Christmas food – keeping it local
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
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
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
- Simmer raisins in water until tender. Drain the water and cool raisins to lukewarm.
- Beat eggs.
- 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.
- 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
- 1 Iceberg lettuce
- 200 grams shaved turkey or chopped leftover turkey, chicken or ham
- 3 tbs chopped pistachios
- 2 tbs Beerenberg Cranberry Sauce
- 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.
- Dice up the meat and put into a small mixing bowl. Add the chopped pistachios and cranberry sauce and mix well.
- 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!