Posted on 10 December 2018
As a Food Team we wanted to share some of our favourite festive recipes with you all. We’ve put together a menu which will create a delicious evening for you to entertain friends and family with (granted, for a fair amount of work!), but equally, they’ll all work individually as part of a menu you already have planned too. If you do make any of them over the festive season, please do send us your photos – we’d love to see them.
I love this! And it’s super simple to put together. You can prep it the day before and really make it look like you’re a pro in a few simple steps. So it’s a great one to try on family and friends! It’s a wonderful combination of salmon flavours, popular at Christmas, from the softness of gently poached fish, to the smoky flavours of the hot smoked salmon and the silky texture of the traditional smoked variety.
For the rillette
245g fresh salmon, to poach (or buy the stuff already done in the super market!)
175g hot smoked salmon, flaked
100g smoked salmon, finely shredded
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cucumber, finely diced
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
a little crème fraîche
a little Hellmann’s mayonnaise
zest of 1 lemon
For the dressing
1 tsp dill, finely chopped
1 tsp miniature salted capers, thoroughly rinsed
1 tsp gherkins, finely chopped
100ml olive oil
lemon juice to taste
First make the dressing. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small jug and taste, then leave to infuse.
If you’re poaching the salmon yourself, bring a pan of water to the boil with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon. There should be enough water to just cover your fish. When it’s boiling, gently drop in the salmon, with skin on, and leave for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave until cooled. The fish should be opaque but not overcooked. Remove, peel off the skin, scrape off the brown muscle and flake into largish pieces. If you’re using shop poached, just flake away!
For the rillette, place all the ingredients except for the crème fraîche and mayonnaise into a bowl and gently mix. Do not over mix; you want to keep the fish in as large pieces as possible.
Next, add just enough crème fraîche and mayonnaise to bind and hold together the fish. Remember you can always add more to bind, but it’s very hard to remove and if it’s too sloppy your rillette will be difficult to mould and won’t hold its shape. You can mix all the dry ingredients in advance and keep refrigerated until the last minute when you add the wet ingredients before you mould and serve To serve, place a small metal ring on to a cold plate and spoon your mix into the ring. Leave for a minute to settle then remove the moulds. Pour dressing round and sprinkle some greens around the plate. Cress and any available herbs, such as chives and dill, would work well. Serve with a couple of oatcakes (homemade if you fancy more of a challenge!)
There's something incredibly satisfying about making casserole for dinner. I love the fact that that you can throw humble inexpensive ingredients together along with a protein of your choice, put them in a pot with or without wine (always wine for me) and let the oven do all of the work! I think Gino d'Acampo’s phrase used in the road trip series sums it up for me “minimum effort maximum flavour”.
For the casserole
2 plucked pheasants (this can be substituted with rabbit or pigeon (you will need 2-3 if small) or chicken
3 tablespoons plain flour
3 small red onions
2 small carrots
1 celery heart
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
200g smoked streaky bacon or bacon lardons
6 dried bay leaves
500ml Merlot wine
1 tablespoon Redcurrant jelly
3 sprigs of thyme
For the Chestnut & Rosemary Dumplings
100g plain flour
Pinch of baking powder
25g ready-cooked chestnuts
2 sprigs of rosemary chopped
Cut the legs off the pheasants and chop in half at the knee. Cut off the breasts and wings in one piece, then chop in half. You’ll have 16 pheasant pieces in total. Reserve the carcass. In a bowl, mix the flour with a few pinches of sea salt and black pepper, and toss in the pheasant pieces to coat. Leave for a while so the flour sticks to the skin.
Peel and chop the onions and carrots, then trim and chop the celery, reserving the peelings. Peel and halve the garlic. To make pheasant stock, chop the carcasses in half and put them in a saucepan with a third of the veg and garlic, thyme, and all the peelings. Add water to cover and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 1 hour, skimming off any floating bits. Pass through a fine sieve, discarding the vegetables and peelings, then reserve. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Cut the bacon into lardons, then add to the pan with the floured pheasant pieces. Brown slowly on all sides, adding more butter as required. Add the remaining vegetables, garlic and bay leaves, and cook until soft and fragrant. Pour over the red wine and port and top up with stock to just cover the meat. Add the redcurrant jelly mixing in well and simmer gently for 45 minutes, (Rabbit would require up to 60 minutes) adding any remaining stock (or water if not) if the liquid reduces. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4.
To make the chestnut dumplings, mix the ingredients in a bowl, crumbling in the chestnuts. Mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, and just enough cold water to bind everything. Dust your hands with flour and roll into about 12 Brussels sprout-sized balls. Pour the stew into an ovenproof pot. Drop in the dumplings, poking them under the surface of the stew. Cover tightly with a lid or tin foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the dumplings are fluffy and have soaked up the liquid.
This pudding is super easy to make, can be prepared in advance and has festive flavours running through it.
For the Base
25g Plain chocolate
100g Digestive Biscuits crushed
100g Amaretti Biscuits crushed
1tsp Ground Ginger
For the Filling
300g White Chocolate
400g Full Fat Cream Cheese
150ml Soured Cream
1tbsp Vanilla Extract
30g Stem Ginger (finely chopped/ grated)
1 - Pre heat the oven to 170C/ gas mark 3 and grease a 20cm round cake tin with butter then line with greaseproof paper.
2 - For the base: melt the plain chocolate and butter in a sauce pan over a low heat then add the crushed biscuits and ground ginger. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, press down so that it’s flat and completely covers the base of the tin then chill. 3 - Suspend a large glass bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Add the white chocolate and melt. 4 - In a large bowl whisk the cream cheese and soured cream together until combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Then fold in the chopped ginger and melted chocolate. 5 - Pour the mixture on to the chilled biscuit base. Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm around the edge and just set in the middle. 6 - Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before running a small blunt knife around the edge of the cake tin. Once completely chilled serve with a few crushed amaretti biscuits and grated dark chocolate on top. I’ve always loved making meringues! These are perfect little bites for after dinner with coffee, and they also make lovely little gifts too – just carefully put some in a small gift box or a cellophane bag and tie with some ribbon and a handwritten label. They’ll keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
For the meringues
2 egg whites
4oz caster sugar
1oz granulated sugar
For the decoration
200g chocolate – totally up to you whether its dark, milk or white
Hundreds & Thousands
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and set aside.
Put the egg whites in to a clean, dry bowl and beat until stiff and peaky.
Add half of the caster sugar.
Continue beating until the meringue is shiny and stands in firm peaks.
Add the rest of the caster sugar and beat until the meringue is very stiff and silky looking, and the texture is fairly close.
Gently fold in the granulated sugar.
Pipe the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, creating the little kisses – if you don’t have a proper piping bag and nozzle, just cut a small hole into the corner of a sandwich bag. Meringues don’t rise during cooking, so you can make these as big or as little as you like and don’t worry about leaving too much space in between each one.
Bake in the centre of a very cool oven – about 100°C. Check your meringues after 30mins, simply take one off the tray and tap the bottom. If your finger breaks it, they need to go back in the oven; if it sounds hollow, they’re done! Turn the oven off and leave them to cool inside.
Once cooled, transfer the meringues to a wire rack.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water (or in the microwave on 20sec intervals).
Dip the meringue bases into the chocolate followed quickly by the decorations. Chopped hazelnuts work well, as do hundreds and thousands – but get as creative as you like!
Carefully lay the meringues on their side (or upside down if you can) on to the wire rack to cool completely. Perfect after dinner, or as a lovely homemade gift for friends or family.
The COOK Kitchen
Kent ME10 3HH
t: 01732 759000