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Monday, December 28, 2009

Stomach's Eleven: Christmas dinner


Chocolate with olive oil and salt

I really am grateful.

I'm grateful for a family, friends, good health and a bounty of amazing food. All too often it can be easy to get caught up in the trivial squabbles of life, and whilst there are many things you cannot change, there are many more you wouldn't want to - moments of good fortune you take for granted every day.

I like to think that this is what Christmas is all about. It's beyond the carols, the presents, the manufactured Christmas "dream". At its essence it's about sharing good food with the people you love, and appreciating how lucky you are to have them in your lives.

My Christmas was a series of meals with family and friends. There was a midnight Christmas Eve feast with Veruca Salt featuring a massive 7kg turkey. Less than twelve hours later, it was the family lunch on Christmas Day. Watching the photos of various meals uploaded on my twitter feed, I found it so intriguing I posted a photographic round-up of what everyone was eating.

The Stomachs' Eleven Christmas dinner was held several days earlier. Our little food group has benefited greatly from the cooking prowess of Pig Flyin - contrary to popular belief he's not a chef but merely a homecook who has a passion for food and cooking that translates into the most amazing meals.


Peeled purple and orange carrots

What's more impressive than the culinary skill, is the generosity of spirit. Good food takes time and it's true what they say - you can always tell when food has been cooked with love. A little bit of skill and practice helps too, and I'm constantly astounded not just by the menu on offer at Pig Flyin's, but how clean and ordered the kitchen is at all times!

An appetiser of pate with breads is presented casually on the coffee table when we arrive. In fact it's a homemade duck liver pate, rich and smooth, alongside a slice of chocolate pate - melted dark chocolate whipped with eggs and olive oil and sprinkled with salt.


Blowtorching the fresh scampi

I love hanging out in the kitchen at dinner parties. There's so much value seeing the raw ingredients being slowly transformed into the meal that will eventually land on your plate, but the sight of the suckling pig stops me in my tracks completely.


Suckling pig

Oh yes, a suckling pig flayed and roasted. I could not wait for mains!


Entree plating

But first, entrees. Silverlily always plates entrees, usually following a sketched vision discussed between herself and Pig Flyin. I love this attention to detail.


Entree:
oysters on tomato jelly; seared scampi with salmon roe;
sashimi scallop with sea urchin roe;
sashimi scallop with prosciutto

Our entree plate of seafood is almost too beautiful to eat. I spend ages taking photos, almost regretting the moment I wil destry the plating. I love the soft wobble of tomato jelly beneath the oysters, and the seared scampi is delicately sweet and succulent. The raw scallops are probably my favourite though, espeically with the buttery sea urchin roe and the thin disc of salty prosciutto.


Duck breast slices


Plating the duck


Duck breast stuffed with pistachio and cranberry

Our second entree is an impressive tower of duck breast, rolled with pistachio and cranberry and wrapped in spinach leaves. The duck is cooked just-so, surrounded by stalks of white and green asparagus. The duck sauce is incredible, the duck bones roasted in the oven to create a beautifully glossy sauce that is sweet and salty and rich with flavour.


Roasted beetroot, orange, rocket and labneh salad

We move onto mains next, a collection of salads and vegetables transferred to the dining room table. The roasted beetroot salad is a new favourite of mine - the fresh beetroot has a firm texture with a melding earthy sweetness that is enhanced by slices of orange, lifted by the bitterness of rocket and contrasted with the smooth creaminess of labneh. The labneh is homemade, made by salting Greek yoghurt and then straining in a muslin cloth in the fridge for two days.


Rocket salad with homegrown radishes

A simple rocket salad is made sunnier by thin slices of pepery homegrown radishes, a Chinese variety that usually has a green circumference which is ringed with red circles in the middle.


Purple and orange carrots

Purple carrots are a beautiful aubergine shade, although their flavour is pretty much the same as the orange variety. Purple carrots are the original colour of carrots - the orange variety we're familiar with today are believed to have been genetically modified by the Dutch, hence Dutch carrots.


Sweet potato mash

A white sweet potato mash tricks a few of us at first into thinking it is potato, but the starchy sugars are unmistakeable.


Suckling pig out of the oven

The star of the show is the suckling pig, of course.


Suckling pig on the table

Suckling pigs, we're told by Pig Flyin, are relatively hard to come by, especially in a size suitable for a domestic oven. A little persistence pays off however, although the piglet does face beheading in order to fit in the oven. The piglet is briefly roasted at 200C to begin with, and then cooked at 150C until ready.


Carving the pig

Crack and crunch. Oh if only I'd thought to videotape the sounds of the crackling snapping against the sharp blade of the kinfe.


The piglet's tail


Dinner is served


My dinner

I'd been so obsessed with the pig's tail that Pig Flyin takes great delight in putting it on my plate. The curly pig's tail seems a little confronting at first but the first bite is amazing - like the crunchiest crackling you could imagine. The crackling is a thin brittle sheet on top of tender cooked pork.


Creme caramel with pineapple "chop" and sour cream

Dessert is a two-stage affair - first a creme caramel topped with slow-roasted pineapple, sliced to resemble a lamb chop. The cooked custard was cooled in the fridge and then cut with a cookie cutter for an elegant fluted shape. The toffee has everyone in rhapsodies, a deep caramel that has just enough bitterness to offset its sweetness.


Blow-torching the Bombe Alaska

Stage two of dessert is that 1970s the Bombe Alaska. The ice cream dessert is slathered generously with Italian meringue and then blow-torched until the snowy white surface turns into caramelised peaks and valleys.


Flambe

The entire dessert is doused with Cointreau and then set alight at the table to allow the alcohol to burn off. Flames at the dinner table are always fun!


Bombe Alaska with ginger ice cream and chocolate cherry ice cream

The Bombe Alaska is filled with two tiers of vanilla ice cream: the top layer studded with generous chunks of crystallised ginger; and the bottom layer mixed through with cherries and chocolate shavings.


Flying pig salami

It's another amazing meal thanks to the generously hospitality of both Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin. We love the flying pig salami found by Mrs Pig Flyin at the deli the other day too.

As for the pig's head, Pig Flyin takes me on a tour of the fridge, showing me the head wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Whilst the sight of it is confronting, it's a reality that carnivores are a necessary party to. In the interests of those that are squeamish, I've kept the pics off the main page, but if you're curious, you can click to check out the pics of the head side-on, or nose-on. I'm told it will be de-boned and stuffed into a miniature version of his previous effort.

I hope that your Christmas was just as tasty. Don't forget you can check out a photographic wrap-up of what tweeting and emailing Australians were eating for Christmas here.


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven Christmas - 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

22 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/28/2009 04:12:00 am


22 Comments:

  • At 12/28/2009 8:11 am, Blogger joey@FoodiePop said…

    What else can I say but AMAZING? Love the suckling pig and everything is presented so wonderfully. So much effort but oh so worth it! Merry Xmas and Happy New Year! Here's to more, much more, food in 2010!

     
  • At 12/28/2009 11:38 am, Anonymous Trissa said…

    I just had to shake my head in amazement when reading this post - your friend is truly talented. We used to serve suckling pig in my Mom's restaurant and the pigs were so tender we used to cut it with a plate like in Spain but I don't think I can eat a little pig anymore - the ones we used to have were only 21 days old...

     
  • At 12/28/2009 11:48 am, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    What a feast! The beetroot salad sounds great, and I love the colouring on your radishes. Fitting a whole pig in the oven is very impressive.

     
  • At 12/28/2009 4:12 pm, Blogger Kate said…

    What an amazing Christmas feast! Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin are sooo talented. Everything looks delicious. Ive never tried a bomb Alaska but I have had a chocolate 'bomb' as a dessert before. This I assume is just a take on the traditional recipe? I hope you all enjoyed yourselves. Im trying hard to get my friends interested in foodie things but alas i remain the exception rather than the rule. Oh well, I will NOT let that stop me! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Helen. Thanks again for all the wonderful posts.

     
  • At 12/28/2009 5:58 pm, Blogger mademoiselle délicieuse said…

    Adding a 'face' to your meat really turns some people off, doesn't it? Suppose that's why people can get offended by seeing whole cooked chickens, roast ducks and roast pigeons in Chinese barbecue stores.

     
  • At 12/28/2009 8:03 pm, Blogger Joy said…

    OMG - I just HAD to tell you how gorgeous your Xmas dinner looked - what lucky friends and family you have :)

     
  • At 12/28/2009 10:09 pm, Blogger Forager said…

    I think the Stomach's Eleven posts are my favourite posts to read. The cooking abilities of your friends could easily rival any chef and the attention to detail and variety of produce is simply astounding. So. Very. Jealous.

     
  • At 12/28/2009 11:45 pm, Blogger missklicious said…

    Everything looks too beautiful to eat, especially the entree plate!

    I wouldn't mind some of that Bombe Alaska right about now. YUM!

     
  • At 12/29/2009 12:26 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Though by now I shouldn't be, I still am surprised how the Stomach's Eleven dishes turn out. A lot of them look like they've been professionally plates. All of them looks really appetising!

    You're one fortunate women to have a seat in the Eleven :)

     
  • At 12/29/2009 8:50 am, Blogger Ellie said…

    We were having dinner when Billy mentioned, "Helen is having Stomach's Eleven Christmas Dinner". I instantly knew I was up for a drool worthy blog post! Not that it didn't disappoint, it actually exceed my expectations. Look at the suckling pig, the scampi and the platings are so beautiful! AMAZING!

     
  • At 12/29/2009 9:20 am, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    The Entree presentation is amazing. I first saw Scampi being blow torched on Trissalicious and I have been fascinated ever since. I need to try this out.

     
  • At 12/29/2009 9:47 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    The swine looks mighty fine. I bet a plate would have cracked that beautiful crispy skin. You lucky sod.

    The face is too much. Good thing you hid them.

     
  • At 12/29/2009 11:29 am, Anonymous Belly Rumbles said…

    What an amazing dinner - yummy!! The presentation was outstanding, I too would have had difficulty destroying the entree, just so visually lovely. The suckling piggie, I was drooling reading all about it, and for some reason now have this massive craving for it!!

     
  • At 12/29/2009 11:58 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    The mind boggles! I've recently become obsessed with dark chocolate and salt (Lindt Fleur de Sel, Chocolove's Sea salt and Almond, etc) but haven't yet tasted it within the savoury spectrum... did you combine it with the more traditional pate, or taste each one separately?

     
  • At 12/29/2009 12:29 pm, Anonymous cedar chest said…

    It was amazing! It is like a feast for a hundred people! I was overwhelmed with the dishes! They all look so delicious and very beautiful! Cheers to more food for the year to come!

     
  • At 12/29/2009 1:47 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    amazing~! I love reading about Pig Flyins exploits in the kitchen he has an amazing talent.

     
  • At 12/29/2009 3:59 pm, Blogger Julia @Mélanger said…

    This is certainly a Christmas feast that is beyond anything I have ever had before in my life. Looks divine!

     
  • At 12/29/2009 5:51 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Damn that's THE feast isn't it?!
    I simply can't believe that Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin aren't even professional chefs!

    Awesomeness :)

    Have a great new year Helen, and I'm really looking forward to eating out with you next year!

     
  • At 12/30/2009 12:10 am, Blogger FFichiban said…

    Absolutely mind-blasting feast!!!! I could go a that whole suckling pig myself right now!
    Hee hee so very jealous :P

     
  • At 12/30/2009 3:36 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Joey - It was an amazing dinner and presentation makes everything even more awe-inspiring. Hope you have a lovely New Year too and yes, here's to an even tastier year in 2010!

    Hi Trissa - Wow, the idea of cutting up pork with a plate sounds very intriguing. Have never seen that before!

    Hi Arwen - The beetroot salad is one I recreated at our Christmas lunch - the flavours go so well together and it's so refreshing.

    Hi Kate - I'm not sure about the chocolate bombe you had, but yes, anything with ice cream covered with meringue qualifies as a Baked Alaska I suppose. The addition of alcohol makes it a bombe. A shame your friends aren't quite so into as food, but do persevere as I've managed to convert a few people - enthusiasm is surprisingly infectious! Happy New Year to you and thanks again for your lovely comments throughout the year.

    Hi Mademoisell Delicieuse - It is funny how people do like to hide the reality of death when it comes to eating meat. I think it is important to recognise the reality and, more importantly, to understand the importance of using the entire animal in appreciation of the sacrifice involved.

    Hi Joy - I am lucky indeed, and I'm grateful for it everyday :)

    Hi Forager - I think I need to create a new section just for the Stomachs' Eleven posts :) And I agree, Pig Flyin has amazing talent.

    Hi Missklicious - The entree plate was exquisitely plated - I really was hesitant to start eating it. And the Bombe Alaska was a spectacular finale to the meal.

    Hi Simon - The glory is all Pig Flyin's and yes, I'm grateful for the chance to enjoy his meals every time!

    Hi Ellie - The dinner was extraordinarily impressive, even more so because somehow the kitchen remained in a calm and spotless state throughout the entire evening :)

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - Blowtorching the scampi really does accentuate the sweetness of it. I should try it myself sometime too!

    Hi Veruca Salt - At times like this I regret not eating more at the time. The skin was amazingly crisp. And lol, I bet everyone clicked on the link out of curiosity but at least now I can say everyone was suitably warned!

    Hi Belly Rumbles - I think I always have cravings for suckling pig :) The entree was beautifully plated by Silverlily.

    Hi Hannah - Oh yes chocolate and salt are such a great combination. We had the chocolate pate as seaparate mouthfuls to the traditional pate - very tasty!

    Hi Howard - Pig Flyin is an incredible cook, and we're his very grateful and thankful friends!

    Hi Julia - It was a very delicious meal, and one I won't forget in a hurry :)

    Hi Yas - Pig Flyin is the most talented home cook I know - his feats always astound. Hope you have a lovely New Year too. Don't work too hard! And yes, definitely looking forward to many more feasts with you in 2010.

    Hi FFichiban - I reckon you probably could eat the entire suckling pig too! lol.

     
  • At 12/02/2010 3:35 pm, Anonymous fennydendron said…

    Hi,
    I enjoyed the article very much as it reminded me (again) of the things in my life that I am very grateful for.
    Reading the article, it was difficult for me to tell where you live but I am guessing you live in either in the U.K or Canada.
    I was somewhat amazed to read that you call a 7kg (about 15.4 pounds)turkey "massive".Here in the U.S. 15 lb. turkeys (domestic, not wild) are considered medium size.I am assuming you were talking about a whole bird, not just a turkey breast.

     
  • At 12/07/2010 1:09 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi fennydendron - Thanks for your comment. I'm in Sydney, Australia, and yes, large turkeys are a bit of a novelty for us here!

     

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