A delicious Christmas lunch: Thanks to all my fellow-bloggers!

We are a bit unconventional when it comes to most things and Christmas lunches are no exception. While most households in England and around the world are busy dealing with a turkey, I spend my time looking up recipes from around the world that I can incorporate into our “Internationally-inspired Christmas lunch”. Last year we had an Italian Starter (Tomato and Mozarella salad), an Indian main (Malai kofta) and a French dessert (Chocolate and raspberry moelleux).

This year, I decided to incorporate something from the Southern hemisphere and this turned out to be the dessert –  passionfruit mousse. Over the summer, I got to try a twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé and the melt-in-the-mouth taste that I experienced was amazing so I decided that would be my challenge for Christmas this year and this turned out to be the blue-cheese souffle main. Finally, I was keen on trying to make something from South-east Asia and settled on the Malaysian steam bun. I have very fond memories of the steam bun as my once neighbour, who was Malaysian, would bring them over to us straight out of the steamer. As the filling in these buns tend to be meat, I used a curry puff filling recipe to make it vegetarian. All three dishes turned out really well – not to mention my Christmas cake.

Most of my recipes (except the Christmas cake) came from my fellow-bloggers and this blog is a tribute/thank you to them for sharing their wonderful recipes. Our Christmas wouldn’t have been as tasty without them. Merry Christmas and keep blogging!

 

Our Christmas menu

Our Christmas menu

 
Recipes used:

In this section, I have listed links to the recipes I used for our Christmas lunch along with a picture of  the end product. Any changes to the recipes are also listed. Hope you like them and will try them out yourselves. We had an amazing time polishing off this food.

Click on the links below to get to the details of the recipe and more delicious pictures.

 

1. Starter: Baozi or Pau – Malaysian steam bun

2. Main: Twice-baked blue cheese soufflé with a creamy tomato sauce and apple, walnut, rocket salad 

3. Dessert: Mousse de Maracuya or Passionfruit mousse (from Ecuador)

 

Christmas-lunch

 

1. Starter: Baozi or Pau – Malaysian vegetable steam bun

There are 2 parts to this recipe -(a) the outer casing or steam bun dough and (b) the vegetable filling.

 

(a) Steam bun dough recipe

Source: http://cheah2009.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/steamed-bun-pau.html

Changes: 

1. I didn’t have access to “pau” flour so I used standard flour and this meant the buns weren’t as white as they are when you buy them. But hey, they are home-made and delicious.

2. I didn’t use the meat filling – being vegetarian and all…

3. I didn’t have a steamer so I improvised (Picture 5 below). I filled 1/3 rd of a large lidded wok with water. I then placed a small metal (heat-proof cup or ramekin will work too) upturned inside the wok as a stand. This was followed by the placement of the steaming bowl from my pressure cooker on top of the upturned cup. The steam buns went into this steaming bowl and I covered the wok with a lid so as to not let the steam escape. Each pair of steam buns took 17 minutes to cook to perfection. Check that the filling is warm before eating.

4. I made really huge (gargantuan) steam buns and we only had one each as a starter. Perhaps making smaller and more delicate ones will be the way to go (Pictures 1-4 below).

5. Finally, I skipped the bit where it said to let the steam buns rise after placing the filling inside them. It worked just fine!

6. These can be kept uncooked in the fridge overnight and steamed the next day for brunch.

7. We had them with some dark soy sauce and the combination was quite good – or so we thought (Picture 6 below)

 

(b) The curried vegetable filling

Source : http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/curry-puff-malaysian-monday-48.html

Changes:

1. I left the chicken and eggs out.

2. I used runner beans (finely chopped) instead of peas.

3. I used Indian curry powder (Sabzi masala) instead of Malaysian meat curry powder.

4. I used Kashmiri chilli powder (lovely red colour and not as spicy) to spice the dish

4. I used coconut cream (3 tbps) instead of coconut milk.

5. I made the filling on Christmas eve and left it overnight in the fridge. The consistency was perfect for filling the next day.

Steps to making vegetable steam buns
Steps to making vegetable steam buns

2. Main: Twice-baked blue cheese soufflé with a creamy tomato sauce and apple, walnut, rocket salad

There are 3 parts to this recipe (a) the souffle (b) tomato sauce (c) salad

(a) The soufflé 

Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10556367

Changes:

1. I left out the parsley and I forgot to add salt and pepper but that’s OK, the cheese has enough flavour to make up for this.

2. I used thyme and sage as herbs to flavour the soufflé. To incorporate them, I heated the milk on the lowest setting with sage and thyme for 15-20 minutes allowing the flavours to infuse. It was this milk that I then used to make the white sauce.

3. I have included images of the process of soufflé making in the collage below. When I added the milk to the butter-flour mixture it went really thick and I panicked as I’d never made soufflé before. It got worse when I added the cheese and then the egg yolks (Pictures 5,6,7). However, the addition of soft peaked egg whites fixes it all up (Picture 9). Yay! Trust me when I say it tasted amazing – a very forgiving recipe I concluded!

4. Once the soufflés have cooled, they deflate (Picture 13). At this point, ease them out of their ramekins and place them in a larger baking dish upturned (Picture 14)

5. The recipe makes exactly enough batter for 2 soufflés so follow it to a tee if that’ s all you want. Most other recipes I found seemed to be for 6-8 servings which I wasn’t interested in.

(b) The tomato sauce

Source : Inspired by http://www.addictedtoveggies.com/2012/09/cherry-tomato-cream-sauce-nut-free.html

My partner and I are both not huge fans of cream and I thought I’d give the creamy sauce a bit more flavour before baking the soufflé for the second time. I got the idea from the recipe link above but my recipe was as follows.

Changes:

Ingredients:

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic with skin

100 ml cream

2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 level tsp of salt

1 level tsp of sugar

Method:

1. Roast the tomatoes and garlic at 180ºC until the skins of the tomatoes crack and they start oozing out juices. Discard the garlic.

2. In a small saucepan, add the tomatoes, cream and spices and cook until the tomatoes go mushy and the flavours blend into the sauce. You want it to taste a bit sweet as the soufflé will be on the salty side.

3. Sprinkle freshly grated parmesan over the upturned and cooled soufflés and bake for 15-20 minutes at 150ºC until the tops are golden brown.

4. Serve with the apple and walnut salad (Pictures 15 & 16).

5. It is a rich and decadent main so take your time…..

 

(c) Apple, walnut and rocket salad

Source :  

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10784/twicebaked-goats-cheese-souffls-with-apple-and-wal

Changes:

1. I used rocket leaves only

2. I used a golden delicious apple instead of a red apple

3. I toasted the walnuts slightly in a pan on dry heat

4. I tossed the apples in a bit of melted Manuka honey to give them a bit of flavour and to ensure that they didn’t turn brown.

5. I left out the chives.

6. I used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.

 

Blue cheese soufflé method

Blue cheese soufflé method

3. Dessert: Mousse de Maracuya or Passionfruit mousse (from Ecuador)

Not 100% vegetarian as contains gelatin !!! Could be substituted with vegetarian gelatine but I couldn’t get my hands on any.

Source: http://laylita.com/recipes/2009/06/13/maracuya-or-passion-fruit-mousse/

Changes:

1. I used passionfruit juice instead of passionfruit pulp/concentrate.

2. I made 2/3rds of the recipe ingredient quantities and still had about 8 mousses worth of mixture so maybe use 1/3rd of the ingredients for 4 servings. I used teacups as moulds (Picture 1 below).

3. I think I wasn’t very good at mixing the gelatin-y juice mixture with the cream and egg whites. As a result, I had two distinct layers as you can see below – the passion fruit jelly layer and then the passionfruit mousse layer below it (Pictures 2& 3).

4. Laylita has lovely step-by-step instructions on her website so do check it out.

5. Overall, the dessert was light and soft and delicious and we are still getting through extra portions (Picture 4)

Pictures:

Mousse de maracuya

Mousse de maracuya

Eating while travelling : In York, Yorkshire, U.K

Living in England has made travel a lot more accessible than living in Australia, New Zealand or India. As far as travelling within the UK goes, within a couple of hours, one can be in a different town exploring a different part of the gorgeous English countryside or admiring ruins from a few hundred years (or thousand) years ago. In addition, the UK is ideally placed to travel to Europe and within a couple of hours one can explore new countries and cultures. My partner and I really enjoy travelling and try and do so whenever time and budget allow us to.

When we travel, we take on different roles. My partner takes care of train/plane bookings and hotel bookings while I take care of the packing and food. Food – yes, glorious food. To me, one of the most exciting things about travelling is getting to try new food that I haven’t come across before or food that’s just better than what’s on offer in the  town we live in. I usually look up Wikitravel and Tripadvisor beforehand so we can try these apparently amazing restaurants first-hand. Of course, I’m restricted a lot of the time by the fact that I’m a vegetarian but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

I’ve started this section of the blog to try and record places where we’ve eaten and give you my honest opinion of them. This by no means needs to influence your decision but if you do travel to any of these places and are contemplating places to eat/not eat at, then perhaps, I can be of help. We travelled most recently to York to celebrate my partner’s birthday so I’ll recount our culinary adventures from here first.

Yorkminster

The York Minster masked by autumn trees

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