Tthere is only a month left now, until many of us gather around many tables to share a lot of food. My plan for Christmas is to make up for the few trips possible with a feast of flavors from around the world: Italian parmesan, Japanese sake, African cassava, Greek feta, date syrup from the Middle East, French brie and Creole turkey, all putting it off. in question the whole idea that there is only one “traditional” way of doing things. The chairs around the table will also be diverse and plentiful, and the toast will be to the whole world, big, wide, wonderful – and connected.
Grissini caraway, parmesan and Aleppo pepper (photo above)
These crispy, cheesy and lightly salted grissini are very tasty. They go very well with dips or simply to snack with a cocktail; one package would also make a great gift. Once shaped, grissini can be frozen and baked straight from the freezer.
Preperation 15 min
To prove 1h +
to cook 1h15
2 teaspoons (7 g) fast acting yeast
½ teaspoon of powdered sugar
250g flour for pasta ’00’
100g spelled flour
1½ tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted and lightly ground, plus ¾ tablespoon additional whole seeds for garnish
100g of parmesan, finely grated
Sea salt flakes
90 ml olive oil
tsp Aleppo pepper
Combine the yeast and sugar with 220 ml of lukewarm water in a small bowl and let stand for five minutes, until the mixture is frothy on top. Place the two flours, crushed caraway, half the Parmesan and a teaspoon and three quarters of the crumbled salt in a stand mixer with the dough hook in place, and mix on low speed for one minute, to combine. Add the yeast mixture and two tablespoons of olive oil, set the speed to medium-high and knead for seven minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic and a little sticky.
Cover the blender bowl with a damp kitchen towel and leave the dough in a warm place for one to two hours, or until it has increased and doubled in size. Alternatively, cover it tightly (ideally with reusable cling film), refrigerate, and let rise overnight (if you are doing this, be sure to allow time for the dough to come to room temperature before shaping into a grissini).
Heat oven to 170 ° C (150 ° C fan) / 325 ° F / gas 3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and brush everything with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Put the leavened dough on a work surface, knead it into a smooth ball, then divide it into three equal pieces. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out a piece of dough into a rectangle 3 to 4 mm thick. Brush with a tablespoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with a third of chili, whole caraway seeds and the rest of the Parmesan. Gently press the fillings so that they adhere to the dough, then, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 cm wide strips. With a finger on each end of a strip, twist it in opposite directions so that the strip of dough turns into a twist, then lay it on the lined baking sheet. Do the same with the remaining strips, keeping the twists ½ cm apart on the baking sheet, then repeat with the rest of the dough and toppings.
Bake for 35 minutes, turning the baking sheet once halfway through cooking, until crisp and lightly browned, then remove, gently transfer the grissini to a wire rack and let cool while you repeat with the two more balls of dough and the rest of the oil, the caraway pepper and Parmesan. (If desired, cook them two trays at a time) Once cool, store them in an airtight container or large spaghetti pot for up to a week.
Fiona Beckett’s drink match Anything that’s crunchy and cheesy goes well with sparkling wine, whether it’s cava, crémant or champagne. Lidl has style Crémant de Loire (£ 8.49, 12%) is a good all-rounder.
Three cheese dip with spicy date syrup and pine nuts
It’s the perfect accompaniment to the grissini above, or to raw vegetables like radicchio and radishes. If you want to get ahead, prepare the cheese mixture, date syrup and pine nuts the day before. And take the dip out of the fridge about an hour before you want to serve, because it’s best at room temperature.
Preperation 20 mins
to cook 5 minutes
Serves 6 as a starter
200g of feta
50 g whole cream cheese
150g of brie (strong or soft, to taste), rind removed
1½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
15g chives, finely chopped, plus an additional 1 teaspoon to finish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons (20 g) pine nuts
⅛ teaspoon of crushed black pepper
For the spicy date syrup
45 ml date syrup
tsp chilli flakes
Place all the cheeses in the bowl of a large food processor and blend three or four times, scraping the bowl as you go, until they break down into a coarse paste. Pour the cheese mixture into a bowl, add the lemon zest and chives and set aside.
Put the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the pine nuts and fry, stirring regularly, for two to three minutes, until golden brown, then let cool.
Put the date syrup in a small saucepan with the chilli flakes and a tablespoon and a half of cold water, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and let cool.
To assemble the dip, spread the cheese mixture on the base of a shallow bowl, then use the spoon to make a groove in the middle. Pour the date syrup into the hollow, then pour the pine nuts and their oil all around. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of chives and black pepper, and serve at room temperature with plenty of crackers and / or raw vegetables.
Fiona Beckett’s drink match A peach-flavored viognier could handle the creamy cheese and sweeten the date syrup: try the inexpensive wine from Chilean winery Emiliana Elemental Bio Gran Reserva Viognier 2020 (£ 8.99 on mix-six at Majestic, 14%).
Sake salmon with sesame nuggets and pickles
Every element of this dish can be prepared ahead of time, so it’s great for starting a celebration. Ask the fishmonger for a good quality fillet, ideally from the thickest part of the fish. Once dried, un-sliced fish will keep well in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Preperation 15 min
To cure 6h +
to cook 5 minutes
Serves 6-8 as a starter
500g piece of salmon fillet, skinned and boned
100 ml of good quality sake
150g rock salt
150g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (i.e. 3 to 4 limes)
30g dill, coarsely chopped
To sprinkle it with sesame
2 tablespoons of white sesame seeds, gate
1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds, gate
1 tsp coriander seeds, gate
1½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
tsp of sugar
Sea salt flakes
For the icing
30 ml of liquid honey
1½ tablespoon od-Sake
1 tbsp lime juice (from the zested limes above)
For the pickles
100 ml rice vinegar
30 ml of honey
50g of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
100g baby or Lebanese cucumbers, cut into slices 2 mm thick
Put the salmon and 100 ml of sake in a large bowl and let soak for 15 minutes on one side. Turn the fillet over, let it soak for another 15 minutes, then drain (discard the sake), pat the fish dry and place it on a platter.
During this time, prepare the cure. Place the salt, sugar, lime zest and dill in a large food processor and blend until the dill is completely broken down and the salt is green and in very small crystals. Pat the salmon all over the salmon, then cover it with reusable cling film or a piece of parchment paper. Weigh the salmon by placing a second tray filled with a few cans on top, then refrigerate for six hours (or overnight, but if you go for the longer cure, you won’t need to weigh down the second tray with boxes) .
Put all the ingredients to sprinkle it with sesame and half a teaspoon of crumbled salt in a mortar, grind until the seeds are slightly broken, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Place all of the icing ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cook, stirring once or twice, for five minutes, until thick and syrupy, then remove from heat and let cool.
Put the vinegar and honey for the pickle in a small saucepan with a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. When the boiling is finished, remove from the heat, add the ginger and let it infuse while the liquid cools.
Five minutes before serving, remove the ginger from its pickling liquid and place it on a large serving board. Add the cucumber slices to the pickling liquor and let marinate quickly for only five minutes. Drain the cucumbers (discard the liquid) and stack them next to the ginger.
Scrape the remedy from the fish, then run it under the cold tap to wash off the last pieces. Dry it and lay it cleanest side on the board. Using a brush, generously brush the top of the salmon with the glaze, then sprinkle over half of the sesame mixture. Thinly slice the fish as needed and serve at room temperature, perhaps with buttered rye bread on the side.
Fiona Beckett’s drink match A delicate dish to match, but given that there is a touch of sweetness, I fall for a semi-dry riesling in the form of Gunderloch Riesling Pierre Rouge 2020 (£ 8 Co-op, 11.5%), a modern German version with a hint of lime.