A berry passionate affair
Witt chef tutor Angela Ferguson has turned on the Christmas cheer with a berry affair and set a table with festive flair.
For tomorrow's big day, the programme co-ordinator for Witt's culinary courses has made individual pavlovas, French toast and a family favourite that stems from her Scottish roots.
A variety of fresh red berries take centre stage in each of these dishes.
Alongside her, Kristin McCormack has made a couple of Pimm's cocktails, which look just as merry.
Kristin, who is a tutor on the Certificate in Espresso, Bar and Restaurant course, has made Pimm's Punch and Pimm's Royale.
The drink with a punch is made in a tall 500ml glass filled with ice. Over the cold cubes, she has poured 60ml of Pimm's (two double shots), topped this up with lemonade and flavoured the cocktail with four slices of cucumber, thin strands of peel from half an orange, four strawberries cut into quarters and two sprigs of mint.
"I think the strawberries and mint go really well with that, so don't be shy with them," Kristin says. "You could make this one in a jug or pitcher or even a punch bowl. All you have to remember is that it's one part Pimm's to three parts lemonade."
The Pimm's Royale is made in a champagne flute using 30ml of Pimm's, which is topped up with sparkling wine and garnished with a strawberry. At Witt the wine of choice is Te Hana Sparkling Reserve Cuvee.
These cocktails can both be aperitifs, perfect for whetting appetites for Angela's berry beauties, served on an artfully decorated table. A willow wreath, wrapped with lights and a string of baubles that resemble red currants, has been used as a nest for a heaped plate of fresh berries.
Angela has also draped red baubles over a wee willow tree from Trade Aid, scattered a few pine cones about the white tablecloth and placed white hydrangeas in an AG jar.
The food looks just as festive.
On a long platter, she has placed mini pavs topped with whipped cream, a medley of fresh berries - raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and red currants - and a sprinkle of grated dark chocolate.
This is the classic Edmond's Cook Book pavlova recipe, which Angela has turned into individual servings.
To make them all the same size, she has used a ring of Perspex downpipe as a mould. The ring is dipped in cold water, placed on a tray and the meringue mixture is piped into the ring. The mould is then lifted off and again dipped into cold water ready to form the next one. "We have got different sizes - we have lots of them in the kitchen," she says.
Her main tip for making the pavlova is to not overbeat the mixture. "You can over whip egg whites and when you do, they break down and you can't use them again. As soon as they get that stiff peak, they are done."
Angela, the programme co- ordinator for Witt's culinary courses, says the next two dishes are ideas for Boxing Day breakfasts.
"We usually have bread or Christmas pudding left over and berries that might be just a little bit bruised."
The bread is turned into French toast and served with a berry compote.
To make the compote, Angela first makes a sugar-and-water syrup in a pot. "I cook that down until it gets a little bit tacky and then I add the berries into that, take the pot off the stove and just let them sit. Because they [the berries] are fresh, they break down very quickly," says Angela, who is president of the Taranaki/ Whanganui branch of the New Zealand Chef's Association.
The French toast is served with the berries and either fresh whipped cream, mascarpone or crme fraiche.
The final recipe is fried Christmas pudding, which comes from Scotland and Angela's granny.
"It's called clootie dumpling."
This is simply left-over Christmas pudding, which is cut into pieces, fried in butter, coated with castor sugar and served with berries and runny cream. "They don't have many berries there (in Scotland) in winter, but we do," she says.
Angela admits the family favourite is decadent, but says it is delicious and brings back so many warm memories - and for her that's everything.
"My Christmas wish is for people to enjoy the family they have because too often we lose people who are far too young that are close to us."
Angela, the entire Witt hospitality team and writer Virginia Winder hope Taranaki Daily News readers have a wonderful, safe and happy time in the sun during the summer break.
BOXING DAY CHRISTMAS PUDDING BREAKFAST
Left over Christmas pudding
Butter for frying
Castor sugar for coating
1. Cut your left-over Christmas pudding into slices or wedges.
2. Melt butter in a pan and fry the pudding pieces.
3. Take out, coat with castor sugar and serve with runny cream and berry compote.
60ml (2 x double shots) Pimm's
4 slices cucumber
Peel from half an orange
2 sprigs mint
4 strawberries cut into quarters
1. Fill a tall glass with ice.
2. Pour in the Pimm's and top with lemonade.
3. Add cucumber, finely sliced orange peel, quartered strawberries and mint.
4. Mix, add a straw and serve as an aperitif before dinner.
1. Pour Pimm's into a tall champagne glass and top with sparkling wine of your choice. Witt's wine of choice is Te Hana Sparkling Reserve Cuvee. 2. Add a strawberry on the side and serve to guests with nibbles.
INDIVIDUAL BERRY PAVLOVA
Makes a baker's dozen (13)
6 egg whites
6 Tbsp cold water
2 cups castor sugar
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract (or essence)
5 tsp corn flour
Dark chocolate for grating
1. Heat oven to 150C.
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add the cold water and beat again.
3. Add the castor sugar in three separate lots, beating to combine in between each addition.
4. Add the vinegar, vanilla and corn flour and give one final burst of your beater on high for 10 seconds.
5. Line a tray with baking paper. Divide the mixture into 13, you can either blob on the tray with a spoon or pipe into a mould for a tidy, even look.
6. Place in preheated oven for 25 minutes, turn the oven off and leave for a further 30 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
8. Once cold, decorate with whipped cream, berries or compote and a sprinkling of grated dark chocolate.
FRENCH TOAST WITH BERRY COMPOTE
1 French stick (or bread left over from Christmas Day)
1 cup milk or cream
Oil for cooking
1. Slice the bread into desired thickness and number of pieces.
2. Beat the eggs and milk or cream together in a bowl.
3. In batches, dip the bread into the egg mixture and coat each side well.
4. Lightly heat a frying pan and add 3 tablespoons oil. Put the soaked bread into the warm oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden on one side and turn to cook the other side.
5. Place a paper-lined tray and keep warm in the oven. Repeat the same steps with each batch of bread, adding 1 tablespoon of oil with each batch.
6. When all cooked, arrange on plates, top with the berry compote, serve with cream, yoghurt or creme fraiche, dust with icing sugar and add a sprig of mint.
7. You could also serve this with bacon or some fried ham off the bone left over from Christmas Day. The berries are great with ham and bacon.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 punnets assorted berries
1. Put the sugar and the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture starts to go slightly syrupy, but without colouring.
2. Add the berries and gently stir through to combine.
3. Cook for a further minute and turn the heat off, allowing the berries and syrup to cool in the saucepan. The compote can be used hot or cold, and will keep for weeks in a sealed container in the fridge.
4. If you have a large number of berries, double the amount of syrup ingredients.
Taranaki Daily News