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Christmas dinner: Wolfram Siebeck's Christmas menu 'Four courses for a hosanna'

For decades now the well-known German food critic, author and journalist Wolfram Siebeck has created a Christmas menu with several courses each year which he presents in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. Here we have included his Christmas dinner from 2008. It is not only a mouth-watering read but can also be almost fully prepared the day before your festive feast.

(serves 4)

1st course: Pepper and pastis soup
4 red bell peppers
4 shallots
2 tbsp minced ginger
olive oil
chicken stock
2 tbsp pastis
pumpkin seeds as desired

2nd course: King prawns with chorizo and saffron
16 king prawn tails
100 g spicy chorizo sausage
1/2 tsp saffron threads
olive oil
sea salt
1 lime
2 or 3 cloves of garlic

3rd course: Roast beef with creamed leeks
1000 g roast beef
black pepper
sea salt
olive oil
3 large leeks
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tsp curry powder
1 glass dry white wine
1 lime
1 tsp coriander seeds
250 ml single cream

4th course: Gâteau Berbelle
140 g butter
120 g sugar
90 g flour
3 large eggs
100 g dark chocolate
2 1/2 tbsp white rum
2 tbsp slivered almonds
200 ml cream

Preparation of the Christmas dinner: Gâteau Berbelle must be baked the day before!

Separate the eggs, cream the yolks with 140 g butter and 120 g sugar until fluffy and add 2 ½ tbsp white rum. Break up the bar of dark chocolate into pieces, gently melt it in a heavy pan, pour into the creamed butter, egg and sugar mixture and mix well. Afterwards, sift in 90 g flour and stir this into the mixture too.

Now beat the egg whites until stiff and mix 2 tbsp of the beaten egg white into the mixture until it becomes smooth. Then gently fold in the remaining beaten egg white until no white is visible.

Lastly, grease an18 cm cake tin and fill with the mixture. Place on the bottom shelf of an oven preheated to 180 degrees. After 15 minutes, spread the almond slivers over the unfinished cake and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Finally, seal the cake in airtight aluminium foil and leave to rest overnight in a cool place. This means that it does not dry out but its flavours become more and more intense.

1st course: Pepper and pastis soup

The pepper and pastis soup can also be prepared in advance on the day before the celebration. For 4 portions cut up 4 red bell peppers, remove the seeds and the core and cut the pepper into small pieces. Then finely dice 4 large shallots and lightly sauté in olive oil. Add the pepper as well as 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger and 2 tbsp pastis. Pour over 1 cup of chicken stock and let everything simmer until the pieces of pepper are soft (around 20 minutes). Purée the soup and pass through a sieve. Pour in more chicken stock until the soup has the desired consistency and season carefully. According to taste, sprinkle over a few pumpkin seeds before serving and, where appropriate, add another spoonful of pastis.

3rd course: Roast beef

It is also possible to prepare the creamed leek side dish to accompany the main course. Wash 3 large leeks and chop the white and light-green parts into small pieces. Lightly sauté in 2 tbsp of salted butter, sprinkle with 2 tsp of curry powder and douse with 1 glass of dry pinot blanc. Add the juice of 1 lime as well as 1 tsp of crushed coriander seeds. Afterwards add 250 ml single cream. Cover and simmer for around 15 minutes. Season and add salt to taste.

Prepare the roast beef approximately two hours before the festive meal begins. A kilo is enough for four to five people. All skin should be completely removed and the joint of meat should be no higher than 4 to 5 centimetres. Rub freshly ground black pepper into all sides of the joint. Preheat the oven to just 75 degrees and place a flat roasting tin on the stove. Heat up the olive oil and butter in the tin. Sprinkle one of the sides of the joint with crushed sea salt and place in the hot fat. As it colours, sprinkle salt on the other side too and then turn the joint over. Carefully sear the meat for a maximum of 15 minutes and then roast in the oven for a good 100 minutes.

During this time you can prepare the only course which you have to cook when the guests are seated:

2nd course: King prawns with chorizo and saffron

Remove the shells from the prawn tails (4 pieces per portion) and remove the black intestines with a sharp knife. Then cut a piece of chorizo into very small cubes, grind ½ tsp of saffron with a mortar and pestle, cut a lime into quarters and get a pan and olive oil ready.

Then serve the pepper soup as the first course. Next check if the roast beef is done, i.e. when the inside is a dark pink colour and tender. You can tell if this is the case when it feels springy to the touch. If it is done then turn the oven off and open the oven door. The joint should then be left to rest for at least ten more minutes.

It only takes four minutes to cook the second course, the prawns. Heat the oil in a pan, add the saffron and chorizo and then the prawns immediately after. Shake the pan so that all parts of them come into contact with the hot oil and they take on colour. At the same time, season with sea salt, squeeze the lime over the top and press 2 or 3 cloves of garlic into the pan. Dish up the prawns straight away, however, as they should be crispy but still juicy. Serve them with baguette to soak up the cooking juices.

Once you have finished eating the third course, the roast beef and creamed leeks, prepare dessert. Whip slightly sweetened cream until stiff and spread it over the top of the Gâteau Berbelle. As Wolfram Siebeck writes, at least by now the cook will have ensured that his or her guests are shouting hosanna 'followed by Christmas cheer and peace!'



December 2012

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