A quaint little Christmas Day for 2012

MFF_XMAS12_table

Yeah OK, so I know it’s a bit ridiculous that I’m still posting about Christmas, but it would be a shame for you all to miss out on some great recipes.

Christmas Day this year was unlike other years in that it was just the 5 of us. No noisy cousins or little kids, just a very grown up affair for Mother K, Father T, Sisters E & A and I. It was a nice change to be honest. After the spectacular feast my housemate Miss R and I put together for our families only days before, I was relieved the big day was much more low key.

I kept things simple, making only the usual Salmon Gravlax that we make every Christmas for starters. Of course, I made a lot less this year than in previous years (I usually cure a whole 2.5kg salmon) but it still worked equally as well. Actually, I wish I’d made more because I LOVE snaking on it in the days following Christmas. The photo below shows only half what the recipe makes, as the other half we ate on Christmas Eve.

MFF_XMAS12_gravlax1

MFF_XMAS12_gravlax2

For mains, Sister E and Sister A both demanded Turkey, even though I had given them an excellent Turkey w/ sage butter a few days before at our family gathering. Since it was just us 5, I did a rolled turkey breast stuffed with bacon and sage. The extra stuffing I made is still sitting in my freezer, as a sort of ‘in case of emergency’ meal. Feel free to cook it along side the turkey if you are a fan of stuffing.

MFF_XMAS12_turkey

Along with the turkey, I made the same roast beef that I made last year. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it hey? I love roast beef, but I would never normally spend the kind of money it takes to buy a beautiful eye fillet, except at Christmas. PLEASE don’t over cook it! It would be a shame to see it cooked well done, as it is quite a lean cut of meat and would dry out. Don’t be afraid of the seasoning either. The salt and pepper form a crust on the outside of the meat, but don’t really have time to penetrate deeper, so be generous.

MFF_XMAS12_beef

For sides I AGAIN went to my Christmas-sides-bible, Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Inc. book. Seriously. Buy the book. I went a whole year not cooking a single thing from it, but now that I’ve started I can’t stop! I know I savaged his Cumulus Inc. when I visited for breakfast last year, but only because I knew how good the food SHOULD be. The recipes below don’t appear exactly as they do in the book, as I have made some of my own alterations, usually because of what I find easier/ingredients I can’t find etc.

From ‘the bible’, I chose the make a marinated beetroot, lentil, apple and mint salad, opting to leave out the shanklish as I didn’t have the time nor the patience to source this elusive cheese. As I had a bunch of dill flavored fetta left over from our family get together, I added this instead. Mother K is a big fan of beetroot, so I knew she’d like this one. It was a good choice when you’re cooking for a lot of people, as you can prepare it in advance and just whip it out when needed.

MFF_XMAS12_beetsalad

When I saw a recipe for grilled zucchini with pine nuts, currents and fetta, I knew it was a dish Sister A would like. The original recipe called for baby zucchinis, but as I couldn’t find any I substituted in some asparagus. I really did have a lot of that dill flavored fetta leftover, so again, I used that in my version. Don’t feel like you have to use dill flavored fetta though, it will still be delicious with the regular kind. Again, this is a great dish for a group, as you can prepare it in advance and bring it out when needed.

MFF_XMAS12_zucchini

I’m a bit of a fan of cauliflower lately to be honest, so I was drawn to a recipe for spiced cauliflower with goats curd. It was probably one of the favourites of the day. Don’t be put off by the spices, the dish still goes really well with everything else.

MFF_XMAS12_cauliflower

Finally, I again made the same goose-fat roast potatoes I made for our family get together. They were just such a hit. You can get the goose fat from a lot of good delis these days – I know they sell it at the Camberwell Food Market which is where I have bought it previously, or at the little deli in Glenferrie opposite the Safeway.

MFF_XMAS12_potatoes

I won’t lie, we had a lot of leftovers. But that’s exactly what you want at Christmas isn’t it? There would be nothing worse than opening the fridge on Boxing Day and finding it empty, I think. The disappointment of Christmas being over is bad enough.

MFF_XMAS12_spread

Dessert was, of course, Father T’s Christmas Pudding which was looking a little worse for wear this year. It stuck badly to the pudding bowl, and so I’ve told him he must invest in a new one for next year. As we didn’t have any brandy in the cupboard, we lit it using Cointreau which didn’t work quite as well.

MFF_XMAS12_pudding

It was a lovely day, with lots of good food. I sent everyone home with a plate of leftovers, and still had lots left for myself.


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

DILL SAUCE
1 cup mayonnaise (I like Kraft)
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. To serve, cut thinly on the angle, away from the skin. Serve on toast with the dill sauce.
  9. FOR DILL SAUCE: In a large jar, mix together all the ingredients. Store in the fridge, dolloping a little over the gravlax when needed.

*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.


ROLLED TURKEY STUFFED W/ BACON & SAGE
& PORT GRAVY

1 x 1.5kg turkey breast, skin on (ask your butcher to flatten it, ready to roll)
1 tbsp canola oil
3 rashes of bacon, rind removed, cut into 5mm cubes
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 brown onions, finely chopped
8 sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp (25g) 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
salt and pepper
kitchen string (oven proof so no plastic)
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. In a saucepan over moderate heat, saute bacon in canola oil until crispy. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add a little salt to stop the onion browning. Remove mix from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Transfer onion mix to a bowl, and stir in sage leaves, pine nuts, lemon rind, parsley, breadcrumbs and eggs. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay your turkey breast out flat on a clean surface, the longest side facing you. Spoon the stuffing onto the turkey, creating a saussage shape along the side closest to you, about 3-4cm thick. You can cook any leftover stuffing alongside the turkey. Gently roll your turkey up, into a saussage.
  5. Cut 5 x 40cm lengths of kitchen string. Slide the first string under the turkey breast to the middle, and tie it tightly to keep the turkey in place. Repeat with remaining string, with 2 ties each side at equal distance. Cut any excess string. (You can do up to this point in advance, placing the turkey in the oven when you need).
  6. Transfer your rolled turkey breast to a baking dish. Rub with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a moderate oven for 1 1/2 hours (or 30mins per 500g). Test if the turkey is ready with a skewer – the juices should run clear with no sign of pink. Allow to rest for 30 minutes, covered, before carving. Serve with gravy.

Serves 6-8 as part of a buffet

PORT GRAVY
juices from turkey
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour

chicken stock
3 tbsp port, or to taste (I like to add a lot!)
salt and pepper

  1. Strain the juices from the turkey into a saucepan. Take 1/2 cup of the juices and stir together with the cornflour until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and add enough chicken stock to make 500ml.
  2. Add the port and whisk together over moderate heat until it thickens and begins to bubble rapidly. Season to taste and serve hot with the turkey.

Makes 500ml


ROAST BEEF

1.5kg beef eye fillet
1 tbsp each freshly ground salt and pepper
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on a chopping board. Roll beef in salt and pepper to form a crust.
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and cook beef fillets on all sides until sealed, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Transfer beef to a roasting tray and roast in a hot oven for 25 minutes for medium rare. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing thickly.

Serves 6-8 as part of a buffet


BEETROOT, FETA, LENTIL, APPLE AND MINT SALAD

BEETROOT
2 medium beetroot
100ml olive oil
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

SALAD
100g small green lentils
5 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
50g fetta
10 walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 granny smith apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Wrap the beetroots in foil and roast in a moderate oven for about an hour, until tender. Allow to cool before peeling (use gloves). Cut into 1cm cubes. Combine in a bowl with olive oil, all spice, thyme, bay leaf, and a good amount of salt and pepper. Leave to marinade for at least an hour, or leave overnight.
  3. Place the lentils in a saucepan with cold salted water and bring to the boil. As soon as they begin to boil, take them off the heat and strain them. Place back in the saucepan with more cold salted water and bring back to the simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
  4. To serve, mix the lentils with the spring onion, parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drain beetroot and discard bay leaf. Mix with the lentils. Place on a serving plate, crumble over fetta and top with walnuts and apple.

Serves 6 as part of a buffet


GRILLED ZUCCHINI W/ PINE NUTS, CURRANTS AND FETTA

1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tsp currents
2 medium zucchini
1 bunch asparagus
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
zest of 1/2 lemon
8 mint leaves, torn
50g fetta
sumac

  1. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until slightly golden. Remove and allow to cool.
  2. Soak currents in a little warm water to rehydrate them. Drain.
  3. Top and tail the zucchini. Thinly slice the zucchini lengthways, and grill on a VERY hot grill pan for 10 seconds either side. Remove, lay on a chopping board and drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, hold the asparagus at either end and bend in half, snapping off the woody end. Discard bottom ends, and place in a large pot of boiling salted water for a few minutes until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow to cool.
  5. To serve, toss together the zucchini, asparagus, lemon zest, pine nuts, currants and remaining olive oil. Arrange on a serving plate and crumble over fetta, top with mint leaves and a pinch of sumac.

Serves 4


SPICED CAULIFLOWER W/ GOATS CURD

1 large cauliflower
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground fennel
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra
2 spring onions, finely diced
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
100g goats curd, plus milk to thin
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Cut the stem and leaves from the cauliflower and cut into small florets. Toss in a bowl with the coriander, cumin, fennel, 2 tbsp of olive oil and a good amount of salt and pepper. Roast in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly browned. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. In a bowl, whisk goats curd until smooth. You may need to add a little milk to thin it out to the consistency of thick cream. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine spring onions, chilli, pomegranate, parsley and mint. Add cauliflower and toss.
  5. Spread goats curd over a serving plate and top with the cauliflower. Drizzle over a little more olive oil before serving.

Serves 6

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4 Responses to A quaint little Christmas Day for 2012

  1. Mother K says:

    Loved it all Suz … comparable to eating at Andrew McConnell’s, I escpecially liked the beetroot mint and spiced cauliflower with goats curd salads …. yummy … 🙂

  2. Tom Wilson says:

    As usual, a magnificent spread.
    We are lucky to have such a talent in the Family.
    I especially liked the humorous, whimsical and very informative text.
    Many thanks Suz.
    I shall work on the Christmas Pudding for next year !
    (It still tasted good though….huh ?)
    Father T.

  3. Pingback: Housemate Christmas 2013 | the MELBOURNE FOOD FILES

  4. Pingback: Goose for Christmas 2013 | the MELBOURNE FOOD FILES

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