christmas treats with a twist

intrepid christmas groupWith this being the season to celebrate with family and friends, Intrepid Express thought you might enjoy trying these less traditional recipes, that embrace the international flavours of the festive season. Happy holidays and seasons greetings!…

Malaysian roast turkey with lime and lemongrass stuffing
Italian-style roast pork
Spicy potato tagine with olives
Frozen pistachio nougat with praline and caramelised figs

Malaysian roast turkey with lime and lemongrass stuffing, by renowned chef Tony Tan
For the brine
* 8 litres water
* 250g sea salt
* 200g sugar
* 5 bay leaves
* 1 tbsp allspice
* 1 tbsp black pepper

For the sauce
* 125ml chicken stock
* salt and pepper
* 1-2 tbsp brandy (optional)

For the turkey
* 1 x 4kg turkey
* 2 onions (chopped)
* 100g butter
* salt and pepper
* 500ml dry white wine
* 250ml chicken stock

For the stuffing
* 100g softened butter
* 250g bread crumbs
* 1 onion, minced
* 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
* 1 tbsp fresh sage or rosemary, chopped
* 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
* 2 tbsp lime zest
* 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
* 2 eggs
* 150g cooked chestnuts, coarsely chopped
* juice of 1 lime
* 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, minced
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 6-8 – You will need to begin this recipe a day and half ahead.

For the brine: Make this first. Bring everything to the boil in a large stockpot. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat, cool and refrigerate. Submerge turkey in the cold brine and refrigerate for 24 hours. A couple of hours before roasting, remove turkey from brine and pat dry with kitchen paper.

For the stuffing: Melt butter over medium-low heat and add onion and herbs. Saute until onion is soft and translucent and tip into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely. Spoon stuffing into turkey cavity and truss legs with cotton twine.

For the turkey: Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter onion and a few bay leaves from the brine on roasting dish. Place turkey on top of the onions breast side up and rub with butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour wine and stock into dish and cover breast with foil. Roast for 1 hour, basting frequently. Top up with more stock, water or wine to stop juices from drying. Remove foil and cook, basting now and then, for another 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Pierce thigh with a thin skewer to test whether turkey is cooked – juices should run clear.

Remove turkey and onion from roasting dish. Cover loosely with foil and rest for in a warm place for 10 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat and put roasting dish on stove on medium heat and add stock and brandy, if using. Stir to deglaze and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste and strain into sauce jug.

Carve turkey and serve with onion and your favourite roast vegetables.

Italian-style roast pork, by Bridgette Hafner
* 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
* 4 fresh bay leaves
* 1 tbsp sage, chopped
* freshly ground pepper
* 4 cloves garlic, crushed
* zest of 1/2 an orange
* 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
* 3 tbsp olive oil
* 1 boned and rolled pork shoulder or leg (about 1.3kg), with the skin scored
* extra olive oil
* salt

Serves 4 – You will need to begin this recipe at least 4 hours ahead or the night before.

The key to crackling is to start roasting the pork in a very hot oven and to sprinkle the skin very generously with salt. Any excess salt can be brushed off before carving. Another trick is to quickly blanch the pork, skin side down, in a shallow tray of simmering vinegar and water for a few minutes, before rubbing with the oil and salt.

Mix together the chopped herbs, pepper, garlic, orange zest, crushed fennel seeds and olive oil and rub into the flesh of the pork (not the skin). Marinate either overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 240C or 220C for fan-forced.

Remove pork from the fridge 30 minutes before roasting. Rub the skin with some olive oil, and sprinkle very generously with salt. Rub the salt into the skin, place in a roasting dish and put in the oven to cook for 30 minutes. Now turn the temperature down to 180C or 160C for fan-forced and cook for a further 50-60 minutes. (To calculate cooking time, allow 30 minutes of cooking for every 500g of meat.) To check if the pork is ready, insert a skewer into the meat; it should feel soft and the juices should run clear (not pink).
To serve

Allow the pork to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Spicy potato tagine with olives, this Moroccan dish is adapted by Steve Manfredi from Paula Wolfert’s book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.
* 900g of yellow-fleshed potatoes
* 3 tbsp of olive oil
* 1 finely chopped onion
* 1 chopped tomato
* 1/4 tsp paprika
* 1/4 tsp ground ginger
* 1/4 tsp cumin
* 2 cloves garlic
* bay leaf
* 1 lemon
* 1 handful of chopped parsley
* 1 handful of chopped coriander and a couple of good
* salt
* 5 saffron threads
* 24 pitted green olives
* preserved lemon (garnish)

Serves 4-6 – perfect served with couscous or rice.

Peel and thickly slice 900g of yellow-fleshed potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water.

In a heavy saucepan (or well-seasoned tagine) heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry a finely chopped onion for 3-4 mins, stirring. Add a chopped tomato, 1/4 teaspoon each of paprika, ground ginger and cumin, and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Stir for 2 mins. Add the drained potatoes, a bay leaf and a quarter of lemon (whole). Toss, then add a handful each of chopped parsley and coriander and a couple of good pinches of salt. Toss, then add 5 saffron threads and 1 1/2 cups of hot water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender – 40-50 min.

Transfer the potatoes to a warm serving dish and discard the lemon. Add 24 pitted green olives to the liquid remaining in the pot and boil until the juices have reduced to a thick sauce.

Pour over the potatoes and garnish with half a preserved lemon, chopped.

Frozen pistachio nougat with praline and caramelised figs, by Lynne Mullins
* 165g caster sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 50g pistachios, toasted
* 150ml pouring cream
* 2 cups coconut milk
* 1 vanilla bean, split
* 3 egg yolks
* 165g caster sugar
* 300g pistachio or almond nougat, chopped
* 8 figs, halved
* 4 tbsp icing sugar

Serves 8 – still festive, but a lighter alternative to rich Christmas puddings.

For the praline – Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture turns a caramel colour. Remove from heat and, when bubbles subside, pour mixture onto a greased baking tray and sprinkle with pistachios. Cool until set. Break into pieces and process in a food processor until coarsely ground but still chunky. Store in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator.

Combine cream, coconut milk and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring just to the boil over medium heat. Remove. Beat egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale then whisk into hot cream mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not boil. Remove from heat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Remove vanilla bean and freeze in an ice-cream maker. (Alternatively, place in freezer until half set. Whisk with a fork to break up crystals.)

Transfer to a bowl and stir in nougat. Spoon mixture into a lightly oiled 11cm x 21cm loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to serve.

To serve – Sprinkle cut side of figs generously with icing sugar, place under a hot grill until caramelised. Cut frozen nougat mixture into slices, sprinkle with praline and serve with figs.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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