26 December 2010

Christmas Food


Sadly Christmas does not seem to be that big a deal in Korea, but that wasn't going to stop us from going all-out. We spent about twenty-five pounds on a giant slab of beef, drank buck's fizz from 9:30, had monkey bread for breakfast, and cooked enough so that we could recreate Christmas dinner again today from the leftovers, if we felt like it. And probably tomorrow, too.

Also, one of my Christmas presents was a pair of pink spotty pyjamas, so now I really am a cook in pink pyjamas. I'm very happy about this.

Monkey Bread leftovers in tupperware - we needed the cake tin!

Christmas Breakfast: Monkey Bread
Fills one cake tin

2 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
4g instant yeast
3 and 1/4 cups flour (I used 1 and 3/4 bread flour, 1 and 1/2 wheat flour)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
More flour (I estimate about 300g)
150g butter
Equal amounts brown sugar and cinnamon

Put the milk and water into a medium-sized, microwavable bowl, and heat on a medium temperature in the microwave for one minute. Add the two and a half tablespoons of butter and return to the microwave for another thirty seconds to a minute so that the butter melts into the mixture. Add the quarter-cup of brown sugar and the yeast and stir to combine.

In a big mixing bowl, stir the flour and salt together. I used two different kinds of flour because the first packet was empty after 1 and 3/4 cups! Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour the milk mixture in. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough has formed, and is quite sticky - this shouldn't take long at all.

Sprinkle a lot of flour on to a clean surface, heavily flouring your hands as you do so, and tip the dough on to it. The original recipe says to "lightly flour" your work surface, but I found that I needed to use probably 300g of flour to get it to the right consistency. Keep the flour nearby and a clean hand (I used Tom's) ready to sprinkle more for you if necessary. Knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny, incorporating any scraps that come apart during the kneading. The original recipe says this should take about ten minutes; for me it took about seven.

Pour most of the oil into a large ovenproof bowl and swish it around (I used my hands to make sure it covered the bottom and sides of the bowl thoroughly). Put the dough into the bowl and cover it with a little more oil. Cover the bowl with foil and put it in the oven at 50 degrees C (120 Fahrenheit) for twenty minutes, after which you can turn the heat off and leave it for another forty. By now it should have doubled in size.

Remove the foil from the bowl and tip the dough on to a work surface - this time the work surface does only need a light dusting of flour. In one bowl, melt the 150g butter; in a second, mix equal parts brown sugar and cinnamon (you can cut back on the cinnamon as much as you like, but Tom is a big fan of it so I went full-on). Pull small pieces from the dough and shape them into balls, about an inch and a half in diameter (bigger than a two-pound coin but smaller than a golf ball). Dip each ball into the butter, then the sugar mixture, and then put back into the ovenproof bowl. I stacked mine to make a pyramid, not bothering with using a fork to dip each ball in the melted butter.

The dough needs to rise again: I covered the bowl with clingfilm and left it on the side overnight (it had at least thirteen hours). The original recipe suggests putting it in a pre-heated then turned-off oven for another fifty to seventy minutes.

When the dough has risen and you are ready to eat, remove the clingfilm from the bowl and put it into an oven at 180 degrees C (360 Fahrenheit). Cook for thirty minutes, leave for five, and then start tearing the whole thing apart. Delicious when warm, but somehow even better when cooled. Very doughnut-esque. It would be wonderful to adapt the dough slightly by lowering the amount of sugar, and making a savoury version with olive oil, herbs, garlic and cheese instead.

For dinner itself we had roasted beef with roast potatoes, pumpkin mash (having forgotten to buy sweet potatoes), cauliflower cheese, pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puddings, broccoli, and mulled wine gravy. The pigs in blankets were simply sausages rolled in bacon and put in the oven for twenty minutes, and the pumpkin mash was made in exactly the same way as normal mash. Sadly it was very watery so we didn't eat much of it, but it should make great leftovers soup. The Yorkshire puddings are very much Tom's area of expertise so I have neither recipe nor experience to share. Our roast potato recipe remains unchanged since Thanksgiving, so here are my beef, cauliflower and gravy recipes. (We were so excited to see cauliflower in Tesco. It was the first time we'd seen it since we came here. Like a Christmas miracle!)

Roasted Beef
Serves 6

1.5kg beef, no bone
2 onions

In a large oven tray on the stove, heat some oil. Add the beef and sear on all sides. Add the onions, peeled and quartered, and put in the oven at 180 degrees (360 Fahrenheit) for one hour. Lower the temperature to 150 (300 Fahrenheit) and cook for a further two hours for rare meat.

Cauliflower Cheese
Serves 4

Half a head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon cream cheese
1 handful grated cheese
1 cracker
Parmesan dust

Chop the cauliflower into florets and boil at a high heat for five to ten minutes. Drain and transfer to a small baking tray. In the pan, melt some butter and add the flour to form a roux. Add the milk to the roux, whisking thoroughly, along with the wine. Allow the sauce to simmer for a moment. Add the mustard and cream cheese, waiting until both have melted into the sauce before removing the pan from the heat and adding the grated cheese. Stir the sauce through for a few minutes before returning it to the heat and adding parmesan dust and seasoning to taste. Pour over the half-cooked cauliflower and sprinkle grated cheese and crushed cracker over the top. Bake for twenty minutes at 180 degrees (360 Fahrenheit).

Mulled Wine Gravy
Makes about 200ml

Roasting juices
Gravy powder
Red wine

This recipe is necessarily very vague because the amount of roasting juices you get varies massively, as well as the number of people you're hoping to feed with this gravy. Below are my rough estimations, given that I made gravy for two with only a tiny bit left over. You may want to add more or less for taste, also. The mulled wine ice-cube could be replaced with other flavourings, such as mustard or horseradish.

After the beef, or other roasting meat, has been removed from its pan in preparation for carving, take the pan to the stove and put it in a low flame. My roasting juices had the two braised onions in it. Add about one tablespoon of gravy powder, one cup of red wine, one mulled wine ice-cube, and seasoning. Stir. Allow the sauce to bubble for at least five minutes, or until it is needed, before pouring into a jug or gravy boat for serving.