With the year drawing closer to an end, we find ourselves rushing to get on top of things. Only now do you finally get to spend some quality time with your family and what better occasion can there be to impress them with your lockdown cooking skills! If you’ve had the time to plan for an amazing dinner spread this Christmas, great! But for the rest of you who have been struggling with work until the last minute, or those confused about the menu, we want to help! We’ve got a menu for everyone, from Traditional (Mashed Potatoes, Roast Turkey and Plum Cake), Vegan (Grilled Mushroom Skewers, Vegan Lasagna and Chocolate Brownies) to Contemporary (Potato Au Gratin Stacks, , Smoked Salmon Pasta and Chocolate Mousse)! Without wasting any more time, here are a bunch of no-nonsense recipes so you can keep your loved ones happy.
Ingredients ● Roughly 2 kg potatoes, peeled and quartered ● 1 cup heavy cream ● 1⁄2 cup butter ● Salt and pepper to taste Method Place potatoes in a large pot with enough water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain, add butter and mash using a potato ricer. Gradually beat in heavy cream and add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.
Ingredients ● 1 turkey, about 5kg ● Sea salt and black pepper ● 2 onions, peeled and halved ● 1 lemon, halved ● 1 head of garlic, halved ● 6 bay leaves ● 8 strips of smoked bacon ● For the infused butter ○ 375 grams butter, at room temperature ○ 2 tablespoon olive oil ○ Finely grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons ○ 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed ○ Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped Method Preheat the oven to 220°C. Prepare the herb butter by putting the butter into a large bowl and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and mix well. Add lemon zest and juice, crushed garlic, and chopped parsley. Mix well to combine. Season the turkey cavity well with salt and pepper, then stuff with onions, lemon, garlic halves, and 2 bay leaves. Loosen the skin on the breast and the legs. Stuff half the butter mix into the opened spaces under the skin. From the outside of the skin, gently massage the butter around so that the meat is evenly covered. Finally, insert the rest of the bay leaves under the skin of the breasts. Place the bird in a large roasting tray, breast side up. Spread the rest of the butter all over the skin. Season well with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast the turkey in the oven for 10–15 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven, baste the bird with the pan juices, and lay the bacon strips over the breast to keep it moist. Baste again. Lower the setting to 180°C and cook for about 21⁄2 hours (30 minutes per kg), basting occasionally. To test whether your turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg and check that the juices are running clear, rather than pink. As oven temperatures and turkey shapes and sizes vary, it is crucial to check your turkey about 30 minutes before the calculated roasting time. If the juices are pink, roast for another 15 minutes and check again. Repeat as necessary until the turkey is cooked. Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter and leave it to rest in a warm place for 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from under the skin before carving.
Ingredients ● For the soaked fruit mixture ○ 200 grams dark raisins ○ 200 grams golden raisins ○ 320 grams mixed unsweetened dried fruit, chopped ○ 160 grams dried unsweetened black figs, chopped ○ 160 grams dried unsweetened tart cherries, chopped ○ 120 grams dried unsweetened prunes, chopped ○ 180 ml dark rum ● For the fruit cake ○ 180 grams all-purpose flour ○ 1/2 teaspoon baking powder ○ 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ○ 1 teaspoon ground ginger ○ 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg ○ 1 teaspoon kosher salt ○ 120 grams unsalted butter, softened ○ 160 grams packed light brown sugar ○ 5 large eggs, room temperature ○ 1 tablespoon grated lemon and orange zest ○ 120 ml freshly squeezed orange juice ○ 1 apple, peeled, and coarsely grated ○ 90 grams chopped walnuts ○ 3 tablespoons finely diced crystallized ginger ○ One batch soaked fruit mixture ○ Optional add-in: 100 grams chopped dark chocolate chips Method The day before baking, combine the dried fruit in a large mixing bowl. Add the dark rum, cover, and allow the mixture to soak at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours, or ideally 24 hours before preparing the fruit cake batter. To prepare the fruitcake, preheat the oven to 150C with a rack in the center position. Set aside two 8×4 inch Loaf Pans. Lightly grease and line with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and light brown sugar together over medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is incorporated. The mixture will look slightly broken, that’s ok. Over low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until it is absorbed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Add the lemon zest, orange zest, fresh orange juice, grated apple, chopped walnuts, diced candied ginger, soaked dried fruit mixture, and chocolate. Stir the mixture with a large spatula until all of the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Transfer and divide the batter evenly among the loaf pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter into an even layer. Set the loaf pans on the center rack, several inches apart from one another. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway, or until the cakes have set. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the pans. Storing and Aging: Once the cake has cooled, carefully remove the cakes from the loaf pans and set them upright. Soak two large pieces of cheesecloth in medium sherry (the cloth should be slightly damp, not wet). Wrap each cake tightly. Cover loafs with wax paper and foil before transferring to a Ziploc bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 to 8 weeks. Unwrap and re-soak the cheesecloth once a week.
Grilled Mushroom Skewers
Ingredients ● Roughly 1 kg of mushrooms, sliced lengthwise ● 2 tablespoons olive oil ● 1 tablespoon soy sauce ● 3 cloves of garlic, chopped ● 1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped ● 1 tablespoon parsley, freshly chopped ● 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes ● Salt and pepper, to taste Method Marinate the sliced mushrooms in the mixture of the remaining ingredients for 30 minutes. In the meantime, soak wooden skewers in water to prevent burning. Skewer the mushrooms, grill until just tender and slightly charred, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the grilled mushroom skewers to a serving platter and sprinkle some chopped parsley. It is now ready to serve.
Ingredients ● For cashew cream ○ 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours ○ 1 cup of water ○ 2 tablespoons lemon juice ○ 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar ○ 3⁄4 teaspoon salt ○ 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard ● For vegetables ○ 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ○ 1 medium-to-large yellow onion, chopped ○ 2 large or 3 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup) ○ 200 grams mushrooms, cleaned and chopped ○ Salt and pepper, to taste ○ 150 grams baby spinach, roughly chopped ○ 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced ● Rest ○ 2 1⁄2 cups marinara sauce ○ 9 no-boil lasagna sheets ○ For garnishing, parmesan and fresh basil Method Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In the meantime, drain and rinse your cashews until the water runs clear. In a blender, combine the cashews, water, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and mustard. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If you’re having trouble blending the mixture, slowly blend in up to 1⁄2 cup additional water, using only as much as necessary. Set aside. To prepare the vegetables, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the onion, carrots, mushrooms, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes until most of the moisture is gone and the vegetables are tender and turning golden on the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add another splash of olive oil if necessary to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add a few handfuls of spinach to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently until the spinach has wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach and cook until all of the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread 3⁄4 cup tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9×9 inch baking pan. Layer 3 lasagna sheets on top (snap off their ends to fit, and/or overlap their edges as necessary). Spread 1 cup of the cashew cream evenly over the sheets. Top with half of the veggies. Top with 3⁄4 cup tomato sauce. Top with 3 more sheets, followed by another cup of cashew cream (save the leftover cream). Then add the remaining veggies. Then, top with 3 more sheets, spread 3⁄4 cup tomato sauce over the top to evenly cover the sheets. Wrap a sheet of aluminum foil around the top of the lasagna, making sure it doesn’t touch. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180°, and continue cooking for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until it’s steaming and lightly bubbling at the corners. Remove the pan from the oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Drizzle leftover cashew cream on top (if it’s too thick to drizzle, thin it out with a small amount of water first). Sprinkle vegan Parmesan and fresh basil on top, then slice and serve.
Ingredients ● 1 cup plain flour ● 1/4 cup cocoa powder ● 1 cup powdered sugar ● 1/3 cup vegetable oil ● 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ● 1/2 cup vegan or normal dark chocolate, melted ● 1 cup almond milk ● 1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional Method Preheat the oven to 180 C. Then line an 8-inch square baking tin with baking or parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, and sugar and gently whisk to mix. Next, add oil, vanilla, melted chocolate, and almond milk. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and combined. Add chocolate chips and mix gently. Transfer brownie batter to the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Try not to over bake the brownies. For a crusty exterior, let the brownie set in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
Potato Au Gratin Stacks
Ingredients ● Oil spray ● 1 kg potatoes, large long ones ● 2 tablespoon butter ● 2 garlic cloves, minced ● 1/2 cup heavy cream ● 1 teaspoon dried thyme ● 1/2 teaspoon salt ● Black pepper, to taste ● 1 cup grated melting cheese (cheddar, mozzarella) ● Fresh thyme leaves for garnish, optional Method Preheat the oven to 180C and in the meantime, spray a standard 12 hole muffin tin with oil. Peel the potatoes, stand them upright, and cut them into cylinder shapes. Then slice potatoes into thin slices around 2mm thick. Place butter, garlic, cream, salt, pepper, and dried thyme in a microwave-proof bowl, then melt in 30-second bursts. Stir and set aside. Place the potato slices into the muffin tin so they go halfway up the muffin holes. Try to match by size to make them into neat stacks. Drizzle each potato stack with 1/2 teaspoon of the cream mixture you made earlier. Sprinkle half the cheese over these potato stacks and then top the muffin tin with the remaining potato slices. Drizzle with the remaining cream mixture and thyme. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake without foil for 10 minutes or until golden and the potato is soft. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing. Use a tablespoon or butter knife to help scope them out.
Smoked Salmon Pasta
Ingredients ● 350 grams tagliatelle, or any pasta of your choice ● 1 tablespoon olive oil ● 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced ● 5 tablespoon crème fraîche ● 1 lemon, zested and juiced ● 2 tablespoon grated parmesan ● 200 grams smoked salmon, torn into strips ● 30 grams fresh chives or dill, finely chopped ● 70 grams bag rocket, to serve Method Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than pack instructions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes until softened but not colored. Stir in the crème fraîche, lemon juice, parmesan, and 2 ladles of pasta cooking water. Allow to bubble gently for 1 min. Drain the tagliatelle and mix it into the sauce in the frying pan. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until reduced to a creamy sauce that coats the pasta. Stir in the smoked salmon and chives, season with black pepper, then divide between 4 bowls. Garnish with the lemon zest and top with a handful of rocket. For an extra-creamy sauce, add 2-3 tablespoon mascarpone along with the créme fraîche.
Ingredients ● 3 eggs ● 125 grams dark chocolate, 70% cocoa ● 10 grams unsalted butter ● 1/2 cup cream, full fat ● 3 tablespoon powdered sugar ● For toppings: ○ Whipped cream ○ Chocolate shavings Method Separate eggs and yolks while the eggs are cold. Place whites in a large bowl and yolks in a small bowl. Leave whites while you prepare other ingredients. Whisk the collected yolks. Place chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Add sugar and beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Fold egg yolks into the cream using a rubber spatula (8 folds max). Streaks are ok. Touch the chocolate and check its temperature. Should still be runny but lukewarm. If too thick, microwave 2-3 seconds until runny. Pour chocolate into cream yolk mixture. Fold through (8 folds max) Add 1/4 of beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold through until incorporated, smear the spatula across the surface to blend white lumps in (aim for 10 folds). Pour chocolate mixture into egg whites. Fold through until incorporated and no more white lumps remain – aim for 12 folds max. Divide mixture between 4 small glasses or pots. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight. To serve, garnish with cream and chocolate shavings. And with this crash course on gourmet cooking, we’ll be out of your hair until next year. Happy holidays and we hope to see you soon!