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Backyard Christmas celebration

Send out the invites for a delicious and festive outdoor feast. Photography: Lines+Angles/Bauer Syndication

Peach mozzarella tarts

  • Serves 8
  • Preparation time 10 minutes
  • Cooking time 20 minutes

You’ll need

  • 5 phyllo dough sheets, thawed if frozen, kept under a damp towel
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 ripe yellow peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 1 (12 oz) fresh mozzarella ball, drained and torn
  • 8 prosciutto slices, torn or sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic glaze
  • 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. On a clean work surface, stack phyllo dough sheets one on top of another, spraying each sheet with cooking spray before stacking them. Cut into eight squares.
  3. Place squares in the holes of a 12-hole muffin or cupcake pan, carefully pressing them down into the base of each hole.
  4. Bake in the oven until golden and crisp, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.
  5. Fill each phyllo case with peach, mozzarella, and prosciutto; season with a little salt and pepper.
  6. Just before serving, top with basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze and extra-virgin olive oil.

Grilled shrimp and calamari with garlic butter

  • Serves 6-8
  • Preparation time 10 minutes
  • Cooking time 15 minutes

You’ll need

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tbsps fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen squid tubes, thawed if frozen, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 3/4 lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails intact
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to a moderately hot temperature, about 400°F; if using charcoal, wait until the coals turn white-hot.
  2. Juice and zest one lemon into a small or medium bowl (cut remaining lemon into wedges for serving). Add the butter, parsley, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the lemon juice and zest; stir or mash to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the squid, shrimp, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine.
  4. When the grill is ready, spread out the squid and shrimp on the grates of the grill; cook, turning a few times, until cooked through and lightly charred. This will take around 3-4 minutes. Brush with the garlic butter every 30 seconds or so.
  5. Divide the seafood between serving baskets or plates. Serve with any remaining garlic butter on the side and lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Colourful coleslaw

  • Serves 6-8
  • Preparation time 10 minutes

You’ll need

  • 1/2 red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large serving bowl or dish, toss together the cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, and red onion with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  2. In a measuring jug, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the coleslaw.

Potato salad

  • Serves 6-8
  • Preparation time 10 minutes
  • Cooking time 20 minutes

You’ll need

  • 2 1/4 lb baby potatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 6 green onions, green tops only, sliced
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat; once boiling, reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until just tender to the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Drain well.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Add the potatoes and remaining ingredients to the bowl of dressing; stir to combine. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve straight away for best results.

Prosciutto beef with Béarnaise sauce

  • Serves 6-8
  • Preparation time 15 minutes
  • Cooking time 1 hour, 30 minutes

You’ll need

  • 3 lb beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsps prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano, torn
  • 10 prosciutto slices
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted or clarified
  • 1 tsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 pound baby turnips, trimmed
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Rub beef tenderloin with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread with horseradish and top with oregano; wrap in prosciutto slices, overlapping as needed.
  3. Place tenderloin on a trivet inside a large roasting dish. Roast in the oven until the centre reaches 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, turning halfway. Cook for 45-60 minutes.
  4. When ready, remove from the oven and transfer the beef to a platter; loosely cover with aluminium foil and let rest.
  5. While the beef rests, prepare the Béarnaise sauce. Combine the vinegar, shallot, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a small saucepan.
  6. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer, cooking until reduced to about 1 1/2 tablespoons liquid, for 3-5 minutes. Take off the heat.
  7. Place egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a half-filled saucepan of simmering water and add the reduced vinegar; cook and whisk until just thickened for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Gradually add the melted butter in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened. This should take 2-4 minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the tarragon and some salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep in a warm place.
  10. Return the water in the saucepan to a boil and stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Add the turnips to the water and cook until tender to the tip of a knife, 8-10 minutes. Drain well.
  11. To serve, arrange the beef in the roasting dish along with the turnips. Slice and serve with Béarnaise sauce on the side.

Lamb cutlets and papaya mojo

  • Serves 4
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cooking time 35 minutes

You’ll need

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24 French-trimmed lamb cutlets
  • 1 red papaya, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 (14 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 red chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, 1 juiced and zested, 1 cut into wedges
  • 1 oz | 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, sugar, paprika, and garlic. Brush the mixture all over both sides of the lamb cutlets; arrange on a platter and chill for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to a moderately hot temperature, about 400°F; if using charcoal, wait until the coals turn white-hot.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the papaya, kidney beans, chili pepper, shallot, extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, and cilantro with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cover and chill until needed.
  4. When the grill is ready, brush the grates with a little oil. Working in batches if needed, arrange the lamb cutlets on the grill. Cook, turning once, until just firm to the touch and lightly charred all over, about 2 minutes each side. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminium foil.
  5. When ready to serve, divide the cutlets and papaya mojo between plates. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Chocolate flourless torte

  • 1 cake (serves 10-12)
  • Preparation time 10 minutes
  • Cooking time 1 h 30 minutes

You’ll need

  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, chopped
  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 tbsps powdered sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease and line a 9-inch loose-bottomed cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, cinnamon, and salt. Place the bowl over a half-filled saucepan of simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth. Set off the heat.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup granulated sugar using an electric mixer until pale and thick, 3-4 minutes. Beat in cocoa followed by melted chocolate mixture.
  4. In another large (oil-free) mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to medium peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; continue to beat until sugar dissolves and the meringue mixture is thick and glossy, around 3-4 minutes.
  5. Whisk about one-third of the meringue mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining meringue mixture in two additions. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and gently rap the pan on a flat surface to help settle it.
  6. Bake the torte until risen and dry to the touch, about 1 hour. When ready, a toothpick should come out clean from the centre.
  7. Remove to a cooling rack, letting the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto the wire rack to finish cooling.
  8. In a medium mixing bowl, whip cream to soft peaks. Place torte on a cake stand or platter; top with whipped cream, berries, and a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Ice-cream dessert

  • Serves 6-8
  • Preparation time 10 minutes
  • Cooking time 20 minutes
  • Freezing time 4 hours

You’ll need

  • 3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 (14 fl. oz) can condensed milk
  • 11 oz | 1 2/3 cups bittersweet chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 tbsp Cognac, optional
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup mixed candied (glacé) fruits, chopped
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios, divided
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups cream with the condensed milk; whip until thickened, around 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add 2/3 cup chocolate, Cognac (if using), allspice, raspberries, mixed candied fruits, and 1/2 cup pistachios; stir to combine.
  3. Line a 3-pint pudding bowl with a double-layer of plastic wrap, making sure it overhangs the edges by at least 2-inches.
  4. Pour ice cream mixture into the bowl; bring overhanging plastic wrap over to cover. Freeze ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.
  5. Before serving, combine the remaining 1/2 cup cream with the remaining 1 cup chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a half-filled saucepan of simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
  6. Turn out ice cream from its bowl onto a serving plate or stand; discard plastic wrap and smooth ice cream with a palette knife that’s been dipped in hot water.
  7. Pour chocolate sauce over ice cream and garnish with remaining 1/2 cup pistachios.

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