Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas dinner

Madame and I thought we would be on our own for Christmas this year. Our neighbours, John and Lydia called at the last minute and asked if we would like to eat Christmas dinner with them. When John invites, it would be a very foolish person who turns him down. The food is always good!

So we made some cranberry sauce, a warmed goat cheese salad, green beans and roasted potatoes to go with their appetizers, a beautifully roasted turkey, a light and delicious dressing, and gravy. Lydia had made some rouille which we had as an appetizer - with of all things some peach champagne (Madame's favourite).

For dessert, a cheesecake, with a blueberry sauce made from blueberries, simple syrup and a little cassis. All in all a terrific time.

Cranberry sauce
12 oz package frozen cranberries
1T Seville orange marmalade (the kind made from bitter oranges)
7/8 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2T Creme de Cassis

Bring sugar/water to the boil. Add marmalade and cranberries. Simmer for 10 or so minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool for a few minutes (doesn't have to be completely cooled). Add the creme de cassis. Refrigerate overnight.

Warmed Goat Cheese Salad
4 Rounds of fresh goat cheese 1/2 to 1 inch thick
1 Egg beaten with a few splashes of hot sauce (to taste)
1 Cup fresh breadcrumbs (not toasted)
1/2t Paprika
1/2t Salt
1/2t Pepper
1t Neutral oil
4 Tomato slices - each the same diameter as the rounds of cheese.
Mixed salad greens (try to include some mint, tarragon, basil)
Juice of 1 large lemon.
2T Rice wine vinegar
1T neutral oil

Mix salt, pepper and paprika into breadcrumbs and put into a low bowl. Into another low bowl break the egg and beat lightly with a fork. Coat each round of cheese first with the egg and then breadcrumbs. Leave to sit for 15 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.
Heat the oil on a griddle or other flat surface until shimmering. Put the rounds of goat cheese flat side down onto the skillet and allow the crumbs to brown (about 2 minutes). Flip the cheese over to the other side and cook until the second side is brown.
Arrange the tomato slices on a large plate, and put one toasted cheese round onto each tomato slice. Mound the greens on the plate separate from the tomato/cheese rounds. Make a quick dressing from the lemon juice, vinegar and oil. Combine thoroughly and pour over the greens.

Roasted Potatoes
2 Large baking potatoes (russets in the USA). Use starchy not waxy potatoes
1T salt
3Oz butter.

Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Make sure that the rack is on the middle shelf.
Peel the potatoes and cut into bit sized chunks. I typically get 8 pieces per large russet. Cover potatoes with water in a large saucepan and add the salt. Bring the potatoes to a simmer and simmer for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile put the butter into a roasting pan and put in the oven to melt.
Once the potatoes have simmered for 7 minutes, drain them and dry them thoroughly. Dry them in the original pan over very low heat. When they have dried, put the lid back on the pan and shake the potatoes vigorously. This roughs up the outsides and helps create a really nice crunchy crust. Tip the potatoes into the melted butter and make sure they are coated on all sides. Put into the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the potatoes over so that they brown evenly, and put back into the oven for another 25 or so minutes. Depends on the size of the potatoes. They are cooked when the outside is evenly brown and crunchy.

Green Beans
2 slices of bacon across into 1/4 inch strips
1lb green beans topped and tailed and cut on the bias into 1 inch lengths

In a lidded skillet over low heat, gently render the fat from the bacon. Once the fat has rendered, but before the bacon is crisp, turn the heat up to medium and add the green beans. Stir the beans and bacon until the beans are covered in a thin layer of bacon fat. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, put the lid on, and turn the heat to low. Allow the beans to stem for about 7 minutes - until the water has completely evaporated. Serve immediately.
Note there is no reason to add any salt, the bacon is probably salty enough.

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