Monthly Archives: January 2013

Christmas Dinner Sides (aka What We Would Have Blogged About in December If We Weren’t So Busy Eating)

Table Spread

Warm Beetroot and Feta Salad
1 kg baby beetroots (fresh from the garden if you are lucky to have green thumbs around!)
100g feta, crumbled
olive oil
4 -5 stalks of thyme

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Cut the tops off the beetroots and then wash them thoroughly. Quarter them and pop them in a baking tray. Pour on some olive oil and add the thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper and chuck it in the oven until the beetroots are nice and soft. This took about half an hour for us but there was a lot of stuff in our oven. Keep an eye on them.

When they are ready, put them in a serving dish and sprinkle feta over the top. DELICIOUS.

Potato Salad
Serves an army – which is good because it is excellent with cold ham the next day (and any day!)
From Guest Blogger (and S-J’s ladyfriend/babymama), Esther!

12 – 15 small potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 fistful of continental parsley, chopped
1 small jar of good quality whole-egg mayonnaise
1/2 a small jar of baby dill pickles, roughly chopped
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 small spanish (red) onion
1/3 cup of salt (don’t worry! it doesn’t all end up in the salad!)


Slice the onion as finely as you can and place it in a bowl.
Add all but a few pinches of the salt, and toss so that the onion is thoroughly coated.
Set aside for at least 15 – 20 mins.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Add the remaining salt to the water. Bring to boil.

When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the heat, drain them in a colander, and then run cold water over them to cool them somewhat. Transfer them to a serving bowl.

You will notice that your onions look like they have sweated and gotten all wet. The salt has drawn out all the really strong ‘onioniness’ out of them, and left the nice sweet peppery flavour, making them much more pleasurable to eat!
Rinse the salt off them (i find the easiest way to do this is to toss them in a sieve under cold running water), and add them to the potatoes.

Add the parsley, pickles, mayonnaise, and mustard, and gently toss until all ingredients are combined.

You can eat this warm, or chilled – either way is delicious.

If you’re not vegetarian, it’s also nice with some fried bacon tossed through.

Candied Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish
From Guest Blogger, Josie!

Cook 5(ish) sweet potatoes and mash with butter (your choice of butteryness). Add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar and mix well. Spoon into a baking dish and bake at 180C for 30 minutes. Cover with minimarshmallows and bake until they are melty and brown (approx. 5-10 minutes).

Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan
Serves 8 as a side dish


3 VERY large zucchini (or 5 regular sized if you don’t have a crazy veggie patch)
3 cloves of garlic
4 -5 stalks of thyme
Olive oil
30g Parmesan

Wash zucchini. Marvel at it’s ginormousness! Dice into about 1 inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large fry pan. Mince garlic into pan. Turn on heat, crank to high. Once the garlic starts bubbling, throw in all the zucchini. Season well with S+P, add the thyme stalks. Resist turning until the edges start to brown. Gently toss occassionally until all delicious pieces are lightly browned and tender. Remove from heat and heap onto your serving dish, removing the thyme stalks as you go. Finely grate parmesan over the top, and serve.

Green Bean Supreme
Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish

1 kg beans
2 – 3 slices of bread
6 cloves garlic (2 crushed, 4 whole in skins)
5 tbsps olive oil
2 large leeks
2/3 cup white wine
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsps pomegranate molasses

This dish is an amalgamation of a few of my favourite things. That seemed right for a Christmas dinner that involved a few of my favourite people. I find that the tartness of the molasses and the leeks with the beans makes this an excellent side for a rich meat like ham, or with a creamy chicken dish.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Cook beans
Fill a large pot with water and heat over high flame. While the water is coming to a boil, wash the beans and remove the ends – leaving the beans whole (or chopping into 1 inch pieces if you prefer). Add beans to the boiling water and allow to cook for 3 – 4 minutes.

The beans should still have a nice crunch to them as you will be heating them again when ready to serve. Drain the beans into a colander, fill the pot with cold water and blanch them in the water, replacing the warm water with cold water until the beans are cool. Drain and set aside.

Make croutons
Remove the crusts from the bread and slice into 1 cm cubes.

Into an oven tray, drizzle 3 tbsps of olive oil, the whole garlic cloves, loads of salt and pepper, and cubes of bread. Toss to coat. Bake in oven until golden brown, approximately 5 – 10 minutes.

Caramelise leeks
Remove the tops and bottom of the leek. and outer layer, then wash well under cold water to remove any dirt trapped in the layers. Slice in half lengthways and then slice into thin half-moons.

In a medium frying pan, add 2 tbsps olive oil, the remaining garlic cloves,  and the sliced leeks. Saute over a medium heat until the leeks are softened. Raise heat and add the white wine. Cook until wine is reduced and syrupy. Add honey, stir together and remove from heat.

To serve
In a heat proof serving dish add the beans, cover with the leeks, then the croutons, drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the top. Set aside until ready to serve, reheat 5 – 10 minutes in the oven.

*** We will never stop to clean drips and spills off a serving dish just to take a photo, clearly. Just keeping it real here at NFL.

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Cola Ham (Or: why don’t we eat ham like this all the time?)

Ham! Cola Ham!Christmas food! Hooray!

In an excellent stroke of luck, our friend Christopher received a very large Christmas hamper from his work three days before he left for his huge Christmas adventure in the US. Because he is excellent people, we got a 5kg ham on the bone for freeeeeee! (And all the other stuff from his hamper! Thank you, Christopher’s Corporate Overlords!)

The ham sat and took up space in our fridge for the two weeks before the 1st Annual Fakesmas (Friend Christmas on the 22nd). I’ve done Christmas ham two times previously — one marmalade and mustardy and one cidery — and so figured I’d just knock up a glaze of whatever when Fakesmas arrived. It was not to be, however, as I watched Luke Nguyen cook a Claypot Cola Chicken one Thursday night. The time had come for me to the live the dream and make a Cola Ham.

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Christmas Morning Muffins. (My way.)


Christmas morning is not Christmas morning without these muffins now. I only started making them three years ago but they are now a family tradition. This year, I got up and made them with my boy. Well, being 11 months old, he just pootled around playing with his drawer of kitchen utensils (i.e. anything he can’t hurt himself with).

Christmas Morning Muffins

Makes 12 generous muffins

  • 1 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • freshly grated nutmeg (this is pretty much the only time I will be like this: If you don’t have fresh nutmeg, don’t bother. Freshly grated nutmeg is so radically different to the stuff in the jar that they shouldn’t be compared. Leave it out. Then go and get someone to buy you a microplane grater and some whole nutmegs. Rant over.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Juice and zest of 2 oranges
  • 55g butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 75g craisins (or dried cherries. Or both. I’ve done both before.)
  • 75g chocolate chips
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest.

In a measuring jug, pour in the milk and add the orange juice until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Add the melted butter and the egg and stir to combine.

Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined i.e. it will be lumpy and should be lumpy!

Fold in the dried fruit and chocolate and mix again very gently.

Divide into muffin tin and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 1o minutes.


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Summer Tipples

To me, there is nothing that says summery get-together more than a jug of something cool and delicious.

There are endless combinations to be tried and tested, everyone has a favourite flavour and level of sweetness, and I hope at least one of these combinations tickles your fancy.

I like to work with the basic equation of fruity+sparkling+/-booze+ice+/-bitstoeatwithyourfingers = punchy perfection.

All measurements below work for jugs that hold 1.5 – 2L of deliciousness.

Jug O' Pimms

Jug o’ Pimms

Pretty Borage Ice Cubes (or regular ice if you aren’t fancy)
200 – 400 mls Pimms (choose your booze level)
1/2 cucumber sliced (seeds removed if it is a particularly seedy one)
Mint (optional)
1L Ginger Ale (or Lemonade if that’s your jam)

Fill your jug with as many icecubes as you can because it is 41C outside and your aircon is broken. Use the very pretty icecubes you have been making with borage and watch as the pretty flowers float about in your drink and taste like cucumber.

Slice up your cucumber in whatever way you like. I am partial to long thin strips but do what feels best and chuck that in the jug. If you have some mint, add that in there too.

Pour in the Pimms. I’m not going to lie to you – I have no idea how much we usually use – enough so that it tastes like Pimms? We probably had a good inch and a half to two inches in our 2 litre jug (then we added more after tasting). Top with ginger ale (lemonade if you must) and drink. Sit back and reflect on a job well done.

Pomegranate Punch

1 Pomegranate (refridgerated)
300 mls sparkling mineral water
300 mls ginger ale
50 mls Chambord
50 mls Absolut Vodka (use a different kind if you like, but this is my favourite)
40 mls Ribena cordial or POM Cherry and Pomegranate juice if you can get it
Ice to fill jug

Cut pomegranate in half, over a bowl (or straight into your jug) tip the pomegranate cut side down and WHACK the outside repeatedly with the back of a wooden spoon until 95% of the tiny jewel-like seeds have popped out. Tear the pomegranate apart to remove the remaining seeds. Repeat with other half. Remove any pith.

Into the jug pour the pomegranate seeds, alcohols and cordial. Mix gently and allow to sit in the fridge for up to 2 hours to chill/infuse.

Just before serving, add ginger ale and sparkling mineral water and mix gently. Top with ice.

Drink! Enjoy getting sticky red fingers while trying to fish the seeds out of the bottom of your glass. This was our Christmas Punch this year and it made us all quite jolly!

Eternal Sunshine Punch

400mls pineapple juice
200 mls pink grapefruit juice or orange juice
2 limes
1-3 tablespoons brown sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
750mls Omni Citrus (or any fruity sparkling)
Ice to fill jug

Start dreaming of an island holiday after you see a pineapple on the bench and tin of juice in your pantry (so fancy). Find umbrellas from hilarious party your housemate held 4 years ago. Get idea!

Peel zest from one lime, muddle with the brown sugar in the bottom of the jug. Add juice from this lime to jug.

Slice remaining lime into thin slices (try not to cut your finger at this point, citrus juice is not your friend if you do). Add slices to jug. Pour in all remaining liquid ingredients, stir gently. Top with ice. Sit outside with a giant fan, sunscreen and hat, sipping this out of some kind of ridiculous glass with an umbrella and oversized garnish of pineapple and cherry.

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