Christmas in South Africa, as in the rest of the Southern Hemisphere is a unique and splendid thing.
While most Christmas Carols, adverts, cards, recipes, etc. are geared towards a winter Christmas, and most others think of chestnuts roasting over an open fire at this time of the year, those of us Down South are thinking about pools, beaches and barbecues, aka BRAAIS in South Africa!
It is already rather intolerably hot and the last thing anyone wants to think about is slaving over a hot stove or eating hot, heavy Christmas food and baked desserts.
We will, therefore, over the next two weeks, be bringing you some lovely and slightly different summery recipes – different methods of preparing and presenting the traditional chicken, turkey and lamb, and some awesome cold side-dishes that will go well with either a braai or baked, grilled meat done in the oven.
Below are some recipes that will help your family have a fun, festive day in the sun on Christmas Day as well as in the following days, which traditionally consist of eating all the lovely leftovers from that massive Christmas lunch/dinner.
Easy Christmas Turkey
Follow this easy, super-fast Christmas turkey method when you don’t have the time – or the inclination! – to roast a whole turkey. This cheaty turkey and stuffing recipe is a guaranteed Christmas crowd pleaser!
- 2kg frozen, rolled turkey breast
- 1 orange, juiced
- 2 T olive oil
- 200g packet bought sage and onion stuffing
- 10g butter
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 150ml chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons fresh herbs (e.g. flat-leaf parsley, thyme, rosemary)
- Gravy, to serve
- Preheat oven to 180ºC.
- Defrost turkey in the fridge overnight.
- Place the turkey in a large roasting pan with the foil on and roast for one hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and baste with combined orange juice and oil.
- Leave foil off, return turkey to oven for another 30 minutes.
- For the stuffing, heat butter and oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook until softened. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
- Butter a lamington tray and spread stuffing into tray, cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes (coincide with the last 30 minutes of cooking the turkey). Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat. In a bowl, combine stuffing mix, onion mixture, fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice the turkey, garnish with herbs and serve with warm gravy and stuffing.
- Wrap the turkey in two layers of aluminium foil and it will keep warm while you roast the potatoes and prepare the beans.
- Use fresh herbs e.g. flat-leaf parsley, thyme, rosemary.
These garlicky Hasselback roasted potatoes are a great side dish. They have a crunchy top with a delicious garlic and rosemary flavour.
- 8 potatoes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 T fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
- Cut potatoes into thin slices, without cutting entirely through the slice to separate. Mix the oil with the garlic and brush into the spaces in the potatoes.
- Sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- If you place an old chopstick on either side of the potato it will stop the knife cutting all the way through the potato.
- Make sure the garlic is crushed well or even grind it in a mortar and pestle with the oil so it releases its full flavour.
- Be generous with the salt and pepper and try to use freshly ground as it gives the best flavour.
This is an easy to prepare and tasty salad that will feed the Christmas-day horde and which looks very pretty and festive on the Christmas table with its Christmassy multi-coloured ribbons of cabbage. Mixed with a tangy mustard dressing, this is always a popular salad.
- 500g wedge green cabbage
- 350g purple or red cabbage
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 T wholegrain mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Finely slice cabbage and place in a large salad bowl. Add grated carrot.
- To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a screw top lid and shake well.
- Toss dressing through salad just before serving.
- Use a vegetable peeler to ‘grate’ the carrots into nice long strips.
- The salad can be made hours in advance, kept covered in the fridge, with the dressing added just before serving.
- Use 500g green cabbage, and 350g purple or red cabbage.
Easy Chicken & Mango Salad
This chicken and mango salad is made special with a delicious curry and chive dressing. Although quick to make, if you’re really in a hurry, just pick up a barbecue chicken at the supermarket.
- 2 (300g) chicken breasts
- 2 baby cos lettuce, pulled apart, washed
- 2 cucumbers, sliced
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
- 1 x 800g tin mango, drained and sliced (or 3 fresh mangoes)
- 1/4 cup almond flakes
- chives, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup whole-egg mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 T chives, chopped
- Place chicken breasts in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes. Turn heat off and leave to sit for a further 7 minutes. Remove from pan and slice.
- While the chicken is poaching, make the Dressing: place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk. Set aside.
- Place lettuce on a serving platter. Scatter cucumber and celery over the lettuce. Place chicken slices onto the salad greens, then mango slices over the top. Sprinkle almonds and drizzle with dressing. Lastly, sprinkle with chives.
- If you have mango chutney on hand, you can add a tablespoon to the dressing for extra flavour.
- If you are in a hurry, use a barbecue chicken in place of the poached chicken.
Very Cherry Trifle
If you’re one of those people who find themselves fighting with others over cherries, this might just become your new favourite trifle recipe. Possibly best known as a dessert for the festive season, trifle is loved for both its taste and the loving memories it conjures up. This particular one calls for minimal ingredients and has a distinct flavour that will see you making it time and again. Using Swiss roll for the cake layers adds a special flair and a touch of class to its presentation. Be sure to use a good amount of maraschino cherries for a truly delicious treat.
- 250 ml cream
- 45 ml castor sugar
- 5 ml vanilla essence
- 4 mini Swiss rolls
- 500 ml ready-made custard
- 1 can (410 g) Rhodes Very Cherry fruit cocktail, drained
- 115 g Rhodes granadilla pulp
- Maraschino cherries to serve
- Combine the cream, castor sugar and vanilla essence. Beat until thick.
- Set aside until required.
- Slice and arrange the Swiss rolls by placing half of the slices in a layer at the bottom of 4 glass dishes or jars. Cover with custard.
- Spoon half of the Rhodes Very Cherry on top of the custard, followed by a layer of whipped cream.
- Make two more layers with the rest of the Swiss rolls and fruit (one layer each), finishing with whipped cream.
- Top each trifle with granadilla pulp and a maraschino cherry. Serve and enjoy.
- If you’d like to try other flavour combinations, use Rhodes Pear with raspberry jelly or Rhodes Peach with mango jelly instead of the fruit cocktail to create a two-in-one fruit and jelly delight.
Gingerbread Christmas Decorations
Kill two birds with one stone with these decorative Christmas cookies. They’re so yummy you probably won’t be able to keep them on the tree long enough to see Christmas morning.
- 2 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 100 g butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 4 T golden syrup
- 1 tube white writing icing
- Preheat the oven to 170˚C.
- Put the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ground ginger and ground cloves into the food processor and process until combined.
- Keep the motor running and add the butter and brown sugar.
- With the motor still running, add the beaten eggs and golden syrup: add the liquids until the dough combines and comes together in a lump.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two discs. Wrap one in glad wrap and put it in the fridge while you work with the other one.
- Roll it out to a thickness of 5mm. Cut out your shapes using Christmas cookie cutters.
- Arrange the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Use a skewer or the small end of an icing nozzle to pierce a hole in the top of each cookie. (This is so you can thread string through and hang them on the tree.)
- Bake for 20 minutes until just golden. Let them cool on the tray for about 10 minutes then transfer them to a rack and cool them completely before icing them.
- Now, at this point you could make up a batch of royal icing, but you are probably sick of all the mixing bowls by now. So do yourself a favour and get a big old tube of white writing icing from the baking aisle at the supermarket and let your kids loose with it to ice those cookies.
- Add string and hang them on your tree with a sign that says: “Do not eat until Christmas morning.” Yeah, right.
- These are based on Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cookies. FYI Nigella puts pepper in hers to stop the kids from eating them all!
- The best thing about these cookies is the don’t spread in the oven so you can put them close together on a tray and not worry about ‘spreadage’.