Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dinner inspired by Christmas

I had some friends over for dinner last weekend. The weather was miserable, so I decided that we needed some winter warming food. Because we don't go for the heavy, warming food at Christmas time, I decided to experiment with a mid-winter themed dinner.

I have been browsing Martha Stewart's website recently, as she has some wonderful recipes. She has a great Holidays section, where I found some delicious-looking Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes. I was looking for something a bit different, but still with winter-warming qualities. It was difficult to narrow down what I wanted to make; at one stage I had about five or six different recipes open in my browser. It seems I may have to have another mid-winter Christmas dinner to try the other recipes!

But I eventually did narrow it down. Firstly, I roasted a beautiful big chicken (free-range of course). I made Peach Stuffing which was delicious! I really, really enjoyed this stuffing. I had a mini-disaster with the parsley, but that didn't seem to affect the dish. I went to the local market earlier in the day and purchased what I thought was a lovely big bag of organic parsley. The woman selling it obviously thought it was parsley too, as she had labeled it so, and we even had a quick chat about it! Anyway, when it came time to add the parsley, I opened the bag only to discover it was kale! Oh dear. Not to worry, my dish just didn't contain parsley. I'm sure the addition of parsley would have enhanced the flavour though. (I ended up just steaming the kale and serving it with a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper - delicious).

The next dish I made was Apple, Leek, and Butternut Squash Gratin.It was super easy to make, and delicious. I think I found it had too much liquid in the bottom once cooked. Next time I might ensure the leeks have very little liquid. I don't have any sherry, so I just used white wine instead.

I wish I had a photo of this finished dish, as it really was very pretty. I layered uniform pieces of the apple on top, so it had a lovely pattern when served. In fact, one of my guests was concerned that we were digging into the dessert! I couldn't find any sage for the dish, but it didn't seem to matter. This was a really tasty dish too, I would make it again.

I had heaps of food left over. (I was so paranoid about not having enough, so over-compensated but cooking about twice as much as I needed). However, this was not a problem, as I used the remaining chicken, stuffing, gratin and kale to make a delicious chicken pie. I simply made a roux of butter and flour and gradually added milk until I had a nice thick, creamy sauce. I then added all the left-overs and mixed it well. I baked this in some short pastry and we had pie for lunch and dinner for the next two days. Yum.

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