Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

To my dear Christmas Friends,



May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family all the warmth and goodness this Holy Season has to offer. May your Christmas be blessed, your New Year filled with happiness and may the true spirit of the season find you and fill your heart with joy.



Please enjoy this beautiful videoThe Christmas Story (2010 version),  as told by the children of St Paul's Church, New Zealand. Thank you Debbie for sharing this gorgeous story with everyone!



Blessings and best wishes,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cooking ~ Australian Cuisine

Christmas Down-Under is hot hot hot so as much as many of us would love to indulge in lots of traditional food, Aussies often "mix it up" and eat a mixture of hot foods and cold salads on the big day.

 Watermelon and Fetta Salad via Natasha in Oz


Saffron Butter Scallops
So, what would an Aussie Christmas taste like? Here are some recipes and a video from a very handsome Aussie chef to give you a bit of an idea.

Take it away Curtis Stone!



So, the turkey is cooking and now we need a cold beverage to wash down our yummy turkey....like a delicious Christmas Punch!


Ingredients:
1 L orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
Rind of 1 lemon
2 bottles of sherry
600ml pineapple juice
1 bottle of sparkling white wine
1.25 bottle soda water
Sliced oranges, lemons and fresh mint, to decorate

Method:
In a small saucepan, bring 250ml of the orange juice, cinnamon stick and lemon rind to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Combine sherry, the remaining 750ml orange juice and the pineapple juice.

Add the cinnamon mixture, stir and chill for several hours or overnight.

Just before serving, pour punch into chilled punch bowl, add the bottle of sparkling white wine and of soda water. Decorate with sliced oranges, lemons and fresh mint.

Cold seafood is always something special that Aussies love at Christmas. The following delicious recipes are from Australian House and Garden.



Yabbies on sourdough with lemon myrtle mayo

Prep: 20mins
1 cup (250ml) whole-egg mayonnaise
2 tsp ground lemon myrtle, or to taste
Good-quality sourdough baguette
32 yabby tails, cooked and peeled (or whole scampi or prawns, peeled, deveined and cooked)

Method
1 Place mayonnaise in a bowl, add lemon myrtle and mix well.
2 Slice bread on the diagonal and spread with lemon myrtle mayo. Top each with 1-2 yabby tails, depending on size. Serves 8

Not into seafood? What about....

Spice-rubbed goose with apple stuffing


Prep: 45mins. Cooking: 2hrs 30mins.
1 whole goose or duck (about 2-2.5kg)

Spice rub
¼ tsp whole cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Apple stuffing
2 tbsp goose or duck fat
8 apples, cored and sliced
½ cup (125ml) calvados (apple brandy)
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
½ orange
Prep: 20 mins, plus 1 hr chilling.
Cooking: 8-10 mins, plus decorating time.
Makes about 48
Method
1 Preheat oven to 170°C (150°C fan). To make stuffing, heat goose fat in a large frypan over medium-high heat, then gently fry apples for 7-8mins, or until lightly browned all over. Sprinkle with calvados, cinnamon, sage and thyme. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2 Meanwhile, wash goose thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Remove neck and any visible lumps of fat. Prick skin very well, especially on breast, taking care not to cut into meat.
3 To make spice rub, grind spices together. Massage all over goose.
4 Spoon apple stuffing into cavity of goose, and seal opening with half an orange.
5 Lay goose, breast-side up, on a sheet of foil large enough to wrap over entire goose. Wrap goose with foil and seal edges. Place on a rack set in a baking tray. Make a hole in base of foil to allow fat to drain. Roast for about 2hrs, or until juice runs clear. Peel foil back, increase temperature to 220°C (200°C fan) and roast for 20mins or until browned, basting 2-3 times to prevent meat from burning.
6 Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 15mins before serving. Serves 8

A salad is the perfect side dish on a hot summer's day!


Pumpkin salad with marinated fetta


Prep: 25mins. Cooking: 40mins.
1kg peeled and seeded pumpkin, cut into 2cm chunks
5 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup (80g) pine nuts, lightly toasted
100g marinated fetta, cubed
100g baby spinach leaves

Method
1 Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan). Toss pumpkin and unpeeled garlic cloves with 2 tbsp olive oil and place in a single layer in a baking tray. Bake for 20mins, then remove garlic and turn pumpkin. Bake for a further 20mins, or until tender and edges are beginning to brown.
2 For dressing, peel roasted garlic and place in a food processor. Add lemon juice and remaining olive oil and whiz to combine.
3 Combine warm pumpkin with pine nuts, fetta and spinach, then gently toss with dressing. Season to taste and serve. Serves 8

Recipe Amy Willesee
Photography Louise Lister
Styling Yael Grinham


Ok, what to eat for sweets? How about.....


Ingredients
125g butter
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
2 eggs
500g dried mixed fruit
60g (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts
80ml (1/3 cup) fresh orange juice
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour, sifted
75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 tsp mixed spice
250g White Icing
10 drops green food colouring
36 red Smarties or M&M'S

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line twelve 80ml (1/3-cup) capacity muffin pans with cases. Use an electric beater to beat the butter, sugar and orange rind in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the dried fruit, walnuts and orange juice. Stir in the combined flour and mixed spice. Spoon into the lined pans and smooth the surfaces.Bake for 30 minutes or until cupcakes are firm to touch. Set aside in the pans for 5 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Knead the icing following packet directions. Roll out on a sheet of non-stick baking paper until 3mm thick. Use a round 7cm pastry cutter to cut 12 discs from icing. Place on the cupcakes.

Bring leftover icing together. Flatten slightly. Wearing gloves to avoid staining your hands, add food colouring and knead until well combined. Roll out on a sheet of non-stick baking paper until 3mm thick. Use a pastry cutter or a small sharp knife to cut 24 small diamond shapes from the icing. Arrange on cupcakes to make leaves. Roll remaining icing into small balls and use to attach Smarties or M&M'S to the cupcakes.


2 cups (300g) plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (220g) sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Icing
2 cups (320g) pure icing sugar
2 tablespoons water
Food colouring (optional)
Silver cachous, to decorate

Method
1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
2. Place butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 3 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, then add flour mixture at low speed. Mix until just combined.
3. On a lightly floured surface, form dough into 2 balls, then flatten each into a disc. Wrap discs firmly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan). Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
5. Roll out one piece of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and use biscuit cutters to cut out shapes. Arrange on baking sheets, spaced 2.5cm apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, switching shelves halfway. Transfer biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely. Allow baking sheets to cool before baking next batch.
6. Roll out remaining scraps of dough, cut out shapes and bake 8-10 minutes.
7. For the icing, combine icing sugar and water in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add more water if necessary for an easily spreadable consistency. Stir in food colouring, if desired.
8. Spread icing over biscuits. Decorate with silver cachous and allow icing to set before serving.
Recipe Loukie Werle
Photography William Meppem
Styling Kirsty Cassidy

It's so funny to think that as my friends in the Northern Hemisphere are tucking into hot roasts and puddings we will be dining on cold salads, cool and refreshing glasses of Christmas punch and cold seafood!

Wherever we you are this Christmas I hope that your food is delicious and that you share your day with people who are special to you.

Blessings and best wishes,

Natasha 

Please join me each weekend for the Say G'day Saturday Linky Party!
You can also visit me at PINTERESTTWITTER

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.

Hello sweet Christmas friends! Finally, the Summer vacation has started for my kids (and me!) and we are now counting down to Christmas!

So to make our home merry and bright this year we have making our own decorations.


Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


We made Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


We also made orange and cinnamon decorations.

Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


We dried sliced oranges overnight in the oven (about 75 degrees Celsius or 170 Fahrenheit). The next morning we attached a cinnamon stick to each slice of orange with some twine (I wanted to use raffia but had run out)....and we made Christmas decorations!

 Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas. 

 Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.

We made pomanders with oranges and cloves-they smell wonderful, especially when placed on a platter with some evergreens and tea light candles.

Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas. 

 Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.




I put the left-over orange slices, cinnamon sticks and cloves and some star anise into my glass candle holders.

Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


The house really smells like Christmas now!

Christmas Cookies, Orange Pomanders and the Scents of Christmas.


Thank you dear friends for coming to visit today and for Keeping the Christmas spirit Alive, 365!


I am linking this post to my weekly Say G'day saturday Linky Party. If you would like to share a project, recipe, DIY or tutorial please just click the picture to join in!

Say Gday Linky Party



Best wishes always,


For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home. W.J. Ronald Tucker

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Marsha's Ornament Exchange Linky Party and a Very Big Thank You!

Welcome dear Christmas friends! I hope that you have had a lovely week. We have been busy getting ready for the summer holidays at our place! My kids finish school for the year on Friday and they are very excited! I have also been busy decorating our home these last few weeks. I am not quite finished yet but our tree is up and that is the most important thing, I think!



This year our tree has a very new and very special ornament on it. It comes all the way from Italy from a very lovely blogger named Rosanna. 


Rosanna has 2 beautiful blogs,


Well, we participated in a Christmas ornament exchange which was kindly organised by the lovely Marsha from the blog Marsha's Musings.

Marsha’s Musing & Sassy Mini Dolls

We were to swap an ornament that was representative of our country or had been handmade. I was so lucky because I not only received a stunning ornament but I also received some delicious goodies in my parcel as well!








 Marsha is having an ornament exchange party this week so we can all share pictures of our ornaments. Marsha has also placed a picture of everyone's ornaments on a virtual tree! 



Thanks so much for organizing this ornament exchange Marsha and thanks so much Rosanna for my gorgeous  new Italian ornament. I will treasure it forever!

Until next time, blessings and best wishes,
Natasha



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