Thursday, December 23, 2010

Magical Christmas

East Coast – Magical Christmas

I say this every year but I really cannot believe Christmas is basically right here… ( and what a year we have all had)

I wonder are a lot of you guys in the same position as me in that I’m really not sure this year where I am spending Christmas, its changing on a daily basis (or twice daily) because of our weather situation.

We have lived in Wickow Town for the past 13 years and I have never ever seen snow like I have seen over the past 24 hours. On Tuesday morning the 22nd of December I woke to a white blizzard outside our windows spreading right up the hills and out to sea, quite incredible to see but also debilitating.

This Christmas in Ireland its all about improvisation and particularly in the counties of Ireland that have been hit badly by our weather,

So don’t panic if you haven’t got it all under control, check back to the past few weeks recipes and as we say chillax… pop on the Christmas Music make a cuppa… or pour a glass of wine and if you cannot get out to do grocery shopping have a good look in your freezer, fridge & store cupboards, you will be surprised what you can turn into simple starters, lunches, etc. and also clear out at the same time...

If you can get out to the shops and are cooking this Christmas, plan a few menus and write the shop list, this way you will save Time and Money!!

Wishing all of you a safe happy Christmas & a wonderful 2011. In January I am looking forward to chatting about delicious soups & low budget dinners. Stay warm xx

Best Wishes to you and yours…
Siobhan @ Donellis

East Coast – Magical Christmas Dinner

Fantastic Potatoes with sticky parsnips…
Serves 6

These really are tasty because with this method you get the crispy bit on the outside and the melty sweet bit inside… just Fab…

10 potatoes peeled & cut into large chunks
4 medium parsnips peeled , & cut into sticks
1 medium bulb of garlic broken into cloves
Small handful rosemary
2 lg. Tablespoon of honey
3 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 200, fan 180, gas 6.
Cook potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to the boil when it begins to simmer add the parsnips… cook for a further 5 mins, drain and steam until dry.
Transfer to a roasting dish, sprinkle the garlic cloves thru the veg… add the warmed honey & drizzle enough olive oil to make the veg glisten. Cook for about 20 mins and check they are cooked through by inserting a knife to ensure soft in the centre.

Festive Potato Gratin…

Fantastic Dish that can be cooked 2 days before & stored in the fridge ready for reheating

1 deep baking or Pyrex dish about
30cm x 30 & 7cm deep

10 potatoes peeled & sliced thinly
(evenly or they wont cook properly so take your time)
5 generous handfuls of baby spinach
4 roast peppers sliced into strips
½ litre of cream
3 handfuls of mozzarella
2 cloves of garlic chopped vv finely

Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of potatoes.
Spread a handful of the spinach & peppers on top and continue to layer up the dish with potatoes, spinach, peppers until it is packed tightly.
Meanwhile heat the cream with the garlic over a low heat until just hot and the garlic has infused nicely.

4. Pour over the gratin, scatter the top with mozzarella cheese and pop into the oven @ 180 for 1 hour, you need to check the centre of the dish to ensure the potatoes are cooked through and if not pop back in for a further 15 mins.

When cooked, leave to cool with a weight on top of the gratin (this will compress it and allow you to slice into whatever shape you wish) An easy weight to use is place a baking tray on top of the gratin with a saucepan of cold water weighing it down… Leave to compress until cold enough for the fridge…..

Festive Tips for Cooking the Bird!!
If you are using a frozen turkey ensure it is thoroughly defrosted before cooking. The safest way to defrost a turkey is in the bottom of your fridge.
Remove about hour hour before you are ready to begin prepping the Bird, to bring to room temperature.
If you are buying a fresh turkey also need to store it in your fridge. Remove about hour hour before you are ready to begin prepping the Bird, to bring to room temperature.

Weight: Check the number of people you have coming for Christmas lunch and then also that they all eat turkey as you only want enough plus leftovers next day.... and also you need to ensure it fits in your oven

It is also good to bear in mind that the bigger the turkey the longer it takes to cook for example

4.5kg turkey will take 4 hours 17minutes to cook unstuffed, however if you decide to stuff this size turkey it will take 5 hours 23 mins to cook. This will feed 6 to 8 people plus left overs...

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Gas 4

Pop the turkey into a large roasting dish – breast side up

Cover the breast with lots of Real butter & season with some salt & pepper, prior to cooking, this is very important to maintain the succulence of the turkey, I also drape maple cured bacon over the top of the breast... this is another layer of protection from drying out...

If you are stuffing the turkey, loosely pack the stuffing in the cavity, the stuffing should weigh no more than 10% of the actual weight of the unstuffed bird

Now wrap the turkey in greaseproof paper and cover that with tin foil, it will be like a little tent, this will ensure the moisture is continually retained.
Each hour, remove the turkey from the oven and baste the turkey in its own juices....
Keep the oven door closed as mush as possible to keep it at the right temperature
Half an hour before the turkey is due to be fully cooked, remove the tin foil and greaspoof paper to brown the turkey..
If you are cooking a stuffed turkey, the centre of the stuffing should also be piping hot as this is the slowest part of a stuffed bird to cook - Cooking Calculator

How do we know its cooked Insert a thin skewer into the thickest part of the leg, remove it and press it flat against the skin of the turkey to see if the juices run clear. If you happen to have a meat thermometer you can also use this to check the temperature is above 75 degrees.

For the tastiest and juiciest turkey, all the bird to rest for at least half an hour, cover with the foil and a thick clean towel, this basically seals the moisture and also the turkey settles and stays hot.

It’s also a lot easier to carve!
If you do not have a fan assisted oven then we recommend that you do not stuff your turkey. With these other ovens, the safest way to cook your stuffing is on a roasting dish or tray separate from the turkey.

Stuffing… as wild as your imagination…

No need to weigh just use your hands to measure and taste to adjust the seasoning…

6 handfuls of breadcrumbs, 2 onions sliced and lightly cooked, 1 tablespoon sage & parsley, 2 generous tablespoons of melted butter

6 handfuls of breadcrumbs, 1 handful of cranberries, 1 apple, 1 tablespoon parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme 3 generous tablespoons of melted butter.

6 handfuls of breadcrumbs, 2 handfuls of chestnuts, 1 handful of chopped Pancetta, good glug of olive oil, 1 egg lightly beaten, knob of butter, pinch of nutmeg, zest of 1 lemon.

Pop into foil or a baking tray covered and cook @ 180 for 30 mins

Wok Tossed Brussels Sprouts w Chestnuts & Pancetta

20 Brussels sprouts cut in half
2 handfuls of chestnuts
3 slices of pancetta cut into bit sized pieces

1. Steam the Brussels sprouts for 3 mins.
2. Heat a non stick wok with a little oil….
3. Pop the brussels sprouts into the wok
4.2 mins later toss in the chopped chestnuts & pancetta and cook for a further 2 mins…

Serve immediately

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