A creamy cauliflower soup with almond balls and almond dukkah, a delicious vegetarian starter for the Christmas lunch or dinner.
In case you haven’t yet started thinking about what you will cook for Christmas, now would be the time to start doing it. 🙂 Many of my friends already know what they will cook, especially the traditionalists like my mother-in-law, who tend to cook the same meal each Christmas, but there are still some who still don’t have a clue and keep asking around: “And what will do cook for Christmas this year, cause I still have no idea?”.
Like I’ve mentioned above, what my mother-in-law is concerned, we have the same each Christmas day for lunch: goose with bread dumplings, Brussels sprouts in white sauce and green bean salad. The only thing changing from time to time is the dessert. Last year we had one of my favorite desserts: layers of raspberries, cream and homemade meringue, sometimes she makes an equally delicious dessert with cream, cherries and caramelized almonds or sometimes, her husband would make one of his famous yogurt bowls with lots of cream on top. So whipped cream rules! 🙂
We used to spend Christmas Eve at her house as well, but since Bruno was born eight years ago, we changed the tradition and now we always celebrate Christmas Eve at our place and Christmas Day at their house. And you might have guessed already, I ALWAYS change my Christmas Eve dinner. Although I thoroughly enjoy my mother-in-law’s usual Christmas lunch, I cannot even imagine making the same thing every year.
Last year we had a delicious Turkish inspired dinner with lots and lots of small dishes on the table. It was really really great, but at the end of the day (and a few more times in between) I swore I will never make myself so much trouble with the Christmas dinner again. I started one day in advance and spent the whole of the 24th of December in the kitchen. By the time we went to the church I was exhausted… So this year the motto is “less is more”. I decided to cook things that can be made in advance and then reheated, things like soup, sarmale – Romanian cabbage rolls and a dessert that has to be made a day in advance as well. So on the actual day, I will only have to bake a bread (or buy one…), decorate the dessert and reheat the rest of the meal. Great!!
To make things easier for other people as well, I decided to make a series concerning Christmas dinner or lunch, including some ideas for things that do not require you to spend so much time in the kitchen and allow you more time to enjoy with your family. They are not the things mentioned above though, with the exception of the dessert. The reason I am not cooking that for Christmas myself is that I have already cooked that twice for the blog and it’s really not me to eat the same thing so often in such a short period of time. 🙂 But they are delicious things, easy to make and yet impressive, so you can be sure that your family and guests will be satisfied.
The proposed menu includes today’s Cauliflower Soup with Almond Balls and Almond Dukkah, an Oven Slow-Cooked Leg of Turkey with Brussels Sprouts with Oranges and oven potatoes. As a vegetarian alternative to the turkey leg I chose an amazing Porcini Risotto Savoy Cabbage “Cake”, which can be served with a nice salad. And for the sweet part: my favorite dessert ever the Yogurt Bomb with Berries. On top of that a delicious Caramelized Walnut Cake.
The soup, the dukkah, the dessert and the cake can be made a day in advance, the turkey leg needs about 4 hours in the oven, but the actual work involved is under 15 minutes. The only things that need to be made shortly before dinner are the sprouts and the potatoes and if you choose to go vegetarian, the risotto cake as well. Although to tell you the truth, when I made the risotto cake for us, we had leftovers which I reheated the next day in the oven, they were just as delicious as the day before… But even if you want to eat that immediately, it will still not take longer than 2 hours to prepare all the veggies and the risotto, and I think 2 hours for a Christmas dinner is fair enough.
Source for the dukkah: Orient Express by Silvena Rowe.
- For the soup and balls:
- 1 kg/ 1.1 lbs cauliflower
- 1 medium onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.2 liter/ 5 cups good quality vegetable stock
- 40 g/ 1.4 oz/ scant ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
- 60 g/ 2.1 oz/ ½ cup ground almonds
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 125 ml/ ½ cup double cream
- salt and pepper
- lemon juice
- For the dukkah:
- 50g/ 1.7 oz/ ⅓ cup whole almonds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- ½ tablespoon cumin seeds
- ¼ tablespoon fennel seeds
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- Divide the clean cauliflower into florets and chop the stem into small cubes. Finely chop the onions and the garlic cloves.
- In a large soup pot heat the oil and the butter. Cook the onions and garlic until translucent, add the cauliflower, stir well and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Puree the soup and adjust the taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and some lemon juice.
- While the soup is cooking make the almond balls. In a large bowl mix together the dry breadcrumbs, ground almonds, the two whole eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the remaining egg white and carefully fold into the breadcrumb mixture. Leave the mixture to rest for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime bring a pot of water to a boil. Wet your hands and form the little balls, I had 32 of them.
- Add some salt to the cooking water and simmer the balls for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Give the balls to the soup.
- In the meantime make the dukkah. Take a small frying pan and toast the almonds without adding any fat, for a few minutes or until fragrant and golden. Stay close all the time and stir or shake the pan very often. Remove the almonds from the pan.
- Toast the coriander seeds the same way but for a shorter time, until they are fragrant as well. Give them to the almonds, then toast the cumin seeds, give them to the almonds as well, then toast the fennel seeds. Don't toast them all together, each sort requires another toasting time.
- Place all the spices in a small food processor or in a mortar with pestle and grind them roughly. Add olive oil to form a rough paste, which can be swirled into the soup.
- Serve the soup with the balls, dukkah and lots of parsley sprinkled on top.
Other Christmas starter ideas: