By Vidushi Seneviratne and Thiruni Kelegama
Christmas time, mistletoe and wine...Yes, Christmas is
just around the corner! It certainly
is the time for thousands of sparkling lights, the Christmas trees,
the presents and of course, the food.
nice part about Christmas is that most of us have the opportunity
to enjoy food that we don't normally eat at any other time of the
year. These yummy goodies make their appearance just once a year
and that makes them special.
talking of Christmas cake, Yule log, breudher, mince pies, love
cake, cookies, ginger bread houses...all certainly worth the wait.
them, we discovered, is not a piece of cake.
cake is generally made almost two months ahead, in order to enhance
its flavour. The Christmas pudding is also made ahead so that it
acquires that wonderfully plummy flavour when eaten with that delicious
Brandy butter. It is the same with the milk wine, as the flavour
is enhanced by the fermentation process.
But how many
people still keep with the tradition and make these special treats
at home? "Making the Christmas pudding and the cake is truly
a wonderful procedure. But, unfortunately I do not have the time
to do it anymore," said Mrs. Maureen de Silva. "Oh, yes,
my family loved it when I used to make everything at home, but they
also realise that it is not a very easy process."
Perera also echoed her words. "I used to make everything at
home, but now I just do not have the time. However, I do try to
make the Christmas cake whenever I can, and I am glad to say that
at least something on my table laid out on Christmas day is home
But then, there
are a few exceptions. Mrs. Loretta de Kretser admits that though
she is tied down and hardly has any time to breathe, she does make
something of her own to lay on the Christmas table. "I know
the cake has to be left for at least a month or so, but I make it
at the last moment," she admits with a smile on her face. "The
point is that I make it in the end! I also make the love cake, breudher
and the mince pies. And my husband makes the milk wine."
But she is
quick to point out this isn't what Christmas is all about. "Christmas
is not about enjoying oneself, it is more of a spiritual thing.
But now, people have even taken Christ out of it. Therefore, for
me what is important is not how many varieties of food I have on
my table but the spiritual aspect of it."
many people are homeless and lying on the streets without anything
to eat?" she asks. "We should think about them more often
and give them a reason to celebrate. Isn't that what Christmas is
Van Heer buys most of her Christmas goodies. "I have to do
it. I have absolutely no time to consider making everything. And
I feel that it makes no difference whether I buy it or not - as
you can buy excellent Christmas cake from many places today."
True, you can
buy very good Christmas fare from a number of places who seem to
surpass themselves when it comes to Christmas.
Bread House at the Colombo Hilton was beautifully decorated with
zillions of lights. Look around and you see shelves lined with Yule
logs, breudher, Christmas cake and marzipan trees. And that's not
all...they also have a variety of Christmas cookies made especially
for the season, not to mention Stollen, which is a dough and yeast
based fruity sweet bread, chocolates in the shape of bells, Santa
Claus', fairies, elves, Christmas trees and ginger bread houses.
over 12,000 kilograms of Christmas cake every year," says Gerald
Mendis, Executive Pastry Chef of the Hilton. "This shows how
many people resort to buying the Christmas cake, rather than making
it at home. I suppose it is easier, and they know they are not buying
something that has been made half-heartedly."
making our Christmas food as early as November, so that we are never
out of stock. The Christmas cake is generally made quite early so
that the flavour is rich. Cookies, marzipan sweets and chocolates,
all hand made are also very popular," he says with a smile.
cake is traditionally made around the world," he said, "but
the cake made here is a nice, moist one with almond icing, whereas
the cake made in European countries is more of a heavy, fruit based
there is no other place more well-known than Perera and Sons (Bakers).
Mr. Preethi Senerath, Marketing Development Manager says that they
sell more than 15,000 breudhers every year.
making them as early as August and they are always in demand. It
has become a sort of tradition I suppose," he adds. "It
seems that a Christmas is not complete without a breudher and we
are always happy to oblige."
Hotel, meanwhile, well into the Christmas spirit has a Cookie Hut
made of a huge gingerbread train track, which they have lined with
cookies and marzipan. The train was also packed with sweets of all
sorts, and indeed looked very enticing.
start making all our goodies about one month earlier. The customer
reception last year was good. And this year, with peace in the air,
I am sure that it will be even better," says Nimal Fernando,
the hotel's Pastry Chef.
So even if
you've been hassled trying to get everything ready for Christmas,
relax, catch your breath and indulge in some of the Christmas goodies.
Oh and don't forget to pass some on too.
for a King
that time of year again.
Time to look
back on the good times of the past year, get in touch with loved
ones, rejoice and share some good cheer.
And if you're
planning a wonderful time of fellowship, check out this super festive
meal that is bound to leave your guests longing for more.
Here from the
master chefs of the Colombo Hilton is a Christmas dinner par excellence,
and indeed one you could dish out at home.
Cream with Toasted Almonds and Peppered Cheese Crisp as a starter,
Slow Roasted Sliced Supreme of Duck with Cranberry Red Cabbage and
Whipped Philadelphia Cheese Mash on Port Wine Jus and Orange Salsa
as the main course and as the all important dessert; Sticky Nutty
Pudding with Hot Caramel Sauce. Now doesn't that sound great?
were put together on behalf of the Colombo Hilton by its Executive
Chef Rohan Fernandopulle and Executive Sous Chef Wasantha Pieris.
Sprouts Cream with Toasted Almonds and Peppered Cheese Crisp
15g Onions chopped
15g Middle rashers of bacon
10g Fresh celery
350g Brussels sprouts
150g Fresh potatoes
700ml Chicken stock
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste
Flaked almond nuts - Toasted (Cashewnuts will do just as well)
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion and bacon.
Saute for 4-5 minutes. Stir in celery, Brussels sprouts and potatoes
and saute well. Add the stock. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for
25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Puree and return
to the cleaned pan. Add cream; season with salt and pepper. Bring
to boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Correct the seasoning and serve
with toasted almond flakes and the crisp.
4 Thin long sices of French bread
1 Egg yolk
120g Grated Cheddar cheese (Any cheese would do!)
1/2 tsp. Crushed pepper
Mix grated cheese with crushed pepper. Add egg yolk and mix
well. Divide into four equal parts and apply on each slice of bread.
Bake in the oven until crisp. (160C). When serving the soup place
each slice of bread on the brim of cup.
Nutty Pudding with Hot Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup Chopped dates
1/2 tsp. Vanilla essence
1/4 tsp. Bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup Cashewnuts (Chopped)
5g Softened butter
1/6 cup Castor sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup self raising flour
Preheat the oven to 180C. Take four medium sized cups and line
them with baking paper. Place the dates in a bowl and pour on 3/8
cups of boiling water. Stir in the vanilla essence and bicarbonate
of soda and set aside. (Mixture will become frothy). Beat the butter
and sugar in a bowl till creamy, add eggs gradually beating well.
Fold the flour and add chopped nuts, mix well. Add the date mixture
and mix well. Pour the mixture into moulds and cover with baking
paper. Cover the top with foil and string. Bake in a water bath
for 40 minutes. Take out from the oven and cool for five minutes
and un-mould. Serve the pudding onto a large plate. Pour on a few
spoons of caramel sauce. Garnish with remaining nuts.
1/2 cup Lightly packed soft brown sugar
60g Butter chopped
1/4 cup cream
Stiffly brown the sugar in a pan. First stir in the butter
and then add the fresh cream and mix well. Allow to cool.
Sliced Supreme of Duck with Cranberry Red Cabbage and Whipped Philadelphia
Cheese Mash on Port Wine Jus and Orange Salsa
4 Duck breast - de-boned
2 Sprigs of rosemary (thyme will do as well)
240ml Cranberry red cabbage (See below)
120ml Port wine jus (See below)
160g Orange salsa (See below)
Salt and pepper to taste
40ml Vegetable oil
300g Mashed potato
120g Philadelphia cheese
2 tsp. Chopped chives
4 tsp. Butter
Season duck breast with salt and pepper. Pan-fry the skin side
first for about two minutes. Turn the other side and fry for one
minute. (This is in order to seal in all the natural juices.) Place
duck breasts in a pan on a bed of rosemary and cook slowly at 150C
for 5-6 minutes. Rest in a warm place for 15 minutes before slicing.
Heat mashed potatoes, add Philadelphia cheese and mix well. Add
350g Red Cabbage sliced
50ml Bordelaise Red Wine
1 Apple - peeled and sliced
2 p/c Bay leaves dried
1.4 kg Onions sliced
60ml Corn Oil
160ml Orange juice
60g Cranberry sauce
600ml Chicken stock (Light)
Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper
Marinate the sliced cabbage with onions, apple, raisins, sugar,
vinegar, orange juice, bay leaves in red wine for two days. Braise
in the oven or cook in a soup kettle with chicken stock for 2-3
hours. Add cranberry sauce and season with salt and pepper. Reserve
in a clean covered container until use.
600ml Beef jus (thick)
600ml Port wine
80g Unsalted butter, cut into cubes
40g Sugar to be caramelised
150g Onions chopped
2 sprigs Fresh thyme
2 p/c Dried bay leaves
Cracked black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Caramelise sugar and reduce with the port wine, onions, thyme,
bay leaves and pepper together. Add the Beef Jus and simmer for
20-30 minutes. Correct the seasoning and the consistency. Mount
with fresh butter just before serving.
the flavour of Duck to the fullest)
80g Diced orange
8g Chopped onions
8g Fresh chives
16ml Sugar syrup
16 ml Lime juice
20ml Grand Marnier
Red Bell Pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Reserve in an airtight
container in the refrigerator until use.