Orphan Christmas

I have been working round the clock on the Bon Appétit ipad app. So this year, with not much time to cook, I reached out last minute to friends who might be in New York over Christmas to join me in an all-nations ‘pot-luck’ Dinner. The criteria was simple; guests should bring dishes that reflected their individual roots and cultural background. Basicly, a Holiday dish that they’d grown up with.

Honey made in Ohio, Mustards bought from Germany, Cured meats that reflected a Minnesota heritage, traditional Panna Cotta from Japan, a Ham, made 1950’s housewife-style from a girl who hailed from Texas, as well as Latkes, fried up fresh, as we were sitting down—a nod to someone’s Jewish roots.

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‘ORPHAN’ POT LUCK HOLIDAY MENU:
Cured Meats, Cheeses, Mustard platter  (Germany, Minnesota)
Sweet Potato Latkes with Sriracha Creme Fraiche. (Jewish-inspired)
Carrot and Ginger Soup (Texas)
Roasted Turkey with Turkey Meatballs, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce (Australia)
1950’s style Ham with Pineapple, Cloves and Cherries. (Texas)
Broccoli Casserole (California)
Garlic Thyme infused mashed potato (Australia)
Oyster Dressing (Florida)
Figgy Pudding with Traditional English Custard (England)
Japanese style Panna Cotta (Japan)

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RECIPES

ROASTED TURKEY with TURKEY MEATBALLS
Because I didn’t have a lot of time to plan, I roasted the turkey using a recipe from Chuck Hughes (a French Canadian Chef based out of Montreal). He took ground turkey (and used it as stuffing) but then he also formed it into meatballs and roasted them in broth around the actual turkey. Brilliant if you’re having a lot of kids to the table. (Who love meatballs!) He brined his turkey in Molasses, Brown Sugar and Salt for 48 hours, which gave the bird a wonderful burnished color, and the flavor was right on. I’ll definitely make this again. The meatballs fell apart a little bit in the cooking process, so maybe I didn’t use enough milk-soaked bread to bind them? Next time, I might try tossing in a raw egg to the initial sausage mixture, just to hold them together. The meatballs are a mixture of Ground Turkey, Bacon, Leeks, Parmesan, Parsley, Dill, Smoked Paprika, Green Onions, and great the next day, as leftovers, reheated and tossed in a little Orange Cranberry sauce and served with Dijon Mustard and warmed Mashed Potato.

To get the recipe for Roasted Turkey with Turkey Meatballs, click here.

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MINI SWEET POTATO LATKES with SRIRACHA-CREME FRAICHE and CHIVES
Marissa, a guest at my dinner, who hails from Virginia, bought these little gems. An unusual twist on a traditional dish. I first met Marissa when I catered her book launch. For more info on her work click here. To check out her blog: click here.

Makes about 32 latkes

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
2 medium onions, peeled and grated
3 eggs
6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour  (add until you reach a nice consistency)

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
white pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
vegetable or safflower oil for frying
8 oz creme fraiche
2 to 4 teaspoons sriracha hot sauce (more or less to taste, depending on desired spiciness)
¼ cup minced chives

Grate sweet potato and onion and squeeze out excess water. The less water in the mix, the crispier the latke. Mix in eggs, flour, soy sauce, salt, pepper and cayenne with the potatoes and onions. Heat about ½ inch worth of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Make mini latkes from mixture, each about a small palmful worth, pressing out excess liquid before placing in oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes on each side.  Place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Transfer to a serving platter. Mix sriracha into crème fraiche, place a small dollop atop latkes and sprinkle with chives just before serving.

*Alternatively, you can bake latkes in the oven on a cookie sheet brushed with oil. Bake at 425F for about 12 minutes, flip latkes and bake another 10-12 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy.


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FIGGY PUDDING
I wanted to hark back to traditional English Christmas for dessert. This recipe serves 6. I used vegetable shortening instead of the traditional suet, and a mixture of dried cranberries as well as dried raisins. This recipe was inspired by Simon Rimmer

Put 2 cups of dried figs into a bowl and pour over a small bottle of Brandy. Leave to soak for one week, or just overnight. Drain, reserve the Brandy.

In a bowl, mix together 1/3 of a cup of Self Rising Flour1 cup of fresh Breadcrumbs1 teaspoon of freshly grated Nutmeg7 tablespoons of Vegetable Shortening7 oz chopped Dates1 cup of Golden Raisins and 3/4’s of a cup of Regular Raisins, Dried Cherries and Dried Cranberries, add the 2 cups of marinated figs. To the reserved Brandy add the juice and zest of 1 Orange and the juice and zest from a finely grated 2 inch stick of fresh Ginger, and 2 eggs lightly beaten. Whisk to blend. Then pour into the dry mixture and meld with with your fingers. Put into a greased pudding basin. Cover tightly with foil (It’s important water doesn’t get in) and place in a flat wide pan half filled with water and bring to the boil. Boil, topping up the water for 4 hours or until the pudding is cooked and springy to touch. (Don’t boil the water, then put the basin in, you’ll burn yourself).

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TRADITIONAL ENGLISH CUSTARD
This recipe is inspired from Delia Smith. I substituted regular Vanilla Essence for the required Vanilla pod.

Place 10 oz or 275ml of Heavy Cream in a saucepan over low heat. While the cream is heating, in a medium bowl whisk 3 large egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of cornflour and 1 oz (25ml) of Sugar. While whisking gradually pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of Vanilla essence. Put back on the heat and continue whisking until the custard is thick.

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Pics from top:
FIGGY PUDDING with TRADITIONAL ENGLISH CUSTARD, ROASTED TURKEY with TURKEY MEATBALLS, TURKEY with the LATKES.

(Pics Dimity Jones)

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

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