Monday, July 15, 2024

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Christmas Dinners

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Are you aware that almost all religious holidays have a food symbolism or tradition somewhere? Christmas dinners are undoubtedly the best and most well-known example of this. People prefer to live together, pray together, and eat together. One of the many reasons for this was that in ancient times, the security provided by the herds of Men was indispensable for survival. For this reason, people have eaten together since ancient times, and perhaps there has even been a genetic change in this direction. Of course, the fact that we eat in large groups on most of the days we consider sacred is about strengthening and strengthening family and friendship ties. However, perhaps these feasts are a symbol of spiritual fulfillment on this mystical day.

If you, like me, are the type of person who needs to cook and feed the guests these days, you know how difficult it is to stay in the kitchen all day. For this reason, I would like to share with you a few recipes that you can prepare a day or two in advance and serve by warming up on the day of the banquet if necessary.

French Onion Soup
Serves 8


3 tablespoons duck fat or butter
8 onions
2 red onions
8 cloves of garlic
12 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 bottle of light bodied red wine
Duck, chicken or beef stock 60 ounce
Gruyere cheese
baguette bread
Salt and pepper

Finely chop the onions and garlic. Fry in a deep soup pot with duck fat or butter on very low heat. When the onions are colored, add a cup of water and continue cooking. As the water runs out and the onions start to burn, add water again and cook for 20 minutes on low heat. You need to stir constantly so that the onions do not burn.
-After 20 minutes, add the red wine and boil until the amount of wine is halved.
-Transfer the broth to the pot with the thyme and rosemary. Cook for 20 minutes with the lid of the pot closed.
-Take the rosemary and thyme out of the pan. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
-When serving, place slices of baguette on top of the soup you filled in bowls, to cover it, and sprinkle generously grated cheese. Put the bowls in the oven at 430 degrees Fahrenheit. You can serve when the cheeses are colored.

Fish Carpaccio
Serves 8

5 sea bream or sea bass
5 limes (3 lemons)
4 tomatoes
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
1 handful of blueberries
1 bunch of dill
1/2 bunch tarragon grass
1/4 bunch mint
1 cup of olive oil
Salt, pepper

-Ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish, remove the skin and bones, and thinly slice the fillets.
-Boil the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds and put them in ice water. This will allow the skins of the tomatoes to be easily peeled off. Cut the peeled tomatoes into 4 and remove the seeds. You can use the seeds later in meet broth or chicken stock. Place the outside on the baking tray. Season it with a little salt, sugar and sliced garlic. Bake in the oven at 140C for 1 hour.
-Blend the dill, tarragon, mint and olive oil with a little salt in a blender. If the mixture is not liquid enough, you may need to add a little more olive oil.
-Grate the rind of the limes. Then squeeze out the juice. Mix the juice and zest with a little salt and olive oil. Pour the mixture over the fish slices you spread on a tray and leave for 5-10 minutes. After draining the excess sauce of the slices a little with your hands, place them on the plates.
-Decorate it with herbs, dried tomatoes and blueberries. Season with the fresh herb sauce.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs and Dried Fig Barbecue Sauce
Serves 8

For the barbecue sauce:
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
12 dried figs
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup pomegranate syrup

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups of water
Salt, black pepper

Boil the figs cut in half with 2 glasses of water on low heat for 5 minutes.
Sweat thinly sliced onions and garlic with olive oil over low heat. When they are well softened, add brown sugar, tomato paste, pomegranate syrup, dried figs, Worcestershire sauce, and the fig juice you have boiled into the pot and boil for 20 minutes, uncovered, on low heat. Pulse the sauce with the help of a blender until smooth. Cool it down. Salt it to taste. Season with black pepper.

-Place the ribs on a baking sheet with salt, pepper, thyme, spices and wine. Add enough water to come halfway up the ribs. Cover the tray with aluminum foil. Bake in an oven at 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 hours. Drain the ribs after cooking. Take the cooking water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Your sauce will be ready when it thickens well.
-You can wrap the ribs in foil again and heat them in the oven before serving.

All the recipes I share can be prepared and cooked 1 or 2 days in advance. You will minimize the amount of preparation you will make at the last moment on the service day.

I wish you and all your loved ones a happy Christmas and a delicious holiday.

Alican Saygı

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