2015 has been a year of growing pains for me. Although I am taller for it, it wasn’t a very easy year. There were times that I was pushed to grow and didn’t necessarily want to because change is hard. There were other times that I learnt, loved and laughed and had my friends by my side. Amongst the many things I have learnt this year is that thankfully, I have chosen my friends well. An army of woman that are fearless trail blazers. My friends constantly inspire me and remind me of how wonderful I am which is something I will never take for granted. Sometimes I am convinced that the only people who read my blog are my friends, my lover and my mother!
I am so very grateful for each and every one of them. They have picked me up when I have fallen, pushed me when I needed it most and of course they have believed in my blog and me. They love my food and never say no to a dinner invite and they always show up with more than enough wine.
This year I decided to do a friendsmas dinner. A feast fit for queens because that is what they are to me. I believe that in life surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is as important food for the soul as the next few recipes are for Christmas.
So no matter how big or small, happy or hard, long or short 2015 was, I hope that you will have a garden full of roses that you can call friends!
Prep time 2 days or overnight
- 1 Large on the bone Gammon (pre smoked) between 3-5kg is a good size, which should serve 8 – 10 people depending on size. On the bone is always better as the boneless ones tend to dry out.
- pinch of salt
- 30 grams of whole cloves
- 200 grams glacéd Cherries
- 1 – 2 tin pineapple rings depending on the size of gammon.
- 1 cup of Brandy
- 6 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 packet tooth picks
Place your gammon in a large pot and fill the pot with water.
Add 6 whole cloves to the water and a pinch of salt
Boil your gammon for 30 minutes on a high heat.
Do not lift the lid and release any heat. Next you are going to ‘put your gammon to bed’
Wrap your pot carefully with newspaper. Do not spill the water out. After you have wrapped the pot in newspaper, wrap it again with blankets. You are sealing in the heat for a slow over night cook. Let the pot stand until the next morning.
Once you have let the gammon sit over night open up the blankets and newspaper and remove the gammon from a pot to a roasting tray. Keep the brine that the gammon was in as you are going to use this to glaze the gammon.
Turn your oven onto 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix your cup of brandy and sugar together. This is going to be your glaze. Take half a cup of brine from your pot and add it to your roasting pan separate from your glaze.
Next you will need to remove the net your gammon came in. Score the fat in a diamond pattern. Do not cut into the meat.
Take your cloves and place them in between the fat where you have scored. Spread them out so that they evenly cover your gammon.
Using your toothpicks decorate your gammon with your pineapple rings and cherries. Again make sure that you spread them out over the gammon and completely cover it.
Pour your glaze over your gammon and pop it in the oven.
Every 5 – 10 minutes you are going to use a turkey baster to take some of the glaze and pour it over the gammon making sure you cover the cherries and pineapple. The sauce will start to thicken and get tacky. Your gammon is ready when your cherries and pineapple start to brown. You can put on your grill in your oven for the last 5 minutes if it isn’t too aggressive. You don’t want it to burn!
Slice thinly and serve with homemade mustard!
Home made mustard
- 5 tablespoons of white sugar
- 12 teaspoons of English mustard powder
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups of vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Add your sugar, mustard, vinegar and salt to a saucepan. Bring it to a simmer stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to a low heat.
In a separate bowl whisk all your eggs together.
This is the part that takes practice. You are going to whisk your vinegar mixture very quickly while slowly adding your eggs. DO NOT stop whisking! If you do the eggs will scramble in the mixture! Keep whisking until all the eggs are added and then whisk for about three minutes afterwards until it has cooked through. If your eggs do scramble you can pass the mustard through a sieve. Although a pain it can save the day!
Allow cooling and thickening. You can jar the mustard and it will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
Serves 10 people.
Base how many potatoes you boil on how many people you are having over. I work on one potato per person. So for the sake of this recipe I used 10.
- 1 packed diced bacon
- 1 diced onion
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 200 grams of mild dill gherkins or 1 jar
- 80 grams of butter
For the mayo:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon flour
- 1 ½ cups of milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup vinegar
Add your potatoes to a pot and bring to boil over a medium to high heat. Do not let them boil over a high heat as this can break the potatoes.
Let them boil for 25 minutes. Gently poke them with a knife. If the knife slides in easily then they are ready. If not give them a few more minutes.
Once ready remove the hot water and put cold water into the pot. This will shock them and make them easier to peel.
Once they have cooled use a fork to scratch the skins off. Be gentle, as you do not want to loose half your potatoes.
Once they are peeled, dice your potatoes into bite size pieces and add them to your serving bowl.
In a frying pan add your butter, onions and garlic over a medium heat. Fry your onions until they become translucent. Add your bacon and turn the heat up slightly. Once it is ready add your onion mixture over your bacon.
Dice your gherkins and add them to your potatoes.
Next you are going to make the mayonnaise for the salad.
Mix all well together, except vinegar and bring to boil. Keep whisking. Add the vinegar once the milk has boiled and you have reduced the heat. Let it cook further on the warm plate for about 5 minutes. Add the mayo over the potatoes. Mix your salad well but not too much as you don’t want it to break into small pieces. The potatoes tend to suck up the moisture. If you feel they are a bit dry you can add a little bit of milk and mix the salad before serving.
Spanakopita (spinach and feta pie)
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 whole garlic gloves diced
- 400 grams of chopped Swiss chard
- ¼ cup of dill
- ¼ cup Parmesan
- ½ a cup of feta crumbled
- 2 eggs
- a dash of cayanne pepper
- 100 grams of butter melted
- 1 roll of phyllo pastry
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Add your onions and garlic to a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add two teaspoons of butter. Sweat your onions until translucent and then add your dill. Cook for another minutes or so.
Add your spinach a little bit at a time. As it wilts it will reduce, then add more. Do not over cook your spinach until in wilts into nothing. You just want to soften the leaves slightly.
Remove the spinach off the heat and add to a mixing bowl. Add your feta, eggs, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together well. Add your dash of cayenne pepper.
Using a 25 cm pie dish layer your phyllo pastry sheets over the dish. You need to work quickly as you don’t want it to dry out. Once you have placed all your sheets over the dish fill the center with your filling. Start to wrap your pastry inward. Make sure you brush each layer with the melted butter of it will not get that flaky effect. Do not be shy with the butter. As you close the pie from each side make sure you completely cover the filling.
Add some course salt to the top of the pie.
Pop it into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
White chocolate Macarons
- 110 grams egg white
- 75 grams of castor sugar
- 125 grams almond flour
- 175 grams icing sugar
- Food colouring gel
- 75 grams butter
- 150 grams icing sugar
- 50 grams of white chocolate (good quality)
- 1 teaspoon double cream
Place the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and leave it on. A blender will also work.
Whisk eggs whites until they form soft peaks, as this happens add the castor sugar 1/3 at a time
Pick a colour for your macarons – I did red for Christmas. Add the colouring – just a few drops and mix well.
Turn off the food processor and sift half the mixture into the egg white, fold in with a spatula. Make sure you do it gently as you do not want to knock the air out!
Sift the second half and continue folding gently for 1 – 2 minutes until the mixtures goes smooth and glossy. The mixture must run as a smooth ribbon.
Add your mixture to a piping bag and pipe 3cm disks into grease paper. Gently tap the tray to release big air bubbles.
Let the disks stand for 30 minutes to form a skin on top of the shells.
Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 13 minutes
Remove from the oven and allow cooling on the tray. Once cooled you can lift the shells.
For the icing mix together all the ingredients expect the chocolate. Melt chocolate over steam. Once melted add to your icing. Add the icing to the piping bag and pop it in the fridge to cool. Ice your macaroons generously and sandwich them together.
Serve with love, serve with kindness and have a joyous Christmas and New year!