Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy house

I'm a bit of a Mother Hen in my sharehouse and like to keep my housemates well fed. I just love cooking and feeding people and sharing a big feast with friends.

Christmas is a great excuse to get people together for a beautiful celebratory meal but this time . . . I put my foot down and insisted my housemates pitch in. Okay, so I was a bit of a control freak and wrote the menu and told them what they had to buy/contribute, but it all worked out brilliantly. Some couples bought and made their own dishes while others gave me the ingredients and I cooked it up on their behalf. Worked for me!

One couple did nibbles and I had to laugh - my actual housemate did nothing but her boyfriend totally took charge of the situation. His spread was quite impressive.

Then it was the main deal and my contribution - the turkey.

I did a Donna Hay recipe and it was brilliant. So so so tender and so easy and delicious. I can't believe how moist it was - I've always heard how easy it is to dry out a turkey breast, but this was perfection.

I ordered the turkey breast from the poultry man at the South Melbourne Markets. It was about 2kg for $53 and it would have served about 10 people I reckon. Recipe from here.

prosciutto-wrapped turkey
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2kg turkey breast fillet, skin on
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 15 slices prosciutto

Then for sides I allocated one couple to two salads. It was really nice to have everyone get their hands dirty and feel proud about their contribution.

This Ottolenghi one was a real winner. And so so so easy. Recipe from here.

We cheated and just put the beans in a bowl and poured boiling water over them, left them for a while then added the snow peas towards the end until ever so slightly cooked, then ran cold water over them. I really like my greens crunchy and this meant the team could stay out of the kitchen. Much better!

Green bean, snow pea and hazelnut salad
You can really play with this salad, the beans make for a perfect base from which to improvise. You could add pomegranate seeds, goats cheese and/or pinenuts. Or you could replace the mange tout with chickpeas or white beans, and chop the green beans into segments to make it a little bulkier.
300g (one std pack) of fine green beans
150g (one std pack) of mange tout
50g hazelnuts
15g chives
1 orange
1 tblsp sesame oil
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Heat the oven to about 150 oC.
Fill as big a pan as possible with water for the beans and mange tout. The more space you give them, the more they retain their vivid green colouring. I use a big old casserole pot. Bring the water to the boil.
While it’s heating up, trim and wash the beans and mange tout, keeping them separate. When the water is bubbling merrily away drop the beans in and cook for 4 minutes. Take them out, plonk them in a colander and run under plenty of cold water to stop them cooking further.
Bring the water back to the boil and drop the mange tout in and cook them for no more than a minute. Then drain them into a colander and run under cold water. Dry the beans and the mange tout with some paper towels and put in a large salad bowl.
Put the hazelnuts into the oven and roast for about 7 minutes. Remove and squeeze the skins off – they should mostly crumble away. It doesn’t matter if some bits are left on. Roughly chop with a big, very sharp knife, You don’t want them too finely chopped, there should be plenty of halves, even the odd whole hazelnut left.
Wash the orange and peel away the zest in strips, trying to minimise the amount of white pith you take with it. Slice the strips as finely as possible. Slice the chives in to 1cm lengths.
Add the hazelnuts, orange zest and chives, grind over some black pepper to the beans and toss until all mixed up. Add the sesame (or walnut, hazelnut, pecan or any other nut oil you might have) and olive oils and toss some more.
Serve at room temperature.

The next salad was one I've featured before - it's so Christmasy with those gorgeous gems of pomegranate.

The potatoes were the stand out of the night. Apparently. They got all the attention. Such a simple thing but so hard to get right. And we nailed it (I still think my turkey was the shining light of the evening!).

They were a Gordon Ramsay recipe without all the trimmings - we didn't do the turmeric rub that's recommended, just simple salt and pepper and olive oil. The key is the hot oil on the tray, and roughing up the potatoes after boiling. And turning them during the cooking stage.

It's so worth the effort.

Recipe here - but ignore the chilli and turmeric. Unless you want to be a bit adventurous.

Dessert was an age old favourite - sticky date pudding. I did my Mum's sworn winner - the Masterchef recipe that I featured a few years ago. I cooked it in a spring form tin the night before then just heated it up after main course. Served with vanilla icecream.

The praline was a winner. I doubled the recipe. Boom.

And I tell you what, I could eat that butterscotch sauce 'til the cows come home.

I have raved about the whole night non-stop so Mum has said I have to roll it out again for Christmas Day at home. Suits me just fine, I've had the dress rehearsal, I'm ready for the real deal now! We're currently sitting on the couch watching Maggie Beer's Christmas special and flicking through Christmas cookbooks looking for 'entree' inspiration. Christmas lunch deserves a more decadent starter than just nibbles, so we're tossing up different versions of prawn cocktails. So retro. So cool.

I'll be sure to post about our feast soon!

It's good to be home x

1 comment:

Brown Button Trading said...

it's so good to have you home lady - just loved catching up. this all looks delish! one of my plans for 2015 is lots more dinner parties - i'll be frequenting your blog alot for inspo and recipes! xx