Christmas isn’t only about food…is it?

I had such fun planning the food for Xmas and New Year that I feel bereft now that it’s over.  I had so many extra bits and pieces that I had to put the card table up in the laundry as a make shift pantry.  It’s looking a little depleted now which is probably just as well.  It’s going to take more than the odd stroll to move the excesses of the festive season. I need a strategy, and it’s probably going to include not buying any butter and cream for at least a month.  It’s been fantastic though having a crowd to cook for.  I’ve been obsessed with pastry, sauces, berries and meringues.  Actually its been a useful combination because there are always egg whites available and always a flan or tart begging to be filled with berries or an eggy custard.

One of my favourite dishes has been fruit terrine. A few weeks ago I bought two Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection books from Trade Me – Desserts and Tarts and Pastries.  What a find.  The photos are brilliant and the recipes are easy to follow.  The fruit terrine recipe came from the Desserts book.

Gelatine used to frighten me a little. I never had faith that there would be enough to set properly but this recipe is spot on and the results are just marvellous as John Campbell would say.   The fruit is set in rose wine and it only has a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar so it’s not too sweet.  It’s all about the fruit.  Thanks to the Wee Red Barn, I managed to get redcurrants which aren’t usually readily available.  They added a fantastic tang.  (I didn’t use the blackcurrants but made up the 100g with other berries).  I always use sheets of gelatine rather than powder.  It seems to dissolve more thoroughly and gives a much smoother result.

Fruit Terrine

Fruit Terrine

Fruit Terrine ( Courtesy of Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection – Desserts)

100g blackcurrants

120g redcurrants

110g blueberries

350g strawberries

225g raspberries

4 leaves gelatine or 2 tsp gelatine powder

250 ml rose wine

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

75 ml sieved raspberry puree

Mix fruit together gently and arrange in 1 kg loaf tin. Soak gelatine in water. In small pan heat half the wine to simmering. Remove from heat and add sugar, gelatine and lemon juice. Stir to dissolve. Add the remaining wine and raspberry puree. (I used frozen berries to make the puree and it was fine.  I cant bear to cook those delicious fresh morsels.)  Pour over fruit. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a lightly weighted loaf tin on top and refrigerate.  To turn out dip the base briefly in hot water.  Serve with creme fraiche.

I served the terrine with meringues spiked with raspberry Fresh As powder.  These powdered products have become my new obsession. The passionfruit powder is my favourite.  I add 2 teaspoons to a standard meringue recipe.  You get the most intense flavour.  These are particularly delicious with homemade vanilla ice cream.  I don’t have an ice cream maker but with regular beating as it froze, I managed to turn out a reasonably creamy ice cream.

Passionfruit meringues and vanilla ice cream

Passionfruit meringues and vanilla ice cream

The Fresh As powder also works brilliantly in pavlova which I served with a melba sauce.  We have this discussion every year about traditional fruit pudding versus something quintessentially kiwi.  Well, in keeping with the excess of the season, I did both, but the updated pav was much more popular.

Raspberry pavolva with melba sauce

Raspberry pavolva

To provide some variety to the dessert menu, I have also been poaching pears and serving them with an orange glaze and candied orange zest. It’s a nice light dessert with an intense citrus flavour that’s perfect for finishing off a meal.   This is one of the dishes we did in class last year. 

Poached pears with orange glaze and candied zest

Poached pears with orange glaze and candied zest

That’s enough of the sweet things for now.  Next blog will feature the savoury dishes including a caramelized beetroot tarte tartin and a vegetable terrine which looks like Christmas and tastes like Italy.

4 thoughts on “Christmas isn’t only about food…is it?

  1. As usual, all of the food cooked in Martinborough these holidays has been outstanding. I have sampled each and every one of the above dishes and the raspberry pav has to be my favourite. Thanks Grandma Cameron for giving us all such a sweet tooth.

  2. Well Janet above has indeed been very lucky to sample all the dishes. The terrine looks especially outstanding. I’m with you on finding a strategy to festive over-indulgence!

  3. Loved this blog post, could just picture you having a ball in your Martinborough kitchen. Our Christmas was pretty low key foodwise but I have just returned from up north where I, along with a team of girls cooked for 30 of our friends 4 days, including 2 huge kingfish and a John Dory that the boys caught. xx

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