Christmas food – keeping it local

by Amanda McInerney on 15/12/2011

Well folks we are really coming to the pointy end of the year now, with only ten sleeps left until the fat man shows up.  It’s a ridiculously busy time of the year for us all as we race to finish important jobs off at work, catch up with everybody we haven’t had time for all during the year, shop furiously for our nearest and dearest and desperately plan the execution of one of our most significant meals of the year.   Christmas food  comes in many different  cultural shapes here in Australia and we are often a lot more casual about our big dinner than in the colder climates.  While many of us enjoy sitting down to the formal hot baked dinner with all the trimmings, many others are happy with a cold seafood meal, a slap-up barbecue or a picnic at the beach.  As for me, well I love to do my best to keep the meal as local as possible, but I’m also a bit lazy and am very happy to find shortcuts wherever I can.

Here in South australia we are blessed with a remarkable array of top quality local food products and my friend, Chef Michele Campbell (owner of The Table - one of the best restaurants in the Adelaide Hills – and Kinderchefs) has been working with some of the wonderful range of products from Beerenburg and recently let me into her kitchen for a peek.  Using  a jar of this or that here and there, Michele has come up with some great dishes that use local products, are very quick to knock out and will have your family and guests gasping at your astonishing culinary skills and cool kitchen aplomb.  If you are like me and prefer to try and keep at least a shred of your sanity over the holiday period then you might be interested in some of these recipes.  I’ve got two to share with you today, but there are more over at Beerenberg, so do check them out.

The first is a super quick, easy and almost healthy Christmas cake.   Not the traditional rich dark cake, this light version has very little added sugar but is moist, full flavoured and delicious.

Christmas Applesauce Cake

Ingredients

2 cups water

  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup Beerenberg Apple Sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
  2. Simmer raisins in water until tender. Drain the water and cool raisins to lukewarm.
  3. Beat eggs.
  4. In a large bowl, combine raisins, apple sauce, beaten eggs, caster sugar, cooking oil and mix well. Blend in the other ingredients until throughly combined.
  5. Pour mixture into greased loaf pan. Bake for approximately one hour.

(Edited – 19/12/11. This recipe has been converted for Thermomix users and can now also be found here.)

This next dish is even simpler and helps you to deal with the turkey overload that some homes cope with at this time of year.  It would work every bit as well with cold chicken or even ham, makes a great snack to serve with drinks and could be tarted up a little by serving it in  small pastry cases with a slice of local Udder Delights or Woodside Cheesewrights brie melted over the top.

Turkey, Cranberry & Pistachio Lettuce cups

Ingredients

  • 1 Iceberg lettuce
  • 200 grams shaved turkey or chopped leftover turkey, chicken or ham
  • 3 tbs chopped pistachios
  • 2 tbs Beerenberg Cranberry Sauce

Instructions

  1. Chop the lettuce into quarters and pull out the best looking leaves in the middle and arrange nicely on a serving platter. Discard the outer leaves and keep to use up in a salad.
  2. Dice up the meat and put into a small mixing bowl. Add the chopped pistachios and cranberry sauce and mix well.
  3. Put a teaspoon full of turkey mixture into the middle of the lettuce cups. Cover in cling film and let chill for 30 minuntes before serving.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering – these are all my own photographs taken with my digital SLR and my new-found skills.  I’m pretty pleased with them, actually!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Cakelaw December 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm

All of these dishes sound so great and healthy! I especially like the applesauce fruit cake.

Lizzy (Good Things) December 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Love the idea of a lighter fruit cake. With my European background, fruit cake isn’t something that I grew up on and nor do I particularly enjoy it. But I do like the sound of your recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!

judy December 16, 2011 at 9:14 am

Lovely recipes and great pics Amanda. Have enjoyed reading your blog throughout the year and would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Amanda December 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

Gaye – the cake is delicious and would also keep quite well.
Lizzy – I can’t claim credit for the recipes, that goes to Michele. I did the pics.
Judy – thanks so much for being such a dedicated follower. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, too.

celia December 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

Bookmarking this one, A! Thanks to your influence, I’m attempting turkey for the first time this year, and I’m sure there will be leftovers! :)

Kate December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

The cake looks just exactly my sort of thing. I too am mad on short cuts at this time of year. With 13 at our table this year for an al fresco lunch and everyone bringing a dish, I am expecting a marvellous electic Christmas buffet.

Mandy - The Complete Cook Book December 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Oh wow, your applesauce cake sound fantastic!
:-) Mandy

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Oh I have a jar of their apple sauce in my fridge right now! It’s great!

The Food Sage December 16, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I’ll be away from Christmas but love the idea of the applesauce cake … maybe next year!

InTolerantChef December 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Lovely recipes, and of course awesome photos! I’d love to do a food photography couse sometime, but for now will stick with my point-and-shoot.

Hotly Spiced December 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I love the look of your lettuce cups. Very sang chow bao. These would be great to eat on Christmas Eve with a glass of champagne in front of the TV watching the Carols and wrapping presents.

Ann December 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Ahh nice to hear the ‘C’ word. Hopefully we won’t get to the stage where we won’t replace it with ‘holiday’. I’m hearing it too much this year. I am cooking a rolled turkey breast along with cold leg ham and salads this CHRISTMAS lunch. There I’ve said it!

Miss Kimbers @ Fruit Salad and Mixed Veg December 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm

The cake looks lovely:) I have been looking for a Christmasy fruit cake that doesn’t require brandy or rum and this looks good:)

cityhippyfarmgirl December 19, 2011 at 8:01 am

I’m really hoping to keep the food over the Christmas period as local as possible as well. It’s not particularly hard being summer :-)

judy December 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I have made the applesauce cake Amanda, converted it for the Thermomix and posted it on the forum. It is so light and moist.

Amanda December 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Judy – Many thanks – I have edited the post to show the link back to the forum.

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