I’m back from my Christmas break everyone! Hope you have missed me and my blog. I bet (I hope) you are wondering what I got up to over Christmas? Well, I hosted two events: firstly the big day that I shared with my family, and secondly, a dinner my housemate Miss R and I held a few days before with both our families.
Today’s post is on the starters I made for the latter event. I always like to have a Christmas-theme to my starters, so the three starters I chose all link back to things I associate with Christmas.
Since I wasn’t planning to cook a leg of ham at all over the break, something most Australians associate with Christmas, I decided to make croquettes from slow-cooked ham hocks and cauliflower. While traditional croquettes are made with potatoes, this version uses cauliflower to give them a unique taste.
My younger Sister-E always loves corn at Christmas, so again while I didn’t plan to include corn in my main menu, I thought I could use it somehow in a starter. Mamasita, a great Mexican restaurant in Melbourne, published their recipe for roast corn in Delicious mag a while ago, and I’d always wanted to make it. So I pulled out my old magazines, found the recipe, and made it as a starter.
To round out my starters, I wanted to make something easy, so I thought bell peppers stuffed with feta and dill would make for a simple festive treat. The hardest part about these is stuffing the peppers, which it a little time consuming. But since that’s about all there is to the recipe it’s worth the time.
Coming up later this week: what I made for the main meal, plus what I made for Christmas day…
HAM HOCK & CAULIFLOWER CROQUETTES
1 ham hock
1 large cauliflower
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 tbsp milk
200g panko breadcrumbs
canola or vegetable oil for frying
salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Rub the ham hock with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and cover with foil. Bake in a moderate oven for 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. Allow to cool slightly before shredding the meat with two forks, discarding the bone and any skin and fat. Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into small florets, cutting out and discarding the stem and any leaves. Place in a bowl with milk and a little salt and pepper, cover in cling wrap, and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. After 5 minutes, stir the cauliflower and return to the microwave for a further 5 minutes until very tender. Drain off any liquid, place in a food processor and process until very smooth. Allow to cool.
- Once your ham and cauliflower are cool enough, mix together the cauliflower with 1 cup of shredded ham (you can use the rest for sandwiches) and flour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place mix in the fridge to firm up for 1 hour before shaping into small balls. Place balls back in the fridge to firm up again, about 1 hour.
- Once balls are firm, in batches, dust them in flour, roll them in egg mix, and coat them in bread crumbs.
- Fill a large, deep saucepan with enough oil to reach 15cm deep. Place over high heat and heat until oil browns a cube of bread in 30 seconds. Cook croquettes in batches until golden. Serve warm.
8 cobs of corn, husks removed and cut into 3
200g parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
lime cheeks to serve
6 chipotle chillis, from a tin
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Boil corn for 5 minutes until tender. Drain.
- Heat a large griddle pan so that it is very hot. Add corn and cook until a little charred, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Combine cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin in a bowl.
- Brush corn with a little chipotle mayo, sprinkle over parmesan, and sprinkle with a little of the spice mix. Serve with lime.
- FOR THE CHIPOTLE MAYO: Process the chipotle chillies in a food processor until smooth. Remove from processor and set aside. In same food processor (don’t worry about cleaning it) process egg yolks, vinegar and salt. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until you have a thick aioli. Add chillies and process to combine.
BELL PEPPER STUFFED W/ DILL & FETA
1 block of danish feta
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
300g jar whole piquillo peppers, drained
- Mash feta and milk with a fork until smooth. Add dill and stir to combine.
- Using a teaspoon, fill the peppers with enough feta mix to completely fill them.
Makes 20, depending on how many peppers are in the jar