So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
(By: John Lennon and Yoko Ono)
How many times have we said: ''So this is Christmas, and what have we done and what food are we going to serve?'' I am going to give you a solution for at least one meal over the Christmas weekend.
With my family, we usually have a slightly formal dinner on Christmas Eve and on Christmas day we lounge around the pool with all and sundry bringing their favourite summer dishes. It is a very relaxed day with no-one slaving in a hot kitchen.
Mix the salad dressing and allow infusing. Core the apples and slice in thin slices. Sprinkle some lemon juice over to prevent discolouration. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and the watercress. Chop the spring onions. Arrange salad on individual plates. Cut the end rinds off the Chevin cheeses, and then cut them in half (horizontally).
Place the cheese slices on a baking sheet which is lined with aluminium foil. Spray with non stick spray. Place a spoon of cream on the cheese and sprinkle lightly with freshly ground pepper and a dash of salt. Grill until the cheese just begins to bubble. Place cheese on salad, sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and the salad dressing.
Grilled fillet of beef in caul fat with red peppers, spinach and feta cheese. A lovely main course which could be assembled the day before so that the flavours could mingle and develop. It gives the hostess time to tend to her guests. Caul fat bastes the meat during cooking. It keeps it juicy and gives the meat a unique smoky flavour.
Soak the caul fat in luke warm water with a dash of vinegar in the water. Remove all the sinews from the meat. The thin white membranes on the fillet becomes very tough when put through a cooking process. It is quite easy to remove - slip the blade of a very thin knife under the membrane and follow it to the end. Fold back the thin end of the fillet. Spread the soft butter over the meat and season with the salt and pepper.
Cut the sweet peppers into strips. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the sweet peppers until soft - roughly 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and oregano and stir-fry for one minute. Add the vinegar and set aside. Use the left over juices in the pan and sauté the spinach until limp.
Take care to have the red peppers and spinach as dry as possible otherwise one could end up with a puddle of juices on the serving plate. When the spinach is cooled, mix the red peppers, spinach, feta cheese and pesto. Correct seasoning. Lay the soaked caul fat on a chopping board and cover with the vegetable and cheese mixture. Place the fillet on top of the mixture and fold the caul fat and filling around the fillet.
Secure with string. Braai over moderate coals for about 40 minutes or until medium rare. Let the meat rest in the warming drawer for about 15 minutes. This settles the meat juices and you will not end up with a bloody puddle in your serving plate. Serve this delectable dish with sauté potatoes and steamed vegetables of your choice.
Cold Christmas Pudding
This easy pudding could be assembled at least two days ahead.
Place the currants, raisins and sultanas in a bowl and cover with 500ml boiling water. Leave until plump and soft. Drain and reserve the water. Add the remaining fruit, nuts and brandy to the fruit. Mix well and allow standing, covered for 1 hour. Make up reserved water from fruit to 500ml with fresh water, bring to boil and dissolve jelly.
Mix spice and crumbs together, and then combine all the ingredients. Pour into a rinsed ring mould and chill until set, about two hours. For the topping: Whip cream with sugar and add brandy to taste. Pile into the centre of pudding. Surround with holly springs or edible green leaves such as lemon leaves.
Ferdi Heyns is the sector executive chef for Kagiso Khulani Supervision Foods, a subsidiary of Compass South Africa. Compass South Africa is currently the interim restaurant operator in the Kruger National Park. Ferdi has been in the industry for thirty years and has catered for the rich and famous during his very interesting and colourful career.
Garry Hamer is currently the catering manager at Lower Sabie rest camp. He is part of the Compass team which is the appointed interim restaurant operator in the Kruger Park. He is also qualified as aexecutive chef and for years he was the owner of Gold Reef city caterers and conference centre. Garry has been in the industry for 27years.