Sarah Tuck cheats a little on the way to a winning Yuletide spread
GIVEN THAT I LOVE any excuse to have a few friends over, I really enjoy the latter part of the year as the days become longer and Christmas draws near – it’s the perfect time to entertain. That said, I don’t like to make life more difficult for myself than necessary, so favour recipes like these where the methods are simple and the results impressive. Embrace the festive season, I say – gather up the troops and make the most of it before the holidays start and everyone disappears for a well-earned break (and to recover from the pre-Christmas jollities?!).
PORK & SAGE SAUSAGE ROLLS MAKES 20 / PREPARATION 20 MINUTES / COOKING 35 MINUTES
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 stick celery, finely chopped 50g streaky bacon, finely chopped ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves ¼ cup finely chopped curly-leafed parsley 450g pork sausages, squeezed from the casings 2 slices white bread, crusts removed,
whizzed in a food processor to form breadcrumbs 500g ready-rolled puff pastry (I used Paneton) 1 egg, whisked 1 tablespoon whole milk 2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional) good-quality chutney to serve Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion, celery and bacon over a gentle heat for 10 minutes or until the onion is softened but not coloured. Add the herbs and cook for a minute more. Remove from the heat and cool. Stir in the sausage meat and breadcrumbs to combine.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Lay the pastry out and cut into two 14cm x 40cm rectangles. Divide the sausage mix into two long sausage shapes and run them along the long edges of the pastry rectangles, a third in from the edge. Whisk the egg with the milk and brush some around the pastry then roll up both rectangles firmly like sushi. Use the tines of a fork to press down gently on the sealed edges and roll the pastry logs onto a baking-paper-lined tray, seal side down.
Put the tray into the freezer for 20 minutes before slicing each log into 10-12 rolls at your desired length – mine were about 3.5cm. Brush with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with the poppy seeds, if using. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Serve with a little good chutney.
WINE A juicy, ripe Hawke’s Bay Bordeaux blend, such as Trinity Hill The Gimblett 2014.
NORDIC PRAWNS SERVES 6-8 AS PART OF A PLATTER / PREPARATION 10 MINUTES
Kind of like a Nordic twist on the old prawn cocktail (although no doubt the original version), these are a fabulous addition to a nibbles platter. The mixture can be made up to eight hours ahead and kept in a sealed container in the fridge. ½ cup good-quality egg mayonnaise ½ cup sour cream 1 tablespoon brandy 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
(reserve a little to garnish) finely grated zest of 1 lemon pinch of cayenne pepper 400g cooked prawns, tails removed 2 tablespoons salmon roe or caviar to garnish Whisk the mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl with the brandy, dill and zest then season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Add the prawns (I keep them whole but you could roughly chop them if you prefer) to the mayo-sour cream mixture. Stir to combine and serve with the reserved dill and salmon roe or caviar.
THYME & CRANBERRY VODKA JELLIES MAKES 12-14 / PREPARATION 10 MINUTES
These are always a fun party-starter! 3 leaves Equagold gold-grade gelatine ⅓ cup caster sugar 4 sprigs fresh thyme (reserve a few leaves to garnish) peel of 1 lemon ⅓ cup dried cranberries 1⅓ cups vodka (or gin) Cut the gelatine leaves in half and put in a bowl of cold water. Put the sugar in a saucepan and whisk in 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil and add the thyme, peel and cranberries. Boil for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
Squeeze the water from the gelatine sheets and put in a jug. Strain the hot syrup to remove the aromatics and whisk into the gelatine to dissolve. Add the vodka and whisk.
Pour into shot glasses and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 2 days in advance. Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before serving so they soften up slightly.