Planning the big Christmas day meal takes a lot of my brain power at the moment, all the possibilities! I convinced my husband to go with turkey this year so we ordered ours last night. I am so excited about this, I haven’t had turkey at Christmas with all those gorgeous trimmings for about 10 years!
However enough about that for now, below is this week’s offering. Packed full of gorgeous, yummy meals and very much sticking with the warming and hearty theme for this time of year. The Cauliflower risotto is really amazing, so do try it even though it sounds a bit odd!
Saturday: Breast of lamb baked with onions
Sunday: Salmon wellington
Monday: Spicy veg stew w/ mango and coconut relish
Tuesday: Cauliflower, chorizo and squid risotto
Wednesday: Smoked haddock omelette
Thursday: Quick special fried rice
Friday: Pot-roast chicken w/ Madeira mash
Breast of lamb baked with onions
1.6 kg lamb breast, boned, rolled and tied with kitchen string
fine salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp dripping or vegetable oil
1.6 kg onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp anchovy essence or several finely chopped anchovies, or to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2. Season the lamb with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Melt the dripping or oil in a large, lidded roomy casserole dish until hot. Place the lamb breast into the casserole dish, turn down the heat and colour well on all sides, until golden-brown. Lift out the meat and remove all fat from the dish with a spoon.
Add half of the onions to make a bed of onions on which to rest the lamb and add the lamb back into to the dish. Tuck in the bay leaf and cover with the remaining onions. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper slightly bigger than the diameter of the dish. Dampen it, lightly grease one side, and press it onto the onions (greased side down). Put on the lid cook in the oven for about three hours. After an hour, remove the dish to see whether the onion mixture has reduced and to check that the natural juices are running. Scrape down the side of the dish if the onions have stuck. Replace the paper and lid and place the dish into the oven again.
After about three hours of cooking (check after another hour), push a skewer into the lamb to see how tender it is; there should be little resistance. Lift out the meat, put it into a small roasting tin and cover with foil. Turn down the oven again to 140C/Gas 1, and return the meat to the oven.
Remove the bay leaf from the onions and drain the onions, reserving the cooking juices. Put the onions back into the casserole. Remove any fat that has settled on the surface of the cooking juices. Pour the liquid back in with the onions, and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the vinegar and anchovy essence. Season the onions to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally, stir in the parsley.
Remove the lamb from the oven adding the meaty juices which have come out of the resting lamb to the onions, cut off the strings and thickly slice the meat. Arrange the slices onto a hot serving dish and pile the onions alongside. Serve with roasted new potatoes.
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
5 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
50g fresh dill, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 380g ready-made puff pastry sheet
plain flour, for dusting
1 x 2.8kg salmon, skin removed and filleted into 2 pieces
1 free-range egg, beaten, combined with a little milk
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
Slice the cucumbers lengthways, scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon, and chop into 1cm thick pieces. Place the cucumbers in a mixing bowl with the mustard, honey, vinegar and finely chopped dill. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
Roll the pastry out to 40cm x 30cm on a lightly floured surface. Lay on the lined baking tray. Lay one fillet in the centre of the pastry, pile half of the filling on top and then cover with the second fillet. Brush the edges of the pastry with the mixture of milk and beaten egg. Fold the pastry over the fish, sealing the edges by pressing them together, leaving a gap in the centre, so that you can see inside. Brush the pastry with more beaten egg and milk and bake for 45 minutes.
Serve with the remaining cucumber mixture and roasted veg.
Spicy veg stew w/ mango and coconut relish
2 tbsp sunflower oil, or groundnut oil
3 onions, peeled, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed to a paste with the edge of a knife
4cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled, finely chopped or grated
1 Scotch bonnet chilli, seeds removed, chopped
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
300g carrots, peeled, cut into equal-sized pieces
300g parsnips, peeled, cut into equal-sized pieces
300g sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into equal-sized pieces
400g small waxy potatoes, halved lengthways
1 litre vegetable stock, or water
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato purée
pinch soft dark brown sugar
75g cashew nuts, crushed, plus extra, chopped, to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g French beans, trimmed, cut in half
200g baby spinach leaves, washed
4 tbsp double cream
1 lime, juice only
For the mango and coconut relish
75g desiccated coconut, just covered with boiling water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp caster sugar
½ tbsp rum
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, stones removed, julienned
2 red chillies, cut in half, seeds removed, very finely sliced
1-2 limes, juice only
handful fresh mint leaves
Heat the oil in a casserole over a medium heat and add the onions. Fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown, stirring well to ensure they don’t burn. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the spices and cook for a further minute, or until fragrant.
Stir in the carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and potatoes and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and golden-brown. Add the vegetable stock (or water), bay leaves, tomato purée, soft dark brown sugar and crushed cashew nuts and stir to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, adding extra stock if the mixture becomes too dry. (The sauce should be thick enough to just coat the vegetables.) Add the beans and spinach, cook for a further three minutes, or until the beans are just tender, then stir in the cream. Add half the lime juice and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding more lime juice, to taste, as necessary
Meanwhile, for the mango and coconut relish, transfer the soaked coconut to a food processor (squeeze the coconut to remove any excess water). Add the mustard seeds, caster sugar, rum and salt and blend to a coarse paste. Layer the mango slices with spoons of the coconut paste onto a serving plate, squeezing over the lime juice and a sprinkle of chilli between each layer. Sprinkle the mint over the top of the relish. (If you’re preparing the relish ahead of time, add the mint just before serving.)
Serve the stew scattered with chopped cashew nuts, and spoon the relish alongside.
Cauliflower, chorizo and squid risotto
200g chorizo, finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250g Arborio rice, or other Italian risotto rice
150ml dry white wine
1 litre chicken stock
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
25g parmesan cheese, grated
3 medium squid, cleaned, cut into triangles
½ lemon, juice only
4 tbsp parsley cress
Heat a frying pan until hot, add the chorizo and cook over a medium heat until the oils are released and the chorizo is just crisp. Add half the butter and the olive oil, onion and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
Add the risotto rice and stir together until well coated in the pan juices. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice grains start to turn translucent. Add the wine and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated.
Add a ladleful of the chicken stock to the pan and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until nearly all of the stock has been absorbed, then add another ladleful of the stock. Repeat the process until the rice is cooked but still al dente. Add the cauliflower during the last five minutes of cooking. Stir in the parmesan and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a frying pan until hot, add the remaining butter and squid and cook over a high heat for 1-2 minutes until golden brown and just cooked. Season with salt and black pepper and finish with a squeeze of lemon.
To serve, spoon the risotto into serving bowls, top with the squid.
Smoked haddock omelette
100g undyed smoked haddock fillet, skin on, pin boned
100ml oz milk
knob of butter
2 fresh bay leaves
8-10 black peppercorns
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 lemon, zest only
55g parmesan, finely grated
small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
knob unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
small handful fresh watercress
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Place the haddock fillet into an ovenproof dish, pour over the milk and add the butter, bay leaves and peppercorns. Transfer to the oven and poach for 10-12 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, mix the crème fraîche with the lemon zest, grated parmesan and most of the chives. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the butter with half of the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat, and pour in the eggs, stirring slightly as they cook to loosen them from the sides of the pan. Flake the haddock from the skin while the eggs are cooking, taking care to remove any remaining bones.
When the eggs are still slightly runny on top but have started to set, spread over the crème fraîche mixture, then scatter over the haddock and transfer the omelette to the oven for 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly risen. Remove from the oven.
To serve, drizzle the remaining oil over the watercress in a small bowl and add the lemon juice, turning to coat the leaves. Slide the omelette onto a serving plate, sprinkle over the remaining chives and arrange the dressed watercress on the side. And personally I would have chips… you can’t beat omelette and chips!
Quick special fried rice
75ml peanut oil, plus 1 tbsp extra
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
1½ tbsp finely chopped ginger
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 medium brown onion, finely diced
125g rindless bacon rashers, roughly chopped
1 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp shao hsing wine (Chinese rice wine)
825g medium-grain white rice, cooked
1 tbsp oyster sauce
115g finely sliced spring onions
3 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
60ml light soy sauce
½ large red chilli, finely sliced on the diagonal
Heat the peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Pour the beaten eggs into the wok and cook for about one minute, lightly scrambling them and rotating the wok to ensure even cooking. When almost cooked through, carefully remove omelette from the wok with a fish slice and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.
Wipe out the wok with kitchen paper, add the extra peanut oil and stir fry the ginger and garlic for one minute, or until very aromatic. Add the onion and stir fry for two minutes, or until lightly browned and tender. Add the bacon and stir fry for a further minute, or until lightly browned.
Stir in the sugar and wine, then stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the rice, reserved omelette, oyster sauce, spring onion, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir fry for three minutes, or until the rice is heated through. Roughly chop the omelette into smaller pieces as you stir.
Divide the rice between individual bowls and garnish with extra spring onions.
10.Combine the light soy sauce and chilli in a small bowl and serve on the side.
Pot-roast chicken w/ Madeira mash
For the chicken
100ml rapeseed oil
200g bacon lardons
200g shallots, cut in half lengthways
1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
1 large chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
salt and black pepper
500g mixed wild mushrooms (such as chanterelles, girolles, ceps, and morels), cleaned
500ml dark chicken stock
200ml double cream
1 bunch fresh tarragon
1 small truffle (optional)
For the mash
300g King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
110ml double cream
For the chicken, heat a large casserole or heavy-based pan until hot, then add two tablespoons of oil. Fry the lardons until crisp, then add the halved shallots and garlic and cook until lightly coloured.
Meanwhile, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the remaining oil to a large hot frying pan, then fry the chicken pieces until deep-golden brown on both sides. Transfer the chicken to the casserole. remove any excess oil from the pan. In the same frying pan, fry the mushrooms in the butter for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the Madeira, chicken stock, cream and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
For the mash, place the potatoes into a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
Drain the potatoes, then return to the pan and gently heat to get rid of any excess moisture. Remove from the heat and mash with the butter and cream until smooth and creamy. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
To serve, pile the chicken in a serving bowl, cover in sauce and shave over the truffle, if using, and dollops of the mash alongside.
(Credits: Nigel Slater, Simon Hopkinson, James Martin, Levi Roots, Kylie Kwong, JJMoola’s Kitchen)