ESSENTIAL EATS: Well-Loved Christmas Recipes from our Bower Team

A CHRISTMAS TABLE LADEN WITH TRADITIONAL FAVOURITES AND SOME JUST-DISCOVERED NEW RECIPES IS SUCH PURE DELIGHT SO WE THOUGHT WE'D SHARE A FEW OF THE TASTY TREATS THAT'LL BE GRACING THE BOWER TEAM'S TABLES ON THE DAY.

From The Bower's owner/creative there's a super moist Rosewater and Pistachio Cake with hints of Summer freshness provided by pomegranate, mint and lemon.  It's a recipe from her dear friend, Jody Vassallo, food stylist, recipe writer and author, whose food ethos provides a quiet argument for the power of genuinely nutritious food to heal, nourish and restore, inside and out. Property Manager Danelle, provides her recipe for a super-simple Christmas cake, choked full of fruit and a hint - or more if you choose - of brandy which should be accompanied with a cuppa, a glass of eggnog or a balloon of good quality brandy. And for a main dish, Marketing Comms Creative Georgia shares her latest go-to recipe for Crispy Pork Belly from her all-time fav cook, Donna Hay.  It's served with a tangy spiced plum sauce and the fight is always on for the last piece of crunchy, salty crackling.


DONNA HAY'S CRISPY PORK BELLY WITH SPICED PLUM SAUCE

INGREDIENTS 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sea salt flakes

1 x 2kg piece boneless pork belly, rind scored at 1cm intervals

Spiced Plum Sauce

1/2 cup (90g) light brown sugar

1/2 cup (125ml) red wine vinegar

4 whole dried chillis

2 star-anise

1 stick cinnamon

400g ripe plums, halved


METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Rub oil and salt into the pork rind.

Place the pork, rind side down, on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour.

Increase the oven temperature to 200 C, turn the pork and roast for a further 1 hour 20 minutes or until the skin is golden and crunchy.

While the pork is roasting, make the spiced plum sauce.

Place the sugar, vinegar, chillies, star-anise and cinnamon in a medium non-stick frying pan over high heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the plums and cook, turning occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until just soft and the sauce has reduced.

Serve the pork with the spiced plum sauce. Serves 6.



JODY VASSALLO'S ROSEWATER AND PISTACHIO CAKE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS 

250 g butter, softened

140 g (2/3 cup) coconut sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of rosewater, this is not a mistake

4 eggs, lightly beaten

160 g (1 2/3 cup)ground pistachios

100 g ( 1 cup) ground almonds

Syrup

zest and juice of 2 lemons

100 g (1/2 cup) coconut sugar

1 pomegranate

small handful mint leaves

extra pistachios, for serving

coconut yoghurt, to serve


METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Grease and line a 8cm x 22xm loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and pale, add the lemon zest and rosewater and beat until combine.

Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add a couple of tablespoons of the ground nuts to prevent the mixture curdling.

Fold in the remaining nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.

Put the lemon juice and zest into a small pan, add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, cook over a high heat until syrup is reduced by half. Pour the hot syrup over the cold cake or the cold syrup over the hot cake for the best absorption.

Decorate with pomegranate pearls, mint leaves, pistachio kernels. Serve with coconut yoghurt. Serves 8



EASY CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE

INGREDIENTS

½ cup ginger ale

1½ kg dried fruit mix

300g butter

1½ cups sugar (brown or white)

6 eggs, beaten 

4½ cups plain flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1½ tablespoons (or so!) brandy


METHOD

Preheat oven to 160 C.

Pour ginger ale into a saucepan on medium heat.  Add fruit mix and bring to the or a minute or so.

Let the mixture cool a little, then add butter and beat it in when melted.

Cool a little more and add sugar and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Cool until the mix is nearly cold.

Add the brandy and a touch of vanilla essence if you wish.

Add beaten eggs alternately with sifted flour.

Spoon into prepared baking tin.

Bake for 2 hours at 160 C, then for 2 hours at 140º C.

Check with skewer.

Decorate with nuts/cherries if you wish.