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cheesecake

The Christmas Table

Amanda Whitley

There are some dishes that are are must-haves for our festive table…here are the four I just couldn’t survive Christmas without.

Add the obligatory ham, turkey and lashings of fresh prawns (and some good, fresh salads!) and you have all the ingredients for a memorable meal.

p.s. It’s a well-known fact that calories don’t count on Christmas Day…bear that in mind when you see my recipes, won’t you?

SMOKED TROUT PATE

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This is my mum-in-law’s recipe (she’s an amazing cook) and it’s such an incredibly more-ish starter! We demand it at most family gatherings (that, and her famous White Chocolate Amaretto Mousse…but that’s another post!)

what you need

  • 125g smoked trout meat
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp french mustard
  • 2 shallots (spring onions)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

what to do

  • Roughly chop the trout and put it in the blender with the melted butter. Blend.
  • Gradually add combined lemon juice and oil to the blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Add cream and mustard; blend. Season and then fold in shallots.
  • Transfer to serving dish and place in fridge to chill for an hour or two.
  • Serve with crusty white bread, thin toasts or just crackers!

MINI CHICKEN ROAST WITH CHRISTMAS STUFFING

roasts

About this time a few years ago, my good friend and culinary whiz Clare gave me a lesson in how to debone a chicken. It wasn’t pretty…my knife skills need a little bit of work.

But she brought along the most amazing stuffing, which I immediately fell in love with…so much so, that it has featured at Christmas celebration events since!

what you need

  • One whole chicken
  • Prosciutto

For the stuffing

  • 1 ½ cups Ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup Dried cranberries
  • ½  cup pistachios
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • Two spring onions chopped very finely
  • ¾ cup pecorino or parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley

what to do

  • Preheat your oven and tray to 190°c.
  • First, make your seasoning. Combine all the stuffing ingredients and taste. It should be well seasoned (i.e. aim for it to be a little saltier than you’d usually go for) or the flavour will dissipate in the chicken.
  • Next, debone your chicken with a sharp pointed knife.  If using a whole chicken start from the backbone and work your way towards the breast bone.
  • Once the carcass is free cut between the two breasts.  Slice the breasts lengthways, making a flap, you want to make the chicken as flat as possible so the cooking is even. When the bone is free, slice through the largest part of the meat in order to make it as flat as possible.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay each 1/2 chicken, skin side down, on a few slices of prosciutto, laid out so that the edges just overlap.
  • Place the stuffing on the breast end of each chicken. Roll the chicken with the thigh (brown meat) on the outside.  Tie the roast so it doesn’t fall open and the prosciutto is nice and neat.
  • Place the mini roast in the preheated tray.  Roast in a medium oven (180°c) for 35 to 40 minutes or until the meat is cooked in the centre.
  • Do not over cook chicken, it becomes stringy and horrible when overdone.  The internal temperature needs to be uncomfortably hot, not scalding.
  • Once the meat is cooked, leave it in a warm place to rest. Then simply slice and serve!

INCREDIBLY GOOD POTATO SALAD

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Look, there is very little nutritional value in this salad…apart from the potatoes and the chives. They’re vegetables, right?

Apart from that, it’s pretty much just fat…which is why I only make it once a year when there are plenty of others to share it with.

But Oh My God. It is amazing. And so easy. This salad should serve six (unless you get completely carried away with the taste-testing).

what you need

  • 1.5kg chat (small coliban) potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 200g bacon rashers, trimmed, diced.
  • 2/3 cup (170g) whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 small bunch of chives
  • condensed milk, to taste
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

what to do

  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 3 minutes. Peel eggs.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Drain well on paper towel.
  • Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters. Chop the eggs. Chop the chives.
  • Place the potatoes, bacon, mayo and a dollop of condensed milk in a bowl. Toss gently to combine. Add the egg and 2/3 of the chives and toss to combine.
  • Season to taste and serve topped with the remaining chives.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE WITH RASPBERRIES

cheesecake

This recipe is by Australian cook, Belinda Jeffery and is the only cheesecake I like. Seriously. Like Belinda, I’m not usually a fan of cheesecakes because they can be ‘gluggy and heavy’…combined with white chocolate, you’d think this cheesecake would be overwhelmingly sweet. But no.

The sour cream keeps minimises the sweetness and the cheesecake is a perfect foil to the tartness of the raspberries.It’s amazingly delicate and light with a texture almost like satin. So, so yummy!

Begin this recipe a day ahead. The cake will keep for up to one week in the fridge.

what you need

  • 450g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tbs strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups (480ml) sour cream
  • 1 cup (250ml) double cream
  • 220g good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
  • Two punnets of fresh raspberries

what to do

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm springform cake pan and line base with baking paper. Wrap the outside tightly in a double layer of foil.
  • Whiz cheese and sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds until smooth. With motor running, add cornflour, then eggs one at a time, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides.
  • Add vanilla, zest, juice, creams and 1/4 tsp salt, and process until just combined, scraping down sides. Add chocolate and pulse until smooth.
  • Pour into pan and sit in a large baking dish. Pour hot water into dish to come halfway up sides of pan. Bake for 45 minutes, then leave in switched-off oven (door closed) for 1 hour.
  • Remove pan from dish, remove foil and cool cake completely in pan on a rack. Cover and chill overnight.
  • To turn out, sit pan on a hot, damp towel to loosen base. Run a palette knife around edge of pan, then invert onto a serving plate. Decorate with fruit to serve, then slice with a hot, dry knife.
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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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