Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas 2006 - Part 1 - Xmas Lunch is a Roasted Affair

Christmas this year has been big for me! Big in the sense that I whipped up two big meals (the second one was dinner on christmas day.. post to follow). As it has been the last two years, Alv's mum jetted off to Singapore again and left us 'orphaned' for christmas.

Alv's mum decided that we would have a family lunch early this time round as she wanted to catch up with the family before leaving on another 3 month holiday. As part of the family celebrations this year, I was asked if I would cook christmas lunch because: a) Little B could only stay up til 7pm every night; b) his mum was a tad lazy. And so the family celebrated christmas a week early on 17 December.

Christmas Deco

Xmas Lunch was a Roasted affair

Roasted rack/s of lamb w/ rosemary and thyme
Roasted pumpkin w/ onions
Crunchy roasted baby potatoes*
Green Beans and Broccolini salad*
Roasted tomatoes
Almond and Blackberry Tart

Lunch was a

When coming up with the menu for lunch, it was suggested that lamb be part of the menu. I wasn't too keen on roasting a leg of lamb for a small lunch so I decided to go with racks of lamb like we did some months ago at FLim's.

In my cookbook, a roast meal is never complete without any pumpkin, onions or potatoes, so it was only natural that I'd be roasting all three things together with the lamb and to finish off, I had the beans and brocollini salad from the current issue (Dec/Jan 07) of Donna Hay magazine and the accidental roasted tomatoes. (hehe.. sigh)

I have to say though, cooking christmas lunch is hard work. I applaud all the mums out there who does all the cooking every year at christmas. I was about an hour late with lunch. Even though I prepared mostly everything the day before. Sigh.. one man band cooking is hard work. I got up at about 10am and did the rest of the food prep whilst everyone else went off to church. I think the hardest part was waiting for the food to cook. Whilst I manage to get mostly everything into the oven by 1:15pm, waiting for it to cook felt like forever....

It was almost 2:30 by the time we sat down to eat and because I was so busy cooking I didn't even get much of a chance to snap any photos. (The above photo courtesy of Alv)

Roasted Rack of Lamb w/ Rosemary and Thyme

Just a simple marinade of chopped rosemary, thyme, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Mix everything together and rub onto the lamb. Cut slits in the meat and insert left over herb from the marinade into the slits. Marinate for a minimum of 2hrs or overnight for extra flavour.

Heat some oil on a medium sized saucepan and pan fry the lamb rack for about 2 mins on each side to seal in the juices and roast in the oven at 200 deg C for about 25-30mins for a medium cooked lamb. (Add another 10mins for well done)

Crunchy Roasted Baby Potatoes*
Issue Dec/Jan 2007 of Donna Hay Magazine

Clean and dry baby potatoes and cut thin slits into the potatoes without cutting all the way through. Toss potatoes with some olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and bake at 200 deg C for 35- 40mins until golden and crunchy.

Green Beans and Broccolini salad w/ bacon balsamic dressing*
Issue Dec/Jan 2007 of Donna Hay Magazine

300g green beans
180g broccolini
50g butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eschallots
3 rashers bacon
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Trim and blanch green beans and broccolini and set aside. Chop up bacon and eschallots and fry them over medium heat in the butter and oil until bacon is golden. Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and cook for about 1 min. Add beans and broccolini and cook for another 2-3mins until beans and broccolini is warmed through.

Serves 8.

Roasted Pumpkin w/ onions

I used the kabocha I purchased from Prahran market for this. Slice up or chop up pumpkin to your liking, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a baking dish on top of some chopped onions and scatter a few knob of butter on top of the pumpkin. Roast in the oven for about 30mins at 180 deg C or until the pumpkin is cooked yet firm.

"Accidental" Roasted Tomatoes

Originally I had intended to make the spicy tomato sauce from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries as the sauce for the roast lamb. But in my haste to prepare everything, I forgot all about the tomatoes. When I finally remembered about it, it was way too late as the sauce requires the tomatoes to be roasted for at least 45mins. In the end, I took it out of the oven after 20mins and simply served it as a side.

Nigel's recipe for spicy tomato sauce is simple yet delicious:

950g tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 small chillies
olive oil

Set oven at 200 deg C, peel and finely slice garlic and finely chop chillies. Cut tomatoes in half and drizzle tomatoes with oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic and chilli. Roast for 45 - 50mins until tomatoes are soft and flecked with black. Rougly chop tomaotes to give a coarse 'sauce' and serve.

Almond and Blackberry Tart

For dessert, I decided to make an Almond and Blackberry tart from Skye Gyngell's A Year in my kitchen. Essentially, it's a tart filled with frangipane and blackberries. Unfortunately this was the most underbaked tart I have ever made. Sigh... Makes me wonder if the oven turned off on me again. The tart filling was absolutely delicious... once it was properly cooked through. The sweetness of the frangipane was well balanced out by the slightly tart blackberries.

Though it looks absolutely well done in the photo above, the tart was under cooked and when I served it, the filling all oozed out.... it was disappointing, but we ate it anyway. LOL and no, none of us got sick from eating under cooked tart. Although, I did stick it in the oven again to cook it thoroughly.

Almond and Blackberry Tart
*Skye Gyngell's A year in my Kitchen

About 250g or 1 quantity of your favourite sweet pastry/pate sucree

200g blanched almonds or almond meal
200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
250g blackberries

creme fraiche to serve

Roll out pastry and line onto a tart pan (I used a 25cm wide x 2.5cm depth) and refrigerate for about 30mins before baking blind in oven at 180 deg C.

If using blanched almonds, roast the almonds in the oven for about 3 - 4mins. Allow to cool and then crush almonds coarsely by pulsing it in a food processor.

Cream sugar and butter with electric mixer in a bowl until smooth. Add vanilla extract and continue to mix until combined. Add one egg yolk at a time, ensure the yolk is well mixed before adding the next yolk. Finally, fold in the ground almonds.

Pour almond filling into the tart case and stud evenly all over with blackberries and bake in the oven for 30mins or until the filling is golden brown. Set aside to cool and serve at room temperature with creme fraiche or ice cream.

  • Place tart pan on a cookie tray for easy handling.
  • Try not to over fill the tart as the filling may rise during cooking and over flow out of the case into the cookie tray.
  • If the filling appears to be undercook, carefully cover the top of the tart with aluminium foil before returning it to the oven for another 10mins or so.
I found that I had to bake my tart for about 45mins as oppose to the recommended 30mins. It could well be that my oven was acting up again or perhaps being a 'fan forced' oven had something to do with it? I haven't quite worked out this bit yet, but another recipe which also uses the frangipane filling also recommended a cooking time of 30mins and theirs looked fine. So, maybe it was another oven mishap, or perhaps overfilling the tart had some dire consequences to it after all.. nevertheless.. it all went into the tummy and we all survived ;)

Alv's mum doesn't believe in placemats. These were made out of some coloured paper I bought from Spotlight in my attempt to make lunch feel a bit more christmassy.

After all was fed and the dishes were done, Alv and I played santa and gave everyone their pressies. wheee......

1 comment:

Vania said...

I don't think it was your oven's fault: I've baked this tart a couple of days ago and exactly the same thing happened to me. It looks like 30 minutes in the oven, as the recipe states, isn't enough. I'll try the timing you suggested next time, thanks for this!