About now, you have probably been pouring over the newspaper ads and comparing prices of gammon, turkey, and other food for Christmas. Or you’re beginning to haunt the aisles in the supermarket for ideas of what to eat with your traditional (or not) Christmas dinner.
If you do Christmas traditionally, it’s usually a choice of turkey… or turkey. Or you could prepare a capon (giant castrated rooster) or Cornish hen. We love goose, but can never find them, so have resorted to duck in the past. But you may want to do something different.
You could order a tin of Confit of Duck from us and use the surrounding fat for wonderful roast potatoes. Or you could use the confit in a killer duck salad. In Europe they often cook a huge fish like a salmon or a carp as their main course. If you can order a side of fresh Norwegian salmon it is not a difficult lunch to do and, cold, it can be really special if the weather is hot and you make a home-made herb flavoured mayonnaise.
Seafood is always special, but you do need a mortgage to afford crayfish nowadays. We like them combined with prawns for a good starter. Scallops are just affordable and we love them steamed in the Chinese way with ginger, spring onions and garlic.
Instead of Christmas pudding, you could do a superb luxury tropical fruit salad because melon, pawpaw, kiwi fruit, and mango are starting to appear. We have a recipe for a festive Chardonnay jelly and will send it you on request, or you could make some really special ice-cream using a liqueur, or make a semi-freddo. Or finish off, as the Italians do, with a light green salad, some really good soft Gorgonzola and some great bread from one of specialist bakers such as Jardine, Knead, Olympia Bakery or, if you are in the Knysna area, Ile de Pain.
If you are not traditional, or not celebrating Christmas, you may still want to have some fun on the day, when most restaurants are closed or are charging a premium for eating out. Now is the time to enquire and make your booking, as there are still places with room. We see that our friends Cathy and Kevin at the Nose Bar are catering for Christmas Parties. They say that if you are still looking for a great, relaxed venue for your end of year function, why not pick The Nose in the Cape Quarter?
If you will be entertaining in the next few weeks, here is Lynne’s new Chilli con Carne with Chocolate recipe. It will serve 4 and you need to use very dark, minimum 70% chocolate, preferably one with very little sugar, like our Callebaut callets. The chocolate enriches the sauce and gives a gentle chocolate flavour, but the meat and the chilli still shine through.
Ordinary sweet dark chocolate will make the sauce too sweet. Lindt’s 80% chilli chocolate might also work well, but we haven’t tried it. Hot food in hot weather actually cools you down, which is why the hottest Indian food comes from the hottest parts of India. You can use mince for this recipe, but small slivers of chopped beef taste so much more authentic and substantial. Use one chilli or more according to your taste. Fresh chillies give the best fresh taste. You can use chilli powder but it won’t have the same kick or flavour. This can definitely be made the day before, in fact we recommend it.
Chilli con Carne with dark Chocolate
1 large onion, finely chopped
800g lean stewing beef, sliced into very small pieces
1 T olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, chopped
1 T smoked chilli sauce
400 ml tomato passata
1 tin of red kidney beans
salt and black pepper
1 level T Callebaut 70% dark chocolate callets
Fry the onions in the oil with a good pinch of salt, till soft, then add the beef and fry quickly until it is brown all over. Add the cumin, garlic and chilli and stir quickly to blend. Add the passata and the beans, season and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the chocolate and continue to simmer until the beef is tender. Add a little water if it needs more moisture during cooking. Adjust the seasoning and serve with boiled rice and a tomato and onion salsa. Top with guacamole and sour cream.
WINE FOR CELEBRATIONS
We have plenty of new wines in the shop after our successful evening tastings. Buitenverwachting Christine, Meifort, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé; Vastrap white blend and Cape Jazz Shiraz from Solms Astor; Welgegund Carignan and their excellent Rosé; Cederberg Ghost Corner, Cape Point Stonehaven, Crystallum, Ataraxia, Strandveld, Springfield, Elgin Valley and Oak Valley Sauvignons Blanc, Mooiplaas Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Langtafel Red and White blends; Cape Point Scarborough Red; Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Shiraz Mourvedre and Sauvignon Blanc. Bouchard Finlayson, Springfield and Morgenhof Chardonnays.
More of the very popular Cloof Inkspot red blend has come in and is selling out almost as quickly as it came in. And, exciting news, we should have some of the very special limited edition Axe Hill White Port very soon. Send us your orders now.
Ed’s note: Main Ingredient offers gourmet foods, ingredients and fine wines. It has won Eat In guide’s Outstanding Outlet for the past three years. You can find them at: Shop 5, Nedbank Centre, 15 Kloof Rd, Sea Point 8005, Cape Town, South Africa. phone: +27 21 439 5169, or find them online.