Christmas is the perfect season to whip out those culinary skills that get buried during the busy year! City News Weekly serves up four Christmas recipes tried and tested by four home chefs.
When it comes to roasted vegetables, there are no rules. Follow this recipe as a guide and throw in your favorite vegetables. Just make sure that the ones that take a longer time to cook through, like the roots.
Preparation time: 15 minutes • Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
1 bell pepper, wedged
1 onion, wedged
1 eggplant, sliced
4 large Portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, whole
1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
• Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Lightly oil baking tray or sheet.
• Place vegetables in a large bowl and add olive oil and Italian seasoning, together with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss to combine.
• Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and toss gently.
• Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
• If you are adding root vegetables, bake them for 10 minutes before adding the rest of the vegetables to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
• Serve immediately.
If roasting a turkey is too much of a hassle and way too big for your family of four, go for a roasted rosemary chicken. The perks: perfectly crisp skin and moist meat, thanks to the butter; plus the aroma of roasted rosemary lingering in your kitchen the whole night.
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking time: About 40 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken)
A whole chicken of about 1kg, cleaned and patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 large springs fresh rosemary, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest from 2 lemons
Salt and pepper
Juice from 1 lemon
Lemon, a quarter of an onion, garlic cloves, a sprig of rosemary for stuffing
• Preheat oven to 220 degree Celsius on fan-assisted baking setting.
• Mix softened butter, olive oil, diced rosemary, minced garlic and lemon zest in a bowl. Set aside.
• Season cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper; stuff cavity with lemon, garlic onion and rosemary.
• Rub chicken with salt, pepper generously, and brush the butter mixture to cover the whole chicken.
• Pour the lemon juice over the chicken.
• Tie legs together and place chicken breast-side up on the baking pan. If you’d like to roast some vegetables, add them to the pan and place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
• Cook for 25 minutes, remove and baste the chicken quickly.
• Return to oven and cook for another 15 minutes or until golden brown. Lightly tent with foil if chicken is browning too quickly.
• Let chicken cool for 15 minutes before carving.
The aroma of a fruitcake baking in the oven is what Christmas should always smell like—heady and sweet with a hint of spice. Grab some dried fruits of your choice, a bottle of brandy and create some Yuletide magic. (Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)
Soaking time: 3-6 weeks • Preparation: 20 minutes • Cooking time: 2-2 ½ hours
SOAKING FRUITS: INGREDIENTS
1 kg of dried fruit of your choice (raisins, currants, prunes, apricots, dates, cherries, cranberries etc)
1 cup of Cognac or your favourite brandy (liqueur like Cointreau can be used too)
¾ cup honey
Optional: 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon or a cracked cinnamon stick if you like the fruit scented
SOAKING FRUITS: INSTRUCTIONS
• In a large glass jar (lidded or airtight), combine fruit, cognac and honey. You may wish to
cut the larger fruit into half-inch pieces.
• Set aside in a cool place to soak, turning the jar once a dry to coat all the fruit.
• The fruit will taste bests if soaked for 3-6 weeks, but if you are short of time you can soak
the fruit for 24 hours.
FRUIT CAKE: INGREDIENTS
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 ½ cups unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves (or you can use 3 teaspoonfuls of Allspice to replace the cinnamon, ginger and cloves)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 ½ cup of roasted walnuts (broken into half-inch pieces)
1 ½ cups of apricot jam
½ cup water
FRUIT CAKE: INSTRUCTIONS
• Preheat oven to 135 degrees Celsius.
• Butter 2 eight-inch round tins and flour the inside of the tin. Tap out any excess flour.
• In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt, spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or Allspice) and add walnuts.
• In another mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, around 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating 3 to 5 minutes after every one. Remove from mixer.
• Fold in the flour mixture until completely incorporated.
• Drain the soaked fruit and stir into the cake mixture just until incorporated and fruit is evenly mixed in.
• Pour batter into the 2 prepared tins and bake for about 2 to 2 hours 15 minutes. Test with a skewer—it should come out with just a few crumbs on it. Do not overbake or your fruitcake will be hard and dry.
• Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before you invert the cakes.
• In a saucepan, combine apricot jam and water over a low heat till completely melted and stir to mix. Brush the mixture over your cakes while it is still hot. Garnish with any slices of dried fruit, nuts or ornaments that you like, and top with one more layer of hot jam.
Too late for coffee? Serve up a tall glass of refreshing Mojito after that Christmas meal as you chat the night away. The plus point of this minty tipple is the fact that you can make it without alcohol—your pregnant friends and the little children will thank you. Or you can add in some rum and make it a real Mojito! Make a jug and let it sit in the fridge just before the party starts.
Makes 2.5 litres • Preparation: 15 mins
Juice and zest of 4 lemons and 4 lime, cut the juiced lemons and limes into wedges
3 packets of mint leaves (150g)
Earl Grey tea (10 bags infused in 2 cups of hot water)
1 cup raw sugar (or more to taste)
4 cups ice
1.5 liters cold water
2 cans soda water
• Dissolve sugar into Earl Grey tea.
• Add mint leaves, lemon lime juice, lemon lime zest and wedges into a jar.
• Use the handle of a wooden spoon, or a muddler, to crush the ingredients together 5-6 times to release the juices of the mint and lime.
• Add the rum (or not).
• Add crushed ice and then pour in ice water and soda water.