Christmas Menu 1
STEP into Christmas – here is the first of three consecutive menus to help those who celebrate Christmas decide what to feed their family and friends this season…
Recipes are based on those in Delia Smith’s Delia’s Happy Christmas. Here and there the recipes have been tweaked for South African tastes or to adapt to availability of ingredients – bearing in mind that in the UK it is early winter, whereas we’re heading into the peak of summer.
Cape smoked snoek mousse
This is based on Delia’s Arbroath smokie mousse, which uses a type of smoked haddock. It is a set mousse, rather firm with lovely texture, and a fairly light start to a Christmas dinner. Smoked snoek, readily available at the Cape, translates this into a great local variation.
400g smoked snoek
2 eggs, hardboiled
4 leaves gelatine
10g plain flour
Pinch of Spanish smoked paprika (Delia uses cayenne)
3 T capers
2 T parsley, chopped
50ml double cream, lightly whipped
Salt and pepper to taste
Flake the snoek, being careful to discard every bone. Shell the hardboiled eggs and chop finely. Place in a bowl with the shredded snoek. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes. Heat milk, butter and flour in a saucepan, stirring continuously over a low heat until it comes to a simmer. Then continue cooking gently, stirring occasionally, for four minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine leaves and add to milk, stirring well to dissolve. Pour into a bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the mayo and paprika/cayenne and season well. Now stir in the snoek and egg mix, the capers and parsley, and finally the whipped cream. Divide into ramekins and refrigerate for four hours or more. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with capers and a dusting of cayenne/paprika.
Roast duck with cranberry and red wine sauce
1 whole duck, about 2.5kg
2 medium potatoes per guest
Salt and pepper
Prick a whole duck all over many times, especially the fleshy parts between the breast and leg, using cocktail sticks. This is essentially as it helps release the large amount of fat that must drain away. Season well with salt and pepper (plenty of salt) all over, and place on a rack over a roasting pan. This is important as the fat must drain away. Place in a preheated 190degree oven and roast for a good two hours, closer to the top of the oven than the middle. Don’t baste it at all. (Delia recommends two-and-a-half hours, which I find too long. Go with her if you prefer.) As the fat drains off, pour it off into a metal bread tin. Do this several times. When the tin is half-full, add diced potatoes (which you have dried with kitchen paper, pop them into the duck fat and roast in the oven until golden and crisp. For the sauce, buy a packet of dried cranberries (Woolies sells them). Saute 6 chopped red spring onions in butter. Pop the cranberries into the saucepan with the onions and 200ml red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Don’t strain this sauce – it’s supposed to have the little chunks of cranberry. When serving, pour the sauce next to the duck, not on it, so as not to spoil the crisp skin. Serve with the roasties and a veg of your choice.
Pink champagne jellies with frosted red grapes
This is a winner, a really light dessert which, despite there being no Christmas mince in sight, screams Christmas. Delia’s recipe uses white sparkling wine and white grapes. I prefer the colour – but you decide.
275ml sparkling wine, not too sweet, chilled
1 large lemon
85g caster sugar
5 leaves gelatine
Seedless red grapes
1 egg white, beaten
Pout 450ml water into a saucepan and add peeled zest of the lemon and the 85g caster sugar. Bring to a simmer. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes, squeeze out excess water. Remove pan from heat and whisk in gelatine. Squeeze in lemon juice through a fine sieve, then strain it all into a large bowl. Leave to cool, then chill in fridge for an hour or more. Remove from fridge and whisk thoroughly. Measure 275ml sparkling wine and pour into the jelly. Stir a few times and ladle into glasses. I used a variety – cocktail glasses, a crystal wine glass and flutes. Place on a flat tray in the fridge, tell everyone in the house to be careful opening and closing the fridge door, and then make your frosted grapes. Just whisk the white of an egg thoroughly, then dip small clusters of grapes first into the egg white, then roll all over in caster sugar. Place on foil on a tray and keep aside for it to firm up. Plop a cluster on top of each glass and serve.
Adapted from recipes in Delia Smith’s Delia’s Happy Christmas