Thursday, December 12, 2013



When you have read part 1 of Christmas is coming soon, I assume that you are convinced that pre-preparation of your Christmas dinner with the vacuum method works. 
There is usually a bit more to a Christmas dinner than a main course, even though your main course is and should be the highlight of the evening.
But you will most likely also have one or two starters and a dessert to complete the menu and to make Christmas dinner a true feast and memorable to look back at.
Let me refer back to some parts of part 1 of my Christmas article.
I mentioned that we all tend to overdo Christmas dinners and make them  lavish. It is perfectly okay to be lavish during Christmas though but if you put in a lot of effort and your efforts result in being futile, there is no gain for anybody. 
I would like to  therefore give you some tips to choose your menu wisely and proportionately.
An average adult consumes between 700 grams and 1 kilo of food during a dinner with a starter, main course and dessert.
This fact is calculated per meal segment. 
Starter 150 grams
Meat (or other protein) 175 grams
Vegetables 200 grams
Potato (or other carbohydrates) 150 grams
Dessert 150 grams
Drink 150 ml
These segments combined total up to 975 grams.
But it is Christmas and we are allowed to indulge our self. Enjoy the occasion and be merry and happy, so keep the above list just in mind when you shop.

If you plan for ten people for example, this list will help you not to break your wallet .
A turkey will give you between 50 and 55% of meat in a raw state, cooking loss will be 
10 to 15 %.
So for ten people you need approximately 2 kilos of meat, which a 5 kilo turkey will give you and you do not need an 8 kilo turkey because you are afraid that you do not have enough.
For hard vegetables like the parsnip, Brussels sprouts, carrots and red cabbage you can calculate a weight loss of 10 to 12 % from the raw weight due to peeling and cleaning. Cooking loss is negligible for these types of vegetables.
Same percentage of weight loss can be used for the potatoes.

Now back to my menu.
Whole Roast Turkey with a Sauce of mixed Berries and Port Wine
Garden Herbs infused Roast Potatoes
Assorted Garden Vegetables
Roasted Chestnuts
Christmas stuffing 
Having done your pre-preparation with the vacuum method as explained in part 1, all you need to do on Christmas day is to place your turkey in the oven and you need about ½ an hour to finish the condiments, roughly 1 hour in the kitchen.
So there is time to complete your dinner with a starter and a dessert.
Let’s fill in some ideas.
When planning a menu one should always keep variety in mind, when your main course is meat choose a starter with vegetables or fish.
Think also about shapes, color and textures of the dishes to serve.

It happens to be that I am in charge of the selection of dishes in this article and I love fish. So I choose a surprising fish based starter.
Quite easy to make and best of all it can be made in advance. I keep in mind that chefs also celebrate Christmas

My starter:  
Soufflé always sounds a bit scary but do not worry about this recipe.
40 Gr Butter
25 Gr All purpose flour
300 Ml Milk
85 Gr Philadelphia cream cheese
2 Tsp Chopped dill
3 Nos Egg
85 Gr Smoked Salmon (chopped)
Zest of ½ Lemon
To Finish:
6 Tbsp Crème Fraiche
6 Small Smoked Salmon slices
Twigs of dill, some color full winter salad leaves

Place the butter, milk and flour in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring on medium heat.
When the mixture boils lower the heat and add the cheese bit by bit and the chopped dill, mix well to incorporate.
When the cheese is incorporated turn off the heat and add the eggs one by one.
Add the chopped smoked salmon and lemon zest.
Pre-heat an oven to 180 -200 Celsius or
Grease six ramekin moulds and cover the base with grease paper.
Divide your mixture over the six mould about ¾ full.
Place the moulds in an ovenproof tray and place in the oven, fill the tray half way full with hot water.
Bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
You will see that the mixture rises above the edge of the mould.
Remove from the oven and let cool, the mixture will now sink somewhat, that is ok.
When the soufflés, have cooled down cover them and store with the moulds in the refrigerator.
You can do this up to two days in advance.
To finish the dish before you serve: 
Remove the soufflés from the moulds. If needed move a small knife around the inside of the moulds. The grease paper on the bottom of the moulds will help the removal.
Pre-heat your oven to 180– 200 Celsius or between 350 and 390 F
Place the soufflés on a baking tray, top with a tablespoon of crème fraiche each and bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until the soufflés puff up.
Place some of the color full leaves on a plate, then the soufflé, top with a slice of smoked salmon and a twig of dill
Serve warm.           
Main course:
Best is to follow the cooking instructions given by the turkey supplier, some have a pop-up pin and sometimes there are cooking times given.
I explained how to finish the vegetables, sauce and potatoes after you have pre-prepared and vacuumed them in part 1.
That leaves us with a dessert, personally I prefer to use something easy, something that you just have to place on the table.
Remember that you will be also somewhat poofed after the main course.
Besides, desserts are usually quite tedious and time consuming to make. 
I advise therefore buy a nice Christmas cake or log.
After or with that coffee, some pralines and the whole family, including you, can lean back very satisfied.
You will have a great Christmas dinner this way.
Pre-preparation and vacuuming an important and time consuming part of your dinner has saved you a lot of time on Christmas day. 
Go for it.  

Written for PMG 
By Professional Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn 
Culinary expert in recipe development. 


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