I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I had a great one with some friends, eleven of them and the Christmas Eve feast was a success. I cooked a fairly traditional Christmas meal with some delicious twists a la Nigella. There was hardly any leftovers. My friends managed to gulp all the dishes including, yes including, the brussels sprouts! Here are some of them:
Dressing or stuffing is possibly my favourite part of the meal. This year I made Panettone and Italian Sausage Stuffing and it was utterly delicious. I used hot Italian sausage here and it worked really well, giving a nice savoury contrast against the sweetness of the dried fruit in the panettone.
Every year, I'll be eating the sprouts alone as none of my friends would eat them. This year however was a different story. Pancetta Sprouts with Chestnuts was so delicious, this was the first dish gone that evening.
Despite of its dark appearance, this was one very juicy turkey. Brining the turkey really made a difference. You don't suddenly get a turkey that's flavoured with onions, orange, peppercorns, maple syrup or caraway seeds, etc. Brining the turkey somehow gives an extra roundness and moisture needed by the lean turkey. So good! One thing didn't change however, the turkey was then shredded rather than cut into slices as I cannot carve.
For something sweet to finish the meal, I made Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake because you cannot go wrong with a chocolate cake. This flour-less chocolate cake is flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, zest of satsuma/clementine and espresso powder; and topped with sticky caramelised flaked almonds. Yum.
A party is not a party without a drink or two. I am happy with just wine, but tis is the season to over-indulge, so cocktails were in order. The thing is, after cooking all day, I don't want to be a bartender all night. I want to be part of the party and have few drinks myself . So I chose easy cocktails to make and my friends can help themselves. I like Snowball which is advokaat, a creamy, custard-like liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy, mixed with fizzy lemonade and lime. It tastes like ice cream... Another favourites are Amaretto and Coke and Peach Schnapps and Lemonade (or Prosecco).
And for those who might not want alcohol, but still want to indulge, I made two pitchers of Seasonal Breeze which is an equal part of chilled cranberry juice, clear apple juice and orange juice; and also Xmas Xinger which is two parts of chilled pomegranate juice with one part of ginger ale.
The rest of the evening was spent by playing few rounds of charades and we opened our secret santa presents. I got a lovely LSA handmade glass jug from my dear friend, Juliana. Thank you.
Christmas Day started by going to Church and then a whole day of more food, drinks and presents at home with friends, this time only five of them. For a nice pick-me-up in the morning, I made Espresso Martini made with chilled espresso, toffee vodka, coffee liquor and served over ice.
We watched No Reservations and Home Alone whilst munching two different kinds of cocktail sausages, one flavoured with wholegrain mustard and ginger and another one with cranberry and soy. I also made baked Camembert with garlic and thyme and topped with sweet chilli jam served with crusty white bread.
Santa was very nice this year. I must had been a good boy. I got a nice jelly mould, wine bottle holder and Jamie's 30 Minute Meals cookbook amongst other goodies.
And then it was dinner time again, we had slow-roasted pork belly with braised onions, a recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver during my Cook with Jamie project. This recipe seemed to be better and better every time. In a pestle and mortar I bashed some fennel seeds with salt and massaging this fragrant mixture to the scored skin before cooking and this will make a fantastic super-crunchy crackling after three hours of cooking.
My favourite accompaniment to the pork belly is must try red cabbage braised with apple, bacon and balsamic vinegar, also a recipe from Mr. Oliver. The red cabbage is cooked with bacon, fennel seeds, onions, apples and balsamic vinegar until the vinegar becomes syrupy and the cabbage is gorgeously sweet. Before serving, stir in a knob of butter and sprinkle with some parsley.
After dinner we played a round of drinking game with shots of sambuca and never made it to dessert as we were all hammered!
On Boxing Day after a day of shopping we finally had the dessert: Hazelnut Latte Tiramisu served with chocolate shavings and satsuma zests. My favourite!
So, it's all done now and back to normality. I plan to spend the day at home, relaxing, watching movies, reading blogs and cooking for one. I had some leftover panettone bread and so I made French toast, served with cinnamon sugar, zest and warm maple syrup.