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Mincing Words: Cooking up a following

Rea Khoabane | 2014-12-17 00:00:11.0

Christmas is the time when families and friends, believers and non-believers come together to take a break from the daily grind and revel in one another's company.

South Africans will want to braai for all occasions, but two local food bloggers have other ideas for favourite Christmas dishes.

Dizzle and Dip is a recipe, food and travel blog with appealing pictures created by food stylist and winner of the Best South African Food Blog in the Fairlady Consumer Awards 2013, Sam Linsell. She recommends her apple and mince pie crumble bars because they marry two delicious desserts.

Apple and mince pie crumble bars

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 square bars

Ingredients

  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into small dices
  • Peel of half an orange
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • cup sugar
  • 250g fruit mince (I used Woolies)
  • 40g flaked almonds

Pastry

  • 2 cups of cake flour (300g)
  • cup almond flour (40g)
  • cup caster sugar (170g)
  • 250g chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • Zest of half an orange

Method

Finely grate the zest of half an orange, then set aside. Peel the skin off the other half of the orange with a vegetable peeler, and place in a pot with of a cup of sugar and the apples. Add the juice of the orange and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

While the apple is cooking and cooling make the pastry. Place the flours, sugar, zest, butter in a food processor and pulse until a soft dough forms. Remove.

Line a 20-23cm square cake tin with baking paper. Press of the pastry into the bottom of the tin and flatten.

Spoon out the apples from the liquid and remove the orange peel. Mix this in a bowl with the fruit mince.

Spread the fruit mix evenly over the surface of the pastry. Grate the remaining third of the pastry over the top. Scatter the slivered almonds and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar

Jane-Anne Hobbs was a finalist in Fairlady's Best South African Food Blog last year. Her offering from her blog Scrumptious is a Christmas feast that serves six to eight people - the gammon glazed with brandy and Coke.

Gammon glazed with brandy and coke

To simmer the gammon

  • 1 x 2.8kg to 3kg raw gammon, bone in or out
  • One can (330ml) ginger ale
  • One bottle (330ml) beer
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • A quarter of a whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp (5ml) whole black peppercorns
  • Enough water to cover (see recipe)

For the glaze:

  • One can (330 ml) Coca-Cola
  • 4 tsp (20ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp (5ml) Hot English mustard powder
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) good instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) brandy
  • Whole cloves, to stud

Method

Make a note of the weight of the gammon. Put the gammon and all simmering ingredients into a large, deep pot. Top up with just enough water to cover the meat to a depth of 1cm.

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down so the gammon cooks at a slow, gentle simmer. Partially cover with a tilted lid.

If you're using a boneless gammon, cook the meat for 35-45 minutes per kilogram. If you're using a gammon with a large bone, cook it for 50-55 minutes per kilogram, or according to the instructions on the wrapping. Check the pot now and then, and top up with more water when necessary.

Turn off the heat under the pot and leave the gammon in its stock to cool completely. (It's a good idea to boil the gammon the day before, and leave it overnight to cool.)

Turn a stove plate to its hottest setting (220C-240C.) Pour the Coca-Cola into a large, shallow pan and bubble briskly until the liquid has reduced by half. Whisk in the mustard, mustard powder, sugar and instant coffee. Boil fast, stirring often, for five minutes, or until the liquid is slightly syrupy. At this stage you should be left with about 200ml of liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and brandy.

Lift the gammon from its cooking liquid, pat dry with kitchen paper and place in a roasting pan. Carefully peel away the rind and discard. Using a sharp knife, score the fat in a diamond pattern. Stud the gammon with whole cloves.

Pour the glaze over the gammon and place in a blazing-hot oven for about 20 minutes, basting the meat every now and then by scooping the glaze off the bottom of the pan and pouring it over the top and sides. Watch it like a hawk, as it burns in an instant, and take care not to burn yourself with the glaze.

When the gammon has a mahogany-brown, sticky, sizzling crust, remove it from the oven. As the gammon cools, use a spoon to trickle over any remaining glaze left in the bottom of the pan. As the glaze cools, it will cling to the gammon's surface.

Serve hot or cold with boiled baby potatoes and a green salad.

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