Bonne Annee


Good morning, evening, day

I hope everyone has a great ending to 2014. Yet another year is about to start and with it, new hopes and aspirations – a faint desire that sprouts in every human heart that speaks of happiness, prosperity and goodness to come. The year gone-by might have shown a grim state of affairs around the world with stories of bloodshed, tragedy and human failure never ceasing to seize the headlines. The excitement of the new year brings about an anticipation of a better future. This is one real moment that will touch the fabrics of human emotions that entails not only hope, but a reason to keep smiling and living life as it is.

May 2015 be a year of amazing food and experiences. Thank you for a great 2014.

Remember to always grub wisely

Big love

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Joyeux Noel… A traditional French Christmas Dinner


Make a truly festive dish by combining the rich flavor of venison with sweet roast vegetables, creamed savoy cabbage, roast onions and butternut squash, red wine jus

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients
Red wine jus
100 g vegetables (carrot, leek and celery), cut into mirepoix
50 ml vegetable oil
1 tyhme sprig
1 bay leaf
5 juniper berries, crushed
250 ml red wine
1 liter veal or chicken stock
salt, freshly ground pepper

Cranberry Madeleines
20 g butter, softened
125 g flour
4 g baking powder
2 eggs
65 g butter, melted
5 ml lavender oil (1 tsp)
10 g green peppercorns
200 g cranberries
Maldon sea salt

Roasted onion and butternut squash
15 ml vegetable oil
3 red onions
1 butternut squash
100 g butter
1 thyme sprig
1 garlic clove
salt, freshly ground pepper

Venison
20 ml vegetable oil
1 x 1.2 kg venison loin
salt, freshly ground pepper
100 g butter
Creamed Savoy cabbage
1 Savoy cabbage
2 carrots
10 g butter
2 bay leaves
400 ml whipping cream
juice of 1 lemon
salt, freshly ground pepper

Garnish
4 sprigs of lavender

Method
Red wine jus: In a pan cook the mirepoix in oil until golden in color, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf and crushed juniper berries. Deglaze with red wine and reduce by half. Add veal stock and gently simmer for 45 minutes. Strain through a china cap sieve, season and set aside.

Cranberry Madeleines: Preheat oven to 175°C. Butter a mini-Madeleine mold using soft butter. Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl. Beat eggs and add to flour and baking powder. Pour in melted butter and lavender oil and whisk to make a batter. Fold in the peppercorns and transfer batter into a piping bag. Pipe batter into mold indents and arrange cranberries on top. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Bake until golden, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool and set aside.

Roasted onion and butternut squash: Cut red onions in half. Peel and slice butternut squash into discs. In a pan over a high heat add the oil, then onions face down and the discs of butternut squash. Cook for 3 minutes or until colored. Add butter, thyme and the garlic clove. Season and bake in the same oven as the Madeleines until soft, about 5 minutes.
Venison: In a pan, heat the oil over a low heat. Season venison loin and place in the pan, gently color all sides. Transfer to oven and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the loin over and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add butter. Gently baste meat with butter then rest for 10 minutes.

Creamed Savoy cabbage: Discard outer dark green leaves of cabbage. Cut into quarters and remove and discard core. Cut into julienne (5 cm long by 1 mm thick). Cut the carrots into brunoise (5 mm square). In a pan sweat the carrots in butter, add bay leaves and cook until the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add julienne of cabbage and sweat for a further 2 to 3 minutes until cabbage has wilted. Add cream and reduce by half, add lemon juice, season. Set aside.

To serve: Warm red onion, butternut squash and Madeleines in oven for 2 minutes. Heat through the red wine jus and creamed Savoy cabbage. Slice venison loin into 18 equal sized pieces and arrange on warmed plates. Arrange onion and butternut squash discs, 2 or 3 cranberry Madeleines and add cabbage. Finish with red wine jus and decorate with one sprig of lavender (optional).

Spiced Wine… A German Christmas Tradition


SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS
1 (750-ml bottle) medium-bodied red wine
½ cup sugar
8 whole cloves
4 lemon wedges
4 sticks cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally, in a 4-qt. saucepan and remove from heat. Discard cloves.

2. Ladle wine into 4 glasses and garnish each with 1 of the cinnamon sticks and 1 lemon wedge. Serve hot.

Popovers


INGREDIENTS
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1¼ cups whole milk
1 tbsp. melted butter

Makes 8

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together flour and salt into a bowl.

2. Whisk together eggs, whole milk, and butter in a bowl. Then add to flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined (some lumps may remain).

3. Pour batter into a buttered 8-popover tin or 8-muffin pan, filling individual tins two-thirds to three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and continue baking until puffed and browned, about 20 minutes more.

4. Unmold, pierce sides of popovers with a toothpick to allow steam to escape, and serve immediately.

No matter how tempting the aroma coming from your kitchen, don’t open the oven to check popovers until about 5 minutes before they’re finished baking, or they will deflate.

Simple Garlic Confit


Garlic confit, a silky, spreadable condiment, relies on a French technique for gently poaching peeled whole cloves in oil or fat. The process caramelizes the cloves and concentrates their sweetness while infusing them with the oil or fat that renders them rich and creamy.

MAKES ABOUT 2½ CUPS

INGREDIENTS
2 cups canola oil, lard, or rendered chicken or duck fat
1 cup garlic cloves, peeled

INSTRUCTIONS
Simmer oil, lard, or fat with garlic cloves in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-low; cook until garlic is tender, 35–40 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Anything can be made into a confit, even carrots. The process is the same as outlined in this simple recipe, just replace the garlic with whatever you think sounds good.

Flavored Salt…


Just a quick salt recipe. These are easy to make with whatever flavor you want to incorporate. It will help elevate your food and provide an extra layer to your flavor profile. Here is my favorite

Porcini Salt
1 handful of dried porcini
1 large handful of sea salt

Blitz a handful of porcini mushrooms up to a fine dust in a spice grinder or food processor then add in an equal amount of sea salt and give it one final blitz. Store in an airtight container.

Festive Salmon Canapés…


A throwback to culinary school.

Ingredients.

250 g fresh salmon
4 langoustines (scampi)
1 tsp olive oil
Fleur de sel salt
1 Granny Smith apple
1 shallots
1/4 bunch chives
Decoration
1 packet Borage cress ‘micro salad’
1 packet blue ocean ‘micro salad’
1 packet rock chives® ‘micro salad’

Directions…

Marinate the piece of salmon in olive oil and ‘fleur de sel’ sea salt for 30 mins.
Shell the langoustines, remove the intestine. Very quickly sear the langoustines in hot olive oil; they should remain translucent.
Finely chop the Granny Smith apple, the shallots and chives. Roughly chop the langoustines. Combine and Refrigerate.
Remove the olive oil and salt from the piece of marinated salmon with a paper towel. Cut into eight even sized thin slices. Place a little of the langoustine and Granny Smith apple on one side of the salmon and roll to envelop the filling.
Decorate with micro salad just before serving.

Beet Tartare… Yes Beet


Beets are brightened by fresh orange zest and tangy balsamic in this clever appetizer, which looks beautiful presented in individual endive spears. To make this dish vegan, omit the Greek yogurt or use a non-dairy yogurt alternative.

INGREDIENTS
4 medium beets (about 1 lb.), scrubbed
3 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Zest of 2 oranges
Endive leaves, Greek yogurt, and cilantro leaves, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat oven to 400°. Place beets, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 8″ square baking dish and cover with foil; cook until tender, 1–1½ hours. When cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl; stir in vinegar, half the orange zest, salt, and pepper. Serve on endive leaves with a dollop of yogurt, cilantro leaves, and remaining zest.

Creamy Chestnut Soup


INGREDIENTS
4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 small leek, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
4½ cups chicken stock
2½ lb. fresh chestnuts, roasted and peeled, or two 15-oz. jars whole roasted chestnuts, drained
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
½ cup heavy cream
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is almost crisp, 3–4 minutes. Add butter, shallot, carrot, leek, and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 5–7 minutes. Add stock, chestnuts, bay leaf, and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, slightly covered, until chestnuts are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir in cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; cook until soup is slightly thick, about 5 minutes more.

Beef Stew… Tudor Christmas


This hearty Tudor beef stew is likely to have been a firm favourite in the kitchens of Hampton Court Palace during the winter months. The recipe combines cinnamon, clove, sage and parsley with beef to create a dish fit for kings and queens alike!

This 17th century recipe might not be the version you are used to making at home… (I am still doing research on this but wanted to get what I found out)

Ingredients

Beef, cinnamon, cloves, mace, grains of paradise, cubebs, onions, parsley, bread, vinegar, saffron and salt.

Directions

Cut the beef into bite sized chunks and place in a saucepan of water. Bring to boil, add the cinnamon, cloves, mace, grains of paradise, cubebs, parsley, sage and some finely chopped onions. Cover and reduce to a simmer. When the beef is almost cooked (about half way) take some of the liquid out and pour it into a separate bowl. Add the vinegar and bread chunks to this. The bread will absorb the liquid. Blitz in a food processor. Add the bread back to the stew and bring it to a boil. Add a splash of vinegar as a finishing touch with some saffron and salt to taste.