Merry Christmas everybody! To everyone who celebrates, I hope you had a fabulous day and that you were at the top of Santa's good list! For lunch, all the members of my family were eating traditional Christmas lunches at different locations, but we had a light family dinner planned for the late evening.
Christmas Dinner Menu
- Gravlax (Nigella's Christmas Kitchen)
- Blini (How to Eat, although Tyler Florence also has a recipe in Real Kitchen)
- Sliced cucumber
- Salsa of red onion, capers and lime juice
- Sour cream
- Bellini cocktails
This menu was reasonably easy to put together, but does require a bit of advance preparation. The gravlax has to be prepared 2 or 3 days in advance, and the blini batter has to be started the morning of the day you want to eat it.
I would have never thought to make gravlax myself, but seeing Nigella make it on her Christmas program really inspired me to do so. (Do we see a recurring theme here?) It's super, super easy. You need a large fillet of salmon, skin on, which you cover in a paste made of sugar, sea salt, English mustard and gin. Then you blanket it in loads of dill, flip it over and cover it tightly with glad wrap. Once this is all done, you can shunt it in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, weighted down. (I used the random jars of jams and sauces that were already in my fridge, and piled them on top. Space saver!)
Salmon ready for glad wrap.
This morning, I made the blini batter, in double quantities. It's basically a yeasted pancake batter (the yeast is essential for the authentic blini taste, says Nigella), with buckwheat and regular white flour. You mix up all the ingredients in the morning, and let it rise slowly in the fridge all day. (Of course, you could just make it a couple of hours in advance and let it rise at room temperature, but the all-day-refrigerated-rise-method was much more convenient for my timing today).
The batter looked like this when I took it out of the fridge in the evening, all spongy and light. Awesome!
Before you get frying, you fold in a beaten egg white. Oh actually, come to think of it, I was supposed to put 2 eggs in there, but I only put in 1. D'oh!! They still turned out fine though.
To prepare the dinner in the evening, it was simply a matter of frying the blini, and slicing everything else up. Blini smell a-mazing frying in a hot pan. The yeasty batter, when cooking, smells just like pizza dough.
Salmon, ready to be sliced. It is important to use a very sharp knife.
Red onions and capers. (I squeezed lime juice over the onions, and let it sit while I was doing the rest of the slicing and dicing, to allow the juice to take the edge off the raw onion).
Sliced gravlax. I think you're supposed to cut the skin off, but I didn't because I was being lazy. You can't eat the skin though, and the dish looks prettier without it, so next time I'll definitely cut it off.
I put my mother and my friend Su on Bellini duty - they peeled the white peaches and puréed the flesh in a blender, ready to be poured into champagne glasses and topped up with prosecco.
The meal was fantastic! All the flavours worked together perfectly. I think that the flavours of this meal are really classic combinations, and it's easy to see why. Additionally, when you eat this meal, you will see why sour cream and onion chips are the best flavoured chips ever! Su also brought her mother's pumpkin salad - roast pumpkin, cut into fine dice, mixed with white beans, chickpeas, cinnamon and coriander. Yummy!