Lay on a merry spread
These festive recipes are designed to impress with minimal stress, and sized for a crowd, says NZ House & Garden’s Sally Butters.
Salmon tartare with cucumber & wasabi
The ingredients for this delicious starter, plus the dressing, can be prepared ahead but do not combine them more than 1-2 hours before serving, as the lime juice will ‘‘cook’’ the salmon.
700g skinned and boned fresh
1⁄4 telegraph cucumber
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 1 tbsp snipped chives
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves 1 thumb ginger, peeled and grated 3 limes, juiced
1⁄2-1 tbsp wasabi paste (to taste) 1 tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 tsp sesame oil
1⁄3 cup good-quality mayonnaise 2 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Cut salmon into 1⁄2cm cubes (chilling the salmon in the freezer first, until it is very cold, will make it easier to slice). Cut unpeeled cucumber into 1⁄2cm cubes, discarding seeds. Place salmon, cucumber, shallots, herbs and ginger in a non-reactive bowl.
Combine lime juice, wasabi, oils and mayonnaise. Mix gently into ingredients in bowl and season well with flaky sea salt and pepper (preferably white). Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.
Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Add some lime wedges and pickled ginger on the side if desired. Accompany the tartare with some oaty biscuits. Serves 8-10 as a starter
Cider-glazed ham with star anise
A glazed ham makes a handsome centrepiece for a meal and provides a relatively fuss-free way to feed a crowd. We used a 7kg ham, which is big enough for about 24 servings.
1 cooked leg of ham
1 cup apple cider
1⁄2 cup water
12 whole star anise, for garnish Glaze
3⁄4 cup apple cider
1 cup dark cane sugar
1⁄4 cup liquid honey
1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 1 tsp each: ground cinnamon, coriander and ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp rum
Heat oven to 180C. Line a large roasting pan with foil or baking paper.
Using a small, very sharp knife, cut a line around the shank end of the ham. Then, using your fingers, gently lift the rind, leaving a layer of fat covering the ham. Using the sharp knife, score fat in a decorative pattern, trying not to cut into the pink flesh of the ham. Glaze: Combine all ingredients except rum in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar and mustard dissolve. Reduce heat to a simmer for 5 minutes then remove pan from heat, add rum and leave glaze to cool and thicken slightly.
Place remaining 1 cup of apple cider and the 1⁄2 cup water in roasting pan. Add ham then brush generously with cider glaze.
Cook 60-80 minutes, basting with remaining glaze at 15-minute intervals. When glaze is golden and ham completely warmed through, remove from oven and stand at least 20 minutes before carving. Garnish with the star anise (these will stick to the glaze with a firm press). Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves a crowd
Spiced cherry & cider compote
This sweet and spicy condiment contains both fresh and dried cherries, and is a gorgeous accompaniment to the ham. 1⁄2 cup dried tart cherries
1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
1⁄2 cup pitted dried prunes
1⁄2 cup dried apricots
4 dried peaches
1 lemon, juice and peeled rind
1⁄4 cup dark cane sugar
2 whole small red dried chillis 2 whole cloves
1 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup apple
12 fresh cherries, pitted and halved Combine all ingredients except fresh cherries in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until fruit is puffed and tender (about 20 minutes).
Remove from heat and leave to stand several hours so the flavours develop. Fold in fresh cherries. Serve at room temperature. Compote will keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.
Makes about 21⁄2 cups
Salmon tartare with cucumber & wasabi, left. Spiced cherry & cider compote is delicious with cider-glazed ham. MANJA WACHSMUTH