Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Christmas never to forget!!

Biggest apologies dear readers, for I have left it this long to post my Christmas feast! I know, I know, I deserve a slap on the wrist! Is this bad luck? Does this fall under the same category as taking down Christmas decorations on the Twelfth Night?
Ah well, not much I can do now. I mean, why should I let the Twelfth Night stop me?
Any of you ever play football in a beautiful hill top park during sunset on Christmas day?  Yup, we sure did, with our closest friends. It was so different and so magical. Luckily too, that I got preparations started for most of the Christmas dinner in the morning and wasn’t actually making the traditional turkey. I loved every moment this past holiday season!
My Christmas began when I walked into the butcher’s ON 23RD DEC to collect the ‘piece de resistance’ for our Christmas feast... well, except for the Vegetarian joining us...she could say it looked pretty but sure as Heck couldn’t tell you if it tasted it ‘pretty’ - does that adjective work for food?
But I digress. Allow me to carry on. “My Christmas began when I walked into the butcher’s...” I had placed my order a couple weeks prior to Christmas. The time I picked up my order was when I had left my place of work for the last time before my Christmas Holiday was to begin! What a wonderful feeling!
All the customers in the butcher’s were obviously there for the same reason, and what a joyous feeling in the air it was! “Wot can-I doo fa ya luv?” were the words I heard from behind the counter. I gave the warming and welcoming ‘Cockney’ butcher man my ticket and explained the details of my order. A very helpful man he was, and I couldn’t help but feel as though I was in the midst of a Charles Dickens story; all the loud and cheerful banter on both sides of the counter, with echoes of “Happy Holidays!” and “Merry Christmas” coated with the thickest of London accents. I loved it!
“...and a Merry Christmas to-ya luv”, the butcher man hollered as I opened the door to leave. Big smiles all around!
As I walked down the city’s cobbled street, re-wrapping my scarf around my neck, and imagining all the cheer that was to come....the feeling of Christmas overwhelmed me!
The following day was Christmas Eve. We had a decent lie in, but once awake couldn’t wait to get started on all our arrangements for our best friends to arrive! We’ve got friends in Paris and in Portugal who also do not have their families in Europe so we arranged for us all to be together in London at our place. We had all been talking about the foods and drink to share for weeks! It’s so nice to spend the holidays with others who adore and look forward food as much as we do!
The Christmas jingles blared, the drinks got poured and drank, and the food...well, it certainly didn’t just sit looking pretty on plates did it?!
I’ve already posted a few bites we had (Check those out here), so now I will post our Christmas Day dinner.
I debated for a while if I should go for traditional Turkey dinner or to go completely contemporary. I asked our friends for their votes and it was a bit of a mix so I went halfway. I prepared 2 main parts to the meal, which were roasted quail and stuffed rolled pork loin. The rest of the meal was the usual traditional trimmings of brussel sprouts, sweet potato mash, stuffing, aaaannd ....who could ever survive Christmas without the awesomeness of golden and crispy roast potatoes!? Even if I did go completely contemporary roast potatoes were never to be left out!!

Roasted Quail
Clean the birds and pat them dry with paper towel.
I tossed the the birds in a bag of flour, salt and pepper to coat them. Then I browned them on all sides in a frying pan before stuffing each one with a lemon wedge and some thyme sprigs to roast them in the oven for roughly 20 minutes

Rolled Pork Loin stuffed with Apple and Caramelized Onion stuffing
I had the buther cut a slit in to middle of the pork loin so I could stuff it but I ended up deciding to roll it too. I simply slice the ends open to butterfly the pork loin.
The butcher also scored the fat top of the pork loin.
We all (myself and all our friends) each took a turn pounding the poor thing until reaching about 2cm thick. Boy oh boy that builds muscle!!
I seasoned both sides of the pork loin with some salt and pepper and rubbed each side with olive oil. I spread the stuffing over the flesh side of the pork loin then simply rolled it (like a jelly roll).
The stuffing I used was a boxed cranberry stuffing (I’m no miracle worker I needed to leave something to be quick preparation), but I mixed it with some onions caramelized with apples and balsamic vinegar. Yum!
I then tied 3 pieces of string around the rolled pork loin to hold it together while it roasts.
It roasted in the oven at 450F/gas mark 5 for about 1hr, until the internal temperature reached 165C. However, I turn up the oven temperature a tad half way through cooking so that the crackling gets going....yum yum yum!!
Allow the pork to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Sweet Potato Mash –
I don’t really measure my ingredients for this so this is a rough guideline. Best is to just add little at a time and taste as you go

6 sweet potatoes – cooked, peeled and mashed
½ cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic – crushed
2 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. That simple!

Brussel Sprouts –
I got tired of the plain ol’ boiled or steamed brussel sprouts so this time I thought I’d go for a change.
I cut all brussel sprouts in half, blanched them then cooked them on a griddle pan with an equal amount of shallots, also cut in half. I seasoned with some salt and pepper

For the best ever roast potatoes please find it here
For the traditional stuffing and gravy you can check out my Thanksgiving post here

I know this post a month late but better late than never eh?
This really was a magical Christmas I had to share it with you all

1 comment:

Diana said...

Excellento amiga!!! An absolute great feast to make for a magical night..and weekend! Brilliant description of not just the food preparation, but the intro to Christmas.. loved your ethnography on the Cockney butcher culture.
Thank you Sarita;xx