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Christmas 2014


ChrisTaylor
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I'm looking for 'sides' to serve with the pudding. Usually I serve it with rum and raisin ice cream and vanilla creme anglaise. I'd like to do something different this year...

 

Those puddings look great. I've never tried anything quite like that, maybe the closest thing would be a dense, dark fruitcake.

 

I'm thinking of something bitter to contrast against all the sweet, dark, boozy fruit. At first I imagined it with bitter almond or noyaux ice cream. I checked the web, noyaux ice cream is brutally laborious to make (you crack dozens of stone fruit kernels)...uh, maybe not during the holiday rush season. As an alternative, maybe creme anglaise flavored with a good almond extract (which is supposed to be bitter almonds). Or maybe walnut ice cream--or burnt caramel ice cream--or if you want to go a little sweeter with a nut, toasted almond ice cream.

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Christmas is always at my home. I make brunch and it works great for everyone.  I always make everything, lots of appetizers, ham, egg casserole, potato casserole, desserts, etc.  This year we may have to take it ALL to my mother-in-laws, since she can't get around good right now.  Its only 10 minutes away, so not too big a hassle.  On the plus side, I can do more baking then housecleaning!

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Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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  • 2 weeks later...
Apologies for the poor quality photography and sub-standard plating.

 

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Salad of duck tongues, snow pea shoots and freshly-picked sugar snap peas inspired by a similar recipe from Mugaritz. Mugaritz uses chickweed. I didn't. Next time I'd be inclined to try the crispy duck tongues from Modernist Cuisine. I reckon they'd be better. More texture. 

 

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Gazpacho (three ways) from Brent Savage's Bentley.

 

White: sourdough, blanched almonds, confit garlic, e.v. olive oil and white wine vin.

 

Green: dill, basil, parsley, mint, cucumber, green tomato, green chilli, confit garlic, e.v. olive oil and sherry vin.

 

Red: tomato, red capsicum, cucumber, red chilli, confit garlic, e.v. olive oil and sherry vin.

 

 

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The garden salad from Heston Blumenthal at Home. The vegetables--carrot, asparagus, beetroot--were cut down to sit and then cooked sous vide as per the 'best bets' guide in Modernist Cuisine. I needed more soil and more gribiche, as the photo makes obvious. The soil was made from Kalamata olives and All-Bran, my workaround when faced with a lack of Grape-Nuts on the Australian breakfast cereal market (unless I felt like paying USA Foods the best part of $20 for a box of breakfast snap/crackle/pop). Of course, the problem with more soil would be the flavour. The soil tasted good in small quantities but was, as you'd expect from something mostly comprised of oven-dried olives (i.e. concentrated flavours), salty. If I was to repeat this I'd look at the edible soils in other cookbooks I have on hand, such as Rene Redzepi's. Maybe a composite soil. Maybe a layer of soil made with some kind of oven-dried vegetable (beetroot? mushroom?). It's a good dish but I think it could be ratcheted up a few notches. 

 

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Duck breast glazed w/ lavender from Daniel Humm's cookbook. The duck was glazed w/ lavender honey and dusted with a simple spice mix: 2:2:2:1 lavender flowers:coriander seeds:Sichuan peppercorns:cumin seeds. The puree was comprised of fennel and potato. The peaches were prepared two different ways: 'confit' (slow-roasted after being douse in olive oil and lime juice, dusted with black pepper and confectioner's sugar) and soaked in dessert wine. The latter was my half-arsed workaround for peaches compressed with a chamber vac. The duck sauce was simple but time-consuming: 3L of chicken stock serves as a base for a duck jus (along with chicken feet, roasted dark carcasses leftover from various trial-runs of this dish, red wine, port and vegetables) which in turn acts as a base for the sauce (duck jus jacked with a lemon/lime/orange/star anise syrup and seasoned with raspberry vin).

 

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Something of a pre-dessert for four out of five diners. Strawberry sorbet (Heston, again) with a slow-roasted strawberry.

 

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Ugh, those colours. This photo is the least horrible of a horrible bunch. Slow-roasted strawberries, fresh strawberries, strawberry sorbet and burnt orange syrup (jacked with Angosutra bitters). This was for a person that mislikes traditional Christmas pudding. This person has a conservative palate that discouraged me from doing what I wanted: making a balsamic vin syrup.

 

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Dessert for the rest of us: traditional pudding with vanilla creme anglaise and burnt orange syrup. I think this needed some additional elements. Some kind of tuile, maybe. Something with a bit of crunch. A praline.

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Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Very impressive, Chris. What differences in texture did you see between the 'confit' peaches and the chamber-vac-compressed peaches? What seasonings did you use on the latter? Did you like the flavor of the 'confit' peaches?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Our traditional whole family is a bit fractured this year...

 

Dec. 24, only our daughter and s-i-l for supper, so we had a hunk of boneless lamb. It was really tender and juicy, very important as I had some dental surgery on the 22nd. But, everyone knows a few sutures ain't going to stop me from eating! As it turned out, my periodontist does fabulous work and I had no post-surgery pain and can chew easily on one side!

 

The lamb, coated with whole grain mustard, pepper and "stuffed with rosemary.

 

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Roasted at 350F to 120F, tented and rested for 30 minutes. Eaten with minted baby taters, peas, and fresh mint sa

 

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Dessert was a fabulous assortment of baking from my niece, the family dentist :wub:

Tonight, our older son and three little ones will join us for prime rib, yorkies, etc. The 28th will be the whole family when our younger son and two little ones will join us for a crab feast and our traditional trifle!

 

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Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Very impressive, Chris. What differences in texture did you see between the 'confit' peaches and the chamber-vac-compressed peaches? What seasonings did you use on the latter? Did you like the flavor of the 'confit' peaches?

 

The confit peach was good and I reckon I'll hang onto that element of the dish to use elsewhere. Roast pork, maybe. Even chicken. Anything that benefits from a bit of sweetness. The compressed peach was problematic. The recipe itself is simple: peach slices are sealed in a chamber vac with some Sauternes. I only have a strip sealer. The NotCompressedTM peach tasted like, well, a thin slice of peach that'd been soaking in a semillion-based dessert wine overnight. I purchased a firm peach, as the recipe prescribed, but found had softened a little by the time I got around to 'compressing' it. Dousing it in liquid and leaving it like that overnight didn't help matters. I'd have to rethink this element if I made the dish again: perhaps making some kind of semillon/peach-based syrup. Perhaps trying to burn off (i.e. with a match) the wine's alcohol, then freezing it and sealing it in with the peach using my strip sealer.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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It's Boxing Day tradition for me, pretty much, to go out and buy a turkey. In Australia, turkey is rarely consumed outside of the Christmas period so as of Boxing Day they're steeply discounted. Including the high end organic nonsense ones. This year I'm cold smoking it over hickory before parting it in the sous vide rig. From there I'll figure out what to do with it. I have a New Year's Eve barbecue coming up so, hey, maybe part of the turkey will make itself useful then.

 

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Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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I had a most unconventional Christmas Day dinner. Having no one to please but myself I decided to make a Lancashire hot pot along with some steamed carrots and green beans. Dessert would be crème brûlée. Well as they say the best laid plans.....

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The hot pot should have taken 2 1/2 hours. It would have behooved me to check on it long before the time was up. I failed to do so and after 2 1/2 hours very little was cooked as the oven temperature was far too low. I cranked it and instead of preparing the vegetable sides while waiting for it to finish cooking I stuck my nose into a book to try and ignore my growing hunger. Eventually the lamb, potatoes and onions were sufficiently cooked and I plated up:

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Now my hunger was such that I was not about to wait for carrots and beans!

The Creme Brûlée was not much more of a success. Here is the lethal result of attempting to brulee it with a butane torch:

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I made a second attempt using the broiler in my Breville smart oven. This succeeded in giving it a very uneven crust and over cooking it to the point where it was barely edible:

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List anyone think that I did not enjoy my Christmas dinner let me assure you I did. Throughout the whole comedy of errors I was able to chat by email with my best friend who happened to be at work on a quiet evening when she had time to chat. It will be a Christmas to remember no matter what.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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This year, our Christmas Day featured prime rib, which used to be for Xmas eve when all the families were home.

 

The 7-rib roast was trimmed down to a 5-rib one, with the remainder for the big family meal on the 28th, along with crab legs...

 

The Yorkies were perfect. Eaten with baby tater, brussel sprouts, and carrots.

 

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Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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