Christmas Wrap-In My Kitchen & of course, the Gingerbread House.

Well I’d have to say this has been the loveliest and most ‘Christmassey’ Christmas in quite a long time. We held our now traditional backyard Christmas Eve gathering of friends and family, it was a little cool but not so bad that we couldn’t stay outside. Such a relaxing evening and I get a kick out of planning and preparing food for the night.

I try to make things that are simple but have just a little wow factor when served. This year we had potato and pea samosa from the lovely Sandra’s blog Please Pass The Recipe. They are made using spelt flour for the pastry and were an absolute hit. Didn’t remember to get a pic of the inside, but trust me, they were delicious!

We also had the “If I don’t make them the family will kill me” Annabel Langbein Pakora. For the recipe click here. These are also vegetarian and are made with besan (chick pea) flour and beer batter, for the filling I used cauliflower, peas, pumpkin and zucchini then served with a simple Indian style mint dipping sauce. Once a year I bring out my little el-cheapo deep fryer for these, it then goes back into to cupboard for another year.

Then there were the mussels with nam prik (Thai chilli dipping sauce) and topped with  cucumber salsa. Last year I made Turkish Stuffed Mussels and my poor dodgy hands took weeks to recover from the pain of opening the mussels. These were easy peasy, the recipe is from Annabel Langbein’s Simple Pleasures cook book.There was a couple of huge platters of assorted breads, dukkah, antipasto, dried fruits and cheeses. This is some of the breads including  potato and roasted garlic focaccia, pizza filled baguettes, plain baguettes and an olive parmesan batard.I made yet again Celia’s Tupperware Meatballs. These are from the River Cottage Cookbook and I love the seasoning and spices, served purely with greek yoghurt sprinkled over. Winner! By the time I got back from grabbing my camera, they were gone. These are great as they can be made ahead then frozen and just reheated in the oven. This pic is from a previous time I made them but they were cooked in a tomato sauce as a main meal then.I had planned to serve chicken tikka kebabs too, but the food intake had slowed down so I left these and we had them Boxing Day along with some left over pakora mix that I cooked on the  griddle. No where near as nice as the deep fried version but ok.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Day was lovely, beautiful weather, very relaxed and all but my daughter in law were there for lunch. She joined us soon after lunch so the whole family were together which is a first for a while. Lunch was hosted by my son and his partner and they did a great job. I did take a bit of a contribution to lunch………….he lives only 10 minutes away so no problem  transporting, put it down as meat resting time.

Roast turkey, roast pork, roast potatoes, plum pudding, tomato and onion layered bake, gingerbread house, gravy, brandy sauce.

The turkey was stuffed with crumbs made from my bread, capsicum, thyme, 2 eggs & salt and pepper. So easy, so delicious, we cooked the turkey and pork in the Weber at home. I’d made gravy from roasted bones and veg a few days before, stored it in a milk bottle and reheated it at Cameron & Graham’s place.We sat outside under the shade of the trees, ate, drank too much and of course there was the gingerbread house to demolish (see below). My mind had been tossing a couple of ideas around as to its demise and it went reasonably well. We probably could have gotten a bit more mileage and a few more cracks but it is what it is.I received a pack of these beautiful beeswax wraps from my D.I.L as my Kris Kringle gift. They work really well and as a bonus they are made by a local business. Little Bumbles have a range of plastic free shopping and storage items and they are beautifully presented. Love their catchphrase! Another local item I have In My Kitchen is a jar of Grandmas Delights Tomato Chutney. I cannot believe I actually ran out of both my sauce and tomato relish. I cannot remember how many years it would be since I bought sauce, but its been a long, long time. I refuse to buy that crappy, plastic bottle, mega factory made stuff, so was thrilled that our local IGA stock this. Was good, not as good as mine of course, but definitely good.

And now we close the year, the post and In My Kitchen for 2017 with the now famous annual demolition of the Gingerbread house. Very “straaylan’ to use the iconic Hills hoist as the  moving mechanism and the weapon my son used to ‘hack’ the house is his Japanese Samurai sword (demo only) which he bought back from Japan when he was an exchange student. Once again it proved a little upsetting for little Charlie, but I imagine in a few years he’ll be coming up with his own ideas on how to do the demo. There are views from 2 different angles here just to make sure you don’t miss a thing! Thanks to Sherry from over at Sherry’s Picking for her linking up of bloggers and thanks to everyone who shares their posts or takes the time to read ours. Happy New Year everyone.

 

Christmas Eve Fare.

Christmas for me is about making time to get together with family and friends and celebrating how much we value having them in our lives. When I was little it was all about presents, although we were never as focussed on that as many families I knew. Usually just one or 2 special items and a couple of fillers.  I remember fondly the Christmas day gatherings of my family and my country cousins if they happened to be visiting for the season. I remember when sixpences were put in the pudding and there was a competition to see who accumulated the most value. I remember cherry spitting competitions and dangling pairs of cherries on your ears as earrings. I remember water fights and running under the sprinkler if it was hot. I remember mum stressing and chucking a wobbly the day dad threw out the pudding cloth. I remember being mesmerised by the beautiful tree lights, sitting or lying under them and just watching them sparkle. I still do this, I love sparkly Christmas tree lights!

Christmas tree lights We once again hosted a gathering on Christmas Eve for our friends and it was a great night. The aim of the night is to be very relaxed, to enjoy each others company and I like the opportunity to make a few treats for us to eat. A few of the dishes we had this year were,

Dumplings! Ever since I read Celia’s post about dumplings that led me to the Dumpling Sisters site, I now regularly make dumplings from scratch. They are so easy to make, a little time-consuming but easy and they taste so much better than the bought ones. I’ve posted about these a few times but I can’t help myself, they are so good and were a big hit on Christmas eve.

Dumplings
Dumplings with ginger soy dipping sauce
Dumplings
Dumplings, my pleating isn’t too bad considering.

Another dish I made was Midye dolma or stuffed mussels. I tasted these when we went to Turkey and have wanted to have a go at recreating them ever since we returned. You can find street food sellers right along the waterfront in Turkey and they sell thousands of them. The mussels are stuffed with a mixture made from rice, currants and spices then cooked and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. I used the recipe from Ozlems Turkish Table and they were a hit. I have to add though, it is no mean feat cleaning and opening 60 odd mussels to stuff with dodgy hands, I have a whole new level of respect for the vendors in Turkey! My hands are still suffering and sadly don’t think these will be a regular item.

Midye dolma-Anatolian stuffed mussels
Midye dolma-Anatolian stuffed mussels

I made some mini sourdough croissants and filled them with ham and cheese and served them warmed through, very nice and definitely a repeat again item. I used the sourdough croissant recipe from Shipton Mill and reduced the cut croissant size to 7-8 cm by 15 cm and they were just right for finger food size.

Mini sourdough croissantsI also made some mini sourdough ‘baklavants’, croissants with a baklava style filling and a honey and rosewater glaze but they didn’t make it out and are now in the freezer for another time. We did have a few on Christmas Day with breaky.baklavantOf course there was a couple of platters of general nibbles, marinated mushrooms, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, focaccia and other assorted sourdough bread (oops, no pics apart from the tiny snippet front right below).img_0538 And of course our favourite Indian Pakora made using the recipe from Annabel Langbein’s Free Range Cook Book. These would have to be one of the best vegetarian party foods you can present. I served them with a yogurt and mint sauce made simply by blending yogurt and mint together. These are now a much loved tradition every year and it is always a hit.

Pakora
Pakora

It was a delightful Christmas Eve, our little fella decided he loves spicy stuffed mussels (and everything else really). Very clever of him to work out you can use a mussel shell as a spoon too!img_0560 img_0571We thoroughly enjoyed the night and were very well behaved which meant we were able to enjoy Christmas Day as well! I’ll do a short post on that next. Unfortunately we didn’t get to catch up with everyone we had hoped to but that will be addressed in the New Year. I hope everyone else has had the pleasure of having such a relaxed and enjoyable Christmas, it’s been lovely having a kitchen to work in!

In My Kitchen. Golly how did it get to be November?

What a busy time it is at the moment! We have just celebrated the engagement of our son and his beautiful partner. Joyous time indeed and a lot of creating food for the celebration.  So in my kitchen is:

10424268_1563188050563163_5140644749713191810_n Some of the leftovers of the magnificent cake my daughter made for the event. Ready to pack to put in the freezer for later use. It was beautiful and looked amazing as well as tasting sensational. She is VERY talented!IMG_6254I made some vegetable pakora, they looked much better on the serving platter, see my previous post!IMG_6185

Cauliflower pakora

I cooked up some VERY spicy tiny sausages and meatballs. These were a great hit.IMG_6179In my kitchen are a few beautiful roses, this one is  a week old in the photo and still holding up well.IMG_6186 These beautiful ‘Jude the Obsure’ blooms are from a bush our daughter gave us after her wedding. Very precious to me.IMG_6206 In my kitchen are 2 heads of broccoli freshly cut waiting to go into our tummies.IMG_6230Sadly, I have to say goodbye to the last of last seasons garlic. This bag was chockers and has lasted really well. Only a couple of weeks till new crop is ready I think.IMG_6233 In my kitchen is a leek, broad bean and mushroom risotto made from freshly picked veg. It was beautiful!IMG_6237 Some of the broad beans, nearly finished for the season so enjoying them while we can.IMG_6248In my kitchen is a smoked trout. We are so lucky having such an excellent butcher who makes his own small goods and they are sensational. Thanks Wayne from Trafalgar Butcher Shop. Such an easy appetiser, trout, some bread or crackers to serve it on and your done!IMG_6257 Another local producer who grow the most amazing organic vegetables with love. Wendy and Tony go out of their way to make sure their produce is first rate and their service is exceptional. Wendy delivered these beautiful lettuce and daikon and some other goodies to me at work. Love shopping that way! It is nice knowing that the food I served for the after party BBQ has been grown with so much love and care. Check out Thorpdale Organics, it’s worth it.IMG_6260

Didn’t get to take a photo of the view from the kitchen window but it’s looking pretty good!

Thanks Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for giving us this opportunity to see and share kitchens from around the world.

Long weekend that was-for some! Family celebrations are fun!

Amazing to think that a whole country can come to a halt based around a race horse, but yes, here in Australia we can. I have traditionally been a great Melbourne Cup Day celebrator, but this year there has been so much happening that I didn’t even give it a thought! No sweep tickets, no TAB bets and not even watching the race. Hang my head in shame! The Melbourne Cup is always run on the first Tuesday in November and it is a public holiday for the people who live in the state of Victoria. It has turned into a time when many take the Monday off creating an extra long weekend. Not so for me.

Our son and his fiancé celebrated their engagement with a rather large party on Saturday night and you could not have asked for more disastrous weather conditions. After a beautiful Friday of 28, no wind and balmy conditions the cool front confronted with avengance. Temp slid down to about 13-15, rain was horizontal and the wind was just horrendous. All the planned outside arrangements were put on hold and thankfully our gracious hosts opened their home so the celebrations could continue inside. No mean feat for about 130 people! I had been cooking at every available opportunity for the party and it all went down well, especially the spicy (very) small sausages and the Indian pakora I made. IMG_6179 Just love this Indian pakora recipe of Annabel Langbein. I’ve made it a few times and always served them freshly deep fried but this time I made them ahead of time and reheated before serving. Wasn’t sure how that would go but it was fine. Batter wasn’t as crispy as when fresh but flavour was still good. IMG_6181Served with a minty yoghurt sauce.Cauliflower pakoraThe beautiful couple, though I think Dave may have had a beer or two by now!

IMG_6195Our daughter has a great sense of design style and does some beautiful cake decorating, she contributed this lovely 3 tier chocolate fudge cake decorated with little daisy flowers. Looked lovely and I must admit we are munching on it as I write this post!10424268_1563188050563163_5140644749713191810_nIt was a great party and a great reminder that it is so special having these happy times and celebrations with those we love.