Happy 2015! Hope you all had a good break and enjoyed yourselves this holiday season. Today I’m going to take you all back to Christmas Day, just to relive it one last time.
This year we did things a bit differently in our house – usually I like to cook everything myself, spending hours and hours reading every single cooking magazine out there, choosing exactly what I want to cook and working out what will work with what. But this year I planned a trip overseas the week before Christmas, so with no time to prepare I asked each of my family members to bring a course.
Mother K and Sister E did an excellent job with the Salmon Gravlax this year (above), which we do every Christmas and I’m sure you’re tired of seeing. But really, Christmas is all about traditions and this is one of my favourites. Never tried curing your own salmon? Give it a go – it’s easier than you think.
I was in charge of the proteins given Christmas was held at my place. I’m not really a fan of turkey, and with only 8 of us it seemed extravagant to cook an entire bird. So as I’ve done in the past, I cooked a single turkey breast. Inspired by the brined turkey I did for the annual Housemate Christmas my housemate Miss R and I throw each year for our families, I decided to brine my lone turkey breast to keep it moist and add extra flavour. Make sure when you’re brining to get the ratio of salt to water right – mix the brine first then pour over your bird, otherwise if you add less water, you’ll end up curing your turkey breast.
Given I’m not a fan of turkey, I usually go for the pork. This year, I payed homage to my late grandmother by doing a rolled pork with apples and prunes as she used to do, but jazzed up the recipe by adding some chestnuts and pancetta for extra flavour.
While you may know Sister E as the sweets chef of the house, she is also a pretty good savour chef herself. She took my recipe for carrots in harissa and almond cream (a recipe I myself stole from Andrew McConnell), and adapted it to add some green beans.
Not to be outdone, Sister A did an excellent rendition of my cauliflower tabouli which I have posted previously. An excellent choice for Christmas given the red and green colours, this one has become a family favourite and is perfect any time of year.
Along with my turkey and pork, I also made a decadant bunch of kipfler potatoes roasted in duck fat, finished with truffle salt. It doesn’t get much better than that. And really, when is there a better time to cook potatoes in duck fat and truffle salt than at Christmas?
Along side the potatoes, I also roasted a few wedges of pumpkin Miss A had on hand. Just a simple drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper were all they needed.
To finish, what kind of Christmas Day would it be without Father T’s amazing Christmas Pudding? Every year I forget to buy brandy to set the pudding alight, so the past few years we have been using Cointreau. Not quite as traditional but it does the trick. To serve, we have it with vanilla ice cream and traditional hard sauce – a mixture of butter, sugar and brandy that just makes it that bit more decadent.
SALMON GRAVLAX W/ DILL SAUCE
100g caster sugar
1/4 cup salt
1/2 tbsp white pepper
1.3kg-1.5kg salmon fillet, skin on, bones removed*
1 bunch fresh dill
toast to serve
1 cup mayonnaise (I like Kraft Original)
1/4 cup seeded mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp dry dill
- Combine sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large, deep dish, place 1/3 of the dill. Place the salmon fillet, skin side down on the dill.
- Sprinkle the sugar/salt mix over the salmon. Top with the remaining dill.
- Cover with aluminium foil, and weigh down with a light weight (I use 4 cans of beans on a tupperware lid). Leave to cure for 2 days, turning every 24 hours. Taste the liquid the salmon seeps out for seasoning (you may want to add more sugar or salt according to taste).
- FOR DILL SAUCE: In a large jar, mix together all the ingredients. Store in the fridge, dolloping a little over the gravlax when needed.
- To serve, cut thinly on the angle, away from the skin. Serve on cold toast with the dill sauce.
*Ask your fish monger to cut off the tail end of the fillet, so that it is an equal thickness the whole way through.
Serves 12 as an hors d’oeuvre.
POACHED TURKEY BREAST
1.5 – 2kg turkey breast, skin on
160g fine salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp dry sage
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp olive oil
- Place your turkey in a snug container with walls deep enough that it will be completely submerged when the brine is added.
- In a container large jug or bowl, combine the salt, sugar, sage, garlic and onion powders. Add 2 litres of cold water and the molasses and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour brine over the turkey so it is completely submerged and leave in the fridge for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, run the turkey under cold water to rinse off the brine for 5 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.
- Preheat your oven to 200C.
- Place the turkey on a lined baking tray, rub with olive oil and place in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 160C and cook for a further 45-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 70C.
- Remove turkey from the oven and allow to stand for 30 minutes, covered with aluminium foil, before carving.
W/ PANCETTA, APPLES, PRUNES & CHESTNUTS
1.5kg – 2kg pork loin, boned and ready to roll*
100g piece of pancetta, diced into 5mm cubes*
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 green apple, peeled and finely diced
50g pitted prunes, chopped
100g roasted chestnuts, chopped
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed, diced
1/4 cup soft butter
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- In a large saucepan, fry the pancetta in a dry pan until golden and crispy, about 5-10 minutes. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.
- Add the apple, prunes and chestnuts to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the bread and butter to the bowl and using your hands, squelch the stuffing together until well combined.
- On a clean board, lay pork our flat, fatty side down, with the longest edge parallel to you. Ensure pork is of even thickness – you may need to slice through the thickest part of the meat and use a meat hammer to ensure it is even.
- Create a sausage shape with the stuffing in the middle of the pork, running parallel with you. Roll up pork into a cylinder and secure with kitchen string.
- Place pork on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes until the crackling is golden. Reduce heat to 180C and cook for a further 60 minutes or until cooked through.
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving.
*Ask your butcher to prepare the pork loin for you so it is ready for you to roll up. Ask you deli or deli to cut you a single piece of pancetta.
CARROTS & BEANS
W/ HARISSA & ALMOND CREAM
750g baby orange carrots
750g green beans, tails removed
3 tbsp of harissa paste (or other chilli paste)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flaked almonds
100g almond meal
200ml olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 tsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
- FOR THE ALMOND CREAM: place the almond meal, 75ml of oil and 150ml of water in a saucepan and heat over low heat until just warm, stirring continuously. Place mixture in a food processor, and with the motor running add the egg. Then, with the motor still running, gently pour in the remaining oil in a slow steady stream, similar to making a mayonnaise. Stir through sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool before refrigerating until needed.
- Meanwhile, remove the leaves from the carrots leaving 2-3cm of stem (don’t worry if yours don’t have the stems attached). Scrub them clean using steel wool (don’t peel) and place in a boiling pot of salted water with the beans and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and place in a bowl with harissa and butter. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread almond cream over the serving plate. Top with the carrots and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
1 large head of cauliflower
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 bunch chives
1 bunch of coriander
1/2 bunch parsley
1/3 cup currents
Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs pomegranate molasses
2 tbs red wine vinegar
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Pull all the leaves off the cauliflower and discard. Cut into quarters and using your knife, cut the very tips of the cauliflower off so that you have very very small florets and lots of crumbly bits. Transfer to a lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake in a moderate oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, lightly toast almonds in a dry pan until beginning to brown. Set aside.
- Finely chop the chives, and moderately-finely chop parsley and coriander. Place in a large bowl with almonds, currents, 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds and the cauliflower.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and add to the cauliflower. Mix well and check seasoning. Transfer to a serving plate and scatter over remaining pomegranate seeds before serving.
KIPFLER POTATOES ROASTED IN DUCK FAT
W/ TRUFFLE SALT
2kg small kipfler potatoes, peeled, sliced lengthways
1/2 cup duck fat
truffle salt, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Boil the potatoes in salted water for 5-10 minutes until just tender but not soft (they need to hold their shape). Drain well and set aside.
- Place the duck fat on a large baking tray and place in a hot oven for 3-5 minutes. Place the tray on a flat surface and carefully transfer potatoes onto the tray. Toss gently to coat in the duck fat and sprinkle with a little truffle salt. Return to the oven and cook for 60 minutes or until golden, tossing occasionally. For the last 10 minutes, drain the fat from the tray and return potatoes to the oven to ensure you don’t have soggy potatoes.
- Sprinkle with a little more of truffle salt to serve.
TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS PUDDING
Begin this recipe the day before.
Make pudding a month in advance if possible.
100g mixed candied peel
100g glace cherries
3 tbsp brandy
250g brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbsp treacle
60g blanched almonds, chopped
170g suet mix, chopped finely
1 cup plain flour + 2 tbsp self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
- Mix together raisins, sultanas, currents, candied peel and glace cherries. Sprinkle over brandy and leave overnight.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add milk and treacle and mix together to form a smooth batter.
- Stir in the fruit and brandy, almonds, suet and breadcrumbs.
- Add sifted flours, spices and salt and mix well.
- Transfer mix to a well-buttered pudding tin lined with a circle of grease-proof paper at the base. You may choose to line the tin with the traditional cloth, but we don’t bother. Cover with greased aluminium foil and secure the lid.
- Transfer to a large pot and fill with water until nearly to the top of the pudding. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 6 hours, keeping an eye on the water level to make sure it doesn’t boil dry.
- Remove from the water and allow to cool completely before storing in a cool, dark place until Christmas day.
- On Christmas day, to reheat, reboil in a pot of simmering water for 2 hours.
Begin this recipe the day before.
250g good quality butter, unsalted
125g pure icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup brandy
ground nutmeg to serve
- Cream the butter and sugar together till frothy.
- Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the brandy a little at a time until the mixture won’t absorb any more, about 1/2 cup (alternatively, add the brandy to taste as this recipe is quite strong.)
- Place in glass dish and store in refrigerator overnight.
- Serve dusted with nutmeg.
Makes enough for 1 pudding