Gordon Ramsay makes Christmas entertaining seem easy in his new recipe book called, yes, Christmas writes Ingrid Shevlin
Christmas by Gordon Ramsay (Quadrille Publishing). R340 from Adams in Musgrave
This is not a book you buy someone for Christmas. This is a book you buy yourself ahead of Christmas if you are planning some serious entertaining over the festive season.
And if you don’t celebrate Christmas or hate it to the point you feel like self-harming every time you hear Bony M singing Jesus Was A Boy Child, there is still something for you here. Just think of it as entertaining made easy. A party book in other words.
In the forward to the book Ramsay says it’s in response to the many requests he’s had over the years for ideas about what food to serve at Christmas parties, how to cook the perfect roast turkey and what to do with leftovers.
I don’t believe that for a moment. I think Ramsay’s publishers wanted to make money and Christmas, which many of us feel sentimental about – seemed a good time to part his devotees from their hard-earned cash. Having got that off my chest, I would like to be fair and say there is much to enjoy in this book, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.
In Christmas Ramsay offers step by step instructions to preparing five different Christmas menus. They are:
- Roast turkey with a pork, apricot and pistachio stuffing, roast potatoes with chilli and turmeric, caramelised cranberry and apple sauce and brussel sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts. This is followed by a steamed pudding and whiskey cream;
- Beef Wellington with watercress puree and truffle mashed potatoes. Starter is scallops and dessert is panna cotta with pomegranate glaze;
- Glazed ham menu comes with a pear and saffron chutney, parsnip puree and creamed cabbage. Starter is a cream of cauliflower soup with truffle oil and dessert is ricotta cake with caramelised clementines.
- In the fourth menu sea bass is the star. It’s served with lemongrass veloute, and potato and celeriac dauphinoise. Dessert is sherry-glazed figs and starter is a smoked duck breast salad.
- Finally there is roast goose served with a redcurrant and red wine sauce and accompanied by braised red cabbage and apple. Dessert is passion fruit parfait.
I’m not absolutely convinced that these menus easily translate to all-year-round entertaining, but if you have any doubts there is more on offer. A whole section is devoted to party food, from dry-roasted spiced nuts to pumpkin tartlets with sage and thyme.
And, if you have guests staying over for Christmas, he offers recipes for breakfast and brunch (from Christmas muesli and chestnut muffins to ham and potato cakes and cinnamon pancakes). Then there are recipes for lunches and suppers. This includes ideas for what to do with left over salmon, cooked turkey and ham and stilton. It also includes the likes of shallot tart tatin, pumpkin soup and bubble and squeak cakes. Finally there are sweet treats like Italian-style trifle and a delicious-sounding pear and Amaretto cheesecake.
The front of the book also advises on suitable wines and cheeses to serve which, unfortunately, favours what is available in the UK.
Nothing in this book seems particularly complicated or demanding and his step-by-step instructions include time management. There are also enough illustrations to act as a pictorial guide to the end result. So, if you love entertaining, this book is one you will cherish.
I loved the sound of this pear and saffron chutney. Ramsay says it works particularly well with aromatic glazed him – and it keeps for up to six months.
Pear and Saffron Chutney
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 small onion peeled and chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 50g knob of fresh root ginger peeled and finely grated
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper to taste
- 250g unrefined soft brown sugar
- 250ml white wine vinegar
- 4 firm pears – about 650g
- 1 small cooking apple, about 350g, peeled, cored and chopped
- 125g sultanas
- 2 pinches of saffron strands
- finely grated zest and juice of 2 small oranges
- 2 tomatoes diced
1 Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and sweat for a few minutes with a touch of seasoning, to soften, but not colour. Add the grated ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until it has dissolved. Add the wine vinegar
2 Peel, core and chop the pears and apple. Add to the pan with the sultanas, saffron and orange zest and juice. Bring to the boil and boil steadily for about 15 minutes, until liquid has reduced down to a syrupy consistency.
3 Add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, by which time the chutney should be well reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a little salt and pepper.
4 While still hot, spoon the chutney into clean, sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark cupboard or the fridge and use within 6 months. Flavour improves over time.