A Delicious Christmas (December 17, 2002)
Merry Christmas everyone! It's a time of year to celebrate so very many
things, and how better to do just that than over a glorious, elaborate
and sinfully rich meal. So pull out the stops, and go over the moon this
year with Beef Wellington and the most beautiful Christmas cake you'll
A little intimidating? Of course, but not to worry, for who better to
show you how to pull it all off perfectly than Le Cordon Bleu, the world's
most famous culinary institute. Created in 1895, Cordon Bleu has official
schools in many parts of the world, which all offer techniques not only
in classical French cuisine, but also in the style and influence of international
Le Cordon Bleu has a global team of over 80 Master Chefs who come from
Michelin-starred restaurants and prestigious hotels. They share their
knowledge of classic French techniques – the fundamentals of world
cuisine and pâtisserie – with students from over 50 countries,
inspiring them to appreciate and develop their skills, potential and creativity.
And now it's your turn, for they've just come out with Le Cordon Bleu
Complete Cook Home Collection. It's got it all: great recipes, of
course, and step-by-step techniques with easy-to-follow photographs that
will elevate the cook in you to the inner starred chef you always knew
Start or finish this meal with a warming glass of cheer, for a toddy
is always welcome at this time of year. A delightful little book just
came our way, Hot Toddies, Mulled Wine, Buttered Rum, Spiced Cider
and Other Soul-Warming Winter Drinks, by Christopher B. O'Hara. We
realized that we'd gotten away from these crowd-pleasing beverages, and
couldn't wait to try a few. Indeed, glögg was voted to be a perfect
addition to any holiday gathering. You won't stop with just one recipe,
for there's the eggnog and much, much more!
One last but not least item from our Home Economist friends at ATCO Gas
in Alberta. The 2002 ATCO's Blue Flame Kitchen Holiday Cookbook
is still available, and it's the best one yet! A great little stocking
stuffer or small last-minute gift for anyone who loves food and goodies
of the season. If you've spent your budget, the book surely won't break
it, as it's only $5.00 Canadian! To find out more, email email@example.com.
Oh, indeed, Merry Christmas!
On today's menu:
Download these recipes in printable form
as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (83 KB)
What a way to start the festivities – a warming drink that to Scandinavians
literally means "water of life." And why not? It's cold outside,
and all those friends piling in the door will feel much better about life
with a tasty mug of glögg pressed into chilled hands.
Serves 12 to 15
- Two 750-mL bottles of full-bodied dry red wine
- 20 cloves
- 20 cardamom seeds
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon (2 mL)
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (5 mL)
- 8 ounces sugar cubes
- One 750 mL bottle aquavit
- ½ cup raisins, for garnish (125 mL)
- ½ cup sliced almonds, for garnish (125 mL)
In a large pot, combine the wine, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg
and heat over a medium flame until steam rises from the surface and the
spices are infused, about 7 minutes. Strain, then transfer about half
the mixture to a large bowl. Place a fine-mesh wire rack over the pot
and arrange the sugar cubes on top. Pour the aquavit over the cubes, making
sure to soak them well. Standing back, use a long kitchen match to carefully
ignite the sugar cubes, then slowly ladle the reserved wine over them
until they have dissolved.
Serve in mugs, garnished with raisins and sliced almonds.
Well, if you can't do a Beef Wellington at Christmas, then when can you?
It's been around for a long time, and is still a fabulous centrepiece
to an important meal. You and Cordon Bleu will pull this off, not easily
perhaps, but without hassle, anyway. And trust us, it's worth every minute
Preparation time: 1 hour + 15 minutes chilling
Total cooking time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- 3¼ lb. beef rib-eye roast (1.625 kg)
- ½ cup oil (125 mL)
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small leek, chopped
- 3 Tbsp dry Madeira or sherry (50 mL)
- 3 cups beef stock (750 mL)
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (50 mL)
- 2 shallots, finely copped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 lb. button mushrooms, finely chopped (500 g)
- 1 lb. 10 ounces puff pastry, or 2-3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 10 slices proscuitto
- 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Remove and reserve the thin
muscle from the side of the beef. Remove and discard the shiny surface
membrane and tie the meat with string at ¾-inch intervals.
Coarsely chop the beef trimmings. Heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the oil
in a skillet, then add the beef trimming and chopped carrot, onion and
leek. Gently fry until the mixture browns. Sir in the Madeira, scraping
up the sticky juices from the bottom of the pan, then simmer for a few
minutes, or until reduced to a syrup. Stir in the stock. Bring to a boil,
then reduce the heat and leave for 1 hour to simmer to a syrupy sauce
while preparing the Beef Wellington.
Place a roasting pan over high heat and add the remaining oil. When it
begins to smoke, add the beef roast and brown quickly all over. Season
well, then transfer to the oven and roast for about 5 minutes for medium
rare, 10 minutes for well done. (The actual roasting time will depend
on the thickness of the beef. ) Remove from the pan to allow the beef
to cool completely.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently cook the shallots for 1-2 minutes,
or until soft but not browned. Ad the garlic and mushrooms and cook gently
until the saucepan looks dry when scraped with a spoon. The mixture should
be barely moist. Set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, slightly overlap the pastry sheets
and roll out onto a rectangle measuring 24 × 14 inches. Transfer
to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator
for 15 minutes.
Transfer the pastry to the work surface. To reduce excess overlap, cut
away each corner, reserving the pastry trimmings and leaving the centre
large enough for the beef – the pastry will resemble a cross. Flatten
each flap of pastry with a rolling pin.
Lay the proscuitto slices on the pastry and spread thinly with half the
mushrooms. Untie the beef, season well, place it on the pastry and spread
with the remaining mushrooms. Bring the flaps of prosciutto over the beef.
Brush the pastry edges with a little beaten egg and fold them over each
other to completely encase the beef.
Turn onto a lightly buttered baking sheet seam side down. Cut the excess
pastry into strips and crisscross a lattice pattern over the top. Brush
with more beaten egg, then pierce a small slit in the top for a crisp
finish. Place in the oven for 5 minutes to set, then lower the heat to
400°F (200°C) and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place.
Skim any impurities from the simmering sauce, then strain into a gravy
boat. Slice the Beef Wellington and serve at once with the gravy served
on the side.
Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
as fine a medium or full-boded red as you can get. I would opt for a fine
red Burgundy from the Côte de Nuits (Vosne-Romanée, Morey-St-Denis)
or a mellow red Bordeaux (Pomerol or St. Emilion). From the New World,
an Oregon Pinot Noir or a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.
Iced Christmas Cake
We think this is the most beautiful Christmas Cake ever. It's almost
a reason to have the dinner party, really. You do need to plan ahead to
let the flavours meld, and follow the directions carefully, but look at
the results! And carefully wrapped up again, this cake will keep for weeks...
fat chance on it staying around in our house, but maybe yours!
Preparation time: 3 hours + 1 week and resting over 2 nights.
Total cooking time: 3 hours
- 2/3 cup currants (150 mL)
- 2 cups golden raisins (500 mL)
- ¾ cup raisins (175 mL)
- 1/3 cup chopped mixed candied citrus peel (125 mL)
- ¼ cup glacé cherries (50 mL)
- 1¼ cups all purpose flour (300 mL)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature (50 mL)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar (50 mL)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract (1 mL)
- 1 Tbsp molasses (15 mL)
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (5 mL)
- ¾ cup rum or brandy (175 mL)
- 1/3 cup apricot jam (75 mL)
- 1 lb. marzipan (500 g)
- Clear alcohol such as gin or vodka for brushing
- 3 lb. fondant (1.5 kg)
- 1 egg white
- 1 ¾ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 375mL
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Red green and yellow food colouring
Double line an 8-inch round cake pan with greased parchment paper. Preheat
the oven to 315°F (155°C).
Place the fruit in a bowl and mix in half the flour. Beat the butter
and brown sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs a little at a time,
beating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon and orange zest and
juice, the vanilla and the molasses. Sift the remaining flour and spice
onto the butter mixture and beat well. Stir in the fruit.
Place the mixture in the prepared pan and press on the center with the
back of a wet spoon. Bake for 3 hours, or until a skewer inserted into
the center comes out clean. Cover with aluminum foil if it is browning
too quickly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then make several holes in
the cake with a skewer.
Without removing the paper, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap an
store in a cool place for at least 1 week, soaking regularly with a little
of the rum or brandy.
Level the surface of the cake with a sharp knife, then turn bottom side
up. In a small saucepan, melt the jam and brush over the cake, then place
on a thin 8-inch board. Add the marzipan and ice the cake.
To decorate the cake, pull a walnut-sized piece of icing from the remaining
soft icing and colour it yellow. Make a small star and present shape.
Divide the remaining icing into two thirds and one third. Colour the larger
amount green and the smaller red. Cover and set aside the red. Roll out
the green icing to a 1/8-inch thickness on a surface dusted with confectioners'
sugar. Cut out a ½- by 30-inch ribbon, cover and set aside. Cut
out 8 holly leaves. Gather the remaining green icing, colour a darker
green and form a Christmas tree by making a cone shape and randomly snipping
the sides with scissors. Use the red icing to make a red ribbon, 12 holly
berries and small present to go under the tree.
Twist together the two pieces of ribbon and wrap around the cake, fixing
with some of the reserved icing at four intervals for a drape effect.
At each fixed point, stick on two holly leaves and three berries. Allow
to dry overnight.
The next day, arrange the tree and presents on top of the cake. Mix the
remaining royal icing with the food colorings and then pipe "Merry
Christmas" onto the centre of the cake and add extra decorations
on the tree and presents.
Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
a sweet fortified wine – Late Bottle Vintage Port, Malmsey Madeira,
Marsala or Cream Sherry.
We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material
and photographs for this column:
Raincoast Books, Ltd. and Thunder Bay Press, an imprint of the Advantage
Publishers Group, for Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Home Collection.
First published in 2002 by Murdoch Books, Sydney. Design and photography©2002
Murdoch Books. Text ©2002 Le Cordon Bleu.
Clarkson Potter/Publishers, member of the Crown Publishing Group, a division
of Random House, Inc., for Hot Toddies by Christopher B. O'Hara. ©2002
by Christopher B. O'Hara. Photographs by William A. Nash.
Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.
Download these recipes in printable form
as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (83 KB)