One favourite thing I think everyone can agree on about Christmas is the food!
For me especially Christmas is about good food, yummy food, food that feeds your soul. Quality is everything when I eat and personally I find that quality in real recipes and fresh food. So of course I got in touch with one of Australia’s best chefs, Pete Evans to find out some of his favourite recipes.
Glazed Christmas Ham
Christmas ham is one tradition that I am happy to continue in our household as not only is it super easy and delicious, but there are leftovers for days, if not weeks. Having quality protein in the fridge is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give to anyone moving to a paleo diet as it helps you to feel fuller for longer. If you are looking for ideas for your leftover ham, you can eat it with green eggs for breakfast (thanks Dr Seuss), shave it through a gorgeous summer salad or even serve it with some Christmas Kraut.
Serves: 15 – 20
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes
1 x 5 kg cooked, cold leg of ham
3 large apples of your choice, halved
3 peaches, halved and stoned
260 g (¾ cup) honey
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 ½ teaspoons ground yellow mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Prepare the ham by lifting off the skin but leaving the fat. Score a diamond pattern into the fat. (This helps to open the ham up and to allow the flavour to penetrate into the meat.)
To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients with 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl and mix well.
Spread the glaze over the ham. Place the ham in a roasting tin and pour in water to a depth of 2 cm. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the apples and peaches around the ham. Return to the oven and bake for another 30–60 minutes, basting the fruit and ham from time to time. (Be careful not to let the ham burn.) Cover with foil and set aside in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
Slice the ham and serve with the spiced fruit.
‘Sour, spice and all things nice’ is the way I like to describe this Christmas kraut. Cabbage and apple are pretty awesome in kraut, but when combined with cinnamon, clove and allspice and fermented for a week or two before Christmas, you have the absolute best accompaniment to serve with your Christmas ham or roast turkey. You could even have it with your eggs when you wake up on Christmas morning. Damn, it is good!
1 x 1.5 litre jar
Preparation time: 10 minutes (plus 10 – 14 days fermenting)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
650 g red cabbage
1 green apple, cored but skin on
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 sachet vegetable starter culture (this will weigh 2–5 g, depending on the brand)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, sliced into rounds
1 radish, thinly sliced
You will need a 1.5 litre sterilised preserving jar with an airlock lid for this recipe. You will also need to sterilise the knife, spoon, chopping board and glass or stainless steel bowl and jug you will be using. To do this, wash the jar and utensils thoroughly in very hot water or run them through a hot rinse cycle in the dishwasher.
Place the cloves in a small piece of muslin, tie into a bundle with kitchen string and set aside. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Choose one of the outer leaves, wash well and set aside. Shred the cabbage and apple in a food processor with a shredding attachment, or use a mandoline or knife to chop by hand. Transfer the cabbage and apple to a large glass or stainless steel bowl and sprinkle over the salt and allspice. Mix well, cover and set aside.
Dissolve the starter culture in water according to the packet instructions (the amount of water will depend on the brand you are using). Add to the cabbage along with the bag of cloves, cinnamon, orange and radish and gently mix. Fill the prepared jar with the cabbage mixture, pressing down well with a large spoon or potato masher to remove any air pockets. Leave 2 cm of room free at the top. The cabbage mixture should be completely submerged in the liquid, so add more water if necessary.
Fold up the reserved cabbage leaf and place it on top of the mixture, then add a small glass weight (a shot glass is ideal) to keep everything submerged. Close the lid, then wrap a tea towel around the side of the jar to block out the light. Store the jar in a dark place with a temperature of 16–23°C for 10–14 days. (You can place the jar in an esky to maintain a more consistent temperature.) The longer you leave the jar, the higher the level of good bacteria present and the tangier the flavour.
Chill before eating. Once opened, the kraut will last for up to 2 months in the fridge submerged in the liquid. If unopened, it will keep for up to 9 months in the fridge.
Raw Christmas puddings
Never has there been such an easy Christmas recipe that fits in with the age-old tradition. These are fabulous raw paleo Xmas puddings that you can get the kids to make. For a giggle, Nic and the kids roll these really small and then coat them in carob and call them reindeer poo. You should have seen the look on Nan’s face when the girls gave her some reindeer poo . . . Priceless!
Preparation time: 25 minutes (plus 10 – 15 minutes chilling time)
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Course: Dessert / Treat
60 g dried figs
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
50 g ( ½ cup) flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons dried sour cherries
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
100 g dried apricots
250 g medjool dates, pitted
170 g ( 1/3 cups) almond meal
½ teaspoon vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon coconut oil
raspberries, to decorate
100 g cocoa butter, chopped
100 ml coconut cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Line eight 50 ml capacity dariole moulds or small cups with plastic wrap.
Combine the figs, orange zest, flaxseed meal, cherries, ginger, apricots, dates, almond meal, vanilla and spices in a food processor and process to a crumb-like consistency. Transfer to a large bowl and add the orange juice and coconut oil. Knead until the mixture comes together to form a large ball.
Divide the pudding mixture into eight portions and firmly pack into the prepared moulds. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for
15 minutes, or until firm. Remove the puddings from the moulds, peel off the plastic wrap and place on a tray.
To make the icing, place the cocoa butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until completely melted.
Remove from the heat and mix in the coconut cream and maple syrup.
Set aside to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.
Spoon the icing over the puddings and refrigerate for 10–15 minutes until the icing is firm.
Decorate the puddings with the raspberries and serve.