Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Roasts

With Christmas round the corner, we all have stuffed chicken or turkey on our minds. While Turkey is usually the centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinners, chicken, pork, lamb  roasts are popular for Christmas.

Roast lamb with apricot stuffing is matchless. Another good combination for lamb stuffing is bacon, garlic and rosemary or bacon and shallots. If you’re looking for an exotic Christmas Turkey, then ricotta cheese or orange and prunes stuffing maybe the answer.

Roast Chicken

A good stuffing, believe me, can transform the taste of your roast, so spend time preparing it. Experiment with herbs, nuts and other ingredients. Some of us like cubed bread and garlic as the stuffing, while others prefer, bread mix with onion, thyme and parsley. Any type of bread will work as long as it has a firm texture and has been dried properly. Your roast can have luscious flavours owing to the unique fillings. Whatever be the filling, it is a laborious process, but worth it anyway.

My all time favourite is Roast Chicken with Apple-Sausage Stuffing, Pan-Reduced Sauce and Roasted Vegetables. And it is pretty simple and straightforward to prepare too. Mushrooms pair well with pork, so try adding those to your stuffing this year.

Make use fo fruits. These can rev up the taste of the dish to unimaginable heights. Apples, cranberries, dried apricots, dried plums, raisins are a good choice.

Bread, chestnut, sage, pork sausage, cranberries is a typical stuffing and the first choice of many.

If you don’t want to make the stuffing yourself, buying readymade ones (of course a prior order is mandatory) is also a possibility. In  Mumbai too, many take orders and supply great roasts on Christmas. And of course Mumbai hotels and restaurants have great roasts on offer for Christmas.

Roast Turkey with Cranberry Sauce, Brussel Sprouts, Roast Leg of Pork with Parsnips, are available at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. Chef Sanjana Patel at La Folie Lab is offering a traditional English Roast with Chicken supreme breast with Buttered beans, Roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Oh! this one is not to be missed.

Made at home or purchased, or savouring one at a restaurant, a roast is a must on Christmas. Yes, with a bowl of gravy, some roasted potatoes, carrots, broccoli and wine. Merry Christmas!

 

A recipe that I love to follow :

Pork, sage, onion and chestnuts stuffing

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 50 g stale bread
  • 200 g vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 1 kg shoulder of pork, trimmed and diced
  • 1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
  • 3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 whole fresh nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange

Method-
Preheat your oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. Blitz the onions in the food processor until finely chopped, then tip into a large bowl. Tear the stale bread into small chunks and whiz into breadcrumbs. Add these to the bowl, then crush and crumble your chestnuts in there too. Tip your diced pork into the food processor with the sage leaves, bacon, a level teaspoon of white pepper and a good pinch of salt. Finely grate in a quarter of the nutmeg, the zest of half a lemon and just 2 or 3 gratings of orange zest. Pulse until you’ve got some chunks and some mush, it won’t even take a minute, then tip into the mixing bowl.

Because the pork is raw, you’re committed to seasoning it well so add another pinch of salt and white pepper, then get your clean hands in there and scrunch it all up until well combined.

Take just under half of the stuffing out of the bowl to use for your turkey, then transfer the rest to a lovely earthenware-type dish that you can serve from. Use your hands to break it up and push it about, then flatten it all down. Pop it in the oven to cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour until bubbling and crispy. When done, you can pour away any excess fat before serving if you want to. It will be soft, juicy and succulent on the inside, then gnarly, crispy and chewy on the outside.

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Relish Roasts This Christmas

Roasts are delicious and apt for this festive season. What is Christmas without a roast? Roasts are usually done with large, tender cuts of meat. This is a method of cooking an item by enveloping it in hot, dry air, generally inside an oven and at temperatures of at least 300°F and often much hotter. The meat retains its flavours and can be preserved for days. These can be a bit tedious to prepare, but exciting for the palate and are worth every effort.

Goa is synonymous with roasts. Bifes assado (beef roast), Assado de Leitoa(Roast pigling), Pot roast- a braised beef dish. Every household prepares them and eats these with relish. I guess these have a Portuguese origin.

Red meats such as beef, lamb and venison and certain game birds are  typicaly the first choice for roasts. But there are other options too. Roast chicken, roast turkey, roast beef tenderloin, roast pork leg, roast pork belly, roasted suckling pig, roasted whole fish like red snapper, sea bass, sear fish etc. Always remember to “brown’ the meat by exposing it to high temperature for a short period, before roasting it in an oven. This imparts a traditional flavour and color to the roast, which is unparalleled.

 roast-chicken

I have never been a great fan of  red meat, so prefer a roast chicken any day. It is my all-time favourite. A rosemary, garlic and lemon roast chicken is something I really enjoy making. My idea of a perfect meal on a  lazy Sunday and a jazzed up version for Christmas. The aroma of a roast chicken comforts me as it fills the air in my kitchen. Brining the chicken in salt water is essential prior to roasting, in order to keep the chicken moist. Also, seasoning is important. Salt, pepper, garlic, fresh herbs, can be used for seasoning. Ensure you season all parts well. Juicy meat and crisp skin are the two hallmarks of a perfectly roasted chicken. It is an art to perfect that.

Many people roast meats and then use them over a period of time in salads and sandwiches. Potatoes, boiled vegetables like carrots, beans, baby corn, asparagus and polenta are typical accompaniments for roasts but rice and noodles are eaten too, especially in Singapore.

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Lamb roast is equally a delight for the palate. And of course the Christmas roast is legendary. A roast turkey with a Bordeaux red wine, is an absolute treat. An interesting way to boost your meal when you serve roasts is by adding a gravy to it. The texture and flavours are enhanced. A creamy mushroom gravy is a good option.

In fact winters are a great time for roasts in India and I look forward to December and January to enjoy these with friends and family.

Indigo deli and Grandmama’s Cafe in Mumbai do some of my favourite roasts.

 

So what roast meat are you preparing this Christmas?

Proof of The Pudding, Is in the Eating

I have a soft corner for puddings. Very English. Very story bookish. But I love them nevertheless. Puddings can be of different types and even using varied cooking methods- boiling, baking, steaming.

A pudding instantly brings to my mind, the bread pudding my husband makes for me, on rare occasions though. Flavoured with raisins and with a caramel base, it is unparalleled. What’s more it is steamed.So light and healthy too. Well, some amount of indulgence is permitted right?

My all time favourite is the regular Bread Butter Pudding  with buttered slices of white bread, baked with egg and condensed milk.  I give it a twist with vanilla beans. Oh! the aroma is to die for. Arrange the bread soaked in milk. Cover it with custard along with roasted nuts and bake it in a double boiler. This one never fails you. Me for sure. One has to be careful with the nutmeg though. Just a pinch, is a lot. 

I recently tasted a Salted caramel brownie pudding  at a Hotel in Mumbai. It was delicious.I am itching to make it at home myself. A sticky toffee pudding if well-made is irresistible too. But I somehow love fruits in my puddings. Seasonal ones of course.

An otherwise chocolate fan, when it comes to puddings, I prefer to skip this and try other ingredients. Strange but true.  A friend of mine does a unusual tapioca pudding. Apart from the taste, the texture is unique. Our very own  Rice pudding or kheer is common in India and delectable as well.  A must-have on any festival or special occasion.

There are hundreds of variations of sweet puddings in England but each one begins with the same basic ingredients of milk, sugar, eggs, flour and butter. Sinful, but necessary.

Given the lifestyle choices we all make today, healthy substitutes can be used when making puddings.  They should as a matter of fact.

With the advent of summer, I love to make a fresh fruit pudding using seasonal fruits and lots of nuts and honey. I also do an interesting sesame soy milk pudding. But that is great for winters. Gives warmth. Comforting too.

But without a doubt, I wait all year through for a Christmas Pudding, which easily surpasses all others. One cannot go through the season without digging into a rich one. Many hotels in Mumbai serve a great one. Generally, I like to make mine at home too. Laborious, but worth it.

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Puddings need not be sweet only. Surprised? Have you ever tried the East Indian liver pudding? It is a savoury pudding which is generally used a stuffing for chicken. It is absolutely  lip-smacking.

Another pudding which left an indelible mark on my taste buds is a cheese and leek pudding  I sampled years ago at a restaurant in London. Nothing beats  the light and fluffy, Yorkshire pudding with a gravy though.

My mouth is watering now. So what shall it be tonight? A sweet or a savoury pudding. Sweet naturally!

 

 

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

‘Tis the season to indulge guilt-free and that is exactly what I did recently at the California Pizza Kitchen, sampling their mouth-watering desserts for the festive season.

Christmas Yule Log, Baked Alaska, Chocolate Eruption and Chocolate Raspberry Mystic were some of the treats on offer.

The Chocolate Raspberry Mystic intrigued me. Chocolate is always my weakness. But this one surprised me. A delicate chocolate mousse combined with winter raspberry marmalade, appeared on my table and it was served with vanilla ice cream. The raspberry and chocolate pairing I thought was perfect and unique. The raspberry marmalade accentuated the chocolate flavour and yet, was subtle. The mousse was creamy and soft-textured. I was in seventh heaven.

Baked Alaska is an old favourite and makes me nostalgic in fact. I love the drama associated with it. Love the way the flambe happens at the table. The strawberry and vanilla Ice-cream, layered between vanilla sponge and Italian meringue, flambéed with rum is the ultimate sin one can treat oneself to.

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I decided to skip the Chocolate Eruption with a heavy heart and instead settled for the Christmas Yule Log. After all it is the Christmas season and you cannot miss enjoying this one. It was reminiscent of the ones I used to relish in London. Well-made and with a generous helping of dried fruits and rum. Full marks to this one too.

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Although Blackberry Bliss sounded divine, I was satiated already. After all, there is nothing better than a mascarpone cheese and yoghurt combo. Add to that white chocolate,Satori Merlot paired with Blackberry compote and Vanilla Ice cream. There is no scope to go wrong am sure. A must try for me on my next visit this week or next.

What is nice is that none of the desserts are cloyingly sweet with overpowering flavours.

All the CPK outlets in Mumbai have these delectable six desserts till January 4 2015. So make sure you don’t miss this chance. The fresh ingredients, large portions and unique flavours are a winning trio. Chef Joshi is truly a culinary wizard.