Christmas Day 2011: Starters

So now we’re on to the big day: Christmas Day. Waking up to find a sack full of presents (yes I am 10 years old), I was thankful that I had done most of my cooking preparation the day before, as it meant I wasn’t stuck peeling potatoes at 7am while my family celebrated.

I’d decided a week earlier that all my starters were going to be easily prepared seafood dishes that I could prepare the day before and throw together at the last minute. As with every Christmas, I had to have Salmon Gravlax (a traditional Scandinavian dish my grandmother had taught me years ago). Mother K had been raving about the oyster shooters her and partner H had been having nearly every weekend, so I decided to give them a try too. And finally, to fit in with my seafood trio, I found a great recipe on Taste for prawns on corn cakes with guacamole and chorizo.

Since most of my preparations had been done the day before, I only had to assemble my starters just before my guests arrived. I had the salmon gravlax marinating in the fridge,  a stack of mini corn cakes sitting alongside, ready to be topped with the cooked prawns and chorizo, while the oysters sat patiently waiting to be scooped from the shells into little shot glasses. How easy!


SALMON GRAVLAX

250g salmon gravlax (1/4 quantity of recipe here)
dill aioli (1/2 quantity of recipe here)
1 large baguette, cut into 5mm slices
dill springs to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Spread baguette slices evenly over a baking tray. Bake in a moderate oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before storing (otherwise they will go soft).
  3. When ready to serve, top each baguette slice with a little salmon gravlax and a dallop of aioli. Sprinkle with dill before serving.

Makes 25


OYSTER SHOOTERS W/ MIRIN & SAKE

24 oysters, freshly shucked
250ml mirin
250ml sake
watercress leaves to garnish

  1. Combine mirin and sake. Place each oyster in a shot glass and top with enough mirin and sake mix to reach half way. Garnish with watercress before serving.
  2. HINT: if you don’t have enough shot glasses, make shooters up in batches, cleaning shot glasses in between.

Makes 24


CORN CAKES W/ AVOCADO, CHOIZO AND PRAWNS
(recipe from Good Taste magazine)

150g (1 cup) plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
420g tinned corn kernals
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tbs olive oil
1 large avocado, halved, stone removed, peeled
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
2 chorizo sausages, cut crossways into 1cm-thick slices
30 green medium prawns, peeled leaving tails intact
small fresh coriander leaves, to serve

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Stir in the corn and onion.
  2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Reserve 1/2 teaspoon of oil. Add a little of remaining oil to the pan. Swirl to coat. Spoon five 1-tablespoonful portions of corn mixture into the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Repeat, in 5 more batches, with remaining oil and corn mixture, reheating pan between batches.
  3. Use a fork to mash the avocado in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice and chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the reserved oil in the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a baking tray and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining chorizo.
  5. Add half the prawns to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to the tray. Cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining prawns.
  6. Divide the avocado mixture among the corn cakes. Top with the prawns and chorizo. Sprinkle with coriander leaves. Season with pepper to serve.

Makes 30

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