Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Cooking

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Chestnut

Christmas cooking duties were split between families this year. My aunt took charge of massaging the turkey and ensuring a tender and succulent turkey and glazing our hunk-a-chunk of a ham and I took charge of the beginnings and the end of the dinner. I was in favour of a panna cotta but my brother insisted and made his case for a chocolate fondant, after all, who would resist a chocolate fondant? So dessert was set in its mould.

On to starters, I love appetisers; they are probably my favourite section of the menu. Given a choice, I would rather have two or three appetisers and forgo the main course. Given my inclination towards appetisers, I normally am never satisfied just planning for an appetiser and would more often than not serve two or three, and if I’m feeling like a super-cook, maybe consider more. This year’s Christmas dinner was no different, the final count was four. After flipping and tagging recipes in book after book after book, it finally came down to a di mare theme and a soup. To start off the seafood medley, we had fresh oysters with vinaigrette and topped off with tobikko. For a touch of drama, we filled this large 2 metre long serving vessel with ice and sea salt and poised those plump sexy oysters on. Following, I served a sashimi platter of sake (salmon) and maguro (tuna) lightly marinated with an orange infused soy based sauce, and poached prawns in a dashi stock with avocado and roasted red peppers salsa. To round off the appetiser section of the dinner and to remind everyone it was Christmas, I made a velvet smooth roasted butternut squash soup with chestnut. (I associate chestnuts with Christmas because of the line from the Christmas song, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …”).

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On Christmas day itself, we attended a red and green themed Christmas party. Already stuffed with turkey and ham from the night before, we decided to bring red and green themed food instead for a little Christmas fun. Still fascinated by how exquisite and simple the food at Xi Yan was, we decided to attempt at re-creating another dish from the new private dining restaurant, the signature Japanese tomatoes in sesame sauce. Shopping for this dish was a fascinating process. We headed to meidi-ya to hunt down those gargantuan Japanese tomatoes that Xi Yan uses, Japanese tomatoes rather easy to locate, but those XXL ones were not such an easy task, and so we settled for those that were available and served it with the nutty, creamy sesame sauce.

I’m exhausted from the cooking but thoroughly satisfied with my Christmas creations this year. The Christmas soup this year was thankfully miles better than a curry zucchini soup tasted odd from the possibly bitter burnt curry powder, here’s the recipe for the good soup –

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Chestnut
Serves 4-6

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 kg butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 birds eye chilli, seeds removed and minced
3 springs thyme, stalks removed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
10 chestnuts, boiled and shells removed


Preheat oven to 225°C.

Heat olive oil in ovenproof pan over high heat, sauté garlic, with squash and add chilli, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook till squash browns slightly, about 10 minutes.

Transfer pan to oven and cook for another 15 minutes, shaking the pan midway to ensure even roasting.

Return pan to stove and over medium heat, add stock. Cook for another 15 minutes or until squash it tender, remove from heat and puree in a blender. Add water if soup is too thick to ensure a smooth consistency. Ladle into individual soup bowls and garnish with parmesan and a chestnut; or soup can be set aside, reheated and garnish when serving.

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Blogger Unknown said...

oh my, don't they look scrumptious.. am very intrigued by your 2-m long serving dish, your dining table must at least be 2.5 m to 3m in length to fit the dish? how in the world do you store your dish? :P

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi jux wanna drop by & say Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. Your dish mades me hungry!

8:53 PM  
Blogger joone! said...

cath, the serving dish is made from wood and is shapes like a long boat.It was a gift from an Indonesian friend, not sure which part of Indonesia it came from (maybe Bali). About storage, i stand it up and use it decorative furniture when not using for dinner parties!

cin, thanks for stopping by, i hope you had a great Christmas and a great new year to come!

9:16 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

To be honest :P the chestnut looks like poop! :D

1:42 PM  

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