A Gather Christmas Feast

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Festive menu ideas from Gill Meller's beautiful new cookbook

17 Dec 2016 |

Christmas is just around the corner and we are all busy finalising our menus for the big day. The Quadrille office have completely fallen for Gill Meller's stunning new cookbook Gather, so we have put together a Christmas menu featuring recipes from the book to help inspire your own Christmas dinner plans.

Treat your guests to a delicious oyster appetiser, fill their bellies with delicious roast pork and roast parsnip dishes and then take your Christmas pudding to the next level by adding Gill's incredible yoghurt and cardamom sorbet. Your guests will have a very merry Christmas!



Oysters with sweet cicely & gooseberries

serves 2

75g (2½oz) firm gooseberries, topped and tailed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 small bunch of sweet cicely leaves, roughly chopped, plus flowers, if available
12 oysters in their shells
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Slice the gooseberries into roughly 5mm (¼in) rounds and place them in a bowl. Add the cider vinegar, sugar, and half the sweet cicely leaves, then season with salt and pepper. Allow the gooseberries to sit in the vinegar mixture while you shuck the oysters (see below).

To shuck an oyster you’ll need an oyster knife (one with a sturdy, short blade) and a tea towel to protect your hand from the sharp shell as you grip it. Hold the oyster cupped-side down in the tea towel with the hinge facing towards you. Hold firmly on a chopping board. Insert the knife tip downwards between the two halves of the shell at the pointed back end, where the hinge is located.

Once you have the tip of the knife in, you can lever the shell open a little. Slip the knife along the underside of the top half of the shell, which will sever the oyster’s adductor muscle, allowing the shell to open fully. Carefully slide the knife blade underneath the oyster to release it completely. Try to save any liquor in the shell.

To serve, place the oysters in their half shells on a suitable serving plate or board. Spoon a little gooseberry mixture onto each oyster, tear over the remaining sweet cicely leaves and serve with a scattering of cicely flowers if you have them.


Roast pork with herbs, broad bean tops & new potatoes 

serves 4

3–4 teaspoons fennel seeds
1.5kg (3lb 5oz) thick end of pork belly, bone in, skin completely dry
300g (10½oz) new potatoes
3 or 4 mint sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped, stalks reserved
1 knob of butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch of parsley,
leaves picked and finely chopped
1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped
2 handfuls of broad bean or pea tops, plus any flowers if available
juice of ½ lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Remove from the heat, then use a pestle to grind them coarsely in the pan. Use a sharp knife to score the skin and fat of the pork (don’t cut into the meat). Place the pork in a roasting tray and rub all over with salt and the crushed fennel. Place in the oven for 25–30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160°C/315°F/gas mark 2–3, add half a glass of water to the tray, and roast for 2 hours, until golden, tender and giving. (Add a splash more water if at any time the pan looks dry.)

While the pork is roasting, halve the new potatoes if they’re large and place them in a pan along with the reserved mint stalks. Cover with well-salted water and simmer for 8–15 minutes (cooking time will vary according to how fresh your potatoes are and the variety), or until just tender, then drain and return to the pan, discarding the mint stalks. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season well with salt and pepper, stir together, then set aside.

Once cooked, remove the pork from the oven and rest it for 15–20 minutes. Add the fresh herbs to the potatoes, stir through, then spoon the potatoes onto a warm platter. Place the pork on the platter, then skim off the fat from the juices in the roasting tray and spoon the juices over the pork and potatoes. Place the broad bean or pea tops in a bowl, dress with the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Stir, then scatter over the pork and take to the table straight away.


Roast parsnips with blackberries, honey chicory & rye flakes

serves 4

4 parsnips, quartered lengthways and cored
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaped tablespoons rye flakes
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 or 3 thyme sprigs
2 or 3 rosemary sprigs
about 100g (3½oz) blackberries
1 firm red chicory, leaves separated
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Place the parsnip quarters in large roasting tray. Combine the olive oil, rye flakes, Dijon mustard, honey and cider vinegar in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well, then pour mixture over the parsnips and tumble them to coat thoroughly. Tear over the thyme and rosemary, then place the roasting tray in the oven and roast the parsnips for 40 45 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until they are tender in the middle and crisp and caramelized on the outside.

Remove the parsnips from the oven, then scatter the blackberries and chicory leaves over them. Set aside to cool for 5–10 minutes, then serve as a warm salad with fresh bread or as an accompaniment to good sausages, duck, or pork chops.


Yoghurt & cardamom sorbet with brown butter & poppy seed biscuits

serves 8–10

for the sorbet
100g (3½oz) golden castersugar
4 teaspoons runny honey
6 cardamom pods, bruised pared zest of ¼ orange
600g (1lb 5oz) plain natural yoghurt

for the shortbread
150g (5½oz) unsalted butter
75g (2½oz) golden caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
150g (5½oz) plain flour
75g (2½oz) cornflour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds 

To make the sorbet, place the sugar and honey in a small pan with the cardamom pods, the orange zest and 4 tablespoons of water. Place over a low heat and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the syrup begins to thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Put the yoghurt in a mixing bowl. Strain the syrup through a sieve onto the yoghurt and whisk thoroughly. Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn until soft set. Transfer to a plastic container, cover and place in the freezer until frozen (about 3–4 hours or overnight).

To make the shortbread, heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Place the butter in a pan over a low–medium heat. Shake the pan once in a while to stop the butter spitting. Cook for about 5–6 minutes, until the butter smells fragrant and nutty and you see the solids browning on the base of the pan. Skim any foamy bubbles from the top. Place the sugar in a bowl, then pour over the butter, leaving the solids in the base of the pan; mix well. Combine the flour, cornflour and salt in a separate bowl, then add to the butter and sugar mixture. Use a spatula to bring everything together to a soft dough. Spread the dough evenly over a non-stick 25 x 15cm (10 x 6in) baking tray, pressing it down with a spatula to level it. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar and the poppy seeds. Use a knife to score the biscuit into rectangular fingers. Allow to cool.

Remove the sorbet from the freezer 15 minutes before serving it – a spoonful per person with a crumbly biscuit alongside.

Gather by Gill Meller is available now where all good books are sold