The season of goodwill is finally upon us and for some that means hosting friends and family from afar. Aside from the general festivities and seasonal togetherness, we all know that food is a uniting factor at Christmas. Whether you’re cooking a traditional turkey roast or creating a more eclectic menu, we are on hand to help.
We recently hosted a Christmas cooking masterclass with House & Garden and attendees received a hands-on tutorial from the talented professional chef Rachel Green.
As it is the season of giving, we wanted to bestow some of Rachel's wisdom and share recipes that looked and tasted amazing. Below are some recipes that will suit all guests: whether they’re traditionalists, vegetarians or simply hungry.
Let us begin with starters. We know prawn cocktail is traditional, but canapés are versatile, easy to eat and require less washing up!
Shallot & Tartare of Salmon with Sour Cream, Capers & Dill in a Filo Shell
1 lemon, zest and juice only
200g salmon fillets, skinned and diced
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
142ml sour cream
50g capers, drained and chopped
Small bunch fresh dill
- Mix the salmon, shallot, lemon juice and zest together in a bowl, season with black pepper.
- In a separate bowl mix together the sour cream and capers.
- Place a little of the salmon mixture in each of the shells, spoon a small amount of sour on top and garnish with a sprig of dill.
We also have a delicious vegetarian alternative in the form of beetroot and goats cheese.
Canapé of Beetroot & Goats Cheese Tartlets with Nigella Seeds
375g ready rolled all-butter puff pastry
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
125g rindless soft goat’s cheese
2 tablespoons mango chutney, plus extra to serve
Black pepper, freshly ground
100g cocktail beetroots, cut into small wedges
120g goat’s cheese log with rind, sliced
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- Preheat the oven to 180° /gas mark 4.
- Unroll the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and stamp our neat discs. Place the pastry discs on two large pastry, preferably lined with a silicone mat. Brush a little beaten egg over each pastry disc to glaze, and then put the baking sheets into the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow the pastry to firm up.
- Put the soft goat’s cheese and mango chutney into a bowl with a little sea salt and pepper to taste. Beat until well combined.
- Remove the baking trays from the fridge. Neatly spread a teaspoonful of the goat’s cheese mixture in the middle of each pastry disc, leaving a small border around the pastry. Arrange a few beetroots on each tart, then top with a slice of firm goat’s cheese.
- Mix the nigella seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds together in a small bowl and sprinkle a little of this mixture on top of the goat’s cheese.
- Bake the tartlets for 20 minutes until the pastries are golden brown and crisp. (Check underneath the pastries to make sure the base is golden brown before you remove from the oven).
- Leave to cool slightly. If you wish, spoon a little mango chutney from the jar on top of the goat’s cheese to glaze it. Serve while still warm or at room temperature.
It’s not always straightforward when you’re catering for people with different dietary preferences and requirements; a smart solution is to prepare vegetarian options that act as a delicious main meal or side dish so you’re catering for everyone in some capacity.
Parsnip & Winter Herb Upside Down Roast
200g parsnips, trimmed and cut lengthways into 1.5m slices
50g pecan pieces
50g pine nuts
2 leeks, sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms, quite finely chopped
200g chestnuts, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
Handful fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
100g sourdough breadcrumbs
50g plain flour
100ml maple syrup
200g feta cheese, crumbled
50g fresh parmesan, grated
3 large eggs
A generous dash truffle oil, optional
Sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 190° /gas mark 5.
- Lightly butter a deep loaf tin and line the base with baking paper. Cook the parsnips for 5 minutes, they don’t need to be cooked all the way through, drain and set aside.
- Spread the pecans and pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, then cool and roughly chop.
- Melt half of the butter in a large frying pan on a low heat. Add the leeks, season and cook gently, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining butter to the pan and turn up the heat. When the butter is hot, add the mushrooms, season with sea salt and black pepper, then cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add the chestnuts and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn’t brown.
- Add the mixture to the leeks, along with the nuts, herbs, sourdough breadcrumbs and flour. Using a clean frying pan, add the maple syrup and a knob of butter, gently add the parsnip pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden, turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the plan, and set the syrup in the pan aside.
- Put the parsnips into the loaf tin.
- Crumble the feta and grated parmesan into the nut mixture, then add the eggs and mix well. Spoon the mixture on top of the parsnips and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Let the roast cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then invert carefully onto a flat plate and peel off the baking paper.
- Heat the syrup in the pan, season with sea salt, and add a few sprigs of rosemary. Brush the top of the loaf and decorate with the rosemary.
And finally, for the pièce de résistance: dessert. We have come to expect the traditional desserts at Christmas, such as flaming pudding and Christmas cake, so why not surprise your guests with something a little different?
Baked Italian Alaska with Madeira Fruits
1 x 1kg panettone
3 x tablespoons Amaretto liqueur, plus 4-6 tablespoons for flaming
2 x 500ml tubs really good quality vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
6 large egg whites
200g golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
150g luxury dried fruit soaked in 100ml of Madeira
1 orange, rind only
- Preheat the oven to 200°/400°F/Gas mark 6.
- Use a long-bladed, serrated knife to cut a lid at the top of the panettone, and put it to one side. Cut, dig or scoop out the centre of the panettone, leaving a hollow container with fairly robust walls and bottom.
- Sprinkle the interior of the panettone with 2 tablespoons of Amaretto, then pack in, in layers, the ice cream and Madeira fruit – it should fill it completely.
- Sprinkle the cut surface of the lid with another tablespoon of the liqueur, before replacing it on top of the ice cream and pressing it firmly into place. Sprinkle the top with orange rind.
- Put the panettone onto a flat dish that will take kindly to both the freezer and the oven Cover with cling film and store in the freezer for anything up to a week.
- To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff, shiny peaks – and you can turn the bowl upside down over your head without disaster. Whisk or fold in (using a large metal kitchen spoon) about a fifth of the sugar, then add the remainder gradually.
- Quickly remove the panettone from the freezer and cover it completely – making sure there are no gaps at the bottom – with a thick layer of meringue, then flick the meringue into flamboyant peaks. Scatter the meringue with almonds and put the Alaska back in the freezer if it is not going to be cooked straight away.
- Just before serving, transfer the Alaska straight from the freezer to the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes, when the meringue should be dappled brown.
- In the meantime, gently heat the liqueur in a small saucepan. Bring the Alaska to the table, flame with the warm liqueur, then cut into thick slices and serve with double cream and raspberries.
Christmas can be a stressful time, where the urge to create the ‘perfect meal’ can sometimes eclipse the joy of the occasion. However, it is usually the chef themselves channeling these highest of expectations, so we encourage you all to put some music on and enjoy whatever you’re cooking this Christmas.
As the saying goes, ‘eat, drink and be merry’.
You can find out more about Rachel Green by visiting her website, www.rachel-green.co.uk.
Ready to start designing your new kitchen for the next family get together? Speak with one of our designers in your local Harvey Jones showroom, or call 0800 389 6938.