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JOYFUL AND TRIUMPHANT: CHRISTMAS 2017 A very merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Thank you to the people who have contacted me, asking for this year’s Christmas recipes. Of course, I have given this much thought even though, this year the pressure is off as we have been invited to add to the chaos of a crazy ‘English family’ day. I will let you know what I contribute but to help with your planning, here are some ideas for your table.

People who have followed me over the years will already have the Matto family classics – amongst many; the seafood terrine, poached ocean trout, duck and cherry pies and the marzipan and peach loaf. If you don’t have them, you can access them through the archive pages of SALife magazine or email me, but give me a couple of days to retrieve them to send to you. (In other words, don’t email me on the 23rd December!)

I swear that my family tests me every year – will I make the duck pies? Will I make ascolive? In other words, “How much do you love us?”

This year, they will have to take my love for granted (except, of course, for ascolive. It just wouldn’t be Christmas.) We are going to be laid back and relaxed. Wait. I think I said that last year.


Mayonnaise Egg and Caviar Tarts (Romanov Eggs)

I first found this recipe in Gretta Anna Teplitzky’s cookbook, that wonderful orange tome that changed our cookery in the '80s. Then, a dear friend in the Adelaide Hills served it to me one oppressively humid day several summers ago, and I rediscovered it all over again. This is my simplified version. (The original is much richer with the addition of cream cheese as well.)

Allow ½ (approx) egg per person

1 spring onion, white stem , very finely chopped

2 tbsp dill, chopped finely

2 tbsp home made mayonnaise

2 tbsp creme fraiche

1 tsp horseradish

zest of half lime, squeeze of juice

salt and black pepper

good quality individual tart cases

black and red caviar

Boil the eggs to ‘just hard’ – I put them into cold water and time them from the beginning of boiling for 6 minutes, then plunge them into very cold water. Peel and chop very finely and combine with the onion, dill, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, horseradish, lime zest and a hint of juice. Season well. Pile into the tart cases. Alternate the caviar for the retro look. (Young people will think we’ve lost our minds!)


Ascolive – this will make at least 130 olives

Enlist the support of family and friends – too tedious to do alone. "In the day", the olive flesh was taken off the stones in one complete spiral, then reconstructed around the filling. I have no words.

400 g pork neck

400g chicken maryland

400g veal or young beef (ask for the round or ‘nut’)

4 whole, peeled cloves garlic

4 sprigs rosemary

2 cups wine

4 eggs

Parmesan cheese, to taste (I like lots, say 100 g)

Salt and pepper

Large green olives* (about 2kg) – stones removed and slit on one side

(rinse the olives of their brine and dry well with paper towel)

Flour, eggs and fine breadcrumbs for coating

Oil for frying – I suggest sunflower

(*Rosa's Gourmet - not me! - on Glynburn Road sells already pitted olives. You will have to slit them on one side with a very sharp knife.)

Put the meats with the rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves and wine in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and braise for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Allow to cool. Remove garlic and rosemary. Mince the meats very finely in a food processor, adding a little of the braising liquid from time to time for moisture.

Add egg and parmesan to bind the mince. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.

Fill olives with mixture and squeeze the cut together. Crumb them by dusting with flour, dipping in beaten egg and rolling in breadcrumbs.

Deep fry and serve warm.

(May be frozen uncooked. Cook them as you need them from frozen)

Make sure you freeze them in a single layer, then bag them up once fully frozen so that they don’t stick together.)


Pork, chicken and pistachio terrine with apple, kohlrabi salad

This will make a 30 cm terrine – easily enough for 12 people, depending on how chunky you like the slices.

3 spicy pork sausage, taken out of their skins

300 g boneless pork – try to buy some with a bit of fat, cut into fine dice

1 small chicken breast, cut into fine dice

60 g pork belly fat, finely minced

1-2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1 celery stalk, cut into very small dice

zest and juice of ½ orange

60 g pistachio, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper

10 slices thinly sliced bacon or pancetta

Combine all the ingredients, and mix together thoroughly with your hands. At this point, I like to fry a tiny amount and taste it for seasoning and balance of flavour. Invariably, I need to add more salt and pepper.

Line your terrine with baking paper. Lay down the slices of bacon to cover the bottom and sides of the tin. Spoon in the mixture and overlap the bacon and baking paper over the top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and put a heavy weight on top of the terrine to press the mixture as it cools. Allow to cool in the oven.

Remove the weight and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with brown bread, cornichons and small pickled onions. Or try the following crisp and refreshing salad.


1 small kholrabi, peeled and cut into small dice

1 small apple, peeled and cut into small dice

1 stem celery, cut into small dice

zest and juice 1 lemon

herbs, chives, parsley, mint

salt and pepper

home made mayonnaise

1-2 tsp grainy prepared mustard

Combine all the ingredients and season well.

Photo of my Lamb Ham courtesy Liam West, My Local Butcher


Remember when lamb was cheap and ham was expensive? Australian families would have ‘mutton ham’. According to Richard, our affable and knowledgeable butcher*, it is brined and treated the same as a ham and has the same fridge life as a ham. We have ordered a 3 - 4 kg leg.

According to many people, there is no need to bake it - it is fully cooked after all. I had a trial run last week end. When I sliced off a little I found it was too 'wet' and had an overpowering smell of the brine. So, I baked it for 2 hours at 165C and I thought it was perfect. Still moist and delicious almost like a 'corned lamb', if there is such a thing.

For Christmas, we will serve ours with pickled cherries, spicy plum relish and a big salad.

*To order such a creature, ring (82692568) YOUR LOCAL BUTCHER at 62 Prospect Road, Prospect and ask to speak to Liam or Richard. Sizes will vary.

Photos by Monica



John is a dear friend and pretty handy in the kitchen. Recently, he treated us to a marvellous salad in a pumpkin shell. He adapted it from one of Matt Okine’s Short Cuts to Glory episodes on ABC TV. John and I belong to the ‘double peeled broad beans’ school of thought. So, my salad incorporates broad beans and peas. On colder days, I serve it filled with smokey baked chick peas (or cannnellini beans) and sausage. I have that recipe here for you too.

Look away, Mr O’Grady. I am going to use frozen broad beans, frozen peas and canned chick peas! Shameless.

½ pumpkin cut in half horizontally

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Drizzle the pumpkin with the olive oil and season well. Put onto a baking sheet and bake at 180C for 2 hours. Allow to cool if serving a salad or reheat if serving with a hot ‘filling’.


200 g double shelled broad beans

200 g frozen peas

1 small cos

1 handful rocket leaves

1 small red onion, sliced very thinly

chunky croutons made with sour dough bread

olive oil, dash cider vinegar, salt and pepper

Make a salad with the ingredients. Invite your guests to scoop some of the soft pumpkin with their salad and crunchy crouton.


2 tbsp olive oil

125 g smoked Barossa speck, diced

1 brown onion, chopped

200 g small chipolata sausages

1 fresh bay leaf

4 sage leaves, roughly chopped

2 tbsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

2 capsicum, roasted until blistered, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp molasses

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

dried chilli to taste

2 x 400 g can chick peas, drained

salt and pepper

Photos from Monica - I have even made a roasted vegetable mixture in the pumpkin. I think that warm, hearty accompaniments are even better than the original salad.

Warm the olive oil and fry the speck and onion until soft but not coloured. Add the sausages and brown (they won’t be cooked at this stage). Put in the herbs, paprika, canned tomatoes with all their juice and the capsicum strips. Add the molasses, vinegar and chilli. Cook until much of the liquid has evaporated and add the chick peas. Cook further until the sauce is as thick as you prefer. Adjust for seasoning. If you have a smoking machine, add a charge or two of smoke to enhance the smokiness.



If you have an Italian background or have a cache of Italian friends (perhaps the collective noun for a multitude Italian friends is a fiasco?) then you will share my pain...what to do with the assemblage of panettone given as Christmas gifts. My family loves panettone with prosecco or a beautiful Asti spumante but there is a limit!

Stay tuned, post Christmas, for my 'brain storming' post on what to do with all the panettone. This will only take care of one small one.

First prepare 8 x ½ cup pudding basins ( or use small rice bowls or tea cups). Butter them well, sprinkle inside with sugar. Butter some baking paper and foil. You will need 8 rubber bands or pieces of string. Or make one big pudding – 1 litre size.

For the pudding

250 g panettone, cut into very small chunks

100 g dried figs, chopped very finely

60 g candied cumquats, chopped finely

grated zest and juice of 1 orange

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur

50 g toasted flaked almonds

220 ml milk

220 ml cream

3 eggs

Combine the panettone pieces, dried figs, cumquats, juices and zests, and liqueur and stir. Leave for one hour. Now stir in the flaked almonds, In another bowl, beat together the milk, cream and eggs. Pour this mixture over the panettone mix and stir well. Spoon into the well buttered pudding basins, cover with baking paper, then foil. Secure with a rubber band.

Set the puddings into your steamer. Pour boiling water into your steamer, cover with a tight lid and steam for 30 minutes or 2 hours for a big pudding. Check the water level from time to time. Pour in extra boiling water if necessary. Serve warm with fresh fig slices, sauce and pouring cream.

Fig sauce (for cheats!)

Homemade fig jam, heated with water to the correct consistency for a pouring sauce.

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