Sunday, 27 December 2009

Boxing Day Afternoon Brunch

Even though we had a delicious Christmas Day lunch at A and D's house yesterday, I couldn't resist having a Christmas-themed Boxing Day Afternoon Brunch (linner? dunch?) too.

This probably unnecessary indulgence came about because of Matt Preston. More specifically, Matt Preston's article in The Age, 'A very merry Christmas on any budget'. I read that article and all my Christmas plans went out the window and we were now having a Matt Preston Christmas. Then A and D invited us to their place and they very generously said we didn't need to bring anything, so there was no need for my extravagent budget menu.

D was very kind and understood that I was at a bit of loose end after that, so he suggested having a second Christmas dinner on Boxing Day. I was very excited about that, the Matt Preston Belated Christmas Feast was on!!!

We were going to drive up to Eumundi to check out the Boxing Day markets and we were going to buy nice fresh produce and anything we'd forgotten while we were there, but the weather was a little iffy so we didn't end up going. This meant there had to be some culling to the belated Christmas menu. In the culling, some substitutions were made and we ended up with a lovely combination of traditional favourites, new Matt Preston recipes and some very processed ham and turkey. The meats were still quite nice, but it seemed that if I wanted something small (there are only two of us after all) it was all terribly processed. Next time I might try going for some turkey steaks or breasts from the deli rather than looking for a rolled roast.

Everything was delicious and we stuffed ourselves silly, D excusing himself from the table 'to go lie on the floor'. In a nice change, the portion sizes worked out really well for the two of us and we only have the meat, cucumber salad and some gravy left over. This was the plan all along, to have leftover meat for sandwiches and leftover cucumber salad because it tastes even better the next day.

Belated Christmas Menu

Summer Punch

Beans with toasted almonds and fetta
Iceberg salad with red wine vinaigrette
Cucumber salad
Nigella's roast potatoes
Roast carrot and onion with thyme and rosemary
Ham and Turkey


Summer Punch
adapted from Matt Preston article

1 litre Ocean Spray cranberry/raspberry juice
1 bottle sparkling apple juice
1/3 cup orange juice
Juice of one lime
200g strawberries, halved
100g blueberries
1/3 bunch mint, torn
sugar syrup and soda water, to taste

Mix crandberry/raspberry juice, apple juice and orange juice, squeeze in lime juice and add ice, fruit and mint. Serve with sugar syrup and soda water to taste.

I love punch, but I have a fairly strong idea of what I think it should taste like. I think I must have had some I really enjoyed when I was younger. This was not what I think of when I think of punch, but it was still really nice. I didn't measure while making this, as I only had a fairly small jug and just guessed at the amounts, adding a bit more here and there to get the taste I liked. Still, it turned out very very *very* tart. I couldn't make it any less tart by upping any of the ingredients, so I took the cheat's way out and made a sugar syrup of one cup sugar and one cup water boiled together. When you added some sugar syrup to the punch it brought it all together really well and added some necessary (in my opinion) smoothness. It is still quite strong so I have found that I enjoy it even more watered down with some soda water.

Beans with toasted almonds and fetta
From Matt Preston article

doesn't it look good in the lightbox?

300g green beans
100g fetta
80g slivered almonds, toasted
small handful chopped mint
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
squeeze of lemon juice

Cook beans in boiling water for two minutes, drain. Shake olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt in a jar. Toss dressing with beans then top with crumbled fetta and toasted almonds.

Oops! I just realised I forgot to add mint. Oh well, there is some leftover so I'll add some to the leftovers. This was also very yummy. I felt the dressing needed quite a bit of salt, even with the saltiness of the fetta. I loved the contrasting textures of the crispy beans, creamy fetta and crunchy almonds.

Iceberg salad with red wine vinaigrette

Very simple this one. I didn't even bother adding other things to it, it was just a big bowl of iceberg lettuce with a simple red wine vinaigrette.

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients into a jar and shake well. Easy.

Cucumber Salad

This is a standard Christmas dish. I love it. It was my nanna's recipe and it's as unhealthy as can be, but it just says Christmas to me.

White vinegar
White sugar
Red onion
Salt and pepper

Mix a half to three quarters of a teaspoon of sugar in three-four tablespoons of white vinegar in bowl until sugar dissolves. Add cream, stirring, until the mix tastes nicely tart and creamy. Add sliced cucumber and red onion, then season with salt and pepper. Leave to sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving.

It really is a recipe that depends on taste, and I often add too much cream and then have to balance it out again by adding more vinegar. It's worth it though.

Nigella's Roast Potatoes
from Feast by Nigella Lawson as published here

2 x 320g jars goose fat

2.5kg potatoes, such as King Edward's
2 x 15ml tbsp semolina

Preheat the oven to 250C. Put the fat into a large roasting tin and then into the oven to heat up for about 20-30 minutes.

Peel the potatoes, and cut each one into 3 by cutting off each end at a slant so that
you are left with a wedge or triangle in the middle.

Put the potatoes into salted, cold water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, letting them cook for 4 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander, then tip them back into the empty, dry saucepan, and sprinkle the semolina over.

Shake the potatoes around in the saucepan to coat them well and, with the lid clamped on, give the pan a good rotate and the potatoes a proper bashing so that their edges fuzz and blur a little: this facilitates the crunch effect later. I leave them to rest at this stage. If you don't, you'll need to have preheated the oven earlier!

When the fat is as hot as it can be, tip the semolina-coated potatoes carefully into it (they splutter terrifically as you put them in) and roast in the oven for an hour or until they are darkly golden and crispy, turning them over halfway through cooking.

If the oven's hot enough, they may well not need more than about 25 minutes a side; but it's better to let them sit in the oven (you can always pour off most of the fat) till the very last minute.

When everything else is served up, transfer the potatoes to a large (warmed if possible) serving dish and bring to the table with pride in your heart.

So says Nigella. I say that goose fat is too expensive to sacrifice two jars to roast potatoes, so I use canola oil with three dessertspoons of goose fat. I have managed to make my jar of goose fat last three years this way. It's not going to make it until next Christmas, unfortunately, as the use by date is in October. I only used three fairly small potatoes, so mine were done after 15 minutes on each side.

They were served alongside some carrots and onions which were roasted in their own tray with a drizzle of oil, a dash of salt and pepper and some sprigs of rosemary and thyme

We are too full to contemplate the trifle at the moment, so check back tomorrow for that recipe.

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