The Christmas table -
and my first hand at flower arranging!
No celebration is complete without bubbles, so we started with a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne, served with a starter of Pacific Oysters with a blood plum and chive dressing.
Next was handmade Prawn and Scallop Ravioli which I served with sauteed asparagus and a butter sauce. To make it something super luxurious, I topped the dish with a sprinkling of Tetsuya Wakuda's truffle salt - you can't get more luxurious than flecks of gorgeous aromatic Italian truffle to take a dish to another level.
The third dish was a salad of pan seared quail breast which I had marinated for 24hrs in olive oil, lemon verbena from our garden, bay leaf, garlic and juniper berries. The quail was cooked quickly over a high heat to create a dark crust and was served with baby spinach, ruby grapefruit and a citrus dressing.
Course number four was twice cooked pork belly with a decadent creamy cauliflower and potato puree which I flavoured with parmesan and a sinful amount of butter and a splash of cream. Instead of a traditional gravy, I made a salsa verde of fresh herbs, adding plently of capers, lemon and a touch of anchovy. The pork went through two cooking processes - the first the day before serving - when it was poached in a broth which included fennel seeds, lots of onions, parsley, garlic, black and white peppercorns, lemon rind and lemon thyme. After poaching, I allowed the pork belly to drain and dry out a little, before scoring the skin and putting it in the fridge ready for process two. Step two was easy - I just rubbed the skin with olive oil and plenty of salt and cooked the pork over coals (I used a coal BBQ with a lid) until it was succulent and the crackling puffy and golden. I basted the pork a few times during cooking and allowed it to rest for 10 minutes before carving it.
And for the finale? A creamy white chocolate, pistachio and morello cherry semi freddo which I served with fresh cherries and Persian fairy floss. A frozen dessert is a great option, not just because everyone loves icecream, but also for it's versatility and the bonus of being able to make it the day or even a week ahead. It really frees you up in the kitchen and you have a sophisticated dessert in minutes - no last minute fussing. I chose the sour morello variety of cherries for this dessert, to balance the rich sweetness of the white chocolate. Serving the semi freddo with fresh cherries and delectable Persian fairy floss added new textures and flavours to make this dessert something out of the ordinary.
We all really loved our first Christmas together and I was happy with how the menu panned out - you will recall that I was having trouble settling on what to cook right up until a day or so ago! To drink, we enjoyed a few of bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne and Italian sparkling mineral water. With people having to drive home, wine matching was out of the question - but if you are going to have a celebratory drink, why not make it French fizz? After all, it's bloody Christmas!
And look what I got!!
Both volumes of Julia Child's iconic culinary classic - "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I think I see more French dishes in my future! The books are chock full of fantastic French recipes that take me back to earlier in the year when I had the privilage of visiting Paris, attending cooking class in Montmarte and sampling the delights of French cuisine. Right now, I'm planning on doing a bit of holiday reading with Julia!
Well, that was Christmas 2010 - hope that yours was fabulous and that it involved plenty of laughter and tasty morsels. Now I'm off to fossick around for leftovers. I'm sure there is more of that pork belly in the fridge somewhere....... Bon appetit!