Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Cooking

The Cookbook Challenge Week 6
This year, we volunteered to cook Christmas lunch for Rusty's family- 13 people, no pressure... With Rusty's mum doing the pudd, we could concentrate on entrees and mains- plus something to nibble between present opening and lunch proper. We were so lucky with the weather- at around 22 degrees it was perfect for a hot lunch with all the trimmings.

The cool thing was cooking it in my sister-in-laws kitchen- its large with a gigantic stove- an absolute dream/ fantasy for us!

The menu
Nibble: blue cheese and onion tart
Entree: Vitello Tonnato
Main: Roast Pork Belly, Baked Ham, Roasted Vegetables and Potato and Onion Croquettes with Pear and Fennel Mustard
The onion tart is the cookbook challenge piece for this week- all the other recipes were either made up, or sourced off the internet.
The critical part was getting the right ingredients and letting them do the talking. Saturday prior to Christmas was the Lancefield Farmers Markets- here we sourced the lovely vegetables from local suppliers. We also bought the cheese for the tart from Goldfields Farmhouse who sell at the markets - their delicious Welshman's Reef - a delicate mild blue stilton style cheese- we bought one block foreating and one for the tart - YUM! (Check them out at alot of the regional farmers markets, on their website or apparently at Provincial Fine Food Store & Café, 16 Grantham St., Brunswick West.

Luckily Rusty was able to take the 23rd off- and used this opportunity to get down to the Queen Vic markes before the mayhem to source the meat and some extra veg for the meal.
And a personal highlight for us were the roasted beetroots - the beets for which were harvested from our garden on the 24th.

Onion and Blue Cheese Tart
This was perfect for Christmas- as it virtually makes itself while you're preparing everything else (like peeling potatoes for 13 people!) and is a real crowd pleaser!
3 sheets of ready-prepared puff pastry

2 tbsp olive oil
4 brown onions, sliced
1 tsp grated lemon rind
200g soft bitey blue cheese
85g small olives
2 tbsp fresh thyme
black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Grease the baking tray and place the pastry on the tray to fit
To make the filling, caramelse the onions in the oil with the grated lemons- for a minimum of 20 mins over low - medium heat- I left mine on for an hour- they were so sweet!
Allow onions to cool.
Sprinkle the tart with the bue cheese.
Top with onions, olives, thyme and pepper.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.

For the ham, Rusty used Stephanie Alexander's recipe off the Epicure website
Stephanie Alexander's Glaze for a baked ham
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup brown sugarcloves
1/2 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking dish with foil. Mix zest, juice, mustard and sugar in a bowl. Remove skin (rind) from ham and score fat in a diamond pattern. Press a clove into the middle of each diamond
Spread half the glaze over ham. Place ham in baking dish and pour in wine to prevent ham sticking. Bake for about 40 minutes, basting once or twice with the rest of the glaze, until a rich shiny colour.
It was Rusty's touch to use a rosemary twig as the basting brush. Looked particularly cool!

The Vitello Tonnato recipe was courtesy of the Italian Made website (

2 lbs. butt tenderloin
3 cups white wine
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 small onion
2 cloves
7 oz. tuna in oil
6 anchovy fillets
2 egg yolks, hard-boiled
2 lemons
1 squeezed
1 thinly sliced
2 cup oil
2 tbs. capers
1 tbs. white vinegar
Let the meat marinate in the wine, celery, carrot, chopped onion and cloves for one day. Remove the meat from the marinade, wrap and tie tightly in a cheesecloth and place in an oval pan just large enough to hold it together. Put back in the marinade and cook slowly for about one hour. Remove from heat and let the meat cool in its cooking juice.
De-grease and filter the cooking liquid. Blend the liquid in a food mill with the tuna, anchovies, 1 tbs. capers and egg yolks. Dilute the sauce with lemon juice, and vinegar, and whisk in the oil in a steady stream till you get a velvety sauce similar to mayonnaise. Slice the veal and arrange in a serving platter in the following manner: Spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the platter. Add the veal a layer at a time, with sauce covering each layer. Sprinkle capers over and decorate the rim of the platter with the sliced lemon. Serve.

1 comment:

Rilsta said...

Looks like a delicious Christmas feast! It was smart of Rusty to go to Victoria Market on the 23rd. I went on Christmas Eve at 6am and it was crazy!

Hope you had a lovely Christmas!