Feast of 2013

P1310870During Christmas 2013, I hosted the dinner at my friend’s apartment, a wonderful couple that runs a private dining in Malaysia. I’m writing to acknowledged Tracy and Alberto for accommodate me for the feast of Christmas. Is a bit late to showing the feast at this time. Here are some explanation of the table setting, I don’t really set a format table for occasional like this because I want to feel comfortable and simple, so tangerine and gold coin should be on the table, as there are some story behind of tangerine and gold coin, but I won’t go deeply about the history. My Chinese guest though it is like a Chinese New Year setting. Indeed it is a bit cliché when over done. Somehow they were similar. Red and golden colour is the rich decoration element, so do the food as well.

P1160714AMy typical feast started with snacks as spice nuts, parmesan biscuit and mulled wine. Most of the dishes you can prepare in advance so you won’t have a panic on your party day. I can’t help myself to thinking about mulled wine all the time during Christmas, the thing that makes Christmassy is mulled wine; the wine and spice that been warmed in saucepan that making this happening. It reminds me the Christmas market in Lincolnshire, the glittery Christmas ornament, street light; it is a feast for my eye, music, church bell and carol singing was everywhere this calming voices are really good for the soul and ears; the smell of mulled wine was a good treat for my nose. Indeed it is a feast for my senses and make my heart lift for Christmas.

Spice nuts is a good idea for starter with mixed of cinnamon and other spice, it is seems like the medieval feasting that using spices to preserved their food during winter. Apart from spices, I do need savory nibble for starter- parmesan biscuit is handy and easy to serve and eat. You even can make it in advance and keep in the air tight jar up to two days.

P1160717AFirst large dish I put on the table is this red salad that simple to make, toss the kidney bean, tomatoes, onion together with dressing then pop on the table. Another classic dish during Christmas – Brussels sprout, you can’t have Christmas without Brussels sprout, this classic dish had the most delicious ingredient – chestnut! The bacon gives a bit of crunchy bites and extra push of savory

P1160732AHere comes the beauty – gammon, the feature of the feast that sat on the bed of roasted potatoes. I called this Christmas ham, the glory redcurrant jelly that gives the beautiful colour on the surface, the gammon had been cooked in simmering for more than two hours for the succulent, tender texture on the meat. This looks absolutely appealing on the buffet table too.  This should be the dish you should show-off.

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In every Christmas story mentioned about lights in the dark, it has a very comforting agenda and it delights me. Christmas pudding with flame is representing that part of Christmas. This has become the ritual of my Christmas dinner, and it is my love affair moment to flame the pudding at this time of the year, simply because they are beautiful. The secret of keeping the flame duration is to using vodka, I know it sounds not very appealing but it doesn’t really matter because the alcohol will evaporate.

By the time had the pudding, everyone will need some rest for their stomach. Honestly, this dessert is extremely light and the citrus of the strawberries and lemon will helping the digestion the dense of the pudding, the pistachio that finishing touch of dessert otherwise it will be too light to consume.

I hope my way of British Christmas is not too embarrassing to the classic version. The message I would like say, try cooking at home, it will definitely bringing to another level of life about home making. There is no one can’t cook; just being lazy. Hope you enjoying cooking. Let’s food celebrate your life! Bon appétit!

Echalions AKA Banana Shallot

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I was very exciting when I found this shallots in local supermarket and it is rare! It also known as Echalions, Shallot Figaro, or scientific name Allium cepa of Aggregatum Group. Commonly know as Banana Shallot.

Echalion taking Britain’s kitchens by storm.  This versatile British vegetable, which is a cross between an onion and a shallot, has become the darling of professional kitchens, celebrities chef all over the country because it is so easy to prepare.  And now the secret is out and echalions have found their way onto our supermarket shelves.

They are easier to peel than a traditional shallot. Echalion is the result of a subtle mixture of the intrinsic qualities of the onion and the shallot. From each one, the Echalion has retained only best qualities. These large, oval bulbs have amber-coloured skin that can be peeled back to reveal juicy, white meat that combines the ease of an onion with the sweet, subtle flavour of a shallot.

Top Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, chef/patron of Restaurant Tom Aikens in London explains: “The versatile Echalion can add a subtle hint of flavour or be the main ingredient for any recipe calling for shallots. They are perfect for braising with meats, roasting with vegetables or with soups. Finely chop and add to broths and sauces, or sauté with mushrooms”, says Tom

British grown echalions are usually available from September to Mid-May.  They are grown in the Eastern counties of Britain (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk) where the sandy soil and warmer temperatures provide the ideal growing conditions.

There is no particular reason why you can’t use the banana shallots instead of onions, though they are not a substitute for red onions. You may also find that you need 2 banana shallots instead of a regular onion due to the size difference and milder taste. However they are more expensive than onions and if a strong allium taste is required then you may prefer to use regular onions. You can also substitute banana shallots with regular shallots – just use 2 regular shallots for 1 banana shallot, and do cook slightly more quickly than regular white or yellow onions.

To make it easy to peel, you could cut the root end off and blanche in boiling water for 3 minutes then grip firmly from the ‘leaf-end’ and squeeze the shallot out of its skin – holding with a cloth helps.

Lemon Salmon & Cherry Tomatos Cous Cous

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This is my speedy meal, Lemonny Salmon and Cherry Tomato Cous Cous. You won’t believe this can be ready in 15 minutes.

What’s in it? Obviously Salmon with smered of lemon zest, paprika powder, grated ginger, garlic oil. My lazy cous cous is has coarse sea salt, paprika powde. Then I had small finely chop onion, halved cherry tomatos and lemon juice. Simply seal the both side of salmon, when the salmon is ready to lay on plate. I just mix the cous cous and onion together and served on the same plate with salmon.

The lemon actually take off the acrid burn of the onion, it go well with cherry tomatos, cous cous. It is very satisfying meal.