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Cooking Festive Dishes for the Holiday Season
 
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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in A selection of recipes techniques and tips' LiveJournal:

Sunday, December 17th, 2006
5:59 pm
[gypseymission]
Breaking with tradition - Christmas 2006
Its time to update this community again, and looking back at previous Christmas meals I've cooked it definitely feels like I want to completely break with tradition this year.

There are four of us on the day, three of which are meat eaters but one of those is allergic to nuts. One is a vegetarian but does eat fish so I don't need to do a nut roast. I've mentioned before how having people who don't eat certain things can either complicate things massively or force you to keep things really simple. With only four of us I'm pretty sure I can handle a few complicated things so thats what I'm going to do.

For the main meat course I'm serving Venison this year, and going for a fillet cut of Scottish red deer. I''s incredibly tasty and obviously very game-y, so its a very good substitute for a bird. The trick with Venison is not to overcook it. Medium rare is about as cooked as you want it, definitely no more otherwise you start to lose the flavour. For the fourth serving I'm going to do Rainbow trout because it's one of the best tasting fish I've ever tasted and goes well with the overall rustic feel of the meal.

Venison

I'm going to use a joint that is about 1.2 kilos so cooking times will vary depending the size of your joint.

First season the meat with some black pepper, fresh thyme and a little (and I mean a little) sea salt.
Add some olive oil to a skillet large enough to take the meat. You don't need to put a lot in, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

Seal the meat on all sides. Some BBQ tongs work really well turning the meat and making sure that its all sealed without any of it getting burned. I usually season the meat with a little more pepper whilst I'm doing this but I have a feeling that I like more pepper than most people so don't worry if you miss this out.

Roughly chop an onion and an apple and mix both of these together and then place them on a sheet of metal foil big enough to wrap around the entire joint of venison so that none of the juices can escape. Add more fresh thyme. It's not exactly festive but I also like to add some roughly chopped garlic. No more than a large clove is needed and I like the extra zing that it gives but this is definitely optional and a lot of people will cringe if you suggest it.

What you end up with is the venison sitting on a bed of lots of flavoring ingredients and now wrap it up into a parcel and place it on a baking tray in an oven set to about C200 degrees. Make sure that none of the juices can seep out because you are going to need those later. 20 to25 minutes is what this now needs. Definitely no longer and depending on your oven it can even be ready before then.

When it comes out you will be left with the juices which you can blend together with the mush thats left and then add some sieved flour to create a roux. I'm going to boil up some pealed plums in a pan to make a fruity stock and add some salt and a bouillon cube to this. Strain and then add the stock to the paste to make a great gravy bustling with flavours.

Stuffing

Truthfully, these dishes don't really need a stuffing but its very traditional so I'm going to cook this in a separate dish and serve it for those who want it.

You need grated/blended breadcrumbs and finely chopped onion. You need enough of each so that the bread soaks up the juice of the onion but so it can combine in a stiff mixture. Add in freshly chopped thyme and sage, and then some pealed and chopped plumbs. Finely some black pepper and a little sea salt and them beat everything together with an egg. Add some sausage meat to half the mixture and place the other half in a dish so we now have a vegetarian and a carnivore version. I'm going to halve the meat version again and then add in some grated/blended chestnuts. Put all three in dishes and cook in the same oven for about 20-25 minutes. The vege option probably wants to come out after only fifteen minutes but the sausage version needs to definitely cook through.

Trout

Take a line caught Rainbow trout. Remove the fins and gut it, but don't worry taking the head or tail off. I think it looks better on the plate that way but its really up to you. This recipe is probably going to freak out the purists but trust me it works and tastes fantastic. Roughly chop an onion, and put that in a plastic dish big enough to take the trout. Put enough onion in to completely cover the bottom and make a bed up to half an inch thick. Now add some fresh chopped parsley and some fresh thyme florets. Again put enough in to cover the onion bed. Add a little sea salt and also add some sea salt to the fish to season it. Place the trout on top of the flavoring bed and then grind some black pepper on top. Squeeze on the juice of half a lemon and then pour some fresh orange juice over it to half cover the trout. Now add about half a clove of chopped garlic and cover with a plate.

At this point I'm going to put this in a microwave oven. Microwaves are basically fast steamers and steaming is what you want for this dish. That's why it works. You can steam it the traditional way but I've tried both and I'm really at a loss to be able to recommend one over the other and if you only have a small oven it means you can cook both the meat and fish dishes at the same time, so its a worthwhile trick to pull. Nuke it for about 4 minutes, have a look, and make sure the mix is still evenly covering the fish and then give it another 2 minutes. Let it stand for two minutes and then have another look. It should be done but some people might need to give it another minute or two just to make sure its cooked. You basically want to look at the eye of the trout and to see that it has gone opaque rather than clear and also to ensure that the flesh is only loosely held on the bone. A quick prod with a fork should confirm this. You now have a wonderfully flavored trout. Serve it one a plate and add some of the onion mix and some of the juice. Make a basic parsley sauce by first heating butter in a pan and then adding sieved flour to make a roux and then add warm milk and gradually bring to the boil. Add pepper and a little salt if you want to and then some chopped parsley. When its a stiff creamy consistency, put a few spoons of that on the side to give the final plate something to accompany the vegetables.

Roast Potatoes & Parsnips

It's not Christmas without roast potatoes so I'm going to use the same recipe as I did a few years ago. Peal and boil for about 8 minutes, then strain them and toss them in some sieved flour and rosemary and thyme. I've got vegetarians so I'm going to take two pans and put olive oil in one and some duck fat in another. Heat both on a gas ring and then place the potatoes in followed by a bit more rosemary and a bit more thyme. Now put them into the same oven as the meat for about 25-35 minutes depending on how many you have in the pan. Half way through cooking spoon the oil over to make them crisp up. That's it.

I'm also going to add some peeled, chopped and part boiled (5 minutes) parsnips to this as well for the last ten minutes.

Vegetables

Sprouts are traditional and I'm going to steam them and then saute in some garlic and olive oil to liven them up a bit.

Peas, carrots French beans cauliflower and broccoli will give me enough vegetables to suit everyone (I have some picky eaters). Ill steam them all and add some ginger to the carrots and peas again to just liven them up a bit. Everything else can best be left to speak for themselves.

Dessert

Dessert this year consists of some shop bought Christmas puddings because I've got too much going on at work to do them myself properly ahead of time, but you can get some really good shop bought ones. I'm going for the Sainsbury's Chocolate Christmas puddings which are nut free and vegetarian friendly and a Fortnum and Mason luxury Christmas pudding which is made with beef suet for everyone else. Both of them can be steamed in a microwave oven. I'm going to make a custard with some custard powder, sugar and milk and then add to that some brandy, cinnamon and nutmeg to give it an extra bit of kick. Put more brandy over the hot puddings and then serve.

That's it, enjoy!
Saturday, October 28th, 2006
10:52 pm
[dicktracie]
Sunday, December 25th, 2005
12:01 am
[gypseymission]
For Pudding this year we are serving something a bit special
We are going with Sainsbury's pre made puddings (give me a break there is only two of us, and one of us is allergic to nuts) so we have one nut free and one full on nut pudding, served with brandy custard but also with home made cinnamon ice cream, recipe below:

½ pint of double cream.
½ pint of milk.
100g white sugar.
6 egg yolks.
Cinnamon to taste


Directions
Mix the cream and milk together in a pan until just before they boil, set aside.
Mix the egg yolks and sugar together, whisk until they blend and form a smooth paste. You'll probably need an electric mixer for this until you've done it before.

Add the cinnamon to the milk/cream mixture, until you are happy with the taste. Stir until dissolved. Add the egg/sugar mixture a little at a time to this until it's dissolved.

Very gently heat this mixture - you must not let it boil. Stir the mixture until you get a consistency about that of double cream.

Pour into container, cover, and put in the freezer. Stir every half hour until totally solid. Be quite aggresive about folding the edges into the center when it starts to freeze up around the edges.

It is wonderful!
Saturday, December 24th, 2005
11:39 pm
[gypseymission]
Main Course 2005
I have neglected this community this year which is bad but hopefully just sharing this will give people ideas.

Over the last few years I have cooked for upwards of 15 people. This year its just the two of us, for a very intimate chriatmas which I am looking forward to. For that reason we have moved away from the traditional meals to serve up things that just we like.

Main course this year is pheasant.

It's avery dry bird so I am making the stuffing as described below

Pheasant is however a very dry bird but the small size makes it possible to serve up a bird each (and also means I am not getting up at 6am to start preparing). Stuff each bird, as per taste then and make sure you add plenty of fresh thyme. Cover the breast of each one with really fatty streaky bacon. This means that they wont dry out. Then place them (as many as will fit) in a baking tray and cover with tin foil. If you start at 180 and gradually work up to 240 (last ten minutes) then they come out perfect. Total cooking time is between 35 and 45 minutes depending on the size of bird and how well it is stuffed.


Stuffing: My partner is allergic to nuts, which makes the traditional 'in bird' stuffing of Sausage meat Onions, Chestnuts, plum and herbs stuffing difficult. Instead I making a fruit sage and onion stuffing out of a cumberland sausage, Onions, breadcrumbs sage, onion, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, plums and an egg egg, salt, pepper and hot water. This stops the bird from drying out during cooking and creates an incredible stuffing that is both herby and fuity.

Im keeping some of that mixture back to and then add chestnuts for my pheasant, buth the beauty of cooking these birds is that you can make each one to order.

Roast potatoes: Boil the potatoes then let them sit. Add flour Thyme, Rosemary, Salt and Pepper to some sieved flour and toss the potatoes in this. Then add them to a roasting tray of vegetable oil. Heat the tray on the hob as you add them and they won't stick. Half way through cooking remove most of the oil, total cooking time 45 minutes. About 20 minutes before the end add some parsnips which have been boiled for about 5 minutes. You can also add honey to the parsnips about 10 minutes before the end

Carrots: Carrots are great for adding colour but are a bit boring. I steam them using Thyme and Ginger, which gives them a little bit of bite and makes them a bit different.

Peas: There isn't too much I know of that you can do with peas and so I boil them in water with salt sage. The sage gives them a nice fresh taste.

Sprouts: You either love em or hate em. Just to be different again, Im going to blanche my sprouts in water and then pan fry them briefly in olive oil, with ginger and Thyme. Believe it or not this does make them considerably more enjoyable. Try it!

Yorkshire Pudding: Its very English and not essential but I like it and so does my family. For fifteen I would add three cups of sieved flour to 2 eggs and 3 cups of milk. Add salt and whisk to a batter. The secret to these savoury puddings is to add oil to your metal baking tins (I like the ones that make sixteen little ones but it also works for grandma style large puddings), and ensure that this is very hot before you add the batter. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until they have risen and look golden. As long as your oil is hot they will rise, and be easy to remove from the tray when you are ready to serve.

Meat Gravy: Chop up some plums and simmer them in a pan for an hour or so. The idea is so that you get a really hot juicy stock. Remove the meat juices from the pan while the pheasants are standing. Add flour to make a roux. Add the Plum stock, and some thyme. Simmer until it thickens, add browning if you need it or want it. If you need to thicken it up just add some more Flour.
Monday, January 10th, 2005
2:04 pm
[gypseymission]
Napkins folded into Elven Boots
I've only just discovered this so its a bit late but it looks to me to be a really great and different way of arranging napkins on the table for any special occasion not just during the holidays. I found it on the BBC site which shows you how to fold a napkin to look like Elven booties.Read more...Collapse )
Saturday, December 25th, 2004
12:29 pm
[gypseymission]
Notes on the day
Things always change slightly from the plan. As I was shopping I started to panic because I couldn't find a duck breast. I did however get lucky because the SUpermarket had Pheasants on sale and special offer and so I was able to pick up two 500gram birds for £2 each. I therefore reoasted the pheasants early this morning (about an hour in a covered dish, and then took all the meat off the bone, minced it and added it to the meat stuffing. Given that this was now a very game stuffing, I also added a small glass of port to the mix.
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004
11:13 am
[gypseymission]
Christmas Puddings
Christmas Puddings in our house can be a bit of a mammoth event because we have veggies and people allergic to nuts. So here is a basic recipe

115 grams / 4 oz of flour
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
175 grams / 6 oz of breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
250 grams / 9 oz of suet
175 grams / 6 oz of brown sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
175 grams / 6 oz of sultanas
175 grams / 6 oz of raisins
175 grams / 6 oz of currants
85 grams / 3 oz of blanched almonds
175 grams / 6 oz of mixed peel
2 eggs
150 ml / ¼ pint of milk (approximately)
grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon
Rum to taste

The secret here is to soak the fruits in plenty of rum for several days before and then combine them together. Traditionally you are supposed to steam it in a suacepan but I find that a microwave does the job just as well in a fraction of the time.

A nut free second pudding resipe is below:

5 oz breadcrumbs
4 oz of plain flour
4 oz chopped suet or modern day equivalent
4 oz currants
4 oz raisins
4 oz soft brown moist sugar
2 oz candied peel - Cut your own or use ready cut
2 oz raw grated carrot
1 teaspoon grated rind of lemon
half salt spoon nutmeg grated
1 good teaspoonful baking powder
about quarter pint of milk
2 eggs
Rum to taste

Again soak the fruit in plenty of rum beforehand and cook in a microwave.
Friday, December 10th, 2004
6:49 pm
[gypseymission]
Planned Menu
So here we go with this years planned menu

Roast Turkey: We are going for one of the Extra Large Frozen Turkeys from Sainsbury's this year as they are on special offer and this is being done on a budget this year. I would have liked to cook a goose but for the numbers we are talking about this was cost prohibitive. Season the bird with Basil, Parsley, Thyme and a little Salt and pepper, mixed in with oil and baste the breast with this. Place the stuffed bird in a large roasting tray and make a tent out of foil around it. I cook it to begin with on gas mark 5 and then raise the temperature a mark every hour that I am cooking. Finally I remove the tent for the last half hour to give it a golden brown breast. If your bird is stuffed properly this method will not dry your Turkey out. It will also give you some wonderful juices to make the meat gravy.

Stuffing: This always seems to be a bit of an issue for me as I have some people who don't eat pork, others who are allergic to nuts, which makes the traditional 'in bird' stuffing of Sausage meat Onions, Chestnuts, plum and herbs stuffing difficult. Instead I making a fruit sage and onion stuffing out of a minced duck breast, Onions, breadcrumbs sage, onion, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, plums an egg and cranberries salt, pepper and hot water.

Im keeping some of that mixture back to and then add chestnuts to it which I'll cook separately for those who like nut stuffing and then I'll make another batch without the duck breast for vegetarians.

Roast potatoes: I cook these separate from the Turkey to make them vegetarian friendly. Part boil the potatoes then let them sit. Add flour Thyme, Rosemary, Salt and Pepper to some sieved flour and toss the potatoes in this. Then add them to a roasting tray of vegetable oil. Half way through cooking remove most of the oil, total cooking time 45 minutes. About 20 minutes before the end add some parsnips.

Nut Roast: This is the Vegetarian main course, so I won't stimp on it. Make a Tofu shell out of soft Tofu, by placing some kitchen paper in a metal sieve and then pressing the tofu into the sieve to make a thin dome. Place more kitchen paper into the hollow and then place it in a fridge to dry out for 2 hours. Make a stuffing mix out of chestnuts, breadcrumbs, onion, tamarind, ginger, sage, parsley, basil, oregano, Tarragon, salt, pepper, carrot, and basically anything else that you think will work. When the shell is dry remove the kitchen paper from the hollow, and spoon in the stuffing. Reverse and empty the now stuffed shell onto a plate and smear it with BBQ sauce (vegetarian friendly BBQ sauce!). Finally cover the BBQ sauce with chestnuts and cook for 25 minutes. If it needs it, just place it under a grill to get a golden brown colour.

Carrots: Carrots are great for adding colour but are a bit boring. I steam them using Thyme and Ginger, which gives them a little bit of bite and makes them a bit different.

Peas: There isn't too much I know of that you can do with peas and so I boil them in water with salt sage. The sage gives them a nice fresh taste.

Sprouts: You either love em or hate em. Just to be different again, Im going to blanche my sprouts in water and then pan fry them briefly in olive oil, with ginger and Thyme. Believe it or not this does make them considerably more enjoyable. Try it!

Yorkshire Pudding: Its very English and not essential but I like it and so does my family. For fifteen I would add three cups of sieved flour to 2 eggs and 3 cups of milk. Add salt and whisk to a batter. The secret to these savoury puddings is to add oil to your metal baking tins (I like the ones that make sixteen little ones but it also works for grandma style large puddings), and ensure that this is very hot before you add the batter. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until they have risen and look golden. As long as your oil is hot they will rise, and be easy to remove from the tray when you are ready to serve.

Meat Gravy: Chop up some plums and simmer them in a pan for an hour or so. The idea is so that you get a really hot juicy stock. Remove the meat juices from the pan whilst the Turkey is standing. Add flour to make a roux. Add the Plum stock, and some thyme. Simmer until it thickens, add browning if you need it or want it. If you need to thicken it up just add some more Flour.

Veggie Gravy. I tend to cheat here, and simply add some of the plum stock to Veggie Bisto gravy granuals. By the time I’m ready to do this, its usually dinner time and I’ve been cooking for hours so hopefully I’ll get away with it. I’ve done it many times in the past and never had any complaints.

That’s the main course. Desserts later.
6:38 pm
[gypseymission]
My Tips for Planning
Right here we go. I'm cooking for 15 people this year with a couple of Vegetarians (One who is a fish eater), One meat eater who is allergic to nuts, one who will eat poultry, but not mammals and one person who is allergic to fish.

First problem many people encounter at this time of year is working out what to cook, and you should always consider who is coming to dinner. There is no point pouring the juices of the turkey or goose over all the roast potatoes if you have vegetarians at dinner. Similarly don't go using the same pots and pans for veggies and meat without cleaning them first, (That’s actually a very basic hygiene concern). For some not eating certain things is an ideological choice, for others it is a religious dictate and for others it is a medical stipulation. Making sure you are organised and have thought your menu through is the key to not messing up someone's Christmas dinner. It should and can easily be the best meal of the year that everyone remembers right the way through to next year.
6:30 pm
[gypseymission]
Intro
Hi everyone.

I set this community up in order for people to be able to share ideas about festive dishes, and get hints and tips from others. I am hoping that the international nature of the Internet will enable different cooking influences to come together to give people new and interesting ideas on what to cook for the festive season.

I am British and so my knowledge is mainly concerning 'Traditional English Dinner' so I am happy and interested to hear form others in different parts of the world.

Just a quick note. I am setting this community up half way through December 2004 which means that its a bit late to get hundreds of people signing up to it. Also given the seasonal nature of the subject I am expecting there to be a massive lull in activity for most of the year. Don't let that put you off though, every season it may well be worth your time checking in here. I will certainly reply to every question as far as I am able to within my knowledge.
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