Christmas Day menu

Breakfast:

Beetroot-cured salmon, blinis, hardboiled quail eggs, creme fraiche, Ovruga fake caviar, chives and dill. Champagne or clementine juice, coffee.

Dinner:

Glass of Taylor's Chip Dry White Port, chilled.

Roast goose, goosefat roast potatoes, butter roast parsnips, sausages in bacon, sage and onion stuffing balls, plain boiled sprouts, petits pois, ginger cream sauce, port and redcurrant gravy. Choice of spiced pickled pears, sweet spiced prunes, cherry compote, cranberry and horseradish relish. Chateau Neuf du Pape.

Christmas pudding with cream or white sauce or rum butter. Orange Muscat Flora.

Coffee and Bendicks mints.

Late supper:

Winter apple, Comte cheese, clementine.

Phew.

 

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23rd Dec

The eve of Christmas Eve – lunch, salad with clementine slices, shallots, lime-dressed beetroot, and prawns. With sesame crispbreads.

Dinner, braising steak cooked a long slow time in the oven with red wine, thyme, allspice, garlic, shallots, leek, celery, carrot and parsnip. With stir-fried broccoli in garlic sauce and granary bread fresh out of the machine.

Pudding – bought-in coconut and lime tart, with fresh blueberries and cream.

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Sample Christmas Menu

Christmas menu from local catering college:
 
Cream of potato and watercress soup
Smoked salmon terrine served with crayfish tails and tartare dressing
 
Paupiette of plaice and spinach duglere (which research assures me is a white fish sauce incorporating crushed tomatoes)
Cheese fritters served on peperonata
 
Roast turkey
Game pie
Char-grilled sirloin steak bearnaise
Parsnip, chestnut and cranberry strudel served with forest mushroom and red wine reduction
 
Roast and creamed potatoes
Brussels sprouts
Puree of carrots and swede
 
Christmas pudding with rum sauce
Pecan truffle stuffed pear served with vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup sauce
Old English sherry trifle with syllabub sauce

 
The strudel could run the risk of being sweet, and is deffo v carby. The pecan pear sounds good, though …

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Blue Cheese and Parsnip Puffs (Souffles)

I have to admit I still have never cooked a souffle. It always seemed too much faff, there's that whole "last moment" thing, and nowadays they're not on the approved list. But these looked very yummy, and, dammit, it's about time. From Good Housekeeping December 1999, serves 8 at 189 cals per serving.

 

  • 225 gms parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 50 gms butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 50 gms flour
  • 284 ml carton milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 50 gms Gruyere, grated
  • 75 gms blue cheese, crumbled – suggests Stilton or Dolcelatte

Boil parsnips til tender. Drain, dry well over low heat, and mash.

Lightly butter 8 150 ml ramekins and put on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter, stir in flour and mix til smooth. Take off heat and blend in milk, reheat to boil, stirring continuously. Cool a little, beat in the egg yolks, Gruyere and parsnip puree, season.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peak, fold into parsnip mixture with the blue cheese. Don't overdo it.

Fill the ramekins almost to the top, cook at Gas Mark 6 for 15 – 20 minutes until puffed up and brown. Serve immediately.

I'd pop them on a bigger plate with some bitter salad – chicory, rocket, watercress, or they'd be a bit rich by themselves. While they'd make a great starter, you couldn't have a cheeseboard really after, and they might be better as a main course for a smaller meal – lunch or supper, maybe with some crusty bread. Be careful with the salt because of the cheese.

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Chicken Parsnip Apple Thing

Tonight we were due to have sesame chicken salad with spinach and ginger dressing, but it just wasn't the weather for a fresh salad, especially with the clock change and stuff. Something more in the nature of a winter warmer was called for. So I took some things that were hanging about:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 medium parsnip
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 breast fillets of chicken
  • chicken stock
  • 2 tsps mango chutney, no lumps
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 large Bramley cooking apple
  • 1 bunch chives

Cooked the onion and parsnip in the oil until the onion was soft. Added the spices and the chicken, cut into bite sized pieces. Cooked until the chicken was seared, added enough stock to cover, the chutney and lentils. Stewed slowly on top of the stove until the parsnip was cooked and the lentils turned to mush. Added the apple, chopped but not peeled, and stewed again until the apple had softened completely and made a thick sauce – helped by occasional vicious stirring. Added a bunch of chopped chives at the end to give a bit of a lift.

Sweet, tart, warming. Because of the apple sauce content it was hot hot hot, beware initial mouthburns. Might up the carb and spice content a bit more next time, I'm starting to feel hungry again. No idea what the calorie count was, but it can't have been too high. If I wasn't looking out for that, there'd have been some creme fraiche and crispy fried onion garnish on the top.

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Parsnip Soup and Garlicky Greens

VC 2002 – again.

This is basically a coriander flavoured parsnip soup, no cream, but blended smooth. Topped with fried parsnips tossed with garlic and wilted greens. The recipe says spinach, but also that you could use spring greens or pak choi. The calorie count is quite low (201 per portion) as no dairy and not a lot of fat. You could reduce that further by not adding the fried parsnips at the end, or still keep it under 500 and replace them with parsnip chips if you wanted. The garlicky greens might be good seaweed-style? crisp rather than wilted.              

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Parsnip Tart with Cumin Butter

Vegetarian Christmas 2002 strikes yet again! 584 cals per serving, serves 4.

  • 115gms butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 small parsnips, halved lengthways
  • 25 gms light soft brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 300 gm packet puff pastry
  • 2 tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6.

Heat 25gms of the butter and the oil, fry the shallots and garlic for 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add parsnips to pan and cook 5-6 minutes until golden. Return shallots and garlic and stir in sugar, vinegar and lemon juice, season and simmer 8-9 minutes until caremelised, turning occasionally.

Cut out a 25cm circle of pastry.

Put the parsnips, cut-side up, in a 23 cm (9 inch) spring-form tin. Spoon the shallots and juices over.

Lay the pastry on top and bake 30 minutes until golden.

Soften the remaining butter and mix with cumin and a little pepper. Chill.

Take the tart out, let cool a couple of minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Serve with the chilled butter.

I like these savoury tarte tatins, I make a winter one with sausages, cranberries, mushrooms etc., or all the Christmas trimmings like stuffing balls. I might parboil the parsnips before caremelising rather than fry them, which would make them softer but more likely to pick up the flavours and be soft, and do them in a paella pan or something that I could put straight into the oven and not waste any juices. Not sure about the cumin butter either – why not just put cumin and more butter on the bottom of the pie?

I also suspect it's meant to be a main meal, which would be nice with a bitter salad, but it would be even nicer in smaller portions or individual tarts as a side dish with a winter roast beast.

 

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