Any Christmas Dinner ideas without too much meat and using very limited equipment?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by le francais, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. le francais

    le francais

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    Okay here's a challenge: my female friend and her mother want me to cook for them on Christmas but they aren't huge fans of meats, while they aren't  vegetarians they rarely eat beef and are not too fond of turkey or duck. I guess that leaves chicken. However I do not have access to an oven. Any ideas on what I could cook? It needs to be delicious, not too expensive to make and romantic and you sort of need to get that christmas feeling from it. Any menu ideas and recipes? It would be much appreciated.

    At my disposal only the following equipment unfortunately (It's a food lover and cook's nightmare I know):

    - Induction Cookers

    - Microwave

    - Saute Pan (which I also use for frying stuff because I don't have enough space to keep another pan around)

    - Two Saucepans

    - Chef's Knife

    - Spatula

    - Quantity Mesurer in gr/ml

    And erm... That's pretty much it. Any ideas?

    PS: Just need a starter and main course, the mother is baking a christmas cake thingy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Some different olives, roasted peppers, hummus, pita--maybe a few other breads--and olive oil with zaatar for the starter perhaps.

    Then a stew and couscous. A tagine with dried fruit seems appropriate to the season, to me at least.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    What about fish, or seafood? A nice platter of shrimp served with saffron mayo? Poached and grilled lobster with escargot butter? Or deep fried butter? Or maybe that could be your first course: a couple of medaillons of lobster, or a 1/2 tail per person. 

    If you want to go chicken, you could consider pan roasting or roasting a whole chicken in a "Cocotte", served with some traditional French stuffing: chestnuts, ground pork, apples, etc..? 
     
  4. le francais

    le francais

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    Thanks for your replies, unfortunately she does not like fish or seafruit either (she's quite complicated when it comes to food).

    Tagine, I like the bread idea but perhaps not as the main starter, the rest seems a little too oriental I would think.

    French Fries, I do not own a Cocotte but can you tell me more about pan roasting? Can it be done in a Saute pan? Are we walking about the whole chicken or just bits and pieces?

    PS: It doesn't have to be chicken, she just doesn't want too much beef or other meats. For instance she likes Carpaccio and things like that but she'd never order a steak in a restaurant.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  5. durangojo

    durangojo

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    pork?  the other 'white' meat as we say in the states....pork tenderloin is very lean, can be dressed up or down or suit the occasion and is very affordable......takes to all flavors...my favorite is figs, dried fruits, pecans, sherry...that sort of  rich wintry flavor but pehaps some sort of cranberry port sauce for a holidayish feel.....what did you end up making for your first dinner for her? did she like it?...well, she must have if she's inviting her mother.... what was easy, what wasn't? you know what your ability limitations are now that you have done it....make it  easy or easier on yourself

    sides....

    long grain and wild rice pilaf...maybe add dried cranberries and slivered almonds...chestnuts perhaps?

    whatever FRESH green vegetable is in season... green beans with a simple lemon glaze 

    simple simple starter salad of baby greens and pears, maybe grapes or blueberries and some kind of cheese(bleu, brie,)...light fruited vinaigrette( orange ginger maybe)...

    anyway just along these lines......totally affordable and doable and understated......understated food done right is romantic, sensual and very sexy!

    joey
     
  6. french fries

    french fries

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    You've got some great ideas from Joey as well there. Tajines are also a wonderful idea. In fact any braised chicken. How about coq au vin, for example? Dressed with some pearl onions glacés à brun, lardons and mushrooms, it could make a truly wonderful Xmas dinner. Let me know if you need a recipe.
     
    You could do it in a saute pan if the sides are tall enough and you got a lid. There's one I make once in a while that's fairly quick, but excellent: 

    - Break down the chicken into 4 pieces. 

    - Slowly heat up a couple of tablespoons olive oil, add whole garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme. 

    - Remove the herbs and garlic, heat the oil real hot and add the chicken. 

    - Saute chicken on high heat until nicely golden brown. 

    - Add some white wine - not too much, maybe about 1/4 or 1/3 bottle for a whole chicken? - and put the herbs and garlic cloves back. Cover the pan and lower the heat to very low. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 1/2hr. 

    - Remove the chicken and herbs and let rest. 

    - While the chicken is resting, reduce the sauce to a syrupy consistency. Finish the sauce with some freshly squeezed lemon. 

    - Plate the chicken, pour sauce over the top and add a few "confit" garlic cloves. 

    It's fairly easy to prepare and the sauce is truly excellent. 

    You'll have to think of a side dish to accompany the chicken. I like sauteed fennel, or a celeriac puree, a leek fondue... 
     
  7. siduri

    siduri

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    Ravioli to start - you can buy good ones, or make them and bring them. 

    I would suggest a savory squash pie but there's no oven, but you can put squash into the ravioli and that is very festive, very christmas. 

    Another, easier alternative is to make what are known as ignudi, meaning nude ravioli - you take ricotta, lots of grated parmigiano, an egg, and some blanched and well-squeezed spinach (with the limited equipment you have you might want to buy frozen chopped spinach. Salt, pepper and a scrape of nutmeg.   If you let the ricotta drain a bit first too, and make sure the spinach is very well squeezed, you probably don';t need flour in it, but a tbsp or two is ok if it seems watery or doesn;t hold its shape.  Then form elongated balls, maybe 2 inches long and an inch wide, and roll in flour.  You can sit them to dry out a little for a while.  Bring water to boil in a frying pan, and then lower to simmering and cook till they float, then drain, add butter and parmigiano.  Or sage butter. 

    Another easy alternative is squash gnocchi - steam or microwave squash and put to drain.  The best are the low dark green bumpy kinds that are sort of pumpkin shaped, but any flavorful and creamy type is good, acorn, butternut. Cool somewhat, then add egg, salt and pepper and enough flour that it holds its shape on a spoon.  Drop by spoonfuls into simmering water, drain when they float.  Season with butter or sage butter, lots of parmigiano. 

    I find these to be very special dishes and though in Italian culture they are first courses, you could make them the main.  But even if you use them as a first course, they give you a really festive feel.  And since they're filling they don't require all that much later. 

    If they're not meat lovers, you don't have to go with chicken, you can certainly do stuff without meat at all.  It's common belief that a good meal has to have meat but really, the otehr dishes are way more complex and unusual and can be a wonderful and festive dinner. 

    Sauced vegetables are nice, like cauliflower or broccoli with an interesting creamy sauce.  a really good beet salad - go for contrasting colors, ,like beets with string beans, rocket (arugola, rughetta, whatever you call it locally), pine nuts, maybe some hard boiled eggs, or seived hard boiled yolks on top, a nice vinaigrette.  It looks very christmassy.  It can be cold or warm. 

    If you go with the ignudi, you could begin with a pumpkin soup, then the ignudi as a main course with the beet salad as a side, and always, i think, the thing that makes it christmas is to have various complex or unusual sides.  Artichokes for instance.  I posted a recipe from tuscany that can be made in a sautee pan - if you can't find it i can look for it. 

    What makes it a christmas dinner is not the meat, but the specialness of the dishes.  (And I say this as a real meat lover, by the way).  We really should stop thinking of meals as defined by the meat course.  It limits our creativity.  Piece of meat and a salad is not an interesting meal. 
     
  8. french fries

    french fries

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  9. le francais

    le francais

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    Wow that sounds like a really good idea! :) I do have a lid for my saute pan, but the sides aren't that high, only about 6.5cm and as for the diameter we've got 24cm. Any side dish recipes? Perhaps something you can cook in a saucepan? I only have one saute pan and it will be busy, my kitchen is really really small and I only have two heating surfaces anyway. :)

    Also how do I cut my chicken? In half to get four pieces? Or is there some other way?

    Should the lid stay on the saute pan?

    How much Rosemary? Thyme? How many Garlic Cloves?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Here's a dish that you can brown in a pan and then transfer to the microwave to cook through.  It's very elegant, super easy to make and very festive looking.  You can asemble them the night before, even brown them the night before and just nuke them right before dinnertime.  They are very pretty once you slice them into pinwheels.

    Stuffed Chicken Breasts

    - chicken breasts

    - baby spinach

    - red peppers (fresh or roasted)

    - fontina cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer

    - butcher's twine

    - salt/pepper

    - olive oil

    1. Butterfly your chicken breasts and then pound them thin.

    2. Season and lay on top some baby spinach, julienned peppers, and some cheese.

    3. Roll into cylinders and tie them with butcher twine.

    4. In a hot skillet brown them on every side until golden.  At this point I stick them in the oven but since you don't have an oven a microwave will do.  I don't know how long it will take to cook through in the microwave.

    5. Allow them to rest and then slice into pretty pinwheels and arrange on a beautiful platter in a circular design.
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    As long as you can fit the chicken in the pan it will work. Depends on the size of the chicken then. 

    There are many YouTube videos for breaking down a chicken. For this dish I recommend leaving the bones on, and including everything - wing tips, neck, back, etc.. as they will contribute to the syrupy texture of the sauce. Maybe you can purchase a broken down chicken or ask the butcher to cut it for you. 

    The lid should stay on the pan for the whole 1/2hr of cooking. 

    At least 2-3 sprigs of thyme, and 1 nice sprig of rosemary. How many garlic cloves depends on your taste, I like to put a lot, at least 3-4 per guest. 
     
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Given the size of your pan (which, in English, is only about 2.5" deep by 9" wide) there is no way to braise a whole chicken in it.

    I would think more along KKs line: chicken breasts. You can cook them whole, turn them into roulades, or merely stuff them as you see fit. Stuffing them certainly is a more festive way to go; and making roulades more festive still.

    Along with the breasts you have an incredible array of possible pan sauces, all made in the same saute pan you cooked the chicken in. Elegance in one-pot, as it were. And this leaves your second burner free for a side dish.

    Appys and starters are made rough by the no-seafood requirement. I would think in terms of something that was served either cold or at room temperature for the appy, then either a salad or soup for the first course. So, a potential menu might be something like:

    Appy: Store-bought pate on baguette slices.

    Soup: Curried Apple-Squash Bisque (or any varient of pumpkin soup)

    Main: Chicken roulade with pan sauce.

    Side: Saffron rice.

    Side: Green veggie (could be done in the microwave, you see)

    Dessert: Christmas cake thingy.

    Most of this could be done ahead and rewarmed successfully.
     
  13. nadeest

    nadeest

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    Where was this thread when I had to do my International Cuisine practical exam ( I had drawn Italy)?   lol  That ignudi sounds so delicious!
     
  14. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Wild Mushroom Risotto......easy, you can enrich or not....use fresh and dried shrooms....does not take many dried to give huge amount of flavor.  

    serve with sauteed green veg that has lemon oil and herbage at the end....maybe a tiny bit of shallot

    This could be starter or entree.

    If you have it as an entree, then a festive starter could be great crackers/cheese/fruit......wheat biscuits, fig jam, pecans, triple creme....
     
  15. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    Hey lots of great ideas there.

    I'd be going for a cold starter and hot main.  Frees up your cooking area that way, can make your starter way ahead and cool it in fridge. 

    Even something like a chilled soup, say gazpacho, served with bread rolls or grisini and real butter (get this to room temp just before you start).  Nice splodge of natural greek yoghurt on top (or serve it on the side if you not sure it's liked by all).

    Or a large platter of antipasto to share.  Another cold one which can be done way ahead.

    Hot main - ever tried sweet potatoes mashed up with cooked diced bacon?  Yum.  Re-heats nicely in microwave.

    Simple side of french green beans and julienned carrot - also can be pre-cooked then nuked to re-heat.

    Chicken does seem to be the go, those roulades would be pretty, serve with some cranberry sauce.  Or make some chicken, filleted thighs are much tastier than breast with a simple white wine sauce made in same pan, just add chicken back into sauce to re-heat.

    Dessert - the cake thingy, some nice coffee to go with and you're done!