Amon’s Christmas tips ! A happy Christmas………

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Celebrity Chef Peter Dacoutrous , a good friend of mine handcrafted this beautiful crib….

Getting ready for Christmas makes us excited and a good part of the preparations are connected with food. Christmas is all about food and eating.

I had a number of requests to suggest alternatives to the main turkey roast and I spent a day with Amon at Le Meridien planning a special meal using traditional Christmas ingredients for those who choose to have a different main course.

Amon is very creative and he spent a year of his training programme working under Albert Roux who has been one of the most important sources of his inspiration.

As we associate turkey and cranberries with Christmas, Amon prepared pumpkin Ravoli with smoked turkey as a starter and he recommended cranberries with a light lemon tart as a dessert. This will allow families to enjoy their favourite roast on Christmas Day while keeping the Christmas spirit alive with traditional ingredients.

We tried out different alternatives and I am sharing his recipe the Smoked Turkey sauce that is suitable with any pasta. The sauce is very light and full of flavour and will leave you comfortable to carry on indulging for the rest of the day.

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You will need :

2 Smoked turkey breasts, cut up into small cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 leaves fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
100g onion
100g pumpkin purée
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
Maldon Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 glass Prosecco

In a saute pan melt butter and olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and sage. Add the pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Cook for a few minutes and then add the smoked turkey and parmesan cheese. Add the prosecco and let simmer over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and serve immediately with Parmesan shavings and rocket leaves.

I loved Amon’s idea of pairing up the lemon tart with cranberries and I used Rachel Allen’s recipe from her book Bake for the lemon tart with Amon’s instructions for a festive cranberry sauce:

For the Lemon Tart you will need:

For the pastry
200 g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp icing sugar
100 g butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg, beaten
Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process briefly.
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs then, using your hands, add just enough egg to bring it together.
Place the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180C
Line a 23cm tart tin with the shortcrust pastry and bake blind for 10-15 minutes.

For the filling:

3 eggs
1 lemon, grated zest
125 g caster sugar
150 ml double cream
3 lemons, juice only
1 orange, juice only
icing sugar, for dusting
Place the eggs, lemon zest and sugar in a bowl and whisk for a couple of minutes until the egg is all broken up. Add the cream, orange and lemon juice. Mix well, skimming off any froth from the top of the mixture. Carefully pour the filling into the cooked pastry case.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160C and bake the tart for 30 minutes or until the filling has just set in the centre.
When it is cool remove from the tin and dredge a little icing sugar over the top.

For Amon’s Cranberry and Date Sauce

2 cups water
3 cups sugar
3 spoons Honey, I use local thyme honey
Grated zest of an orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups chopped pitted dates
3 cups cranberries

Simmer water, sugar, zest, honey and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add the dates and cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to burst. Add more honey to suit your taste.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our day especially the testing session and I hope you will enjoy these dishes as much as we have. Have a wonderful Christmas !

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From the heart of the Mediterranean.... Thank you !

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