The festive season has certainly crept up on us this year! If you’re still planning your Christmas menu, never fear, our culinary team are here to share their tips and favourite recipes in the hope that they bring a little cheer to your table this Christmas.
With his English roots it’s little wonder that Head Chef, Chris Henderson, leans towards the traditional when it comes to festive food.
“When it comes to Christmas snacking, you can’t beat Eccles mince pies. Straight from the freezer and into the oven, these little delights are perfect mid-afternoon with a cheeky glass of mulled wine”
As for those post-Christmas leftovers, Chris recommends whipping up a delicious turkey, ham and leek pie. Accompanied by a simple grilled baby gem lettuce salad, you’ve got Boxing Day lunch sorted in a flash.
On the sweet side, our super-talented Pastry Chef, Jean, recently baked up a storm for an incredible Christmas-inspired dessert table for a client’s End of Year celebration. While each and every dessert was simply exquisite, we asked Jean to share her recipe for the crowd favourite, her lemon curd trifle with Italian meringue.
Eccles mince pies
7 sheets puff pastry
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1 1/2 tbs white sugar
1 cup (150g) raisins
1 cup (160g) dried currants
1 cup (160g) sultanas
1 slice (35g) dried pineapple
2 tablespoon glace cherries
1/4 cup (40g) blanched almonds
1 apple (200g), grated
1/2 cup (110g) lightly packed light brown sugar
50 gram butter, melted
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
1/4 cup (60ml) orange juice
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1. Make fruit mince. Process dried fruit and nuts until coarsely chopped. Transfer mixture to large bowl; stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 days, stirring daily.
2. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line three oven trays with baking paper.
3. Cut each pastry sheet into nine squares. Top each with heaped teaspoons of mince; brush pastry edges with egg white. Gather sides of pastry together to encase filling; turn pies upside down onto trays. Gently flatten pies; cut two slits in top of pies. Brush pies with egg white; sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake pies 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Fruit mince will keep for at least a year in an airtight container in the fridge. If you’re looking to save time, you can use ready-made fruit mince.
Leftover turkey, ham and leek pie filling
300g leftover turkey, chopped
250g leftover ham, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
300ml turkey gravy or chicken stock
10g parmesan cheese
4 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
Good grating of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to season
For the roux:
30g plain flour
1. Gently fry the leeks in butter for about 10 minutes, until softened.
2. To make the roux, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Lower the heat and gradually mix in the stock or gravy until combined and smooth. Next incorporate the milk, stirring continuously. Simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
3. Stir in the parmesan, followed by the lemon juice and zest, nutmeg, salt and lots of black pepper.
4. Add the leeks, ham, turkey and parsley, mix well and the filling is made. Leave in the fridge to chill.
4. You can either serve this as a pot pie with a puff pastry lid, or make it a traditional pie with shortcrust base, sides and lid.
Lemon curd trifle, Italian meringue
1 packet of raspberry jelly crystals
1 punnet of raspberries, washed
1 pack sponge fingers (omit to make a gluten free version)
170ml lemon juice
140g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
37g glucose syrup
100g egg white
1. Dissolve jelly crystals as per packet instructions
2. Pour the jelly into a glass trifle bowl. Add the sponge fingers and allow to soak up the jelly
3. Scatter the fresh raspberries over the jelly and allow to set
1. Chop the butter into small cubes, set aside to soften
2. Place the lemon juice, sugar and eggs in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of water
3. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens or reaches 90°C
4. Remove from the heat and add the softened butter. Allow to sit for a minute, then whisk the butter into the lemon mixture using a hand whisk
5. Strain the mixture and allow to cool. Then pour over the set raspberry jelly
1. Place the sugar into a saucepan and add 3-4 tbs cold water, mix together – the sugar and water should resemble wet sand. Add a little more water if required
2. Clean any sugar granules from the side of the saucepan before adding the glucose syrup
3. Place the saucepan on the heat and bring to 118°C
4. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. When the sugar reaches 118°C, slowly pour the hot sugar onto the egg whites
5. Once the sugar has been incorporated, continue to whisk the egg white mixture until cooled
6. Spoon the Italian meringue onto the lemon curd
7. Blow torch the Italian meringue until the peaks are golden brown