This episode is all about Christmas cooking, feasting and sharing, and is the perfect thing to listen to while you travel from here to there, make a dozen or so mince pies, walk them off, wrap presents or just sit and have a cup of coffee and stare at the twinkling lights of your tree. Either way, this last week or so before Christmas is our favourite of the year so in this episode we are talking to some of Australia’s top food writers about what they are planning to cook and share for Christmas day. From Valli Little to Hetty McKinnon, Emiko Davies, Michele Crawford and Charlotte Ree there’s some GOOOOOOD Christmas cooking inspiration in here.
Plus the lovely lovely Annabelle Hickson tells us a Christmas story and as always Skye and I share our favourite things to listen to, read, do and think about. And speaking of my lovely co-host, she is due to have her third bubba any day now so gets the ultimate Christmas-cooking-leave-pass, and I know you are all with me when I say we wish you all the very best for the arrival of your new little person and can’t wait to meet him or her.
And as always, thank you so very very much to our podcast partner Country Style magazine.
Annabelle’s Christmas story
Annabelle Hickson, pictured above, is one of our favourite people here at My Open Kitchen, and the columns she writes for Country Style magazine are always such a joy to read. So we are extra extra thrilled that she agreed to read out her latest one here on the podcast. Sit for a moment, have a listen and you’ll be nodding along in agreement with the rest of us.
Skye’s Top 5
1. For your podcast playlist; Being Freelance with Steve Folland. Anything and everything you could think off in the topic of freelancing in the modern day. One of those podcasts that sets my mind racing!
2. For a bit of perspective the podcast Modern Love, which is based on a column in the New York Times. I love listening to Modern Love as it gives me a dose of gratitude and makes me thankful for my place in the world.
3. The blog and instagram account of The Bookish Baker, Helen Redfern. Not just pictures, but recipes, writing, video’s, tutorials – lots of goodies.
4. Someone I want to get to know better is @cookandthefarmer on IG. Project about real farmers and real stories by Rebecca Sullivan from Dirty Girl Diary who’s catch phrase is #grannyskills, and being more in touch with the land and all the thrifty skills that have been born of it.
5. I know it’s summer here, but I am watching the hashtag #makingwinter . This is what insta collaboration and value adding is all about – Emma Mitchell of Silver Pebble (see her gorgeous pic above) has had this running for 6 years now, and this year it offers collaboration opportunities for the best winter image for craft, cosyness, cake and creativity.
Sophie’s top 5
1. Christmas – I LOVE christmas. I love the lead up and the day itself; just keeping it local, making lots of jams and preserves for presents, going to do all my shopping here in Orange, trying to enjoy the process and not rush around like a crazy lady.
2. Mette Helbak; Swedish food writer, restauranter – living the simple life so so beautifully. One day I will get to the rooftop restaurant she runs in Copenhagen. Ps I am so making her midsummer cake (see pic above) this week.
3. Head overy heels – my friend Felicity and her friend Rachel’s podcast about ambitious women doing kick ass things. Especially loved episode one’s interview with astrologist Jessica Adams.
4. The five o’clock apron on Instagram; like many many others I often struggle with mid-week kid-friendly meal inspiration Enter Claire Thompson a chef, Mum and queen of healthy, tasty home food. If interested, you should also check out her interview on the One Playful Day podcast. I just love her approach to cooking and teaching kids about food as a very normal, nourishing thing.
Christmas cooking and feasting special
Emiko Davies – shares her Italian Christmas eve traditions. And oh my gosh the menu she and husband Marco are planning sounds just amazing; from squid cooked in white wine, crostini, chickpea soup through to the classic zuppa Inglese.
Charlotte Ree – tells us about her perfect Christmas pudding, the pavlova – and how it just has to be whipped cream with vanilla bean, strawberries, passionfruit and banana. And her family’s other favourite Christmas treat – chilled rice pudding.
Michelle Crawford’s runs us through her ideal Tassie Christmas which kicks off with sliced toasted pannetone and glasses of prosecco, then a simple lunch of one beautiful ham from Fat Pig Farm, with no glaze or cloves to interfere with the flavour of that juicy sweet ham. She’ll serve it up in thick slices with a salad of new season pink eyes, those tiny waxy potatoes that only just come into season at Christmas. These will be steamed with lots of butter, maybe some mint and peas and then a big green salad from the garden. To finish; a brown sugar pavlova with thick cream and a tumble of cherries.
Hetty McKinnon of Arthur Street Kitchen in Brooklyn New York tells us that it’s not Christmas morning unless there’s a pot of mulled wine simmering away in the background, spiked with ginger, cloves and orange. And unsurprisingly, as we know Hetty is the salad queen, it’s all about the veggies and salads chez her on Christmas day. Brussels sprouts are always the star feature, maybe a big warm salad or brussels sprouts gratin where they are cooked in a spiced cream mixture. There’s always soup at Hetty’s Christmas table, in the past butternut squash or celeriac but this year she’s planning a chestnut number with crispy shitake mushrooms on top. Dessert is Eton mess with pomegranate jelly and Persian fairy floss or strands of halva.
Valli Little, the lovely lady behind so many of Australia’s all-time favourite recipes (hello mangomisu) is planning to do a boned out rolled turkey breast wrapped in pancetta then roasted. It’s delicious hot or cold Valli tells us and perfect for a late lunch with duck fat roast potatoes and a couple of fresh salads. And the family favourite pudding in her household? Mince pie ice cream; all you need is a litre of good quality vanilla ice cream and nine mince pies. Then just soften the ice cream. pop in the food processor, crumble in the mince pies and blitz then pack back into a container and freeze then serve in scoops and pour over Pedro Ximénez sherry.
Sophie and Skye also share their menus for Christmas day and if you are interested and keen on adding a FANTASTIC new pudding recipe to your repertoire, here below is the one for Sophie’s Mum Annie Herron’s famous (in our family) ice cream pudding. We have it every year and it’s pretty much my favourite part of Christmas day.
Mum’s ice cream pudding with berries
Prep time 20 mins (plus freezing time)
Mum makes this every year for our family Christmas lunch. It looks and tastes superb and is (for me at least) the perfect end to any celebratory summer meal.
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup Vienna (toffee) almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup raspberries
1 cup chocolate-coated honeycomb, roughly chopped
1 litre really good vanilla ice cream, softened
extra berries or raspberry coulis, to serve
Soak the dried cranberries overnight in the brandy and line a mould or serving bowl with plastic wrap so it hangs over the edges just slightly (this helps when turning out the pudding to serve). Drain the cranberries and discard the extra brandy. Gently fold all the ingredients together (except the blueberries and strawberries, to serve) and spoon into prepared mould. Freeze for at least 4 hours then turn out and serve in wedges with the extra berries.