Christmas with the Bite team
What we will be cooking and eating at home ...
Ray McVinnie: Golden almond cake
I don’t make Christmas cakes as a rule but this year I thought I would give it a go. I talked to my good friend, ace-baker Alexa Johnston, who gave me an old Alison Holst recipe book to look at, saying there were several good Christmas-style cakes in it. I got to work and made my version of the sort of fruit cake I like which is paler than those very dark, more traditional sorts. I love cakes with nuts so I based my cake, with a respectful nod to Ms Holst, on one of her recipes. (I added lots of almonds, among other things.) As I am cooking for a large family Christmas lunch, I am serving traditional food (hence the cake) that has a wide appeal and fulfils everyone’s expectation of Christmas food. Get the recipe
Peter Gordon: Turkey salad
At home we’ll be cooking a late Christmas lunch for around a dozen this year, and it’s likely to be cold outside. We recently drove through the Scottish Highlands and there was snow on the ground already.
You’ll likely be enjoying a gorgeous summer’s day, maybe not wanting to eat a lot of hot roast ham and turkey. One of my favourite ways to serve turkey for an Antipodean Christmas is to cook and serve the breasts and legs separately.
Remove the legs but keep the breasts on the bone, what’s known as a “crown”. Cut the legs in half, at the knee joint, to give you 2 thigh bones and drumsticks.
Brown the thighs and drumsticks in the oven or in a saucepan. Cover with plenty of water and add a few carrots, celery stalks and peeled white-fleshed onions, cut into chunks, along with a handful of fresh herbs.
Bring to the boil, skim off surface residues and simmer with a lid on for 3 hours. Remove leg pieces and strain the stock into a clean pan. Reduce by a third by gently boiling it with the lid off.
Pick the meat from the bones when cool enough to handle. For every litre of reduced stock, mix in 3 tablespoons miso paste and 2 handfuls of sliced shiitake or button mushrooms. Add 1 or 2 thinly sliced red chillies, a tablespoon grated ginger, then soy sauce to taste.
Mix in the turkey meat and scatter with sliced spring onions and a drizzle of sesame oil. You can use some of the meat for sandwiches, mixing it with mayonnaise, shredded parsley, mashed avocado and citrus juice. The stock can be frozen for 2 months if you’re not going to use it straight away.
Marinate and cook the turkey crown
Mix 400g plain yoghurt with 4 chopped garlic cloves, 1-2 chopped chillies, 3 tablespoons grated ginger, 1 sliced lemongrass stem (or 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest) and fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano or rosemary.
Place in an oven bag, seal, and marinate in the fridge for 18-24 hours, turning twice. Take from the fridge and bring to room temperature for an hour, then roast in the bag in a pre-heated oven at 170C fanbake.
To quote the British Turkey website: “Follow the magic calculation — 20 mins for every kg + 70 minutes if the joint is under 4kg (or + 90 minutes if over 4kg).” Leave to cool in the bag and store in the fridge for up to three days.
Serve the turkey
Wipe the marinade from the crown and thinly slice the meat. Try serving it draped over a salad of steamed or barbecued asparagus, halved cherry tomatoes, diced roast kumara (warm or at room temperature) and salad leaves.
Make a dressing by blending 400g plain yoghurt with 150ml sunflower or light olive oil, 100ml unsweetened apple juice, 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, 3 tablespoons mustard paste, a generous handful each of mint and basil leaves and salt to taste.
Stir in plenty of coarsely chopped coriander and 50g chopped toasted nuts (hazelnuts or almonds are great). If the dressing is too thick, whisk in a little extra apple juice. Get the recipe
Sid, Chand, Zoya and Roan Sahrawat: Our take on strawberries and cream
We will be going to our friends’ house for Christmas as both our families are away. Sid and I love to make duck instead of the traditional turkey. We dry rub it with spices and roast for 2 hours. For dessert we do our take on strawberries and cream.
Strawberry sorbet with white chocolate and coconut bavarois and rosehip tea gel
- 500g strawberries
- 200g sugar
- 200g water
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Balsamic vinegar, to taste
- Blend strawberries and pass through a fine sieve to obtain a smooth puree. Boil sugar and water and leave to cool. Once cool, combine sugar syrup with strawberry puree and add the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Churn in an ice cream maker. Or buy Kohu Road Strawberry Sorbet.
Coconut and white chocolate bavarois
- 250ml coconut cream
- 200ml milk
- 80g caster sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 gelatine leaves
- 50g white chocolate, roughly chopped
- Bring the coconut cream and milk to boil in a saucepan and set aside.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Pour the hot coconut mix into the yolks, whisking continuously. Transfer back into the saucepan. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, making sure the mix does not split. Once it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat.
- Bloom gelatine in cold water and add to the coconut mix, with the white chocolate. Once completely mixed, pass through a fine sieve. Set in desired moulds. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
Rosehip tea gel
- Boil water and sugar and pour over tea and leave to steep for 30 minutes. Discard the tea bags.
- Bloom gelatine in cold water. Warm the tea infusion and add the gelatine. Bring to a boil, whisking regularly. Remove from heat. Pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate until firmly set.
- Once set, transfer to a food processor and blitz to obtain a smooth gel. If the gel is too thick add a little water to achieve the right consistency. Refrigerate until required.
To serve: Place bavarois, rosehip tea gel and sorbet on each plate and finish with finely sliced fresh strawberries. Serves 6-8.
Louise Thompson: Black cherry, gingernut and lime cheesecake
I am not a big baker, but in honour of the season I will be dusting off my pinny to make my delicious black cherry, gingernut and lime cheesecake. It’s deceptively easy, always a crowd-pleaser, and — as I can make it ahead — utterly stress-free too. And it’s gluten-free. This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. Get the recipe
Jo Elwin: My mum's savoury muffins
I won’t be with my darling mum for Christmas this year so I will miss the savoury muffins that make their way to the lunch table at some stage through the holidays — and I am living without an oven at the moment so cannot make them myself (Christmas dinner will be barbecued this year).
I have shared the recipe for these muffins and for Mum’s what’s-in-the-fridge quiche in My Mother’s Kitchen, a book of recipes from the mothers of New Zealand’s food personalities. The pages of this book are full of love and laughter and it will make a useful gift for all mothers and their children.
I will be able to cook Fleur Sullivan’s mum’s griddle scones with seaweed and Chris Whiting (of the Chop Shop in Arrowtown) has a pork hock hash that will give the Christmas ham bone a spectacular finale. From Bookstores nationwide RRP$49.99 (Potton & Burton).
Kathy Paterson: My favourite shortbread
My go-to Christmas party gift this year evokes home comfort. It’s my favourite shortbread recipe (dusted with raspberry flavoured icing sugar for a festive look), along with a gorgeous tin of Waikato-grown tea from Zealong Tea Estate. Get the recipe