Fear not, Peter Gilmore, Electrolux cooking ambassador and executive chef of three-hatted Quay Restaurant, is happy to share some tips for stress-free (or at least stress-reduced) Christmas cooking.
|Peter Gilmore for the Electrolux Masterclass, Quay Restaurant, Circular Quay|
|Peter Gilmore preparing live marron|
With marron - best bought live, placed in iced water to induce a "coma" and killed swiftly with a knife down the middle of the head - it's such a beautiful and uniquely Australian crustacean that little needs to be done to it.
|Fresh water marron with herb butter, aioli, young leaf and flower salad|
Lobster and scampi are also ideal in this fashion, although the latter is difficult to source live, says Gilmore.
Alongside was a simply dressed micro herb, French breakfast radish and flower salad, in a naturalistic style that has become Quay's signature.
The result was a swoon-worthy dish: sweet with the freshness of the marron, boosted into uber-luxe territory with the herb butter, and brought back to earth with the refreshing salad.
|Roasted rib of Angus beef|
In the Electrolux convection oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius, and then two hours at 150 degrees Celcius, the meat is cooked to a medium-rare when the internal temperature reaches 60 degrees Celcius.
Gilmore highly recommends a meat thermometer when it comes to roasting meats, as well as appropriate resting time for the meat - in this case, about 30 minutes under loosely-wrapped foil before 10 minutes' reheating ahead of serving.
|Gilmore whisking a Bèarnaise sauce|
Gilmore says that whisking Bèarnaise is an ideal job for two people: a whisker and a pourer of butter at precisely 60 degrees Celcius. Egg yolks, white wine vinegar, white wine and eschallots are whisked over simmering water, while melted butter and lemon juice are added slowly while whisking to an ideal texture.
Described as a "labour of love" by Gilmore, he says whisking too hard or too fast can split the sauce, which is definitely not what you want half an hour before Christmas lunch.
|Potato and truffle gratin (back, left) and roasted rib of Angus beef|
But it's Christmas after all, and there's no better date in the year for a spot of indulgence.
|Roasted rib of prime Angus beef with young steamed vegetables,potato and truffle gratin|
and classic Bèarnaise sauce
|Christmas pudding ice cream (left) and caramelised figs|
With crumbled dark Christmas pudding frozen into a terrine of ice cream, this was only the beginning of the decadence.
Gilmore ran through the basics and dangers of caramel, producing a deeply tanned version in minutes, then adding halved fresh figs to the fold. Basted in caramel, the figs were allowed to set and harden a little before becoming the star on the tree that was Christmas pudding ice cream.
|Christmas pudding ice cream with caramelised fresh figs|
|Festive table setting for Electrolux Masterclass at Quay|
- Plan ahead for the festive season menu. Try to do as much as possible the day before so it is not too stressful on the day.
- Include dishes on your menu that can be made a few days ahead of time.
- Using high quality seasonal ingredients means you can do less preparation and yet achieve spectacular results.
- Incorporating a little tradition in a modern way has the effect of maintaining the essence of Christmas but making it new and exciting.
- Using the right kitchen appliances, such as the Electrolux Compact Combination Steam Oven or the Electrolux Induction Cooktop, will help you save time, create less of a mess and take the heat out of the kitchen.
- The resting of a large piece of meat is just as important as the correct cooking. Carving a piece of meat too soon may result in losing all of the precious juices.
- Using a small amount of a luxury ingredient like fresh truffles really gives your festive menu a sense of occasion.
|White sourdough bread and butter|
|Salad of preserved wild cherries, albino and chioggia beetroots, |
treviso, crème fraiche, black truffle, violets
Soft yellow beetroot contrasted with insanely crisp bread dyed beet crimson, while crème fraiche softened the almost harsh tartness of the preserved cherries.
|Congee of northern Australian mud crab, fresh palm heart, egg yolk emulsion|
|Smoked and confit pig cheek, shiitake, scallop, jerusalem artichoke leaves, juniper, bay|
Also layered atop the meltingly soft pork were two of my favourite things: barely-cooked scallop and mushrooms of the shiitake variety - both thinly sliced.
Served with my favourite wine of the night, the 2010 Sticks Pinot Noir, the delicate textures of the mushroom and scallop were the perfect accompaniment to the boldly smoky pork.
|Poached fillet of pasture raised veal fillet, parsnip cream, roasted grains, mushrooms|
The ridiculously tender meat was served on ridiculously creamy parsnip cream, with mushrooms and crisply puffed, roasted assorted grains on top, and just sneaking in to be my favourite dish of the night.
|Jersey cream, salted caramel, prunes, walnuts, ethereal sheets|
Crisp but impossibly thin, the sheets of milk, white and dark chocolate, and toffee / praline / brittle (I think) were a delight to look at and consume with a bit of everything beneath too. The golden brown Campbells Classic Topaque was a weighty sticky to end the meal.
|First Christmas present - thanks Open Haus!|
See full recipes here and more photos from the Electrolux Masterclass on my Facebook page.
Food, booze and shoes attended the Electrolux Masterclass at Quay as a guest, with thanks to Open Haus.