into balls and fry in a little melted butter or oil, over a medium heat, until golden brown all over.

CITRUS STUFFING
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and cook 1 finely chopped onion until soft. Transfer to a large bowl and cool. Add 200g sausage meat, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 2 cups of fresh white breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons each of grated lemon and orange rinds and 60g finely chopped pecans, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix.

COUNTRY SAGE STUFFING
Melt 45g butter in a small saucepan and cook 1 finely chopped onion and 1 sliced celery stick over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Transfer to a bowl and add 10 shredded, large fresh sage leaves, 2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, 1 1/2 tsp dried sage, 4 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh parsley, 2 lightly beaten egg whites, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper.

CASHEW STUFFING
Melt 60g butter in a frying pan and cook 1 chopped onion until golden. Cool, then mix thoroughly with 2 cups cooked, long-grain brown rice, 1 cup chopped, dried apricots, 1/2 cup unsalted cashews, 3 Tbsp chopped, fresh parsley, 2 Tbsp chopped, fresh mint and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Slow Roasted Lamb with Cumin and Paprika

2.2 kg leg of lamb
75g butter, softened at room temperature
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp cumin extra for dipping

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C
2. With a small, sharp knife, cut small, deep slits in the top and sides of the lamb
3. Mix the butter, garlic, spices and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl until a smooth paste forms
4. With the back of a spoon, rub the paste all over the lamb, then use your fingers to spread the paste and make sure all the lamb is covered
5. Put the lamb bone-side-down in a deep baking dish and place on the top shelf of the oven – bake for 10 minutes, then baste and return to the oven
6. Reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for 3 hours 20 minutes, basting every 20 – 30 minutes to tenderize the meat
7. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then carve into chunky pieces
8. Mix the cumin with 1 1/2 tsp salt and serve on the side for dipping
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Ice Cream Bombe

1 large mango, finely chopped
1 cup canned pineapple pieces, drained
60ml Grand Marnier
250g fresh strawberries, pureed
400g can condensed milk
600ml cream
80g dessert nougat, chopped
35g roughly chopped unsalted pistachios
strawberries, extra, halved to garnish
TOFFEE BARK
90g caster sugar

1. Lightly grease a 2 litre pudding bowl and line with plastic wrap, allowing to hang over the side of the basin
2. Put it in the freezer until ready to use
3. Drain the mango and pineapple in a sieve
4. Mix the Grand Marnier, strawberry puree and condensed milk in a large bowl
5. Whisk the cream to soft peaks, then add to the bowl and continue whisking until thick
6. Fold in the drained fruits, nougat and pistachios
7, Pour the mixture into the pudding bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight, or until firm
8. To serve, remove the plastic from the base and invert the pudding onto a chilled serving plate – remove the bowl, but leave the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 – 25 minutes to soften slightly
9. For the toffee bark, line a baking tray with baking paper
10. Heat the sugar over a low heat in a heavy-based saucepan for 2 – 3 minutes, or until melted and golden
11. Carefully pour into the tray
12. Tilt the tray to get a thin, even layer of toffee over the paper and cool slightly
13. While still pliable, drape the paper over a rolling pin and allow to cool for 30 – 60 seconds before peeling away strips of toffee in large irregular shapes
14. Cool – to serve, remove the plastic and decorate the bombe with toffee bark and strawberries
NOTE
Dessert nougat is a soft nougat available at confectionery shops and some delicatessens
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Summer Berries in Champagne Jelly

1 litre champagne or sparkling white wine
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine
250g sugar
4 strips lemon rind
4 strips orange rind
250f small strawberries, hulled
250g blueberries (or any other blue berries)

1. Pour half the champagne into a bowl and let the bubbles subside
2. Sprinkle the gelatine over the top in an even layer
3. Leave until the gelatine is spongy – do not stir
4. Pour the remaining champagne into a saucepan, add the sugar and rinds and heat gently, stirring constantly, until all the sugar has dissolved
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir until thoroughly dissolved
6. Leave to cool completely, then remove the rind
7. Divide the berries among eight 125ml stemmed wine glasses and gently pour the jelly over them
8. Refrigerate until set – remove from the fridge 15 minutes before serving
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Rum Truffles

200g dark cooking chocolate, finely chopped
60ml cream
30g butter
50g chocolate cake crumbs
2 tsp dark rum, brandy or whisky
95g chocolate sprinkles

1. Line a baking tray with foil
2. Put chocolate in a heat-proof bowl
3. Combine the cream and butter in a small pan and stir over a low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is just boiling
4. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth
5. Stir in the cake crumbs and rum
6. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until firm enough to handle
7. Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls
8. Spread the chocolate sprinkles on a sheet of greaseproof paper and roll each truffle in sprinkles
9. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm
10. Serve in a small paper patty cup, if desired
NOTE
Truffles can also be rolled in dark cocoa powder. They can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container
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Sugar-Free Christmas Pudding

6 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (370g) mixed dried fruit
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
ORANGE CREAM
315ml cream
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1 tsp vanilla essence

1. Place a 1.25 litre pudding basin in a large pan, on a trivet or upturned saucer, and pour enough cold water to come half way up the sides of the basin – remove the basin and put the water on to boil
2. Combine the egg, dried fruit and breadcrumbs in a bowl, then spoon into the pudding basin
3. Cover the basin and make a handle as shown below
4. Gently lower the basin into the boiling water, reduce the heat to a fast simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid
5. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, checking the water after an hour and topping up to the original level with boiling water if needed
6. For the orange cream, combine the cream, orange juice, rind and vanilla in a bowl and mix well – serve over the pudding
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HOW TO CARVE MEAT FOR THE CHRISTMAS TABLE

The most popular Christmas roasts are turkey and ham. Rarely eaten at any other time of the year, even the most confident of cooks sometimes battle when it comes to the correct method of carving these delicious meats. Remember, if eating roasts hot, allow 15 minutes for the meat to rest before carving it. Cover it with foil to keep hot. The meat absorbs the juices, keeping it moist and tender. Make sure your knife is sharp and try to slice, rather than saw. A carving fork is also essential to help keep the meat steady. Try not to pierce the meat – rather hold it with the back of the fork. Always carve on a carving board, not a serving platter. China and metal surfaces can scratch easily and can be quite slippery, causing you to lose control of the knife. If possible, use a carving board with a rim around the edge. This catches any excess juices, and prevents you making a big mess on the counter top or table. The juices can also be strained off and used in the gravy. It is also a good idea to put a damp cloth under the board, to prevent it from slipping while carving.

HAM

figure #1 figure #2 figure #3 figure #4
After it has rested, place the ham on the board with the bone to the left. Use a clean tea towel to hold the bone firmly while carving. Slice a piece from the underside of the leg, so that it sits flat on the board. (figure #1)
Slice into the meat about 10 cm from the knuckle. (figure #2) Make another cut at an angle to the first so that it forms a wedge, then remove. Continue cutting to the right, cutting several thin slices right down to the bone (figure #3). The meat will still be attached to the bone, so to release the pieces, you have to run the knife along the bone, under the meat (figure #4). Lift off the slices with the flat of the knife. Cut enough slicing for serving, covering the slices with foil as you go if the ham is to be served warm.

TURKEY

figure #1 figure #2 figure #3 figure #4
After it has rested, place the turkey on a cutting board, breast-side up and with the legs facing you. Use a carving fork to steady the bird and cut downwards into the skin and meat, where the leg meats the breast. (figure #1) Bend the leg outwards with the carving knife until you can see the joint where the thighbone and the backbone connect. Keep cutting at a slight angle towards the joint, then cut down and through it until the leg section (the thigh and drumstick) can be easily removed. Depending on the size of the turkey, you can also cut through the leg at the joint to remove the thigh and have two separate pieces (figure #2). Set the meat aside on a warm serving platter and keep covered with foil while you carve the rest of the bird. This will keep it warm and stop it from drying out. On the same side of the bird, find where the wing meets the body and cut down, again until you meet the joint. You may need to pull the wing out with your left hand while you are cutting with your right to loosen the wing from the rest of the bird (figure #3). Continuing on the same side, begin to carve the breast. Start at the top of the breast, where it attaches to the ridge of the bone, and carve downwards in even slices, at a slight angle, towards the cutting board (figure #4). Now repeat this process on the other side of the turkey. To remove the wishbone, snip the sinews on either side. Remove the stuffing from the opening of the carcass with a spoon and, depending on the texture of the stuffing, serve it either in slices or in spoonfuls.

STEAMED PUDDING
Steamed puddings can be made up to 3 months ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, stored in a cool, dark place, or in the fridge. On the big day, steam in a greased basin for one hour.
PREPARING THE BASIN
It is essential that the capacity of the basin is the correct size for the recipe, so that the pudding has room to rise and does not expand out of the basing. Check the capacity by filling it with water from a measuring jug. Basins are available in many different shapes and sizes and are made or ceramic, glass, steel or aluminium. Ceramic basins let the pudding cook slower, so it cooks through without overcooking the edges. Metal basins cook quicker, so it should be checked 30 minutes before the cooking time is up. Most metal basins come with a lid, but this is not essential and is often used as well as baking paper and foil.
STEAMING THE PUDDING
You need a large saucepan, which will hold the basin and enough room to fit the saucepan lid on properly. If you don’t have a trivet (a small round or square metal rack, available at speciality stores), you can use a collapsible metal vegetable steamer (unscrew the handle), or an upturned saucer. Place the empty basin on the trivet in the saucepan and pour water into the saucepan to come halfway up the side of the basin. Remove the basin.
To help prevent the cooked pudding sticking to the basin, brush the basin well with melted butter and line the base with a circle of baking paper (even if the base is very small).
Make the pudding mixture according to the recipe and spoon into the basin, smoothing the top to make it level. Put the saucepan of water on to boil.

To cover the pudding, place a sheet of foil on the bench top with a piece of baking paper the same size, and brush the paper well with melted butter. Fold a pleat across the centre of the foil and paper to allow for expansion. Place the paper and the foil, foil side up, over the basin (don’t press into the pudding) and smooth it down the side of the basin. Tie a double length of string firmly around the rim of the basin, then tie a double length of string onto that string to form a handle to lower the pudding into the water. If you have a basin with a lid, clip it on at this stage. The paper/foil lid prevents any moisture getting into the pudding and making it soggy.
Using the handle, carefully lower the pudding into the saucepan and reduce the heat until the water is simmering quickly. Cover the saucepan and cook according to the directions in the recipe. Add more boiling water to the saucepan occasionally to maintain the water level.
WHEN IS IT COOKED
When the cooking time is up, carefully remove the pudding from the saucepan, using the string handles. Remove the lid and paper/foil and test the pudding – a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre (if you hit a piece of fruit, the skewer may come out sticky). You can also check by pressing the top gently – the pudding should be firm in the centre, well risen and moist. If the pudding is not cooked, replace the top and continue cooking until done. When the pudding is cooked, leave it in the basin for 5 minutes before gently turning out onto a large plate. Discard the round of baking paper from the base. If the pudding sticks to the basin, gently loosen around the edges with a palette knife to help release it.

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