There’s a running joke in our family that the cooking gene always tends to skip a generation. Needless to say, I form part of that generation that got looked over, so when it comes to whipping something up for Christmas lunch, it’s always best to head to the store.
In my humble opinion, Christmas cooking is stressful. Every recipe on the internet is incredibly complicated and not made for those inept at cooking. Thankfully, South African chef Jan Kohler is looking to change all that by offering simple yet elegant recipes to try this Christmas.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Wassail is the perfect addition to any Christmas lunch or dinner. It’s a deliciously spiced mulled white wine-apple drink that is sure to boost the festive spirit this Christmas.
- 2 litres of apple juice
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons of whole allspice
- 1 small lemon, sliced
- 1 bottle of white wine
- 4 cups of water
- 3-quarter cup of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of whole cloves
- 1 small orange, sliced
- 1-litre orange juice
Combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer on the stove. Serve warm glasses of Wassail and enjoy with friends!
Apple Cranberry and Cointreau Tart
Prepare to impress your guests with this delicious yet spruced up version of the traditional apple pie!
- 4 large apples
- half a cup of dried cranberries
- half a cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of Cointreau liqueur ( or any other orange flavoured liqueur)
For the bread crust:
- 125g softened butter
- half a cup of castor sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups of cake flour
- 2 tablespoons of baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- flaked almonds for the top crust
To make the filling core, peel and slice the apples. Place them in a saucepan together with the rest of the filling ingredients (minus the alcohol) and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the sauce is thick and gooey. At the very end add the Cointreau and stir to combine. Remove the cloves and set this aside to cool.
Now make the pastry. Beat the softened butter and sugar together. Add the egg and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add sifted dry ingredients to this mixture and combine to form a soft dough. Press half of the dough into a 23cm pie dish. Place the other half of the dough in the freezer so it hardens a bit. Spoon the pie filling onto the pastry and later, roughly grate the remainder of the pastry over the top. Sprinkle some flaked almonds over the top and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160-degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the tart is golden. Serve with ice cream, cream and a dash of traditional brandy butter.
Christmas Pudding Cheesecake
The perfect blend between Christmas pudding and a fridge cheesecake, this delicious recipe will have your guests licking their lips and asking for seconds.
- 1 tin of condensed milk (385g)
- 1 tub of smooth, plain, cream cheese (250g)
- half a cup of lemon juice
- 125 ml of cream, whipped
- 1 store-bought Christmas pudding
- some strawberries or cherries to garnish
Whip the cream using a hand-held electric beater in a small glass bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, cream cheese and lemon juice and mix well with a beater until this is smooth and creamy. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Pour it into a flat dish and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to assemble the dessert, break up a store-bought Christmas pudding with your hands and roughly stir these chunks into the cheesecake filling. Scoop the dessert into glasses, cover each once with cling film and pop them back into the fridge to chill until you’re ready to serve. Garnish with a few strawberries or cherries, and edible glitter for a bit of festive sparkle!
For the pièce de résistance, you cannot go wrong with a turkey! This recipe ensures that you have a succulent turkey to serve guests, thanks to the very crucial first step – soaking your turkey in a spicy brine bath.
- 1 large turkey
- Vegetables and herbs for the turkey bed. For example, spinach, leeks, onion, sage or parsley.
- Olive oil
- Cubes of butter to place under the skin
For the brine bath:
- Enough water to immerse your turkey in a large, clean tub
- Half a cup of salt
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 3 oranges
- Half a teaspoon of cloves
- Half a teaspoon of star anise
- Half a teaspoon of allspice
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon quills
For the stuffing:
- 500g pork sausages, removed from casing
- 50g butter, melted
- One tub/packet of store-bought stuffing mix (usually filled with sage and other delicious seasonings)
- SOAK: One day before you want to cook your turkey, place it in a large, clean tub and add the salt and spices. Cut the oranges in half, squeeze the juice over the turkey and then add the skins into the tub as well. Pour enough water over it so that the turkey is fully immersed, cover it and leave it to soak in a cool spot overnight.
- STUFFING: Prepare stuffing by removing the pork sausages from their casings. Place the meat in a mixing bowl and add the melted butter and stuffing mixture. Sometimes it calls for a bit of liquid, like stock or water to be added, and you can lighten the meat mixture and make it go further by adding couscous. Remove the turkey from the water, drain it and pat it dry before stuffing the cavity of the turkey with the stuffing mix. Make incisions into the skin of the turkey just under the breast and gently pull the skin away, making a pocket that you can stuff butter into. This will prevent the turkey breast from drying out during cooking.
- BASTE & ROAST: Prepare the roasting pan by layering a bed of vegetables and herbs. You can live the chunky ones, like onions and leeks. Sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and lay the turkey, breast side down onto the greens. Baste the turkey with the goose fat and season with salt and spices – chicken seasoning is good for this too. Cover the turkey with foil and cool at 160-degrees allowing 45 minutes per kilogram. When you’ve made it halfway through the cooking time, turn the turkey over, and baste and season again. Now it’s time to crisp up the skin. When you have half an hour of cooking time left, remove the foil completely, baste the turkey with marmalade and turn the temperature up to 180-degrees. Remove it when it’s beautifully crisped and golden, and you’ve completed the required cooking time. Leave it to rest before you carve and serve it with a fruity sauce. Cranberry or cherry are good choices or delicious gravy!
We hope that these mouth-watering recipes will bring a little joy to your kitchen and home this festive season. For more information and delicious recipes, make sure you visit Jan Kohler’s website or Instagram.