THIS year I fancy a Christmas that takes me back to the wonderful and happy festive celebrations of my childhood in 1980s Pretoria.
My mother and my aunt laughing, each with a glass of white wine in one hand, busy making snacks for Christmas Eve and wrapping the last gifts for the Christmas tree.
The two sisters took turns every year — so one year Christmas Eve was with us in Riviera and Christmas Day with my aunt's family in Brooklyn, and the next year it would be the other way round. It was like that for 20 years, even when both families moved to Waterkloof. After that my aunt and her family moved to Stellenbosch and things changed.
The food was always important and this year I want to create that experience for my family and friends. On Christmas Eve there will be snacks such as sardine pâté and crackers, mushroom and lentil pâté and flatbread with shreds of meat and salsa verde. I want to hear glasses clinking and see lights and glitter.
On Christmas morning I will start cooking and make sure some homeless people to whom we give food also enjoy a festive meal.
Christmas Day will be a bright African affair under the apricot tree, with a lovely view of the Karoo. Hopefully I'll be able to buy an eland or kudu fillet, but if not we'll go with beef fillet — expensive, but I want to splurge a bit — served with red wine and green pepper cream sauce, potato salad and baked green beans with caramelised onions. For pudding I have my new favourite trifle.
Here are the recipes for six people, or double for more.
Old-fashioned fillet with cream, red wine and pepper sauce
- 1 kg fillet
- pork fat (optional)
- MSG (optional)
- 100 g medium red onion, very finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 tsp green peppercorns
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp grainy mustard
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 cube of chicken stock
- 250 ml thick cream
- pink salt
Method for meat
1. Roll the fillet in MSG (monosodium glutamate), melt the fat and fry your fillet until it is deep brown and caramelised on all sides. (Don't believe the stories about MSG, they are just American lies). You can also just fry your fillet in butter with a little salt.
2. Bake in a preheated oven at 220ºC for 25 minutes for rare meat, remove from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with the sauce.
Method for sauce
1. Melt a little butter in a pan, add the onions and fry until soft. Add the garlic, pepper and mustard and fry for a minute.
2. Now add the wine and let the alcohol boil off before you crumble the chicken stock cube on top.
3. Add the cream and cook for about a minute until well combined.
- 7 large potatoes, peeled and boiled until just soft and cut into smaller cubes, or 2 packs of small potatoes quartered and boiled until just soft
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup buttermilk
- salt and pepper
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- rocket and edible flowers for serving
Mix everything except the rocket and flowers and leave in the fridge until nice and cold before serving.
Green beans with onions
- 1 pack of green beans
- 40 ml olive oil
- ½ tsp pink salt
- 60 ml red wine vinegar
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- 80 g butter
- black pepper and salt
1. Rub the beans with olive oil and salt and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC until just brown. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and pour the vinegar over.
2. Fry the onions in butter until caramelised, allow to cool and pour over beans.
Ginger cheesecake trifle
400 g of the best gingerbread biscuits you can find; purée in a food processor or place in a double plastic bag and beat with a hammer until fine.
- 1 kg hazelnut full cream yoghurt
- 250 g cream cheese
- 200 ml sour cream
- ½ tin of caramel
- nuts (optional)
1. Mix the yoghurt, cream cheese, sour cream and caramel until well combined.
2. Now you can pack layers in your trifle dish; start with the fine biscuits.
♦ VWB ♦
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