Archive for December, 2014

Christmas Day is the traditional turkey lunch with all the trimmings and post lunch Queen’s-speech-nap whilst the Brussels work their way through you!  But in many households, Christmas Eve, is more of a party with more people turning up and feasting at a banqueting table of food for everyone to pick at.

I prefer eating (and drinking) this way as no one can keep tabs with how much you’ve had and let’s be honest, Christmas and excess go hand in hand.

Over the past few years I have spent the Christmas holidays in the Uk and the great thing about this is always the plethora of great Christmas party packs that you can buy at high end food shops.  Unfortunately we do not have the same availability here in Gibraltar, so when creating a spread for a Christmas Eve party you need to use some ingenuity and imagination as well as sticking to your confident repertoire of party dishes.

The easy, fallback position is the typical ubiquitous party food: vol-au-vents, mini quiches and huevos rellenos but unless you want to be swigging from Gaviscon bottles before midnight you may need to veer from the pastry-filled retro 80’s.

As the star of the table; instead of a roasted joint we’ve planned for a Beef Carpaccio which will get a crust kissed with chopped rosemary and spiked black pepper with plenty of rock salt.  Sliced as thinly as possible and served with shards of parmesan and a scattering of rocket leaves, a mountain of lamb chops to be dunked in a mint sauce and a decadent salmon terrine (my personal photos to follow of all of the above as those below are taken from various websites).

We first came across Smoked Salmon Terrines as a pre-packed Christmas Day starter but have not been able to find any in the shops this Christmas.  BUT how difficult could it be to make?  Surprisingly it was very simple to put together.

Smoked Salmon, cream cheese, cream, chives and dill, lemon zest and juice & seasoning.

Smoked Salmon Terrine

Ingredients:

·         600g smoked salmon

·         600g cream cheese

·         150ml double cream

·         Zest and juice of a lemon

·         Chives and dill

·         Seasoning

Method:

1st: Line a bread tin or terrine dish with cling film.

2nd: Line the base with a layer of smoked salmon.

3rd: In a food processor, blitz the cream cheese, cream, zest and juice of a lemon, chives and dill.  Season to taste.

4th: Spread a bit of this mixture over the smoked salmon.

5th: Keep making layers, making sure to end with the smoked salmon.

6th: Cover with plastic wrap and place a weight on the terrine – refrigerate overnight.

I know this is going to be special on tomorrow’s banqueting table as earlier I spread the leftover mixture and smoked salmon trimmings over some toast for lunch and it was absolutely delicious.  I chopped some baby prawns into the cream cheese mixture and seasoned well – remember that cream cheese can be very bland and it is this silky quality that makes it a great vehicle to carry strong flavours such as smoked salmon, chives and dill.

I’m sure it will get devoured tomorrow evening!

Merry Christmas

 Gastrorob

Advertisements

Looking through recipe books and scouring websites, there are many Mulled Wine recipes all of them purporting to be “Christmas in a glass” served on stoves next to roaring log fires in Alpine ski lodges but I have to be honest and say that I am glad to have found a cider version of this tradition of mulling drinks.

Christmassy, warming and silky – this drink will kick off any evening to a festive start.

Let’s be honest; mulled wine can sometimes taste a bit like cough syrup!  The first mouthful can be beautiful but every sip from then on becomes one out of politeness and not necessarily enjoyment; I find that the minute it drops below a certain temperature it then actually becomes quite sickly and you’re never sure if a top up would be a good idea or not.

However, mulled cider, still embodying the tradition of a Christmassy spiced, warming drink has none of the negative connotations that mulled wine brings.  It still has the traditional flavours of cinnamon and clove you want at this time of year but they are the subtle backnote to a fruity and fizzy December cocktail.

Mulled Cider

1 Litre of dry Cider

2 clementines

1 Tblspn soft dark brown sugar

A decent splosh of dark rum

A teacup of raspberry tea

4 cloves

3 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

½ tspn of vanilla paste

A rasp of nutmeg

Method:

1st: Make a cup of raspberry tea and allow to steep for a few minutes. Mulled Cider

2nd: Pour the litre of cider into a saucepan and place on a low heat.  Pick a decent cider – no White Lightning here!

3rd: Cut the clementines in half, some people stud the skin with the cloves.  Add these to the pan.

4th: Crush the cardamom pods under the weight of your knife, and add these, the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and any other spices you wish to the pan.

5th: Pour in the fruit tea, dark rum and vanilla paste.

6th: Add a table spoon of soft dark brown sugar and allow the flavours to infuse.  Serve in a glass with a rasp of nutmeg over.

If at any point the clove or cinnamon become overpowering remove them from the pan.  You have to control this as it really is a matter of taste.

You need to give this recipe a go, especially if you don’t like mulled wine.  I have tinkered with a few ingredients to suit what I had in the cupboard at the time but feel free to go with whatever spice you prefer.  A dare say an apple and cinnamon tea would also be amazing but I used Red Berry Blush which works very well here.

Dangerously quaffable!