karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

Christmas Eve dinner

The Scotsman offers tips for a low-stress Christmas Eve dinner: keep it simple.

This can be prepared well in advance: in the morning for an evening meal, or the night before for a lunchtime party. Leave it until it is completely cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring it back to room temperature for at least an hour before cooking, and serve with a green salad tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of Dijon mustard.

• 700g undyed smoked haddock fillets
• 450g fresh haddock fillets
• 1.2 litres milk
• 2 fresh bay leaves
• 1/2 onion, peeled (but not chopped)
• 400g large mushrooms, thickly sliced
• 25g butter
• 250ml double cream
• 50g freshly grated parmesan
• 200g tiger/large prawns, cooked and peeled
• 250g packet of lasagne (no pre-cooking required)

      For the sauce

• 75g butter
• 75g plain flour
• 2 tbsp dry sherry
• 15g fresh dill, chopped
• 25g freshly grated parmesan

Place all the haddock in a large saucepan with the milk, bay leaves and onion. Bring slowly to the boil and then, once you see bubbles, remove from the heat, cover and leave to cool in the pan.

Cook the mushrooms in the butter for about ten minutes, or until tender, stirring often. Then add the cream and cook over a high heat, stirring, for about three minutes, until thickened slightly. Stir in the parmesan and plenty of salt and pepper.

Once the fish and milk have cooled, strain the fish though a sieve into a bowl. Discard the bay leaves and onion. Flake the fish into large chunks and place in a bowl with the prawns.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and then stir in the flour. Stirring constantly, cook for two to three minutes before gradually adding the strained milk. Whisking often, cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes, or until thickened. Season well with salt and pepper and then remove from the heat. Remove six tablespoons of the sauce and set aside. Add the sherry and chopped dill to the remaining sauce and check the seasoning. Stir the fish and prawns gently through the sauce.

To assemble the lasagne, butter a large oven dish and pour in about a third of the fish and sauce. Top with a third of the pasta, and then half of the mushroom cream. Top with another third of the lasagne, then the rest of the fish and mushroom sauce. Add a final layer of lasagne and then spread the remaining six tablespoons of sauce over the top. Sprinkle over the parmesan. If preparing the lasagne in advance, cover and refrigerate at this point.

Otherwise, cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (190°C/375°F/gas 5) for 30 minutes, and then remove the foil and continue to cook for about 30 minutes - or until golden-brown and bubbling. Allow to rest for about ten minutes before serving.

This is a stunning-looking creation of chocolate, cream and cranberries. It should be made in a deep glass bowl, to show off the layers of brown, white and ruby-red. If you don't have a suitable bowl and cannot beg, borrow or steal one, you can use a well-scrubbed goldfish bowl (just make sure you rehouse the fish first) or wide-necked flower vase. Prepare everything 48 hours in advance to allow the sugary chocolate to become gooey and sticky and begin to seep into the layers of creamy cranberry.

• 250g dark chocolate (55%-70% cocoa solids), grated
• 250g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
• 200g unrefined demerara sugar
• 2 tbsp cocoa, sieved
• 1 tbsp coffee granules
• 600ml double cream
• 300ml single cream
• 200ml crème fraîche
• 250g jar of luxury cranberry sauce

In a bowl, combine 200g of the grated chocolate with the breadcrumbs, sugar, cocoa and coffee. Sir well.

Whisk together the double and single cream until thick, but not stiff: this takes longer than usual because of the addition of the single cream. Fold in the crème fraîche.

In a large glass bowl, place a third of the chocolate breadcrumbs in a level layer. Top with a third of the cream and smooth it over. Carefully dot this with half of the jar of cranberry sauce, ensuring it is evenly distributed over the cream. Continue to layer in the same manner: chocolate breadcrumbs, then cream, the remaining cranberry sauce, more chocolate breadcrumbs and a final layer of cream. Cover with double foil and refrigerate for 48 hours.

Remove from the fridge and sprinkle the remaining grated chocolate over the top. Serve in small portions, since this trifle is extremely rich.


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