Festive Treats

By Simone Conti


Serves 6 to 8  //  Suggested Wine: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

I wish all Cranleigh Magazine readers a Merry Christmas and a really happy New Year. I hope you’ll spend Christmas with your loved ones. It’s all about people and not the gifts or food. Please remember those who aren’t as lucky as many of us are and be kind to one another. Sometimes a nice word or smile can make a huge difference to someone’s life.

15 white peppercorns, coarsely crushed
100g coarse salt
150g granulated sugar
1.8kg fresh salmon, filleted
25g chopped fresh dill
toasted sourdough bread to serve

This is such a classical Christmas dish, I love Gravadlax. The lovely pungent taste of dill with a bit of spice from the peppercorns is just delicious. This classical Scandinavian dish is so much more interesting compared to the classical smoked salmon.

Sometimes it’s either difficult to find in the shops or very expensive when you do, so let’s make our own Gravadlax. Believe me it’s really easy and when it’s homemade the taste is just amazing.

1. Mix the coarsely crushed peppercorns with salt and sugar
2. Lay one salmon fillet, skin side down, in a dish and spoon over the peppercorn mixture. Sprinkle over the dill and then place the remaining fillet on top, skin side up.
3. Place a board on top of the fish and put weights on top to compress. Refrigerate.
4. Turn the fish and baste with the juices daily, for 3 days. To serve, remove the weights, lift off the top fillet and scrape off the dill and the peppercorns. Slice the salmon thinly, cutting down towards the skin across the width of the fillet.
5. Plate the thinly sliced salmon and serve with toasted sourdough bread and butter. Enjoy!!

Whisky-crumbed Turkey Breast with bean, mango and peanut salad

Serves 6  //  Suggested Wine: Cote du Rhone (France)

1.2kg of turkey schnitzel (skinless, boneless breast)
Salt and black pepper
60g flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons whisky
2 cups breadcrumbs
200g of butter
2 teaspoons of Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 medium-heat chilli, finely chopped
1 large mango
1 bunch of coriander leaves picked
1/2 bunch of mint, leaves picked and large ones halved
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
150g green beans, blanched and refreshed

Everyone has their own family favourite Christmas dinner recipe so I’m not giving you a recipe for this special day. But if during the Christmas holiday, you felt adventurous and wanted to try something new, this would be the perfect recipe. I got the recipe when I was working for Peter Gordon, one of the best chefs I have had the honour to work for. The first time he gave it to me to cook in the restaurant I thought he was joking. He told me that coming from a country like Italy where we are very traditional with our food, was hindering my imagination when it came to blending flavours and ingredients. He was absolutely right and after cooking this dish for the first time, my concept of blending such different flavours just changed forever.

1. Season turkey with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Beat eggs with the whisky. One by one dip the turkey schnitzels into egg mixture then coat with breadcrumbs, pressing the breadcrumbs firmly into both sides.
2. Heat a frying pan (you may need to cook this in batches) and add the butter. When it stops sizzling, add the schnitzel and cook for 2-3 minutes each side over moderate heat until golden. To test if they’re cooked, carefully slice schnitzel open with a sharp knife and the flesh should be white but still a little juicy.
3. If you’re cooking for more than six people or you don’t want to fry them, to make it a bit lighter it might be easier to seal the schnitzel in a pan, then bake on a tray in the oven at 180c for 20 minutes.
4. While they’re cooking, mix lime juice, Thai fish sauce, sugar and chilli together. Toss this dressing with mango, coriander, mint, peanuts and beans.
5. To serve, place hot schnitzel on plates and top with salad. Enjoy!

Panettone and mascarpone with berries and cherries

Serves 8  //  Suggested Wine: Prosecco (Italy)

1x 500g panettone
500g mascarpone
500ml double cream
200g icing sugar
500g raspberry
300g Strawberries, hulled and halved
300g Pitted cherries

On a busy Christmas day the last thing we want to do is spend even more time cooking a complicated cake or dessert. So this is one of my favourite Christmas cakes. It’s easy to prepare, everybody loves it and saves me extrahours in the kitchen. Be sure to find a good quality panettone in the shops and half the work is done.

1. Slice the panettone into four rings, then place the bottom piece on a serving plate.
2. Whisk mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until soft peaks begin to form. Add half the raspberries and beat until quite firm.
3. Mix the remaining berries and cherries together. Spread a third of the cream on the base and scatter a third of the berries and cherries on top. Layer another slice and repeat until you have reassembled the cake.
4. Cover and chill for 2 hours. To serve, dust the panettone with extra icing sugar and then cut it into wedges.

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