My girls were here for another Convent Christmas -this time a pretty lazy one. No big roast dinners and hours in a hot kitchen on Christmas Day. This year it was seafood and salads – grilled lobster tails, blue swimmer crabs and prawns and the inevitable glazed ham – with salads to let us have lots of easy meals afterwards.
Dessert of course was pavlova and a raspberry ripple ice-cream made with ricotta – just yum and has lasted well.
Hayley left before New Year taking bags of veg garden bounty back with her whilst Aimee and I had an extended break, sampling the local cafes and a few more low key meals at home, including what is becoming one of my favourite pantry/fridge meals – salmon carpaccio. Another low maintenance meal of finely chopped smoked salmon mixed with other finely chopped goodies such as cornichons, caper berries, spanish onion, capsicum, tomato and coriander and served with toasted triangles. A light refreshing dinner or entree anytime.
To start off the year, I made something I haven’t done for ages – a cake! A lovely butter cake with apples in the middle and on top. The apples are lightly stewed in a sugary syrup which is reduced and poured over the warm cake and also used as a sauce. Just yum – I must remember to bake more often.
Anyway, the Christmas break is coming to and end with the family all returning to Sydney and I’ll be back at work shortly. It’s been a quiet time but great to recharge the batteries and here’s hoping for a more positive 2016.
It’s been a great Christmas at the Convent – my second in residence. The first Christmas here, I had my parents and eldest daughter and we did the whole traditional thing – roast pork, turkey, glazed ham, roast veg, stuffing, gravy, followed by pudding, custard, brandy butter, cake … lots of work but also rewarding.
This year I had both daughters and a friend staying and we were much more casual with seafood and salads – still work but mostly done in advance and a chilled day rather than being in the kitchen. We had grilled lobster tails for lunch, followed up in the evening with prawns and crabs – with a nod to tradition with the glazed ham. With heaps of salads, we have feasted for a few days, along with extra guests arriving. A ricotta, nougat and berry ice-cream along with pavolva and fruit has taken care of dessert as well. Add to this a barbecue last night and pancakes for brunch this morning (courtesy of Daughter #1) has meant a great deal of food has been consumed this week.
Now that most house guests have departed, it’s clearing up left overs and doing some Show knitting whilst catching up on a few new TV series – chilling out before the shop reopens next week (not that the shop ever seems like work!)
The frosts and open fires seemed like an ideal excuse to get old friends together at the Convent for a Winter Christmas in Kandos.
I enjoy the whole traditional spread at Christmas with the glazed ham, turkey, roast pork, pudding with custard and brandy butter – but somehow it always seems a little out of place in an Australian Summer. Not so in Kandos in Winter where the temperatures get low, the frosts are heavy on the ground and the air smells of warm fireplaces. I’ve also missed seeing some of my friends and our old get-togethers so it seemed like the ideal opportunity. Fortunately most agreed and we had a great weekend of food, drink and friendship.
The garden isn’t at its perkiest to show off and produce is limited, but I managed to salvage some root veg for roasting.
The food was most appropriate – the whole Christmas shebang. Roast pork (with crackling), maple glazed ham, turkey breast filled with cranberries, spinach and pistachios (I don’t think I’d now try a whole turkey again – the breast is fantastic- slices well, looks amazing, cooks faster and more reliably and is easier to control to make sure it remains moist. You can still fill it with any type of seasoning or stuffing), all the trimmings of homemade apple sauce and cranberry jelly, mountains of roast veg, including a potato bake. Rich gravy made ahead courtesy of Jamie Oliver. Dessert was a steamed pudding, accompanied by brandy custard and brandy butter, as well as a very Christmassy raspberry semifredo. A Sri Lankan Christmas cake using preserved chow chow (chokes) topped off the celebrations, all washed down with lots of lovely bottles of alcohol. I think we now have Convent Cordial as a staple – Mrs Wigley’s Rose!
Many thanks to my friend G for all her help and contributions and, of course, to my friends for their own contributions, company and good cheer. I hope to see them much more often – either individually or as a group. It’s so important to keep old friends after moving out of Sydney and hopefully I can offer a happy change of pace here at the Convent.
It may not look it, but a few sections are starting to come together – the easiest ones obviously. These puzzles have very tricky edges – many pieces like to pretend they are edges to attract attention, but it’s all a trick! Means you can’t do it the traditional way and start with the edge.
It’s getting late at the Convent, the night before Christmas. The fairy lights are twinkling and the fridges are laden. Christmas cake is cooked and pudding is hanging. A pavlova and raspberry ripple semifreddo are finished (along with earlier mixed berry sorbet and strawberry icecream courtesy of the berry bed).
The ham is glazed, a turkey breast is stuffed with cranberries and pistachios and a rolled and seasoned pork loin awaits. Grossly over catered for one day but I’m hoping it will feed us for the few days after so the cook can put her feet up. My first Convent Christmas.