A bagful of treats

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By TT Bureau
  • Published 23.12.06
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SHAUN KENWORTHY,

PROPRIETOR, THE BLUE POTATO

For westerner Shaun Kenworthy, Christmas brings back all sorts of memories of Christmases past. The other side of the coin for Shaun is that for the past 20 years it’s really been all work and very little time for play on Christmas (apart from the few drinks after work). But still he feels he could romance about it all day long, given half the chance.

When it was his turn to talk about his favourite thing to eat for Christmas lunch, he came up with the following. Something that he’d cooked on a number of occasions — suckling pig with all the trimmings. Now, Shaun has never shied away from telling of his love of the pig and all its delicious cuts. The way he wanted to cook it for Christmas this year is in a relatively traditional way with the most wondrous of all stuffings. Roasted suckling pig with plum pudding stuffing, he admits, sounds a bit odd, but believe us you won’t be disappointed.

Roasted Suckling Pig With Plum Pudding Stuffing

Ingredients: Suckling pig, no more than around 5kg in total weight. Get the butcher to de-bone it for you, but make sure he keeps it whole with the skin on, but without the head. You can use that for something else later if you like.

For the stuffing: 3 onions; butter; 500gm apples, roughly chopped; 300gm shop-bought or homemade Christmas pudding; two eggs; around 200gm fresh breadcrumbs

Method:

For the stuffing: Finely chop the onions and sweat them in a little butter. Add around 500gm of roughly chopped apple. Again sweat for a little while and remove from heat. Next, crumble the Christmas pudding into the apple and onions. Add the eggs and the fresh breadcrumbs. Season to taste, and bring the whole thing together with your hand.

For the roast: Firstly, preheat an oven to full heat. Next, lay out a layer of aluminium foil on your working area, and rub a little oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Lay out the suckling pig, skin-side down, and spread out the stuffing over the top, quite evenly. Roll the whole thing in the foil and twist the foil at both ends to secure well. Heat a large frying pan until hot and place the foil-wrapped pork, cook for around 5 minutes, turning constantly. Then place it on a roasting tray and cook on full heat for 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to around 200°C, and continue to roast for a further one hour. At this stage, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the foil for around 30 minutes. Remove the foil, slice and serve as you feel best.

As for the chef, he serves it with roasted potatoes, carrots and onions, and a nice port-based gravy. And yes, Mr Kenworthy wanted to wish all Weekend readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Recipe will serve at least 8.

LOVEY BURMAN,

PROPRIETOR, KOOKIE JAR

If Christmas still spells cookies for you, then you’re just in luck. We have a unique cookie recipe for you, courtesy Calcutta’s confectionery queen, Lovey Burman. Lovey, who has been running the hugely popular Kookie Jar for more than two decades now, says cookies are her all-time Christmas favourite. Here she shares with us one of her secret recipes. “This is not really a traditional Christmas cookie recipe but something I just came up with while experimenting. I simply love the way these cookies look — like little lights due to the stained glass effect. In fact they can be used as Christmas tree ornaments if one pierces little holes in them before baking, and then later strings coloured ribbons through them,” says Lovey.

Stained Glass Lemon Cookies

Ingredients: 1 cup butter, softened; 3/4 cup powdered sugar; 1 large egg yolk; 2tsp lemon peel, grated; 1tsp vanilla essence; 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour; 1/2tsp salt; 125gm red and/or green sugar candy, ground; sugar for dusting

Method: Using an electric mixer, whip butter and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg yolk, grated lemon peel and vanilla essence. Add flour and salt and beat until the mixture begins to form clumps. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours. Grind red and/or green sugar candies, and transfer to separate bowls; set aside.

Preheat oven to 190ºC. Line two large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Roll out the disk of dough on a lightly-floured surface to a thickness of 1/2cm. Cut out cookies using a 2 1/2-inch diameter cookie-cutter, and make cutouts in their centres, using smaller cookie cutters in various shapes — Christmas trees, stars, flowers etc.

Place cookies on baking trays. Spoon ground candy (red and green separately) in the cutouts in the centre of the cookies. Dust lightly with powdered sugar. Bake them for about 8 minutes or until firm to touch and golden in colour. Cool cookies completely before removing from baking tray.

HARPAVAN SINGH KAPOOR,

Pastry chef, ITC SONAR BANGLA

What’s better than a no-frills, absolutely easy-to-make recipe that has been a Christmas tradition for the last two hundred years? Well, Chef Harpavan Singh Kapoor from the ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton and Towers provides for ye gentle readers, this ready-to-rustle-up gingerbread recipe, which he swears by. Handed down by his seniors in the trade, the recipe has already been well-executed at the Mithai Shop in ITC (pssst, if you’re time-starved, now you know where to buy it from; just take off the wrappers and pretend you’re the monarch of the kitchen). And the good chef, who’s from Calcutta, and holds a traditional Christmas with all the trappings as his favourite festival, is going to make a batch of these at home around Christmas Eve as well.

Gingerbread

Ingredients: 11/2 kg flour; 700gm honey; 300gm almonds, ground; 200gm castor sugar, 4tbs oil; 4tbs water; 4 egg yolks; 4tsp cocoa powder; 4tsp ground cinnamon; 12tsp baking powder; a few drops lemon essence

For conveture: 300gm icing sugar, 2 egg whites and a little water. Mix well and bring to boil.

Method: Heat the honey, sugar, oil and water together until the sugar has melted. Cool the syrup. Mix together ground cinnamon, flour, baking powder, egg yolks and ground almonds. Add the mixture to the syrup and make a smooth, stiff dough. Set aside for a while, and then roll out the dough to 1/2cm thickness. Cut out desired shapes and place on a baking tray. Bake at 175-200ºC. Brush gingerbread with the conveture as soon as you bring it out of the oven.

RANVEER BRAR,

EXECUTIVE CHEF, THE CLARIDGES

Winter mushrooms, or Christmas mushrooms, as they are called, along with roasted chestnuts make for this wonderful Yuletide yummy. Chef Ranveer Brar, executive chef at The Claridges recommends savoury strudel to infuse just the right kind of festive spirit into a Christmas meal. “The pie-like crusty texture of the strudel makes it a must-have savoury at Christmas. You can either have it as a vegetarian main course or a tidbit and it’s great for a traditional brunch, lunch or dinner.”

Savoury Strudel

Ingredients: 3tbs olive oil; 2 onions, chopped; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 500gm tomatoes, peeled and diced; 120ml red wine; 200gm button mushrooms, washed and sliced; 150gm winter mushrooms, sliced (fairy rings or cockscomb); salt to taste; freshly ground black pepper; 250gm filo pastry; 100gm butter, melted; 100gm roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped; 50gm cheddar cheese, sliced

Method:

For the filling: Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onions and cook with the lid on for about 10 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, basil and the wine. Simmer for 20 minutes without a lid, keep stirring until it thickens. Add mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and season to taste.

For the strudel: Set the oven at 200ºC. Lay out a sheet of filo pastry and brush it with a little melted butter. Sprinkle with a third of the nuts. Put another layer of filo pastry on this, brush with butter and sprinkle with nuts. Repeat with two more layers of filo pastry, brushing each with butter.

Spread the filling thickly on top of the layers of pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all four sides. Fold the edges over. Roll it up lengthwise like a Swiss Roll, trying not to let it break. Brush with melted butter and garnish with shreds of filo pastry. Put the strudel into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve glazed with cheddar.

ANANDA SOLOMON,

EXECUTIVE CHEF, TAJ PRESIDENT

Like most other festivals, Christmas celebrations call for a family get- together. Chef Ananda Solomon reminisces about his childhood, when he used to look forward to Christmas every year. It was a time meant to be spent with friends and relatives. But over time, Christmas has also become very commercial and the chef feels that today’s working women don’t have time to make mouth-watering sweets and savouries at home. At best, they are outsourced from shops and everybody enjoys them at home. Some of these savouries are very difficult to make and it can take hours of hard work to prepare them. The one savoury, that is however, easy to make is Filo puffs, and the chef has tried to retain its original flavour for a jolly Christmas gorging.

Filo Puffs

Ingredients: Filo pastry cut into roundels with 3-inch diameter (easily available in the market)

For the filling: 100gm spinach; a pinch of nutmeg; 100gm feta cheese; 1tsp peppercorns, freshly ground; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 50 gm onions, chopped; 2tbs olive oil, salt to taste

Method: Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and saute for a while. Add the chopped onions, crushed peppercorns and the spinach. Stir-fry till the mixture becomes dry. Remove from fire and mix in the feta cheese. Spoon the mixture onto filo pastry roundels. Fold them into crescent shapes and bake in an oven for 20 minutes at 175ºC.

RITU DALMIA,

PROPRIETOR, DIVA

If you are bored of traditional Christmas pudding and want to try out a new dessert this Christmas, here’s a simple Bunet recipe you can rustle up. Bunet, also known as Bonèt and Bounet, is a classic Italian chocolate flan. Flavoured with amaretto liqueur (almond liqueur), amaretto cake or cookies and cocoa, Bunet is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. “The Bunet is an ancestor of the pudding and was very popular in the Southern Piedmont region of Italy,” says Ritu Dalmia, gourmet chef and owner of Italian restaurant Diva.

Christmas Bunet

Ingredients: 3/4 cup milk; 200gm crumbled amaretto cake; 1/4 cup candied fruits and dried fruit, soaked in rum; 30gm unsweetened cocoa; 200gm sugar; 5 eggs; 1 egg yolk; 1 small glass Marsala wine (or cognac or amaretto liqueur)

Method: Boil the milk, cool and set aside. Put the crumbled amaretto cake, sugar, eggs and cocoa in a pan and cook over low heat until the mixture is thick. Beat well with a fork to smoothen out any lumps. Add the rum-dunked dried fruit, candies and boiled milk.

Pour caramelised sugar syrup (*) into a cooking mould, and then pour in the Bunet mixture. Put the mould in a larger pan half-filled with water, or put the mixture and the syrup in a double boiler. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. De-mould the pudding and decorate with berries and mint.

*To prepare the caramelised sugar syrup, heat 300gm sugar in a pan. Mix it with a wooden spoon as it melts. When the sugar has completely melted and turned dark golden in colour, take off the fire. Once it is cool, but not solidified, add a glass of water and mix well to get an amber coloured syrup.