Monday, November 22, 2010

Tried and true festive recipes

At work I am collecting recipes from staff to produce a recipe e-book to raise money for a charity this Christmas - the ABC Giving Tree.  Rather than write up the recipes I am going to contribute I thought hey ho I will put them up on my blog and then just copy and paste them from the web at work.  There is method in my madness. So here's two recipes that seem to have become Christmas/family-gathering staples for me. Hope you like them.

Christmas dip

So called because it's green, white and red layers look very festive served in a glass bowl.  It is a big hit with teenagers and young people in particular. The recipe originally came from 'Good Taste' December 2003.

2 ripe avocadoes
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 small red chilli finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

1 x 300g carton sour cream or greek yoghurt
1 tbsp taco seasoning

1 or 2 ripe tomato, quartered, deseeded, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped coriander

For the guacamole - mash avocado flesh, add lime juice and chilli.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon into 2 small glass serving bowls or one larger one. 

Combine the sour cream or greek yoghurt and taco seasoning and spread over the guacamole layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours to firm up. 

Combine the tomato and chopped coriander and sprikle over the sour cream mixture to cover.

Serve immediately with corn chips.

Baked ham with fabulous ginger marmalade and port glaze

Every few years I try a new ham glaze but nothing so far has been as good so I always return to this one.  The original recipe was in 'Good Taste' December 2001.

1 x 8kg leg of ham on the bone
1 x 480 g jar ginger marmalade
1/2 cup port
Cloves to decorate
2 tbsp drained green peppercorns

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Place oven shelf on the lowest position and remove the other shelves.

Unwrap ham, rinse briefly under cold water and pat dry with paper towel.

Use a small sharp knife to cut around ham shank in a zig zag pattern about 10 cm from end.  Carefully run knife under the rind around edge of ham, gently lift rind in one piece, running your fingers between rind and fat where still joined. Lift rind off in one piece, wrap in damp tea towel and place in the fridge.  Use for covering leftover ham.

Trim excess fat from ham, leaving a 1cm thick covering all over. Use a knife to score fat in diamond pattern, 5 mm deep. Pour a small amount of water in the roasing pan. Place ham on a wire rack in the pan. Wrap overhanging shank in foil to prevent juices dripping in the oven.

To make the glaze heat the ginger marmalade in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes. Add port and mix until combined. Pour half the glaze over the ham, using a spatula to spread evenly over the surface. Stud each diamond with a clove. Add peppercorns to remaining glaze and put aside.

Bake ham in preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven, increase heat to 220 degrees celcius.  Pour over remaining glaze and spread evenly.  Turn oven back to 180 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes until well browned.  Remove from oven, rest 15 minutes before carving or can carve later when cold.  Either way it is delicious.  Smells and tastes amazing.

The photos are from the Botanical Gardens in Hobart yesterday.  Lovely day with Pru and Kez!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Limoncello Take One

Over the last week I have had a go at making limoncello, the Italian liquer we enjoyed so much in Italy.  Limoncello is wonderful because it has such an intense lemon flavour and a real kick - its alcohol content is around 35%.  It's best served after a meal in small chilled shot glases, from a bottle that is kept in the freezer.

My first attempt went okay but I don't think the lemon flavour is intense enough and the colour isn't a strong enough yellow so I am going to put some more lemon rind in my bottles for another week and next time will use at least twice as much lemon rind as the 'tea towel' recipe below prescribes and probably use only about 3/4 of a litre of sugar or less as a kilo seems a lot.

Here is the recipe though from the tea towel we bought in Levanto in the Cinque Terre, Italy.  The recipe made two 750 ml bottles and a couple of smaller ones.  Whilst not there yet, it still tastes pretty good!


8 lemons (I will use twice this amount next time - as you can see from pic below the colour in my bottles looks a bit insipid)
1 kilo sugar (maybe half a kilo would be okay)
1 litre alcohol (I used 750 ml cheap vodka)
1 litre water (I probably should have only used 750 mls as less alcohol)

Peel lemons and remove all white pith as this can make the limoncello bitter.  Place in the alcohol in a hermetically sealed container for at least four days.  Then make a syrup of the water and sugar allow to cool and add to the alcohol, which you have drained from the lemon rind (discard these).  Filtrate and bottle.  Keep in freezer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We've become francophiles

The roof of the farmhouse we stayed in at Hautefort
France - photo by Sue
Yes we have gone a bit potty over all things French.

Alan is reading Balzac's book 'Old Goriot'.  He is enjoying it because it is set not far from where we stayed in the Latin Quarter of Paris. 

I am trying to find a suitable recipe for a French entree to go with the fabulous Coq au Vin recipe I made on Staurday night and will make again for a dinner party we have planned.  When we came home from our trip I found I had won a prize - the wondrous big book 'Tasmania's Table' which had arrived in the mail for me. It is a culinary guide to Tasmanian produce and Tasmania's best restaurants and includes recipes from Tasmania's top chefs.  Of course I sought out the French recipes. 

I hope to find some nice French red wine to accompany our meal on the night.  French wine is so much nicer than most of our Australian red wine because apart from tasting amazing it is also lighter with less alcohol content - which means you can drink more of it without going silly.  Our Australian wines are way too high in alcohol content.  I feel like writing to someone about it but who? 

So here's the Coq au vin recipe for you.  It's from Jean-Pascal of New Town.

Coq au Vin

1.5 kg Nichols free range chicken pieces (I used chicken marylands)
1/2 bottle good red wine
12 small white onions
2 carrots, peeled and quartered
Bouquet of herbs; 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 bay leaf
6 slices of bacon
250 grams button mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Sunflower oil (I used olive)
Unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
Parsley, chopped

A day in advance marinate chicken in red wine, add the small white onions, carrots and herbs.  Cover and put in the fridge.  The next day, remove and drain the chicken and vegetables, discard herbs.  Put the wine aside for later use.

Brown the chicken pieces with oil and remove the pieces and put aside.  Using the same pan, add garlic, onions and carrots and cook for a couple of minutes.  Return chicken to pan and pour in the wine. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on a low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours.  (We only did one hour as the chicken looked like it might break up with more.)

Heat bacon, onion and mushrooms in butter in a pan and cook until brown (5-10 minutes).  Add bacon, onion and mushrooms to chicken and wine etc and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.  Taste and correct the seasonings.  Add parsley and serve.

We had it with small boiled potatoes and some spinach but think next time mashed potatoes would be better to soak up the beautiful coq au vin sauce.