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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

I love Christmas – the one year that everyone makes an effort to be with the family! Presents, good food, good wine and of course good company. This time last year, ‘The Mother’ and I celebrated Christmas on our own – we were living in Hong Kong but spent our Christmas holidays in Paris. I had hoped for a white Christmas, and even though it wasn’t snowing, parts of Paris was still white! It snowed a couple of days prior and was still very cold. We had a mini picnic in our hotel room, but did manage to roam around Paris, getting lost and ate some wonderful food.

This year, we are back in Sydney, and even though I am a little sad to be away from Hong Kong, it is good to spend it with family! We had lunch at the in laws – both families, including my brother and sis-in-law all went there for lunch. My mother in law (‘MiL’) and father in law (‘FiL’) made some wonderful dishes, from lobster noodles, smoked ham, salads to desserts. To say we were ‘stuffed’ was an understatement.

We started with lobster noodles and my goodness – they were outstanding. The lobster was fresh, tender and succulent, and cooked with garlic, onions and spring onions they were just incredible. The egg noodles were a great complement – I can’t remember how many servings F and I had – they were just that good.

Next, the glazed ham – my favourite. The ham was smokey, salty, sweet and tender. I love ham – it was served warm, the smokey flavours infused in the meat, it was just fantastic. I certainly can’t make ham as good as this!

Smoked salmon salad with cabbage, lettuce, carrots and cucumber served with creamy dressing was scrumptiously good! I will have to get the recipe off my MiL. There were generous servings of smoked salmon and enough to feed a whole army!

I made a couple of desserts, vanilla panna cotta served with berry compote.

Ingredients:

4 cups (1l) heavy cream (or half-and-half)

½ cup (100g) sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4.5 teaspoons)

6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water.

Method:

  1. Heat heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan and once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract
  2. Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral tasting oil
  3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl and let stand
  4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over gelatin and stir until gelatin is dissolved
  5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, usually 2 – 4 hours, I left them over night.
  6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnished as desired

Whilst Panna Cotta is cooling,

Make berry compote…

Ingredients:

½ cup of raspberries

½ cup of blueberries

½ cup of strawberries

1 tbsp icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Method:

  1. Place saucepan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of water, then berries and sugar
  2. Once some juice develops in the bottom of the pot turn the heat to high and gently stir
  3. Once it reaches boiling, remove the pot from the stove and allow to steep for 1 hr then transfer to fridge

Once Panna Cotta are set and ready to serve, add berry compote to Panna Cotta and voila.

I thought the Panna Cotta was a little firm, I like it a little wobbly like. I think too much gelatin, will reduce next time, however if you like your Panna Cotta firm, then follow the above instructions.

I also made these little babies – Mix Berry Tart.

I cheated and bought the little pastry tarts – I could have made them myself but didn’t have enough time, so just made the filling.

Ingredients:

300ml thickened cream

1 cup thick custard

1 punnet strawberries hulled, chopped

1 punnet blueberries

Method:

  1. Beat cream until soft peaks form, then stir in custard
  2. Spoon filling into tart shells
  3. Top with berries and dust with icing sugar to serve

Easy and voila – they were easy, and absolutely delicious. The combination of cream and custard – who doesn’t like cream and cutard?

Hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones, and hope Santa was kind to you all!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

And how gorgeous was the weather today? PERFECT!

xx