Friday, December 25, 2009

Xmas lunch

Itching to cook for and host a family gathering, I decided to call everyone over to mom's place for a "western" Xmas lunch. When plans were made, my mind didn't quite pick up that it involved feeding 17 people -- that took some exhausting hours in the kitchen spread over two days (i cut up and assembled everything on the eve to give me enough cooking time since we were working with only one oven)... Anyways, everyone enjoyed (or were being completely nice) the meal, though unfortunately, I was too busy running around to pause and take pics of the individual dishes.

Watermelon-Mint mocktail (makes about 1 large jug)
1/2 watermelon (pureed)
1 bottle fizzy lemonade
Sprigs of mint
2 cups of ice cubes

1. Combine watermelon puree and mint in jug and muddle using a large spoon or masher.
2. Add fizzy lemonade and stir it well into the watermelon mixture. Chill in fridge and add ice cubes when ready to serve.

Jamie Oliver's Perfect Roast Chicken (and Rosemary Roast Potatoes)
1 x 2kg whole dressed chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Mixed five spice (this is my addition)
2 kg potatoes, peeled
1 large lemon
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken in cloves
A handful of fresh thyme
Olive Oil
Fresh rosemary leaves

1. Rub chicken generously inside and outside with salt, pepper and mixed spice. Leave to marinade a couple of hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven 190C.
3. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cut potatoes to golf-ball size pieces, put into water with whole lemon. Cook 12min. Drain and allow potatoes to steam dry (for crispier potatoes). Remove lemon and garlic.
4. While lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times all around. Take chicken out of fridge, pat with kitchen paper, rub olive oil all over.
5. Push garlic, lemon, thyme into chicken's cavity. Roast in oven around 45mins.
6. Lift chicken off the tray and toss the potatoes in leftover dripping and rosemary leaves. Shake tray around and place chicken back in with potatoes. Cook further 45mins. You can tell the chicken is cooked when thigh meat pulls away easily from bone and juice runs clear.
7. Remove garlic, squeeze flesh out of skin, mush it up and smear over chicken. Discard lemon, thyme and rosemary. Carve and serve!

No-brainer Buttered Vegetables

Garlic herb butter (store-bought)

1. Cut vege (exc snow peas) ept into large bite size pieces. In a pot, bring salted water to a boil. In a seperate large bowl, fill it up with water and ice cubes. Drop vege in to blanch for a couple of minutes till tender. Quickly dish out with slotted spoon and move it into icy cold water.
2. In a microwaveable bowl, melt enough garlic butter to coat vege (should take about 30 seconds - 1 minute in the microwave). Toss vege in the melted butter and just before serving, return to microwave to heat for a minute or so.

Cranberry-Apricot Brown Rice
Refer here for recipe. Just swap the cous-cous for brown rice. I cooked the brown rice in a rice cooker with half the usual water measurement, then added in a cup of mango juice once the water had absorbed (halfway through the cooking process).

Greek Lamb Moussaka (serves 4-5)
A) The base
3 large aubergines, sliced (generously salt the slices, leave for 5 mins and then squeeze excess water & pat dry)

B) The Lamb Layer
5 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 small can tomato puree
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional, I use it to add a bit of edge to the sauce in lieu of red wine)
550g mince lamb
1 tsp dried mixed herbs (if u have fresh ones, use rosemary & bay leaves)
Salt & Black Pepper

C) The Bechamel Sauce
75g butter
75g plain flour
600ml milk
80g parmesan, grated
1 egg yolk
Pinch of nutmeg or mixed spice powder

1. Prepare lamb sauce by saute-ing onion and garlic. Add mince and fry. Add tomato puree, balsamic and herbs. Simmer uncovered for half an hour or till thick.
2. Preheat oven to 190C.
3. Spray some oil on frying pan and brown the aubergines on both sides.
4. Make Bechamel by melting butter in sauce pan and slowly adding flour, stirring until it forms a smooth paste. Stir in milk and bring to boil. Simmer for 10mins. Take off heat and add egg yolk, cheese and spice. Whisk till smooth and thick.
5. In a casserole dish, layer aubergine slices > mince > aubergine > mince > bechamel.
6. Bake uncovered for 25-30min.

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