The Christmas that just went…

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At work we made muchham glaze for the people. This involved a lot of booze...

At work we made muchham glaze for the people. This involved a lot of booze…

So there it was.

Christmas.

It came as quickly as a teenage boy… and then left feeling just as ashamed.

The Optimus Prime-esque light displays that were clearly trying to signal another culture from the depths of a very distant solar system will soon yield to the weight of more consumerism in the form of hot crossed buns and chocolate eggs which are seemingly the incubating spawn of chocolate rabbits which are both some how meant to tie into a religious celebration-slash-holiday.

We certainly did drink a bit of booze. Bloody Caesars were my choice de jour... everyone else mostly chose other drinks

We certainly did drink a bit of booze. Bloody Caesars were my choice de jour… everyone else mostly chose other drinks


I don’t really follow this whole thing at all.

But really, who gives a fuck.

What ever it is, it is a damn fine reason to get together with your friends and family, and possibly even a random cling-on or two. You share a drink (many drinks), some food (much food) and maybe a story about how two of your squad hooked up together at the same event last year (not appropriate when only family is in attendance). Just a damn good time really. Even carnies and people who hate everything else about life will generally still enjoy the time that is Christmas.

There was much food on the table... and also a fair bit of booze

There was much food on the table… and also a fair bit of booze


As a wise man once told me, “there are systems in place just so we can stand one another”, and I agree that this is definitely one of them.

Right now I sit on a hotel balcony, enjoying a little down time after having the craziest two months of my cheffing career to date, and I ponder how beautiful that whole silly season is* – the truly satisfying climax after the fore play and gentle caress of the trickle of summer function bookings through out the year. Dates are tentatively set, invites drawn up, weddings and birthdays and Christmas parties are all in the mix.

And then it’s on.

The slippery finger that is the rest of the year is inevitably followed by the fully blown orgy (black plastic and raspberry jelly included) that is the start of summer… the silly season… our glory days. Then, as quickly as it begun it is over again. We sit on our milk crates and designated small section of brick wall out the back of the restaurant and we admire those that are still among us…. Chaffed lips and post coital haze… enlarged sphincters… mental scars that will never heal…

Pav is a pretty solid Christmas dessert in Oz... As is trifle... we also added christmas pudding semifreddo to complete the 3-hit combo

Pav is a pretty solid Christmas dessert in Oz… As is trifle… we also added christmas pudding semifreddo to complete the 3-hit combo


Thank god for Christmas.

I fucking love this shit.

#beingachefisthebestshitever

And then all of a sudden I was here... writing this...

And then all of a sudden I was here… writing this…


*And, if I’m totally honest, I also ponder an Edward Norton in “Fight Club” or the Donnie Darko guy in “Donnie Darko” type catastrophe where the balcony crumbles underneath me and I’m done. Yes I have head issues.

Christmas ham glaze and a tasty stuffed bird.

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That glazed ham after a little time in the wood fired oven. I love those little charred sexy bits

That glazed ham after a little time in the wood fired oven. I love those little charred sexy bits


I’ve noticed shit is getting a fair bit Christmassy around the joint at the mo’. Like, really effing Christmassy.

My smart brains told me that due to my little issue with finding time to hit this blog up at the moment, I should get onto some kind of Christmassy type post pretty fricking quick smart or the whole thing will pass me by and I’ll be left standing out the front of the house in my freshly pressed favourite baby blue suit, ironed tie and hippest new sock-sandal combo, with no date for the school dance… again…*

I also thought that this might be one of those ever-rare occasions where I may have inadvertently been presented with the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. You see, I have been asked by a local restaurant reviewer blog (Get Forked and Fly) via our restaurant (the Stockpot Kitchen), if I might like to share a recipe with her readers. Are you keeping up with me here?

Bam. Enter my Christmassy story and a couple of cracking recipes for some tasty tasty yuletide food to wow your friends and family (or possibly just your ever-growing clowder of cats) this Christmas.

The thing about living in Australia (It’s a country. Under where you live. Kinda like your basement but with less gimp masks and more sunshine) is that it is often summer time at Christmas. In fact, I believe there is more than an 85% chance of it being summer in Australia when Christmas hits. Fact. So there you have it – it is often warm in Australia at Christmas time because of the summer.

Because of the high probability of warmth, often the people of Australia will opt for some kind of cold, salady type lunch – some fresh prawns and oysters, maybe some cold roast chicken and things of the such. Our family, well we like to have it all – cold, hot, raw, cooked, drunkly undercooked, whatever. Nothing is barred from our table. There is but one prerequisite – whatever the food is there is enough of it so that we may eat ourselves sober over the course of the day. Fo’ reals.

Prawns, oysters, a stuffed bird and ham is a damn fine start.

A good ham is quite possibly one of my favourites.

I really like ham.

For the last couple of years I have been smoking my own ham, and this is something I will continue to do as I was really effing happy with the result. I do understand that you may not have the time, inclination or facilities to smoke your own ham so I will not like you any less if you get a nice ham from your local smoker of the pork… heck, I would even understand if you ended up with a glazed log of devon on your Christmas table. It’s fine. Do what you need to do. It’s all about that sexy-assed glaze today.

The smoking of the ham

The smoking of the ham


HAM WITH SEXY-ASSED PEACHY BOURBON SMOKY HONEY GLAZE

1 leg of ham, skin removed and fat scored
1 cup peach and red pepper relish (recipe follows)
½ cup smoked honey
½ cup bourbon

• Combine all glaze ingredients in a saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring until it all comes together Hannibal styles
• Whack your ham into a baking dish that’s going to fit it and pour half of the glaze over the top, brushing it into all of the little score crevices
• Bake at 150C for an hour, or until ham is heated through, basting with extra glaze every 15 minutes or so
• If you like some extra crusty little over-caramelised charred bits you can bump the heat up a little for the final 15 minutes. 180C should give you what you need
• Cover ham loosely in foil and rest for 15-20 minutes. Carve and then pour extra pan juices over ham and serve
• Leftover ham is pretty much really good to eat any old how – toasties, with eggs for breakfast, on a ploughmans, chopped into croquettes or fritters, straight off of your girlfriends boobi… e… s… It’s just really good, OK?

ELEANOR CROMWELL’S PEACH & RED PEPPER (capsicum) RELISH

Eleanor is a very nice lady and she sent me this recipe for what is now my favourite peach and capsicum relish.

2 long red chilli, chopped
12 red capsicum, no stalk, with seed, chopped
12 large peaches, chopped
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large lemons, cut in half
5 cups castor sugar

• In food processor, blitz chilli, capsicum with seeds and peaches until coarsely chopped
• Add all ingredients except sugar to a large heavy based pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to prevent sticking
• Remove lemons and add sugar
• Simmer for ½ hour more, or until the mixture is reduced slightly and thickened (you can check viscosity by putting a couple of tablespoons of relish into the fridge for 15 minutes to set)

——————————————–

The bird after it's time in the wood fired oven

The bird after it’s time in the wood fired oven


You must know how to roast a chook by now so I shall spare you the insult to your intelligence, although I’m sure I’ll say something soon enough that will make up for this moment of compassion. Today we will concentrate on the stuffing aka. The tasty shit you get inside the local greasy spoon rotisserie chook.

Stuffing is plenty easy, made delicious with a bit of smoky bacon (but let’s be honest, what isn’t made better with smoky bacon-y goodness) and some herbs from your garden. If you don’t have a herb garden yet all I can say is that you clearly don’t listen to anything I say and don’t deserve delicious roast chicken… and you are simple.

There, that should make up for the tenderness I showed you earlier.

The stuffing of the bird

The stuffing of the bird


BACON, CRAISIN & HERB STUFFING FOR A CHICKEN OR GOOSE OR TURKEY

2 rashers bacon, diced
½ brown onion, diced
¼ cup craisins, reconstituted with enough booze to cover them. White wine, brandy, marsala, anything boozy
1 handful mixed herbs; I have parsley, sage and rosemary from the garden. Thyme would be good if you have some
¾ cup breadcrumbs made from some old sour dough bread if you have some
Seasoning

• Sauté onion and bacon until onion is soft and translucent
• Remove from heat, add craisins and toss to warm through slightly. Leave to cool
• Combine all other ingredients and mix thoroughly
• Check seasoning
• Stuff it up the wrong un of your once happily free-ranging chicken. There is no delicate way to perform this task so get your hand right in there. If you have any leftover stuffing whack that in the pan half way through cooking. It still tastes like damn tasting shit
• Roast it up
• Cover loosely with foil and rest for 10-15 minutes
• Carve and eat
• The stuffing goes really well in a leftover roast chicken sandwich with homemade mayo.

*No joke I wrote this thing a month ago and then bam, Christmas is here in a matter of days and I have no idea where the last month actually gone.

Christmas Pate for New Years Eve

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christmas pate
Just three things;

You probably still have a few Christmas leftovers.

You’re probably going to need something to snack tonight on as you fill your face with ridiculous amounts of cheap domestic champagne (or should that be bubbles? I know it should definitely be bubbles. Not Mr Bubbles though – he was a very dirty man with some very nasty hobbies from back in the 80’s), so when you empty your stomach over the hedge at 1am there is actually something in there and you don’t end up turning yourself inside out like a dirty sock.

You really don’t care about my year in summary, so I’ll just get in and out plenty fast and leave you with one final recipe (and no unexpected pregnancy – that’s a different type of in and out) for 2016.

I would kinda hope that if you don’t have leftovers it would be obvious that you can cook some meat specifically for it… but hey, I’m certainly not holding my breath…. And you shouldn’t either, because if you do you could die from suffocating.

(Yep. I know that is 4 things. That whole counting thing gets me every time. And then I can’t even be assed to go back to the top of the page and change the 3 to a 4, but instead I write a paragraph about how special I am and you get to smile smugly to yourself as you realise your life aint actually that bad)

*must remember to be nicer to stupid people in 2016*

Getting it all together. This is way too easy

Getting it all together. This is way too easy


Blitz it up

Blitz it up


Eat it with crusty bread and pickled things. I really can't believe how easy that was

Eat it with crusty bread and pickled things. I really can’t believe how easy that was


CHRISTMAS PATE

250g leftover roast chicken or goose, roughly chopped
250g leftover Christmas ham, roughly chopped
½ cup of stuffing or a few cooked chicken livers if you have some
a few elves and/or reindeer if there are still some about and you need to get them the fuck out of your face
a bit of leftover Christmas cheer… although, that’s probably well and truly gone by now
¼ cup aioli
a handful of mixed herbs such as parsley, sage and thyme, chopped
100g butter, melted
seasoning (or just wait a little longer until the credit card bills start rolling in and then you can season it with your own glistening tears)

• Blitz meats in a food processer until you have a coarse paste
• Add all ingredients except butter and pulse until combined. Don’t go too far with the pulsing here because you want the pate to have a little texture
• Check seasoning. Cry a little more if it needs it
• Scoop pate into something that will hold it… enamelware seems to be quite trendy at the mo’. Top with a few extra herbs (if you have some left. It’s not like I told you to reserve some or anything. soz) and melted butter and place in the refrigerator to set for 15-20 minutes
• Serve with crusty bread and pickled things from the garden
• Seriously, happy New Year folks. Thanks for all of the fun in 2015. It’s been ripping!

A farm in the hills makes a pretty damn good setting to eat your pate

A farm in the hills makes a pretty damn good setting to eat your pate

Goose, Ham and Vanilla Semifreddo with Cherry Compote for “Extra Christmas”

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christmas goose, ham and semifreddo
Man, I really do love Christmas.

It’s not even because of all of the presents, or Jesus, but simply because it is the end of a mental mental mental time for us in the hospitality industry and it is a day that I get to spend with the people I love, eating some tasty food and drinking some tasty beverages that may or may not have the added advantage of being acoholinated.

So that, in a nut shell, is why I love Christmas. Of course, it would need to be in more of a metaphorical nut shell than an actual nut shell because a nut shell with this kind of pertinent information in it would be some kind of hybrid fortune cookie nut, would it not?

Moving right along… nice and quickly…

Today I shall be offering you, the reader, a couple of recipes for things that can make a very tasty and delicious Christmas meal. I know I am probably a few weeks late in presenting my Christmas recipe spread but that is definitely indicative of the organizational levels of my support crew here at foodisthebestshitever… but sometimes I do think one should not expect too much of an inanimate porcelain doll and a one eyed billy goat… and I also often consider that with proper advertising I could find myself a back end team that has the skills and knowledge to help foodisthebestshitever move forward into the 21st century… or even the late 20th century would suffice…

Anyway, here are some things that, once put on the table, will make a cracking Christmas lunch. Perfect for the person who loves a second Christmas, or someone who may have accidentally slept through Christmas day and is defo still going to be having a Christmas feast today or maybe, and I feel if I was going to try and do something sensible this would be it, we can just stow this away until next year and I can repost it a heap before Christmas and look super organized and cool.

Even now I still feel as though I have one ace up my sleeve (if indeed that is an actual metaphor); Once I launch this post into the cosmos of the world wide inter web super highway, it will be immediately caught up in the bureaucracy that is the millions of other crap recipes, Christmas stories and cheesy-assed photos that are filling your feeds and clogging up your hard drives. So there is a very high, like uni physics geek high, chance that no one will notice it this year (or anytime really) anyways!

Rocking.

The boys making "ninja bread men". Pretty cute

The boys making “ninja bread men”. Pretty cute

You know I love a good spread

You know I love a good spread

What you’re gonna need…

DRINKS

My friend the Espresso Martini

My friend the Espresso Martini

Something fruity is good for the pregnant people, ballet dancers or kids if there is some, but I prefer to start the day with a Bloody Mary… or two… OK, I like to have some Bloody Marys on Christmas day. Once I have my fill of tomato juice and I’m really feeling like I could take on the whole Empire all by myself, I might have a beer or two, and even start alternating every two or three drinks with an Espresso Martini – coffee and booze in the same glass was a really good idea of someones.

HAM

Out of the smoker...

Out of the smoker…

...and then into the pizza oven

…and then into the pizza oven

I smoked a leg of brined pork for a day over hickory chips and that made my ham. It was then glazed with peach relish and then placed in a med wood fired oven for approximately 1 hour. It was very very tasty when I removed it from the wood fired oven.

GOOSE

The goose is stuffed...

The goose is stuffed…

...and then got pretty tanned and sexy looking in the pizza oven

And then got pretty tanned and sexy looking in the pizza oven

I stuffed a goose with this stuffing recipe that I did have the foresight to post a day before Christmas at least. The goose went into the wood fired oven as well – 1 hour on medium heat and then another hour and a half with residual heat and the door closed. This was also very very tasty. In fact, many people commented that it was the tastiest goose they had ever eaten. Unfortunately for my low self-esteem I do not believe any one at the table had previously eaten goose, but that’s OK, I still agreed that it was very tasty indeed.

DESSERT

Vanilla semifreddo with cherry compote - just damn well delicious

Vanilla semifreddo with cherry compote – just damn well delicious

Sometimes I wish I was English so I could call dessert “pudding”, but as I am well and truly Australian that seems like a damn silly concept and something I will not be doing any time soon. That is the sort of thing I may start doing when I call capsicum “peppers”, or eggplant “aubergine”, or even call goose “tasty”.

Not going to happen.

Jennee made semifreddo and we had a few other things too. The semifreddo was the best. It went like this;

VANILLA SEMIFREDDO WITH CHERRY COMPOTE

Semifreddo
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or a splash of real vanilla essence)
2 cups thickened cream, whipped to soft peaks

• Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla until pale. Heat gently over a baine marie (water bath) and continue to whisk constantly until thickened slightly. Cool
• Once cooled gently fold whipped cream into egg mix
• Once just combined pour into a loaf tin or bowl lined with glad wrap and place in freezer for at least 4 hours
• Slice and serve with cherry compote or just spoon it straight into your face

Cherry compote
2-3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
½ cup sugar
a splash of some kind of cherry booze

• Simmer all ingredients over a medium heat until slightly syrupy but fruit is not fully broken down. Probs 10-15 minutes
• That’s about it
• Put it on your semifreddo or just pour it straight into your face for an excellent “late night stoned monkey” snack

christmas goose, ham and semifreddo
Merry “extra Christmas” or indeed, Christmas next year ☺

Cheesy ham and corn fritters – using your Christmas leftovers…

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ham, corn and cheese fritters
This is me bringing double meaning to a post (although it is questionable that any post that I have written would have even single meaning to start off with…) I did last year on using leftovers. Not only am I using re-using yesterday’s food, I am also re-using last year’s post, just with a couple of changes so I don’t look like a complete lazy bastard. Last year it was cheesy ham, cheese and potato cakes (and you can suss that recipe right here) and this year it’s going to be cheesy ham and corn fritters.

Genius.

Premium time and resource management or just straight up slackness.

I care not.

I am regurgitating this nice little Christmas leftover recipe that I wrote last year and cleverly disguising it as me doing you a favor – playing on your fears of not being organized for the post-apocalyptic, neo-consumerist, pre Christmas rush. Yes, I certainly did not do three years of a psychology degree but mother effer I have got your number!

Make these fritters with leftover Christmas ham, or just go and buy some good ham specifically for the task as these things are damn well worth it! Salty-smoky ham, oozy cheese, crunchy-poppy sweet corn and glutinous floury goodness… you know you want that.

Mix that up

Mix that up

4-5 minutes each side going to be happy times for all

4-5 minutes each side going to be happy times for all

...and then onto the flairiest "holiday house platter" I could lay my hands onto and hit with my home made tomato ketchup

…and then onto the flairiest “holiday house platter” I could lay my hands onto and hit with my home made tomato ketchup


CHEESY HAM & CORN FRITTERS (serves 4)

1-2 cups diced Christmas ham
1 cup grated Wensleydale or good cheddar or something that looks like cheese
½ whatever onion, small dice
1 cup of sweetcorn, kernals removed (roughly 1 cup of kernals)
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon of your favourite mustard
A splash or two of hot sauce
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

• Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly
• Check seasoning
• Heat a good splash of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add a heaped dessert spoon of fritter mix per portion and keep going until your pan is full but still has enough room for a finger width or so of space between each fritter, and fry for 4-5 minutes each side or until golden brown and cooked (break one open to check if they’re cooked through)
• Keep the first batch warm in a 100C oven whie you cook the second batch if you want your food hot
• These can be served with eggs, avocado and chutney for breakfast, a salad and some salsa for lunch or dinner, or tomato sauce (ketchup) for a late night a-little-bit-pissed-and-really-don’t-give-a-fuck snack
• Rocking

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Ham Leftovers)… Ham and Cheese Toastie

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ham and cheese toasted sandwich
Smoking (or purchasing a pre-made product is a totally feasible option from the layman) a seemingly ridiculous amount of ham for your family Christmas is actually a pretty damn good idea. In fact, it is one of the better ideas I have seen in these parts for nigh on a while that’s for sure. Smarter than the guy who decided to put some meat in between two pieces of bread and call it a sandwich, even.

When Jennee returned from a pre-Christmas trip to town with a leg of pork (like, the whole thing in it’s 10kg unadulterated glory) for me to adulterate in ways that will not be spoken of, but would result in the purest of smoky tanned ham for the table this Christmas, I thought she had gone a little Christmas-crazy. After doing the math, Jennee also decided that she may have run mad…

Oh what fools we were.

This ham has been the gift that has kept on giving this Christmas. It embodies everything the true spirit of Christmas is all about. Unstoppable in its generosity and love, it is the Mother Teresa of the food world. So beautiful… so very, very beautiful. I’m welling up here just thinking about how much it has given, and how little it has asked in return…

I need to move on before my tears do a mischief to my laptop.

So simple, so good

So simple, so good


HAM & CHEESE TOASTIE

Sliced ham
Sliced cheese. Some kind of cheddar is good, but brie or provolone would be excellent, as will just about any cheese you have on hand
Thick sliced bread
Butter
Mustard or piccalilli

• Layer one slice of bread with ham and cheese. Spread a good layer of mustard or piccalilli on the other piece of bread and place it on top of cheese to form a “sandwich”
• Butter the top piece of bread on the outside. Mental
• Place butter side of sandwich down in a pan over medium heat. While that side is sizzling away butter the side of bread that is facing up
• Cook “sandwich” for 2-3 minutes each side, pressing down once or twice with a spatula
• It’s going to burn your mouth if you eat it straight away, but try letting one of the bad boys cool down

And please remember; Ham – it’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Ham Leftovers)… Cheesy Ham Potato Cakes

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ham and cheese potato cakes
When I first set out on this little mission I thought I would have enough ham leftover for the twelve days of Christmas ham posts I intended to write about. But, as the ham stocks have dwindled away to a shadow of their former self already, I think you’re only going to see the good end of another few of these posts at best.

Oh well.

These little packages of cheesy, hammy, potatoey love were a revelation. When this idea popped into my head the heavens opened and the holy angels sang… and danced. They were fully rocking out to some old Marvin Gaye. Getting their groove on. I suspected that’s what would be going on up there…

My smart brain got down to business and nurtured the evolution from the timeless ham and cheese sandwich, working out the finer details of how said ham and cheese sandwich would reach my mouth in a crisp bread coated, soft potato centered, bronzed bodied form, and straight into the history books as a retro classic.

And then it was onto condiments. I have said previously that I am a lover of condiments and this was not a lie. Condiments are my real-life favourite, so you could understand my elation when my same smart brain realised that both piccalilli and mayo have a loving home on a ham and cheese sandy so we should possibly combine the two like some kind of mongrel tartare and serve it with our cheesy ham potato cakes. OH DEAR GOOD LORD. What a revelation this was!

Try it. That’s all I can say…

Put it all together in a big bowl and mixy mixy

Put it all together in a big bowl and mixy mixy

Once fried drain on absorbent paper and then get them into your belly

Once fried drain on absorbent paper and then get them into your belly

CHEESY HAM POTATO CAKES (serves 4-6. 4 is probably good because it’s pretty hard to stop eating them)

3 cups of mashed potato (I got that from 2 large potatoes)
2-3 cups diced Christmas ham
1 cup grated Wensleydale or good cheddar or something that looks like cheese
½ whatever onion, small dice
1 tablespoon of your favourite mustard
1 egg, plus another for crumbing
Salt and pepper
A crumbing station (flour, eggwash and breadcrumbs – bought or whack any leftover bread in the food processer to make your own)
Oil for frying
Piccallili mayo to serve (recipe below)

• Combine all ingredients except the crumbing station, and mix thoroughly
• Check seasoning
• Form mix into 15-16 potato cakes. You can press them into a small cookie cutter if you want them to be shmicko (you could make these half size for a cracking finger food type thing or bar snack while you watch whatever it is you watch on TV)
• Crumb the potato cakes by first dredging them through flour, then eggwash and then breadcrumbs
• Heat a good splash of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add potato cakes and fry for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown
• Serve with piccallili mayo and a nice little salad of things you found in your neighbours garden

PICCALILLI MAYO

½ cup good quality mayo or aioli
½ cup piccalilli, mustard pickles or cauliflower pickles… the yellow stuff

• Combine in a bowl and mix thoroughly
• You’re done
• Pat yourself on the back

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