As soon as mum and dad arrived, I popped the ricotta parmesan puffs into the oven. Talk about little pastry parcels of creamy cheesy morishness! These will definitely be made again. We agreed that we probably ate too many of the little tempters - they were the pre-lunch appetisiers - but they were so hard to resist ('just one more'). Somehow though we did stop and there were enough for next-day leftovers.
Dad took charge of BBQing the little frenched lamb cutlets that I took a second mortgage out for; Christmas is the time for such extravagance. Meanwhile I prepared the vegies. I made:
- steamed potatoes served with a little butter and sniped chives, and boiled egg halves (the rich eggs courtesy mum's chooks)
- roasted sweet potato and carrots, flavoured with fresh sage leaves and a smidgeon of smoky paprika and chili flakes (dad doesn't like it too hot)
- a warm green salad: my verdant oakleaf lettuce leaves, torn up and tossed with steamed zucchini and scarlett runners, and a young cucumber, all from dad's garden.
I made a light vinaigrette, toasted some walnuts, and served some avocado slices to dress the vegies. All fresh and delicious - what more could you want than wonderful leaves and vegies and sald thingies plucked from the garden only that morning?
Well, you would want dessert. Dessert was - a bit of a drama. It was a layer cake, two brownie cake layers sandwiching vanilla ice cream mooshed up with raspberries (the remains of my freezer stash of last year's crop - just in time for the new season).
Anyway, following the recipe, I made the ice cream layer in a 23 cm tin; when it was set, I popped it out, wrapped it well in cling wrap and stashed it away again. I used the same tin to make the brownie - faithfully following the recipe - which came out as thin as a pancake and strangely flexible in a rubbery kind of way. How I would slice something so thin into two layers was beyond me; how I could serve up something with such a bizarre texture on Christmas day to my parents mortified me.
So late that afternoon (thank goodness this was a couple of days before Christmas), I sped to the local supermarket, bought more chocolate, and started again - making my own trusty brownie recipe but with a touch of baking powder for lift. And a whole lot of Tia Maria for Christmas cheer. Well, I didn't add enough baking powder - it rose barely more than the first cake - but at least it wasn't bendy.
On the day, mum and I held a kitchen conference, and we cut the brownie and the ice cream each into semi circles and made a 'demi gateau' of the two cake segments and only one ice cream segment (I froze the other half - Christmas in July, perhaps?).
I also decided that if I ever made this again, I would use a much smaller tin and much more baking powder. Or I'd just make a brownie and serve raspberrries and ice cream on the side.
But it was rich and tipsy and creamy and over the top - a perfect balance to all those lovely vegies.
We ended our meal with a cup of tea and the closest thing we have to a Christmas food tradition in our family, one of mum's little tarts (there would be a riot from my corner if these did not appear).
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.
Ricotta parmesan puffs
You can make the filling the day before. I would not use an eggwash next time, as the pastry did not puff up as much as I'd expected. Adapted from the Perfect Italiano website.
- Gently saute a small leek and/or some spring onions in butter until softened, then allow to cool.
- Combine 75 gms grated parmesan, 220 gms ricotta, 1/4 cup sour cream (I also added another spoonful to this), 1 egg, a little black pepper (I didn't add salt because the parmesan would be salty enough) and the cooled leeks/onions. If you wish, cover and fridge at this stage until needed.
- Take 3 butter puff pastry sheets and cut each into 9 squares (3 x 3). Preheat your oven to 200 and line some baking trays.
- Put a small spoonful of the filling on each squre, fold over to form a triangle, then bring the two ends together in a croissant kind of shape. Brush with beaten egg if you wish.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Just a warning: the filling will be very hot inside.
I've not made these before - this recipe comes from mum. I could eat dozens of these sweet sticky fruity tarts with a good cup of tea.
- For the filling, combine in a saucepan 1/2 cup condensed milk, 2 tbspns brown sugar, 40 gms butter, 1 tbspn golden syrup, and 2 tspns lemon juice. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until caramelised.
- Remove from the heat and add 1 cup mixed fruit, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
- At this stage, preheat your oven to 200.
- Now take 3 sheets of pastry - mum has always used shortcrust but this year also used puff, and we decided the flakiness was better! Using a 7.5 cm round cutter, cut 24 circles and line shallow patty pans.
- Spoon the filling into the bases. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.