Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Cool Yule

Readers from the northern hemisphere of this planet might be slightly confused about the subject of this blog post. Let me explain...

Christmas here in Australia is a summer affair. It comes right in the middle of out summer holidays and the temperature can be between 30 - 40 degrees C depending on which part of the country you're in. So we modify the traditional Christmas fare to be more suitable to the climate. Luscious seafood, and sumptuous salads rule the day. The traditional meats of turkey, pork and ham make appearances but are usually served as cold cuts and barbecuing might be considered a suitable method of cooking, to keep the cooking heat outside the house.

I spent several years living in England and really enjoyed the winter Christmas times. Eating all that winter weather food made specially for a big celebration has an appeal all of it's own, and it's a bright spot to look forward to in the middle of the bleak grey winter. It's also something that we miss out on here in the southern hemisphere.

Celebrating a second Christmas in July is something that has become quite popular in foodie circles. I usually hold mine on the last weekend in July but I spend a good proportion of the prededing year thinking about and testing the recipes intended for my very special menu. It's an opportunity to stretch my culinary muscles, and push my creativity. It's also a chance to just focus on the food rather than all the other stressful things that go with December Christmases like relatives and gift shopping!

My Christmas in July party is now a permanent fixture on the social calendar, with friends jockeying for a position at the table. I keep the numbers to a manageable 12 so that only leaves room for 10 guests.  Since we have more than 10 friends, it means that the invitations get moved around from year to year. Invitations are becoming rather prized, and I only realized this when one friend actually delayed having an induction to give birth by a few days, in order to attend!

I do a different type of menu every year. This year I planned a degustation menu of 6 courses for a table of 12.

christmas in july

july 23 2011

hors d'oeuvres

olives ~ cheeses ~ oysters natural ~ almonds


home cured trout
leek, garden pea and broad bean timbale with persian feta heart garden lemon vinaigrette

slow roasted pumpkin velouté
truffle oil
chili parmesan crostini

Sous vide porcini stuffed quail
colcannon potatoes
roasted baby tricolour carrots and broccolini

Assiette of desserts

Baby Christmas pudding with cardamom & vanilla ice cream
Spiced pear and mandarin zest mini tart tartin

Home cured trout timbale
 The food seemed to please everyone. I was very careful to select dishes that I could almost entirely prepare ahead of time, allowing me to relax and enjoy the company of my friends.
I anticipated that the desserts would be the biggest hit of the evening, as usual. But I was surprised when it was the cured trout timbale of green peas and broad beans that won the most admiration. I will make a point of publishing that recipe as a stand alone posting down the track.
The whole evening was very relaxed and enjoyable but now I have the next 10 months to think about what the next extravaganza menu will be! You should know me by now..... I'm already sketching the details in my mind.

Roasted pumpkin veloute
Sous vide porcini stuffed 
quail and accompaniments
Adding the finishing touch of dutch cocoa
to the individual tiramisu

A trio of desserts

The recipe I have decided to include here is the Vanilla Cardamon Ice Cream. I found this idea when searching for ice cream recipes, and it appears in a posting by a fellow blogger 'Spree' and appears on her absolutely wonderful blog, 'Cooking-Spree', here.  I have altered the recipe slightly but I am sure Spree won't mind. She is very good at sharing....

Vanilla Cardamom Ice-Cream
2 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or a tsp or vanilla paste

10 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

3/4 cup sugar

5 egg yolks

1 cup thickened cream

Combine the milk and the cream in a large saucepan and add the vanilla and cardamon. Whisk a little to combine, then heat to a slow simmer for a couple of minutes, and remove from heat.

In another bowl, combine sugar and egg yolks with either a hand whisk or beaters until the mixture is thick and pale.

Strain warm milk and cream mixture and pour on to the egg/sugar mixture, and stir to combine. Return to saucepan and heat on a medium to low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil as this will cause curdling. It is much better to stay on a lower heat for longer if you are not sure.

When mixture is thick enough, remove from heat and stir until cooled. When it is room temp, place into ice cream churn as per machines instruction, then transfer to freezer. If you don't have an ice cream maker, just transfer mixture to a shallow dish, (I like an earthenware baking dish for this), and place in freezer. Return every 15 - 20 minutes and whisk the mixture to prevent large ice crystals forming. When mixture becomes as thick and creamy as ice cream should be, transfer to airtight container and return to freezer until you are ready to use it.

The other desserts featured here can be found on this blog here, here and here.

Some of the fortunate 12 around the cosy table between courses

I love getting feedback on how my recipes have worked out for you or what you think of what I'm saying or cooking. All responses graciously received!

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1 comment:

  1. Love the photos and I can say the food was sensational! Thank you Annie. xxxxx Helena