Thursday, 29 December 2011

Food by email – a new Dukan for 2012?


On the first day of Christmas,
My step-mum sent to me,
A food postcard* from Mi-a-mi…

Miami beach

*from the 10-course tasting menu she and my dad were treated to on Christmas Eve.

It looked seriously good so I thought I would post it up here. Believe it or not, it was not produced by a restaurant, but by a very talented and consummate host with a demanding day job (which, surprisingly, is not working as a top chef). A Montreal-born Sicilian, it is his family tradition to eat late into the night on Christmas Eve. Those are the only details you’re getting – and don’t even think of asking for his address.

Think of it as a Christmas present: a feast for the eyes, without the calories. (This is the only time you will ever read anything about diets or calories on here, promise.)Their night started young and gradually got older and rounder, finally dropping off its perch at around 3.30am so please forgive them if the order looks awry. I also blame indigestion - theirs not mine.

Even the menu was edible; a cube sandwich of liver pate and fig compote covered with edible paper. WOW.

2nd course 

A starter dish of a Caprese salad based on an iceberg melting

3rd course 

Snails stuffed with nuts…

4th course

Foie gras crepe milkshake with mascarpone Cointreau cream and blueberry port reduction

5th course

Stone crab and lobster Martini (bisque)

6th course

Meatball cupcake with Pecorino cream

7th course

Nigiri in a hickory-smoke-filled snowglobe…


(That’s a very pretty hand towel. I don’t think they ate it...)

9th course

Frozen Asian pear and Stilton with black truffle

8th course

Smokin’ Cubano pulled pork ‘cigar’. Always think twice about licking the ashtray…(unless like here they are sesame seeds)

beef wellington

Individual Beef Wellingtons…in honour of the English guests


Tiramisu with chocolate mousse in handmade chocolate cups

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mincemeat and Apple Crumble

It’s ridiculously easy at this time of year to come by a perfectly decent shop-bought mince pie. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to make them at home each year. Is it the warm fuzzy feeling that festive baking bestows upon me, the sensation that I am making something to be shared lovingly with friends and family by the light of the Christmas tree?

Bah, humbug! More like an excuse to eat mincemeat straight from the jar with a spoon…

In an effort to become more transparent in my motives towards this Yuletide ingredient, I have legitimised it in the guise of a crumble, thereby freeing it of its shortcrust shackles. It makes a blinder of a seasonal pudding, with ice-cream, clotted cream or even a brandy-laced custard.

Mincemeat and apple crumble

Serves 4

900g cooking apples

1 x 411g jar mincemeat

55g light brown sugar

110g unsalted butter

170g plain flour

A handful of crushed amaretti biscuits or oats

Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease a baking dish.

Peel, core and chop the apples into dice of roughly 3 x 3 cm. Place these in a pan with a tablespoonful of water and the same of caster sugar. Cover and cook on a medium heat until they are yielding but not yet mush. Stir in the mincemeat and heat through, and remove the pan from the heat. Tip the fruit mixture into the greased dish.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, sugar, butter and crushed amaretti/oats with the fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Scatter evenly over the fruit and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until golden on top gently bubbling at the sides.