|My cousin Sarah's mulberry and raspberry Christmas trifle, which I whipped|
outside to photograph while the custard was being made.
It is hugely rewarding for me, as a recipe developer, to see my dishes being cooked by real people in real kitchens, and on such an important festive occasion. My Christmas Gammon Glazed with Brandy and Coke was the recipe most people made, with others trying my festive turkey stuffing, my Layered Christmas Ice-Cream Cake with White Chocolate and Berries, and several older recipes for salads, including the perennially popular Marinated Mushrooms.
Here are some of the pictures that were tweeted by readers who'd made the Coke-glazed gammon: don't they look scrumptious?
|Some of the gammon photographs tweeted by readers of this blog!|
Our own festive feast (traditionally served on Christmas Eve) was just wonderful. It's so special to come together as a family to cook, laugh and talk, to eat, drink and be merry, isn't it? Even though we are (mostly) heathens of note, I've always found Christmas Eve to be the most magical and merry night of the year. Twinkling lights, frosty champagne glasses, glowing candles, presents rustling under the tree, kids whirling in giddy circles, spicy aromas drifting from the kitchen...
|My family, starting the feast|
And then, as the evening blossoms into its fullness, singing of carols, snapping of crackers, stirring of gravy, carving of turkey, munching of chocolate, filling of Christmas stockings, putting-out of milk and biscuits for Father Christmas, and all the other treasured family rituals that make those marvellous and important memories.
And then there is (of course) the food. This year, my family pulled out the stops to produce a humdinger of a feast. My sister Sophie produced a seriously delicious dip of smoky aubergines, garlic and toasted pine nuts. My other sister Karen roped in the kids to make what is always the star attraction of the feast: little pork sausages wrapped in bacon, with fresh rosemary. My sainted mother glided back and forth, with her usual poise and enthusiasm, dishing out champagne, encouragement and hugs to her adoring children and grandchildren.
The winning dish - in fact, one of the best things I've tasted this year - was a beautiful starter of smoked trout made by my uncle David. In this truly gorgeous recipe (recipe here) piping-hot sesame oil is trickled over a bed of Franschhoek smoked trout, then topped with miso, soy sauce, black sesame seeds, fresh ginger, garlic, caperberries, dabs of home-made mayonnaise and great dollops of pink and black fish roe. This was served on exquisite plates hand-made by David, each one imprinted with our names. (I'll post some pictures of these plates in the next few days).
|Karen's bacon-wrapped pork chipolatas, ready for the oven|
And finally: my Christmas-feast disaster. I bought an enormous (4.3 kg) bone-in gammon from a local supermarket chain that collapsed into sodden shreds when I cooked it. I won't name the supermarket until they've responded to my complaint, but I will say that I'm annoyed and frustrated at having wasted both money and time on a clearly inferior piece of meat. The joint looked beautiful, all right, when I bought it (it's the same joint, from the same supermarket, shown in Steve's mise en place picture, above) but within half an hour of my placing it in a flavoured, spiced stock, it began to swell alarmingly. Some three-and-a-half hours of simmering later (well short of the cooking time recommended on the packaging) it began to disintegrate into tasteless grey shreds. I couldn't save it, because it fell to pieces as I fished it out of the stock. All was not lost, though, because a foraging party found another gammon from another supermarket (this time, in Franschhoek) which held together as it boiled, and tasted delicious.
I've cooked many gammons in my life, always using the same cooking times, and this is the first time I've ever seen a piece of meat collapse in such a spectacular fashion. I fretted briefly over whether I'd done something wrong, or miscalculated the cooking time, but when the aforementioned Steve told me he'd had exactly the same disaster with his gammon, I realised that the fault lay with the ingredient, and not the cook (Whew!)
I will get back to you with details when I receive a reply to the email of complaint I've sent the supplier. Print Friendly