Christmas Eve

There is so much to cover with regards food, I’m going to cut straight to chase and avoid stories of family and friends. Besides, a helpful colleague of mine told me that one should avoid getting into the whole diary thing as what might be interesting to me certainly won’t be to you…

So – we’ll start with the Spicy Apple Chutney and go from there…
There are one or two key ingredients in this, beyond that you can chuck all sorts of things into it. This is what I did –
Peel a few bramley apples and chop into chunks along with a handful of roughly red onion, white onion, red chilli and finely chopped ginger. Grind a good quantity of spices – cinnamon, star anise, salt, black pepper and cloves.
Put the lot in a saucepan along with half a litre of malt vinegar and a couple of table spoons of muscovado sugar for about half an hour, then add roughly chopped cucumber and tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes. I also added a handful of pickled jalapenos for an extra little kick, and a teaspoon of saffron for colour and depth.
Spoon the contents into sterilized jars and leave to cool. That’s it.
Perfect for dark meat and cheese…

Next, the Game Terrine – I’ve been looking forward to doing this for ages…
I used a couple of pigeon breasts, six pheasant thighs, some venison steak and 300 g of sausage meat. Cut all the meat into thin strips and colour in a hot frying pan them put in a large bowl. add the sausage meat, a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs, a glug or two of cognac, salt, pepper and olive oil. Fry a finely chopped onion and add to the mix, then add lots of chooped fresh herbs – thyme and parsley for me…
Mix the whole lot up and put it into a greased, lined loaf tin and put in the oven in a bain marie at 180c for an hour and half. Take it out, let it cool, turn it out, cut it up and eat it with the chutney…

By this time the Christmas gang had arrived and it’s time to eat.
We start with Tuna and Scallop Ceviche
I practiced this a few weeks ago knowing that I wanted to cook it for Christmas Eve – it was brilliant then and it was even better the second time – and it is seriously easy to do:
Take fresh tuna steak and cut very finely into slices. Now take fresh scallops without the roe and again slice very thinly.
Lay the tuna and the scallops onto separate plates and add the following:
Finely chopped red chillies, red onions, and coriander, lots of lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Leave it to marinade for about 15 minutes and serve with lovely bread. Simple and completely fantastic…

And then to continue in fishy fashion we continue with one of my favourites – a really good Fish Pie that my sister taught me – you must try this one…

I used a mixture of fish and seafood – a monkfish tail, fillets of plaice, haddock and trout – to be honest it doesn’t matter what you use (although the monkfish works very well as it stays nice and meaty when the pie is cooked), a handful of peeled raw king prawns and a handful of scallops (cut in to pieces if necessary) depending on size.
Take the fillets and put them in a frying pan skin side down with a knob of butter and heat gently for a few minutes. Turn them over and take the pan off the heat. While the pan is cooling, carefully peel the skin off the fillets. They should not be cooked at this stage. Take a large dish and rip the fish into pieces and place in the dish, then leave to cool.
Now take your pan and make a roux (butter, then flour, then milk) and add 1/3 of a bottle of white wine, a couple of tablespoons of Dijon mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. When it starts to thicken, add cream. It should now taste great 0 if it doesn’t adjust accordingly. Make sure the sauce is quite thick as liquid from the fish will thin it during cooking – it should be the consistency of custard (not crème anglais).
When you come back to the fish, there should be liquid in the bottom of the dish that has come out of the fish as it cooled. Drain this away before adding the cooled sauce and mixing thoroughly.
For the topping, peel and par boil potatoes, then once cooled, grate them into a bowl with a huge lump of butter, salt, pepper and finely chopped capers (a must).
Put the topping over the fish mixture and place in an oven at 180c for 35 minutes.
Leave it to calm down a few minutes before serving…

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