Our favourites are ones that are easy, don’t need a whole host of ingredients that we don’t already have in the kitchen cupboards, and that we can serve just as easily to dinner party guests as we can to our family mid-week.
We’ve just opened a copy of Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes and it’s ticks all the (delicious) boxes, and then some. It’s a collection by local South African mum-of-three and home chef Jan Kohler, who says she loves nothing better than throwing a party (girl after our own hearts), and any excuse would do (she seriously could be our new BFF). This book is full of the recipes she’s used time and time again, the ones that her friends and dinner guests have asked for the most. So there are candyfloss cones and cupcakes and chocolate-dipped marshmallows for children’s birthday parties, and chocolate, and orange, and coconut cakes for a girls’ tea. There are party nibbles like spiced nuts and party nachos, or big hearty dishes to feed a crowd – like Youvetsi Greek stew and Coq au Vin. There are Margarita sorbets and champagne floats and pink watermelon gin popsicles. It’s a really fabulous Christmas gift, to give or receive, and you can find it online on Burble, or Porcupine Press for between around R356 and R410. Jan shared some Christmas recipes with us … and you can find more recipes on her cooking blog … jankohlercooks.com
Wassail literally means to drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy lively way. Apt, I think, for Christmas time when we might find ourselves socializing in the kitchen over pots of delicious food, while knocking back a couple of yuletide cocktails. Wassail is a deliciously spiced mulled white wine-apple drink. I first tasted it when visiting our American family friends over a very cold Christmas in Texas. I was captivated by the scents of citrus, cinnamon and clove, and I now make it every year, despite the South African heat, just to get our home smelling like Christmas. A pot of Wassail on the stove creates the perfect atmosphere to begin the festivities!
- 2 litres of apple juice
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons of whole allspice
- 1 small lemon, sliced
- 1 bottle of white wine
- 4 cups of water
- 3-quarter cup of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 1 small orange, sliced
- 1 litre of orange juice
How to do it:
Combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer on the stove. Serve warm glasses of Wassail and enjoy it with friends in a noisy, lively way!
This traditional holiday drink is like a delicious milkshake, so watch the kids around it – its rather boozy! This recipe will make 6-8 small espresso cup sized servings.
- 4 eggs
- A quarter cup of condensed milk
- 30ml bourbon, rum or brandy
- 250ml pouring cream
- 250ml coconut cream
- 1 of teaspoon vanilla essence
- Nutmeg (and/or cinnamon) to sprinkle
How to do it:
Bring a pot of water to the boil and drop the eggs into it for just 45 seconds. (I don’t have it on any good authority that this will kill salmonella in an infected egg, but it makes me feel better!) I would further advise you to buy fresh, good quality eggs from a source that you trust, when you are going to use them raw.
Cool the eggs down in a bowl of ice water, before breaking them into a mixing bowl. Beat them with an electric mixer, adding all of the remaining ingredients until you have a lovely frothy drink. Refrigerate the eggnog until you’re ready to serve. And remember to add a grating of nutmeg over the top!
GINGER BREAD BISCUITS
These ginger bread biscuits will bring the airoma of Christmas into your home and they make a great cookie jar filler over the festive season. If you have the cookie cutters for it – or if you’re just that creative – you can also use this recipe to make a ginger bread house.
- 1 25g butter
- 1 20g brown treacle sugar
- 1 60g maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 350g cake flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
How to do it:
Using a cake mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and keep mixing until a soft dough forms. It will probably be quite sticky to the touch, so flour your hands a little before removing the dough from the bowl. Cover it in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour. Before you begin rolling out the dough, pre-heat your oven to 1 80° and flour the surface you’re going to work on.
Knead the dough gently by hand to ensure that its well combined and then begin rolling it out onto your floured surface. You want the end result to be around 3mm thick before cutting shapes. If you make them too thin, they’ll burn easily. Bake your shapes on a lined and greased baking tray for 1 5 to 20 minutes, until golden brown, and decorate as you wish.
GINGER GLAZED GAMMON WITH GRILLED PINEAPPLE
Preparing a Gammon for Christmas is a relatively easy thing to do these days – so many products are partially pre-cooked and often all you have to do is glaze the top, and warm it up before serving. I’m so on board with these hams because it gives me more time to spend on my Turkey cooking. But if you do find you want to spend some time on your Gammon, this too is an easy and most rewarding recipe.
A gammon/ham of your choice
- 1 -2L of ginger ale
- 1 cup of white wine
- A cinnamon stick
- Half an orange, sliced
- 4 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
- Water, if needed
- 1 pineapple, sliced
- Maple syrup, for glazing
How to do it:
Place your gammon in a pot with all of the ingredients (except the pineapple),ensuring that it is fully immersed in the liquid. The amount that you need will depend on the size of both your gammon, and the pot that you are going to cook it in. Add water if you need to. Cook this following the instructions on the packaging of your selected meat. If you are cooking a raw ham from scratch, you’re probably looking at 3 hours. It will be less for a pre-cooked gammon. Once done, set the gammon aside to cool. Remove the rind with a sharp knife, brush it with maple syrup and grind over a bit of salt. This can be grilled in the oven to make a delicious, crispy crackling.
Finely slice your pineapple, brush the slices with maple syrup and fry these in a griddle pan to serve with the sliced gammon. Add a few tablespoons of the “gammon water” to any juices left in the pan, and then drizzle this over your platter of sliced gammon and pineapple for extra flavour.
BLACK FOREST ROULADE CAKE
This is really just a Chocolate Swiss Roll, with all the bells and whistles, so it looks fabulously festive!
- 3 eggs, separated
- 3-quarter cup castor sugar, and extra for dusting
- 50ml water
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- A pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- Cherry or strawberry jam for spreading
- Chocolate-nut spread, like Nutella or Lindt Hazelnut spread
- 2 cups whipped cream
- Cherries to garnish
- Chocolate shavings, to garnish
How to do it
Pre-heat your oven to 1 80°C and grease and line a baking tray. Separate the eggs, and place the yolks and egg whites into 2 large separate bowls.
Beat the egg yolks with the castor sugar, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Fold in the flour, salt, cocoa powder and then the water, and continue to blend together.
Using clean beaters, whisk the egg whites until they are thick and stiff and then fold into the chocolate mixture, keeping the batter light and airy.
Spoon it out onto the baking tray and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer, when inserted into the cake, comes out clean.
Turn the cake out immediately onto a damp tea towel sprinkled with castor sugar. Remove the greaseproof paper and trim the edges of the cake if needs be. Carefully roll up the cake with the tea towel from the short side, leave for 5 minutes before unrolling and allowing to cool. This will prevent the cake from cracking.
Spread the cake with Nutella, a drizzle of semi melted jam, and a little whipped cream. Roll it up and dust lightly with sugar. Garnish with the rest of the whipped cream, some chocolate shavings and cherries.
FRUITCAKE WITH MARZIPAN
Love it or hate it, no Christmas is complete without a Fruitcake of some kind. If you’re a fan of a brandied, moist cake, you’ll never look back after trying this recipe. The marzipan inside the cake adds something extra special!
Step 1 :
- 750g fruit mix
- Half a cup of chopped dates
- 1 cup of chopped cherries
- Half a cup of chopped pecan nuts
- Half a cup of brandy or spiced rum
- Soak all of these ingredients in the brandy overnight, or for at least 6 hours
- 250g butter 5ml each of nutmeg, cinnamon & ginger
- 250ml brown sugar 2ml ground clove
- 5 eggs 3ml bicarbonate of soda
- 1 5ml apricot jam Marzipan, (to use just before baking)
- 2 cups of cake flour
Start by blending the butter and sugar, and then add the eggs one by one and continue to blend until well combined. Then mix in the remaining ingredients (reserving the marzipan), followed by the soaked fruit and nuts.
Grease and line your baking tin – I suggest using a double layer of baking paper as the cake cooks for a long time. Transfer the cake batter to the tin and then randomly insert lumps of marzipan into the cake imagining that you’d like to have a bit of marzipan in each slice. Bake at 1 80º for 2 and a quarter hours. If you feel its getting too brown on top, you can cover it with some foil halfway through the cooking process. Once done, allow the cake to cool in the tin and pour a generous amount of brandy or spiced rum over the cake. You can keep it tightly covered like this, in the tin until needed, and if you plan to keep it for a couple of weeks before Christmas, top up the brandy once a week.
PANETTONE BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING
Panettone is a gift that just keeps on giving. If you have some in the pantry, it’s a delicious treat to serve should friends pop in for coffee or champagne and any leftovers will make a great dessert. They also have a great shelflife and I often use mine well into January.
- 1 large Panettone, sliced
- 1 handful of dried cranberries
- 1 cup of milk
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 3-quarter cup of castor sugar
- 1 cup of cream
- Cinnamon for sprinkling
How to do it
Slice the Panettone and then cut it again into rusk-sized chunks. Lay out these slices evenly in a greased roasting dish and sprinkle the cranberries over the top.
Beat the eggs with the castor sugar, milk and cream and pour this over the panettone. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top and bake at 1 80°C for 30 minutes or until the custard has thickened and the pudding appears to be set.
Serve with ice-cream, custard or a dollop of brandy butter.