Cooking Notes: Christmas Party Recipes (2014)

Monday, January 12, 2015

A new year has started! A blessed new year to all.

Thanks again for your feedback that you are finding the recipes and techniques shared here helpful. This motivates me to continue blogging. If anything, the discipline of blogging also helps me to be more organised, reflective and improve on my cooking.

I thought I should take down some cooking notes for the dishes I cooked last Christmas. In posting it here, I hope it can also be helpful for you as tips for party-cooking. I am of course very busy in my work as a pastor, and so I need to plan ahead and ensure the dishes are not too complicated. You will find these quite easy to do and good to serve for parties.

1. The Sous Vide Cooked Short Rib beef- yet again!

This slab of short-rib beef has SV-cooked 48 hour for 55˚C and seared. Looked gorgeous.
The 48 hour 55˚C sous vide cooked boneless short-rib beef (lead photo) is a perennial favourite. Even if I get bored making it (how exciting can putting food in a water bath be?), it is always requested. Either grass-fed or grain-fed will be fine. If grain-fed, the beef is richer and should be pan-seared properly. Best to serve it warm. The juices from the sous-vide packs can be used for the sauce. Heat it up and strain off the scum. For the beef, I bought the Riverina cut from mmmmFresh. Get them to trim off the sinews.

2. Roast Shoulder of Lamb

Roasted Shoulder of lamb
Shoulder of lamb, after grilling in the oven. 
It is traditional for roast lamb to be on the menu. I used a good cut of spring lamb (Dorper) and sous-vide cooked the 2+ kg cut for 6 hours at 55˚C. Then it was blasted in the oven till the sides are charred. It came marinated and that was a mistake as the sides were mushy as the marinade must have sat there for a few days. Next time round, I need to prepare the marinade myself, post Sous-vide. For lamb that good, salt and pepper and some sauce (perhaps) will suffice. Lamb best eaten medium with some pink on the inside. I roasted some pepper for the sides.

3. Steamed Corn

The sweet corn is steamed for 8 minutes. Add dashes of lime, salt and butter. I discovered that it is easier to eat it if you cut them into 2-3 cm rings. This way, the corn can be eaten vertically.

4.  Grilled Vegetables

This variation has grilled portobello mushroom added.

Sort of a ratatouille, I grilled some mixed veg: pepper, zucchini, brinjal. Drizzle oil before you grill. Lay them out on a single layer. Sprinkle some salt. It was easy to make.

5. Steamed broccoli and cauliflower

Steamed broccoli and cauliflower

You can keep some dishes simple and offer it plain. As you have many sauces anyway at a buffet party, balancing the taste and sauces is important. This includes keeping some dishes plain. I liked the two-tone color contrast when the dish is presented on the buffet table.

6. Glazed Carrots

Glazed Carrots are quick and easy to do. I have blogged this simple recipe here. Be careful not to undercook the carrots and this can easily happen if you are cooking a large batch and stacking the carrots in the pot. Get it just right and it should have a nice bite. I added the thyme towards the end so that it will not leave a bitter taste if added too early, as with most herbs.

7. Grilled Tomato

Grilled tomatoes makes a good side for most meats and here, a perfect accompaniment for lamb. While it can be served fresh, grilled tomatoes is sweeter and has a deeper flavour. They don't look great when grilled and plated but I was going for the taste.

Cut into slices. Lay it out on the roasting pan. Drizzle some olive oil. I added some blended anchovies into the oil for a twist. But keeping it plain is also fine, keeping in mind the other flavour full dishes on the buffet table. Add flat parsley towards the end.  

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