Christmas with a new twist
We have this family debate every Christmas, where some of us love the traditional ham/turkey/Xmas pud combination and others long for something new and different. What do you suggest for a Christmas menu that keeps the traditionalists happy, but gives us a nice modern Kiwi summer twist?
It's a tricky one that - keeping everyone happy, but it can be done quite easily.
A well roasted turkey can be a thing of beauty, but more often than not it can be a vast amount of slightly dry meat with little flavour and the dreary prospect of eating it over the weeks ahead. However, to jazz it up I'd suggest serving it with a lovely Thai inspired dressing, some crushed roasted peanuts, picked coriander mixed with mint leaves and sliced spring onions, some chilli sauce and jasmine rice. I'd still serve the expected roast potatoes and carrots, peas and buttered cabbage but the Asian garnishes will allow all to be happy.
To make the dressing, place all of the following into a blender and puree till smooth - adding more ginger and chilli if deemed necessary, and it can be made the night before if you need to - just keep it covered in the fridge. The flesh from 1 large peeled ripe mango, 1 finger of peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced, 2 cloves garlic, ½ red chilli, ¼ cup lime or lemon juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1½ cups canola oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
I love the ham at Christmas as it just seems to get better over the days, coming in and out of the fridge draped in lemonade soaked muslin cloth as my step-mum Rose does. Sliced really thinly, it can be tossed with rocket and watercress, smashed roasted hazelnuts, flat parsley leaves, orange segments, crumbled feta and dressed with the orange juice, lemon juice and EV olive oil. As a salad it makes a great change from slabs on the plate and can even be the first course if you wanted it to be. Vegetables - why not make them all into salads. Cook the beans and peas together, drain and refresh. Make a dressing of 1 cup plain yoghurt, 3 tablespoons tahini, lots of picked mint and parsley leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds. Dress the beans an hour before you want them and serve chilled. Boil the kumara in their skins for 15 minutes then drain and leave to cool. Slice 2cm thick into rounds and lay on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Drizzle with sesame oil and sesame seeds and place a tiny knob of butter on, then bake till golden and scrumptious and toss with lots of thinly sliced spring onions and coriander if you like, plus some grated orange zest.
For the steamed Xmas pudding - they are unbelievably delicious served with cream whipped with vanilla extract and plain yoghurt. Spoon over generous amounts of berry salad (blueberries, sliced strawberries and raspberries) which you've macerated in a little booze (golden Stolen Rum) and icing sugar. If you're still not convinced, then slice the cooked pudding and grill or fry in butter (really!) and serve with mascarpone into which you've mixed passionfruit and golden rum.
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