Melting Pot – Christmas Crackers

To tie in with our Category Focus feature on Christmas Planning, we asked some of the industry’s leading chefs and experts to share their clever culinary creations for the festive season. Whilst we all love a good, old-fashioned roast turkey dinner, it’s nice to have a few more adventurous alternatives – so here’s what they will be serving on their Yuletide menus this year…

David Ditchburn, head chef at the Kings Arms Hotel in Keswick This year I’ll be introducing Sweet Potato Pudding to the hotel’s festive menu. Its sweet soft texture, combined with flavours of cinnamon, grated nutmeg and other spices is sure to please everybody! Sweet potato pudding has always been a popular dish in our family especially at Christmas and Easter time, for that reason I wanted to include this sweet but simple dessert to our festive menus. Parboil the sweet potatoes, then peel and grate them. Stir together with cream, butter and sugar, add nutmeg, cinnamon and beaten mace, along with lemon juice, wine and brandy. Firstly, stir together and beat eight eggs into the mixture in turn with the sweet Christmas Crackers potato, a little at a time of each. Place into a buttered dish and bake for three quarters of an hour. Eat it cold.

Fergus Martin, Major development chef Middle Eastern and North African flavours have been trending in 2017 and can give your Christmas that exotic twist. As an alternative to turkey, why not try using guinea fowl and drawing upon the wonderful spice and warmth of Morocco. Transform typical Christmassy fruits such as dates and nuts with Major’s Moroccan Mari Base for a warming, sweet and delicately spiced stuffing. Pomegranate jewels are a perfect substitute for cranberry, and a cauliflower puree can give you that bread sauce effect. To top off one truly scrumptious Christmas, serve with a delicious sauce, created by infusing your Ultimate Poultry gravy with the heat and desert fruits of Moroccan Mari Base.

Hugh McGivern, consultant development chef, Eurilait With a great cheese selection you can draw inspiration for extra special festive dishes. Try a different version of breaded cheese; alternatives such as a mild goat cheese or punchy Roquefort offer an on-trend twist. Another favourite Christmas showstopper is a light soufflé incorporating soft goat cheese and smoked bacon for depth of flavour. Or for a perfect party treat, wrap a wedge of Camembert in smoked streaky bacon and strips of buttered filo pastry, then bake until deliciously crisp. Cheese scraps can also be used in inventive ways – the rinds of Parmesan, Comte or Brie make excellent sauces!

Sam Rain, HB Ingredients development chef For a milk chocolate Christmas spiced mousse, use Callebaut’s mousse powder, which are extremely fast to prepare so is perfect for large banquets, and add your Christmas spices – ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, clove powder and ground ginger – then some orange aroma to give your dessert a really festive feel. The best part is you can add any flavour you like.

Some alternative Christmas flavours:
• Dark chocolate mousse with orange aroma
• White chocolate mousse with mint powder and a small amount of green food colouring
• Milk chocolate and ginger with confit orange or orange peel

Thomas Leatherbarrow, executive pastry chef and international hospitality consultant www.pastry development.co.uk Christmas is always a busy time for the whole pastry development team working around the clock so here are a few treat ideas for your Christmas party.

• This year we will be serving Christmas pudding soufflé, with eggnog cream, winter spiced orange caramel chocolates and many more.
• Try turning your leftovers into classic dishes with a twist using Brussels and bacon lardons, rosemary and sage to make a kind of bourguignon with the leftover beef.
• Use any remaining Christmas pudding to make a sweet and boozy pie or crumble filling including any winter fruits you have left.

Spiced orange caramel: 400g orange juice, 75g dark chocolate, 5 star anise, 2 orange zest, 370g caster sugar, 6 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick
Add all the ingredients apart from the chocolate to a pan and bring to a rapid boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 60°C then whisk in the chocolate. Pass through a sieve. Keeps for three days.

Emma Haworth, senior brand manager, Dr Oetker Professional The festive season calls for something special and beautifully decorated bakes will give your menu the edge. Creating this ‘Snow Scene Christmas Layer Cake’ and ‘Spiced Lemon Cookie Wreath’ is easier than you think, thanks to leading family baking business Dr. Oetker Professional. Its professional range of high quality icings and marzipans can help achieve the perfect finish to fruit cakes, sponge cakes, fairy cakes and cookies, as well as creating sugar decorations with ease.

Stuart Middleton, head chef at Meallmore Lodge Care Home, Inverness, and the 2017 NACC Care Chef of the Year Christmas always makes the residents excited for mincemeat. The smell of it cooking screams Christmas and gets everyone’s tastebuds ready for something tasty with a cup of tea. The residents are always keen to give me their recipes and ideas for dishes, especially around Christmas as it’s all about friends, family, festivities and of course food. Here are some of the favourites:

• Substitute the sponge in a classic sherry trifle for crushed mincemeat pies
• A warm slice of Bakewell tart using mincemeat instead of jam on the base
• Spread a layer of mincemeat onto sheets of puff pastry, roll, slice and bake for a festive pinwheel

Olivia Shuttleworth, brand manager for Prep Premium speciality oils Give devilled eggs a spicy, Indian twist by swapping half the mayo with an oil bursting with the flavours of garlic, chilli, coriander, fenugreek, paprika and rosemary, such as Prep Premium CurryHouse. Spicy food is perfect for the festive season – it’s warming and moreish and offers a welcome contrast to traditional Yuletide flavours. These tempting little canapés are also full of protein and natural ingredients, and they’re gluten-free too.

Damian Broom, head chef at Seaham Hall, County Durham www.seaham-hall.co.uk Roast duck with Heritage carrots, gooseberries and meadowsweet is a great festive dish. First the duck is browned then roasted and left to rest. Its trimmings go towards the sauce, which is a reduction of cognac, red wine and stock, blended with sea buckthorn and roasting juices. Carrots are prepared in two ways, puréed and roast with a sea buckthorn glaze. The duck breasts are served re-crisped with the carrots, alongside fried duck hearts, accompanied by dried sugared gooseberries and scattered with meadowsweet and sorrel.

>> Click here to read the rest of the September 2017 Stir it up Magazine <<

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