Christmas Main ideas

Following on from last week’s post of Christmas Party ideas, we are moving on the the main course! Here are some of my favourite recipes from the past few years.

If you’re looking to do something different than the same old Christmas turkey, why not try a goose? You’ll need to find a butcher to pre-order one from  – I usually get mine from the Camberwell Fresh Food Market. Always go larger. A 2.5kg bird might sound huge, but you probably won’t get much change for 4-6 people if that’s all you’re having.

If, like me, you prefer pork at Christmas time, this is one of my all time favourite recipes. It’s sweet and juicy and literally falls apart. Pork belly is also a great economical cut, so would be a great way to keep the costs down for the big meal.

A whole roast fillet of beef with truffle mayonnaise is extravagant and perfect for the Christmas table. Watch out: it’s a pricy cut of meat. But if you don’t splash out at Christmas time, when will you?

And for those who like a traditional glazed ham, I’ve included one of my very early recipes for an orange-mustard glaze. Never glazed a ham before? You are really missing out. Give this one a try – it’s very simple and will make a world of difference. Cook it the day before if you are short on oven space.



Begin this recipe the day before.

1 x 2.5 kg Goose, prepared by your butcher*
1 quantity stuffing (recipe below)
olive oil
salt and pepper

2 tbs canola oil
150g piece of pancetta, cut into 5mm cubes
2 brown onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbs shredded sage leaves
3 tbs toasted pine nuts
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Goose neck, gizzards and wing tips
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
chicken stock
1/2 cup port, or to taste

  1. Ensure the cavity of the goose is empty.
  2. Grab the wings and bend them backwards at the 2nd joint, dislocating them. Cut through the tendons to remove the wing tips. Reserve these for gravy.
  3. For the gravy, in a large saute pan, fry the goose off cuts in a little oil until golden. Add water to cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours until reduced. Strain and add enough chicken stock until you have 500ml. Leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. Prick the fatty areas of the goose to help the fat render out, making sure you don’t pierce the meat. Pay attention to the wings and thighs.
  5. Place goose in the sink and pour over boiling water straight from the kettle once or twice to tighten the skin (this will make it crispy).
  6. Pat dry with paper towel inside and out and place on a wire rack in a deep baking tray.
  7. Leave, uncovered, in the fridge while you make the stuffing.
  8. For the stuffing, heat the oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until the fat has rendered out and the pancetta is crisp. Turn the heat to low, then add onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Stir in the sage, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Combine the cooled onion mixture in a large bowl with the pine nuts, rind, parsley, breadcrumbs and eggs. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix well. Stuff the goose with the stuffing and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight.
  9. Remove goose from fridge 3-4 hours before cooking.
  10. Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Rub the goose with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Cook in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 170°C and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours (or 50 minutes per kilo), basting the goose occasionally.
  12. While the goose cooks, make your gravy. Scoop the fat layer off the stock and use to cook your potatoes in. Heat the stock in a saucepan. Take 1/2 cup of the juices and stir together with the cornflour until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan with the port and whisk together until it thickens and begins to bubble rapidly. Season to taste and serve hot with the turkey.
  13. To check if goose is cooked, insert a skewer into the thigh meat. If the juices are clear, it’s ready. If pink, cook a little longer. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Serves 4-6

*Ask your butcher to remove the neck and gizzards but keep them for gravy.



2.5kg pork belly
1 cup (250ml) bourbon whisky
1 1/2 cups (375ml) malt vinegar
2 cups (500ml) water
3 cups (525g) brown sugar
10 cloves of garlic, bruised and peeled
1 cup (350g) golden syrup
2 sticks of cinnamon
4 bay leaves

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except the pork. Stir until the sugar had dissolved.
  3. Place pork, skin side down, in a large, deep baking tray and cover with the marinade. Cover with tin foil, and place in a moderate oven for 3 hours until the pork is cooked and the liquid has thickened.
  4. When cooked, remove pork from tray and slice thickly. Spoon over the cooking liquid before serving.

Serves 8



1.5kg beef eye fillet
2 brown onions, sliced thickly
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
300ml canola oil
50ml truffle oil
micro herbs to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Generously rub beef fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and cook beef fillets on all sides until sealed, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Place onions on a roasting tray and place beef on top. Roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes for medium rare, or until cooked to your liking. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing thickly. Place on a sercing tray with onions, scatter with micro herbs and serve with truffle mayonnaise.
  4. FOR THE MAYONNAISE: Place the egg and egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice and some salt and pepper in a blender and whiz to combine. Combine the oils in a jug, then, with the motor running, slowly pour oil through the feed tube until you have a thick emulsion.

Serves 6-8



Juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup sugar
cloves to stud ham

1 x 3-4kg half leg of ham, bone in

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, mustard and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until thick.
  3. Place ham on a lined baking tray and carefully remove skin from the fatty part (this area will be slightly lighter than the rest and will be softer to the touch.) Score lightly around the area with a sharp knife and using your fingers, remove skin, keeping the fat intact.
  4. Score fat into a diamond pattern and brush ham with 1/3 of the glaze. Stud with cloves at the corner of each diamond.
  5. Place in a hot oven and cook for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.
  6. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Serves 12

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Christmas Party Ideas

It’s about the time of year that everyone begins to think about Christmas: the work party is coming up, you begin to see decorations down the street, and you may even be beginning to think about hosting your own little soiree. If that last one is you then this post is right up your alley.

I’ve collected my top picks for canapés from the archives to help make catering a breeze. There’s a couple of classics like turkey burgers (always a hit) or salmon gravlax (surprisingly easy), as well as a few vegetarian options to make sure everyone has a good time.



500g turkey mince
500g chicken thighs
4 slices white bread
2 tbsp garlic salt
2 tbsp olive oil
30 half size dinner rolls*
200g brie cheese, at room temperature
275g jar cranberry sauce

  1. Remove crusts from bread and dice into small cubes. Cover with hot water and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a clean tea towl and squeeze out excess water.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a food processor and process to a smooth paste.
  3. Combine chicken, turkey mince, bread and garlic salt. Shape into 30 mini patties and set aside.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry patties in batches until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Keep warm.
  5. Spread each dinner roll with a little brie and cranberry. Top with a meat pattie and serve warm.

Makes 30

*Half size dinner rolls or golf ball rolls can be pre-ordered from Bakers Delight or any good bakery.



150g unsalted butter
1 1/2
tsp salt
200g plain flour
6 eggs + 1 extra
2 tbsp milk 

15 slices rare roast beef, cut into small pieces
200ml sour cream
2 tbsp horseradish from a jar
100g snow pea sprouts, stems removed

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Combine butter, salt and 375ml water in a large pan (I used a 26cm casserole dish) over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then add flour and stir until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan in a ball.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in 6 eggs, one at a time until beating after each addition, you have a smooth mix.
  4. In batches, drop 50 x 4cm balls of mixture onto lined trays, leaving room to expand. Beat milk with remaining egg and brush a little over each. Bake for 20 minutes until puffed and golden. Place puffs on a rack and cool completely. Keep choux puffs in an airtight container for 1 day or freeze ahead and reheat in oven, allowing to cool before filling.
  5. To serve, split choux puffs through the centre, not all the way through.
  6. Combine the sour cream and horseradish and season to taste. Spread choux with aioli, top with roast beef, and finish with a few snow pea sprouts.

Makes 50



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)
1/2 cup honey wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp dry dill

  1. Combine sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Cut salmon fillet equally in half.
  3. In a large, deep dish, place 1/4 of the dill. Place one half of the salmon fillet, skin side down on the dill.
  4. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar/salt mix over the salmon. Top with 3/4 of the remaining dill.
  5. Sprinkle 3/4 of the remaining sugar/salt mix over the dill, before placing the second half of the salmon fillet, skin side up, on top.
  6. Top with remining sugar/salt mix and dill.
  7. 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).
  8. FOR DILL SAUCE: In a large jar, mix together all the ingredients. Store in the fridge, dolloping a little over the gravlax when needed.
  9. To serve, cut thinly on the angle, away from the skin. Serve on 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.



500g frozen peas, thawed
1 small Spanish onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
oil for frying

  1. In a food processor, process peas, Spanish onion, garlic, herbs, flour, baking powder, and spices until well combined (you might need to do this in two halves depending how big your processor is). Add breadcrumbs and pulse to combine. Season to taste.
  2. Roll mixture into small balls about 3cm wide.
  3. Heat oil to 180C in a saucepan, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Fry felafel in batches until golden. Remove from oil and drain on absorbent paper before serving warm or cold.

Makes 30 approx.


1 bunch silverbeet with large leaves
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup tinned chopped tomatoes
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

  1. Wash the silverbeet thoroughly and cut away stalks. Cut leaves into 10cm x 10cm squares, reserving the leftover scraps. Line a deep pan with the leftover pieces. Put silverbeet squares in boiling water until completely softened. Refresh under cold water and leave to drain.
  2. Make the filling by combining the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Lay a piece of silverbeet flat, and place 1 tbsp of mixture in the center. Roll up the silverbeet square halfway, fold in the edges, and then roll up completely. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  4. Put the rolls in the lined pan. Pour over enough water to just cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the rice is cook through. Remove from heat and remove rolls from the pan. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes about 20.


500g haloumi cheese, sliced into 3mm slices
1 lemon, cut into wedges

  1. Heat a pan over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Fry haloumi for 1-2 minutes either side until well browned. Remove and serve warm with lemon wedges.

Serves 8 as a starter

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Taste of Melbourne back for 2014

Taste of Melbourne Festival
13-16 November 2014
Albert Park
Tickets available


The Taste of Melbourne Festival is back again, launching with a media launch event tonight and opening to the public Friday-Sunday. The ultimate foodie event of the year, stock up on crowns (the Taste currency) and purchase sample dishes from over 15 restaurant popups or see what some of Australia’s top producers have to offer.

This year is set to be the most diverse and unique yet, with new faces Nieuw Amsterdam and Gazi making an appearance as well as the return of favorites like Burch & Purchese and MoVida. The festival is also set to preview Daniel Wilson’s new lobster roll concept Mr Claw, and Jason Jones’ yet to be named Moroccan establishment. For the first time ever, regional restaurants will also be included in the line-up with popups from Tulip (Geelong West) and Gladioli (Inverleigh).

One of the festival’s hottest new additions is Gazi, owned by local celebrity George Calombaris. Their sample menu come straight from the real Gazi menu and includes Taramosalata with pita bread (6 Crowns); Saganaki Cheese with honey, balsamic and lemon (8 Crowns); and their highly popular Soft Shell Crab Souvlaki with mint, coriander, honey, mayo (12 Crowns).


Another new addition this year is Saké Restaurant and Bar who will be dolling out plates of Prawn Shumai Dumplings with ponzu dipping sauce, spring onion & chilli (12 Crowns); Flinders Island Wallaby Bun with soy & ginger braised shank in buns with miso (6 Crowns); Tonkatsu Cups with panko-fried pork belly & spring onion bites served in lettuce cups (8 Crowns); and their signiture dish of grilled miso marinated G51 toothfish (18 Crowns).


Nieuw Amsterdam, one of the hottest restaurant slash bars to open this year, is serving up Pimiento Cheese Fritters with ravigote dressing (6 Crowns); Pork Trotter Nuggets with burnt onion jam (10 Crowns); a Berry Split with white chocolate mousse, jelly and granita (8 Crowns); and their signature dish of Smokey Beef Brisket with kim chi, roasted garlic and nieuw BBQ sauce (18 Crowns).


The festival is also set to host a number of foodie info sessions and events with Cake Wines and Plumm Glassware teaming up to bring you a number of interactive wine tastings with various themes. Sessions will be hosted by current Wine Director at Vue De Monde Rocco Esposito, and Head Chef of Lee Ho Fook Victor Liong, who will match the wines to his signature style of Contemporary Chinese cuisine.

Learn a new trick or two at Dilmah’s Chef’s Skillery sessions, who will be teaching everything from how to fillet a fish to successfully pairing flavours. Otherwise get up close and personal with some of Australia’s best chef’s including Shaun Presland, Frank Camorra, Matt Wilkinson and Darren Purchese at the Taste Kitchen, as they share the secrets of their favourite dishes and offer tips and advice to home cooks. The Lurpak Cookery School is also offering a series of 30 minute cooking classes to teach how to complement ingredients with quality Danish butter.

A number of bars will also be open at Taste, including for the first time a traditional Munich Brauhaus Beer Hall, serving German beer and traditional cuisine. TimeOut and the team from The Local Taphouse have also teamed up to create the Hop Up Bar, showcasing some of Australia’s best craft breweries. If beer isn’t your thing, treat yourself at the decadent French themed Citroën Garden Bar or sip cider in the sunshine at the Beautifully Swedish Rekorderlig Star Bar and sample their new summer flavour Pomegranate. If you opt for a Platinum ticket, you may also enjoy live music and exclusive tastings in the private Platinum Garden Bar.


If you haven’t got anything planned for the weekend yet, this is a must. For full schedules, booking details and ticket information, visit the Taste of Melbourne website.

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There’s a new boss in town

Boss Pizzeria
25 Cookson St
Camberwell, VIC 3124
(03) 9813 1894


As Melbournians’ tastes continue to evolve, the average Pizza Hut pizza no longer cuts it. We incresingly are demanding more ‘authentic’ Italian pizzas – thin crust, wood fired, and made with the best ingredients. So when a place opens in Camberwell declaring itself Boss Pizzeria, it’s a bold statement.

Siblings Julien and Monique Moussi, the same team behind Collective Espresso, 30 Mill, Annoying Brother and My Other Brother opened Boss Pizzeria earlier this year. “We took over the space without really knowing what we wanted to do,” says Julien. “We didn’t want to do a cafe, because Collective is only a few doors down.”And so they decided, with the help of friend  Ricky Giammario (Bimbo Deluxe, Basilico and Blue Train Cafe), to try their hand at pizza making.


With only 11 seats, the space is tiny, though a generaous sidewalk area out front seats 30 more. Perhaps it is the limited space that dictates the short and succint menu. There’s an antipasto selection, a couple of salads, but the bulk of the menu is pizza, which is why they installed a takeaway window to one side, reducing the amount of foot traffic.

With this in mind, it’s no real surprise that the other dishes feel as though they play second fiddle to the pizzas. The antipasto feels like an afterthought, as though foraged from items used to make the pizzas. This may not be an all out bad thing when you use great ingredients, but it certainly could do with more thought.


The caprese salad too is nice enough, but doesn’t leave an impression. The mozarella is beautifully fresh, but the tomatoes are unremarkable, and the addition of olives unnecessary.


But once you skip past the starters you will find what this place is really all about: really good pizza. The menu has all the classics: margerita, napolitana and capriccoiosa, but also has a few of the boss’ own creations: the agnello (slow cooked lamb, tomato, goats cheese, roast capsicum, pistachios and gremolata); the pancetta e gamberi (bacon, prawns, tomatoes, goats cheese and maple syrup); and the zucca (pumpkin, fior di latte, tomatoes, pine nuts, spinach, rocket and basil), the sight of which makes evident why there’s no love left for the starters: it’s all gone into making the pizzas.


With summer just around the corner, Boss Pizzeria is just the spot to pick up a wood fired pizza and sit in the lingering sunshine. After the recent sale of Firechief and what some consider to be to the decline of it’s menu, it looks like there’s a new pizza boss in town.

Boss Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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Mighty Mighty Boy

Mighty Boy
61 Gertrude St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
(03) 9419 3686

It’s well known that Melbournians know their brunch, so when a new spot opens up on Gertrude st promising a fresh take on things, it’s time to sit up and take notice. Owned by Mark Peou, (ex-Lucky Coq, Borsch, Vodka & Tears and owner of Tiny cafe in Collingwood) Mighty Boy offers up lunch and brunch fare with an Asian twist.

The fitout may be your typical white walls, clean lines and pale timber, but the menu is anything but. Peou, relying heavily on his Cambodian heritage, has devises a menu that borrows from a range of East-Asian cuisines, creating a unique take on Melbourne’s favourite brunch dishes: smashed avocado and feta served with sriracha hot sauce; baked eggs with tomato, mushrooms, onion and feta served with Thai Sausage; and a haloumi sandwich with bacon, avo and salad leaves smeared with relish.



The lunch menu has all your favourite Asian classics, from Vietnamese poached chicken salad, to Pad Thai, all for under $14.00. The Rice Paper rolls though are a standout, rolled fresh daily by Peou’s mum from a secret recipe to whom she trusts no one else. Choose from either duck, crispy tofu, or pork & prawn, all served tightly wrapped with bright yellow vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs and veggies ($6 for 2).


The beauty of the Mighty Boy menu is it’s ability to combine the best of the west with the best of the east, the epitome of which are the roti wraps. Available in pulled lamb shoulder, tofu, fried chicken or pork belly, these babies alone are worth making the trip for (all $10). The fried chicken version comes with fresh vietnamese coleslaw, iceberg and kewpie mayo, wrapped in a roti wrap that’s the exact right balance of doughy and flaky.


Just incase you didn’t quite feel you were someplace warm and tropical in South East Asia, there’s a selection of juices available, perfect for the upcoming summer months. A refreshing mix of either lychee, pineapple and mint or young coconut, pineapple and lime, it’ll be interesting to see how the list evolves once Mighty Boy recieves it’s impending liquor licence.


In an area that is fast becomming a foodie hotspot, Mighty Boy is carving out a place for itself. It’s bright and energetic atmosphere makes it an ideal spot to catch up with friends or grab a bite on the run.

While currently only open for breakfast and lunch, pop-up restaurant Kerala is making a brief appearance after hours to deliver a contemporary take on South Indian cuisine, allowing diners to enjoy a cocktail or beer with a selection of curries, dosas and sides. Get in quick though, because this one won’t be around long.

With plans of opening for dinner in the coming new year, there’s talk of Mighty Boy tackling the mighty Pho, so keep an eye on this one.

Mighty Boy Eatery on Urbanspoon

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