I love Christmas. No, just so we’re clear, I mean I freaking LOVE Christmas. I had been whining since August about putting up our Christmas tree and finally in November when i was having a very bad day, Stud caved to make me feel better. Most people say its bad luck to erect the tree before December but I say phooey to that! How can anything to do with Christmas be bad luck??
This year was extra special. Not only was it our first Christmas in our new home that we actually own (hence wouldn’t have to worry about sticking/nailing/hanging decorations for fear of permanent damage and no bond back) but also, Stud’s parents were visiting from overseas and it would be his first Christmas with them in 12 years.
I wanted to make the dinner as special as the occasion so had been planning the menu for a good couple of months trying to decide on a good traditional UK Christmas feast. Feast being the appropriate word because there was a mega amount of food left!
I bought all my ingredients in the upcoming days and also a few bits and pieces for the table and got to work first thing Christmas Eve.
The turkey was first on my list as I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to separate the skin from the breast (having never done it before) and make the stuffing to go in between. I decided on a Jamie Oliver recipe for this one as it seemed to be a beginner’s version and adapted it slightly to suit our bird. Stud’s mum got me started as I was a little freaked out by the task to be honest. Once they pulled out the neck from inside, I may or may not have screamed slightly. Don’t judge me! But once I got going, i was fine. I had my whole arm up in that bird and was getting down to business. It was actually a lot easier than I though. I had issues with one little part not coming away but with a little bit of elbow grease, got there in the end.
Once the stuffing was half done and cooling, I wrapped the rosemary in panchetta, made slits in the legs and stuffed them in.
Then back to adding the remaining ingredients for the stuffing, I got to work smooshing it between the skin and breast – actually quite a therapeutic process – much like squidging meatball mixture together with your hands can be. You know what I’m talking about.
Turkey done, I moved on to an entree I had seen Iron Chef Shellie make. You see my mum never really eats an entree. She likes to be able to finish her main and just in case, save some extra room for dessert and knowing I was making a mega feast, I thought it would be best to do a very light entree just to get the taste buds going. As soon as I saw Shellie’s recipe, I knew we had a winner and adapted it slightly to make it a little more UK authentic (horseradish makes everything UK) . Thanks again Shellie :)! So I mixed up the batter, let it rest for an hour then got to pouring out my crepes. As Bel once said to me, the first few are always duds. I think I added a little too much butter and the pan wasn’t hot enough so I inhaled those (for taste testing purposes of course) and once I got in my groove, they were actually looking pretty good.
Next purchase on my list will be some kind of rectangle pan! So once the crepes were done, I put each between paper towels and then popped them in the fridge to cool. Once cool, I then assembled my smoked salmon rolls and popped then in the fridge to set.
Studs mum very kindly helped me out with the chopping of the veg so they were good to go and with those I was making Roast Potatoes & Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots. I was also doing Brussel Sprouts with Peas & Hazelnuts but went the easy route and used frozen veg for that so with all the veg ready to go, it was time to get on to dessert – Lemon Curd and Raspberry Cupcake Pavlovas. I mixed up my pav mix and popped them in to some Christmassy cupcake cases
and they went in the oven for an hour. Stud was slightly worried I was cutting it fine with the timing as the turkey was to go in soon but all was well. Once out of the oven, they basically just needed to go to the side to cool.
It was go time! I carefully (yet still clumsily, it was heavy ok!) placed the turkey in the oven and set the timer for 3 hours. I could finally relax! Well for about an hour or so anyway. Just enough time to have a shower, dress the table,
do up my menu,
make the stuffing balls
and start on the veg with an hour or so to go.
The stuffing ball recipe baffled me a little as it was awfully dry so I adapted that until I was comfortable with its consistency. I have provided my recipe below but you can get the actual recipe here.
Once the turkey was out and resting, I finished off my veg and got to work on the gravy by mashing all the leftover roasting tray ingredients together
and straining them through a sieve. Once I had a thin liquid, popped it in a saucepan and added some gravy flour until Stud was happy with its consistency (being the gravy connoisseur that he is ;))
It was time for the main course and we had decided to do a buffet style, that was people can take as much or as little as they liked so while I got everything in to serving dishes, Stud carved up the turkey.
After dinner we all migrated to the couch to watch a few Christmas shows and chat and once dinner had shifted slightly, I got started on the dessert. Stud’ mum had used cream for a trifle she was taking over to on Christmas day so that was already done. I cut the top off each mini pav and one I had mixed the lemon curd with the cream, put a generous dollop in to each pav and topped it with some defrosted (frozen Sara Lee pack. Cut corners when you can ;)) raspberries and popped the lid back on.
Dessert was served and was easy as! Thanks Donna Hay!
With copious amounts of leftovers, we ate like royalty for the next few days so I don’t regret doing such a mega meal as I knew it was never going to go to waste and it was great to try out some new recipes and techniques. Oh! I love Christmas!
Smoked Salmon Rolls
2 large eggs
120g plain flour
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
Butter, to fry
3-4 tablespoons creme fraiche
Small bunch of chives
1 tbs horseradish
Salt and pepper to season
200g smoked salmon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Crack eggs in a bowl and pour flour in so it sits in a pile to one side. Gently whisk eggs, and gradually whisk flour in little by little until it’s incorporated. If it gets a little thick, add some milk to loosen. Add remaining milk, 2 tablespoons oil and a good pinch of salt. Stand for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat your largest non-stick frypan (at least 32cm) on medium-high heat and melt a knob of butter (2 teaspoons). Pour in a ladle of batter, swirl pan around, then pour any loose batter back into bowl. You should be left with a thin pancake. Let it cook for a minute or so, flip it for 30 seconds, then slide onto a plate. Repeat until all batter is used. I used four pancakes for the recipe but the original asked for two. Cool.
3. Make a rectangle of double thickness plastic wrap about 40cm x 15cm. Lay 2 crepes on it side by side, overlapping slightly. Mix crème fraiche with horseradish, chives and season with salt and pepper. Spread with a thin layer of mixture and layer smoked salmon over the top.
4. Use the plastic wrap on one of the long sides of the rectangle to roll the crepes up tightly like a Swiss roll, pulling the wrap away as you roll. Re-wrap in plastic wrap and leave for at least half an hour in the fridge to firm up before slicing into 2-3cm lengths and serve. Garnish with chives
Adapted from Iron Chef Shellie
a sprig of fresh sage, leaves picked
12 strips of pancetta or thinly sliced streaky bacon
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
4 medium red onions, peeled
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
a big handful of breadcrumbs
a handful of dried apricots
500g minced pork
zest of 1 lemon
a pinch of grated nutmeg
1 large free-range or organic egg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 small fresh rosemary sprigs, plus a few extra
Size 48 turkey
2 carrots, peeled
1 large orange
2 tablespoons gravy flour
Preheat the oven to maximum. Heat a saucepan until medium hot and drop in the butter, sage leaves and 6 of the pancetta or bacon strips. Peel and chop 2 garlic cloves and 1 onion. Add the garlic, celery and onion to the saucepan and fry everything gently until soft and golden brown. Take the pan off the heat, add the breadcrumbs and, while the mix is cooling down, chop the apricots roughly and stir them in. When the stuffing has cooled down, add the pork, lemon zest, nutmeg, egg and lots of salt and pepper, and mix everything together well.
Slice the remaining strips of pancetta or bacon in half and slice 1 peeled garlic clove into thin slivers. Place a rosemary sprig and a garlic sliver on one end of a halved strip of pancetta and roll it up tightly. Repeat with the other pieces of pancetta until you have 12 little rolls. Stab the thighs and drumsticks of the turkey in 6 places on each side. Push a little pancetta roll into each hole until it just peeps out.
Chop the remaining onions in half and slice the carrots thickly. Give your turkey a good wipe, inside and out, with kitchen paper, and place it on a board, with the neck end towards you. Find the edge of the skin that’s covering the turkey’s breasts and gently peel it back. Work your fingers and then your hand under the skin, freeing it from the meat. If you’re careful you should be able to pull all the skin away from the meat, keeping it attached at the sides. Go slowly and try not to make any holes! Lift the loose skin at the neck end and spoon the stuffing between the skin and the breast, tucking the flap of skin underneath to stop anything leaking out. Pop the orange in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm it up and stuff it into the cavity. Weigh the stuffed turkey and calculate the cooking time (about 20 minutes per 500g).
Place the bird on a large roasting tray, rub it all over with olive oil and season well. Surround with the chopped carrots, onions, remaining garlic, cover with tinfoil and place in the preheated oven. Turn the heat down right away to 180°C, and roast for the calculated time, or until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce with it a knife or a skewer. Remove the tinfoil for the last 45 minutes to brown the bird. Carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board that’s covered loosely with foil for 20 minutes while you finish off the veg and gravy. Mash all roasting tray ingredients together then strain through a sieve. Once you have a thin liquid, put it ina saucepan and add some gravy flour until thick enough for your liking. Carve your turkey, serve with the gravy and dig in!
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Brussel sprouts with peas and hazelnuts
500g frozen baby brussels sprouts
1 cup (150g) frozen or fresh peas
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 prosciutto slices, thinly sliced
1/2 cup hazelnuts
Use a zester to remove rind from orange. (Alternatively, use a vegetable peeler to peel rind from orange. Use a small, sharp knife to remove white pith from rind. Cut rind into very thin strips). Juice the orange.
Thinly slice half of the brussels sprouts. Cook the remaining brussels sprouts in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes. Add the peas and cook for a further minute or until heated through. Drain well.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over high heat until foaming. Add the garlic and prosciutto and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until crisp. Add the shredded brussels sprouts, pea mixture, orange juice and rind and hazelnuts and cook, tossing, for 2 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl. Serve immediately.
Lemon Curd and Raspberry Cupcake Pavlovas
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
2 tbs cornflour
2 tsp white vinegar
1 ½ cups whipped cream
¾ cup lemon curd
½ packet frozen raspberries (save the rest for a mid week Eaton Mess)
Preheat oven to 150°. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until soft and glossy. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk until combined. Scoop mixture in to 12 paper cases, reduce the oven to 120° and bake for 1 hour. Once done, let cool. Fold lemon curd through cream. Carefully cut the tops off each Pavlova and fill with the lemon curd cream, top with raspberries then sandwich with the top. Serve.
Adapted from Donna Hay’s Dec/Jan Issue.