I held my annual Pre-Christmas Dinner at the beginning of December. My aim was to have it posted by Christmas… then the New Year… then within a month of the dinner… and now I’ve reached the point where all of these deadlines have gleefully sailed by and I have finally managed to sit down and “put pen to paper” as it were.
This year I had a theme to follow. Chocolate! With the new year I have finally left my boring office job behind and have made a very exciting move to work at York Cocoa House. This is, in part at least, why I have been so busy and have not managed to post my special Chocolate Themed Pre-Christmas Dinner before now.
For a starter we had Christmas Tree Raviolli. Green spinach pasta stuffed with a wild mushroom, ricotta and cocoa filling. To make spinach pasta you follow the same method as for regular pasta but you start with 200g fresh spinach and rinse it with water. Put it in a pan on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the spinach wilts. Put the wilted spinach in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain. Give it a bit of a squidge with the back of a spoon to encourage it. When it has drained you want to chop it into incredibly fine bits. Just keep chopping at it. You can practice your cheffy knife skills a bit!
Then you take your wilted spinach, 1 egg and 250g pasta flour and mix it into a smooth dough with your hands. Roll the dough, either by hand or using a pasta maker if you haev one. Then you cut out Chritmas tree shapes from the dough and put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of one of your shapes. Brush water round the edge and press another shape on top of the first to seal in the filling. Repeat as necessary until all of your dough and filling is used up.
The filling was essentially finely chopped mushrooms and shallots sauteed and repeatedly reduced down with white wine, mushroom stock and eventually ricotta stirred through with 2 tbsp 100% cocoa grated in. I was freestyling rather so I don’t have an exact recipe!
For our main course we had Turkey Roulade. I took a frozen butter basted turkey crown from Tescos and defrosted it, removed the skin and butterflied it.
I made a stuffing out of 400g italian sausage meat, 125g smoked bacon lardons, 100g bread crumbs, 75g dried cranberries, 3 tbsp cocoa nibs, 1 tbsp grated 100% cocoa, 1/2 tin of chopped chestnuts and 1 small egg. Season well then mash it all together with your hands.
Spread it over the butterflied turkey crown. Roll it up tightly. Wrap the whole thing tightly with pancetta. Roast the whole thing in an oven heated to gas mark 6 for 2 hours. Slice and serve with seasonal vegetables of your choice.
For dessert we had Black Forest Mousses. I made Nigella’s Chocolate Mousse but with Cherry Liqueur instead of Cointreau. Topped with a lick of whipped cream and scattered with cocoa nibs I spooned Amarena Cherries into the bottom of martini glasses before filling them.
It was a lovely evening with my mum, dad, sister and her new boyfriend, and let’s not forget the dog! I’m having fun experimenting with chocolate in a number of different ways now that I have discovered a whole range of possibilities that I never knew exited before. This meal was a nice little way to dip my toe into those possibilities and I look forward to experimenting some more!