Hi Everyone, With the holiday season now in full swing and the family starting to gather, keep your cool and don’t get flustered in the kitchen. You’ve got this. Keep the following tips and advice in mind as you busy yourself preparing the food and beverage.
The key to a moist cake is the rum-soaked fruits that have been macerating for at least 12 months. However, if you didn’t get the chance to soak your fruits that long in advance, you can still make the cake but it may not be as pudding-like. If you want to still make the cake, blend together the fruits with cherry brandy or port. The port and cherry brandy are sweet and will not dry out as much as rum would as the cake bakes.
Use lots more prunes in the fruit mix as this will aid in the pudding-like texture of the cake.
If you want to make a Christmas cake but do not use alcohol, blend the fruits with a dark grape juice.
Skim off the foam that rises at the top of the Pepperpot as it comes to a boil – that’s the bit of impurities from the meat. Also try to remove as much of the oil that rises to the top of the pot. You can do this as it is cooking or when the Pepperpot is done cooking. An easy way to de-fat the Pepperpot is to let it cool overnight and the following morning, use a spoon to scoop off the fat that would have solidified overnight.
Wait at least 24 hours before eating the just-made Pepperpot. It is a dish that needs time for the flavour to fully develop.
The best way to taste the Pepperpot for seasoning and overall taste, is to do so with a piece of bread. Given that bread is what you are most likely to be eating with the Pepperpot, it provides the best way to taste the Pepperpot.
Always use a clean utensil when dishing out from the Pepperpot.
Try to use a piece of meat that has some fat such as the shoulder or belly/flap. Because these cuts have in fat, when cooked, they will render their own oil (which you can use to cook with).
The pickling liquid must cover the meat when the garlic pork is set.
Garlic Pork should be set for at least 7 full days before cooking; 2 weeks is ideal for the curing and flavour to develop.
Cook the meat on medium heat and let it brown evenly on both sides.
Always use a clean utensil when taking meat from the pickling jar.
Start glazing ½ hour before the ham is done and do so at 10 – 15 minute intervals. Glazing too early can cause the high sugar content in the glaze to burn.
To make a glaze – take ½ cup of your favourite jam and add 2 – 3 tablespoons of tap water, place over low heat and whisk/stir to dissolve. Let simmer until the mixture is thick and syrupy.
Let the ham rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Reserving the drippings (oil, juices) from the baked ham to add to rice dishes, roast potatoes, soups, stews etc. The same goes for the ham skin/rind.
As much as you want to prepare everything yourself, don’t refuse help; give clear directions/instructions what you want done.
Draw on the strengths of your family members/friends coming over for the Christmas meal and let them help by bringing a dish they make exceptionally well. Everyone can assist in some way. If one among you is a wine expert, let them choose and bring the wine(s) for the gathering.
Remember that we live in a time of increased food intolerances and allergies so be sure to ask before you start shopping and cooking so that your guests feel included and catered for. Don’t forget to include vegetarian and vegan options.
If there are older folks in the gathering, make sure that the food is served in a timely manner or make something available for them to eat at an appropriate time as they may have certain medications to take.
Before you pour that Sherry and things start to get merry, let me wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! May you be filled with peace and blessings, now and always.
Merry Christmas everybody!