Entertaining with Gizzi

Alternative Christmas food is chef Gizzi Erskine’s speciality. She talks to Balance about creating a dinner to remember
Entertaining with Gizzi
December 12, 2016   |    THEA DE GALLIER

Christmas is the one time of year you can really indulge yourself with rich and delicious food and for those who love cooking, it’s the perfect excuse to show off your culinary skills. Chef Gizzi Erskine’s new cookbook Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings (£25, Mitchell Beazley) is full of unique twists on traditional dishes that will, in her own words, give festive food ‘a new lease of life’.

She says: ‘I want to inspire people. I looked at traditional dishes and reinvented them using new ingredients.’ For Gizzi, Christmas has always been a time to get busy in the kitchen. Every year, she and her mum Maria – a ‘brilliant cook’, she says – visit London’s markets for fresh meat and veg to put on a spread for the family.

‘I’m really lucky I live just off Broadway Market, and I’ve got a great fishmonger, vegetable shop and wine shop nearby,’ she says. ‘We used to go to Borough Market, but as it’s become more touristy we go to Broadway Market instead, or to Marylebone. Most of our ingredients are sourced from independent places.’


The Erskines also draw on their heritage for pre-Christmas meals. ‘I cook on Christmas Eve and my mum does the honours on Christmas Day,’ says Gizzi. ‘I always do a massive veggie curry. The meals are a combination of Polish food – my mum’s Polish – and Italian, but I don’t know where that came from!’

Something else Gizzi explores in her new book is the buffet. ‘As a Brit, I think the buffet is one of the things we do best. I want to bring it back, with massive hams and delicious food you can buy yourself.’

Catering for others is something Gizzi’s had plenty of experience at. ‘I love the feedback,’ she laughs. ‘I’ve always been experimental with food,’ and with this book, she’s imparting some of that passion to help you re-create seasonal recipes.



Makes 24

For the pickled beetroot
• 250ml white wine or cider vinegar
• 100g golden caster sugar
• 30g sea salt flakes
• 1 thyme sprig
• Pinch of chilli flakes
• 3 purple beetroots (or 1 purple, 1 golden, 1 candy), peeled and cut into small cubes

For the goats’ cheese mousse
• 220g chevre (firm goats’ cheese)
• 100ml double cream
• 1tsp truffle oil (optional)
• ½tsp really finely ground black pepper

For the Parmesan crisps
• A few thyme sprigs, leaves picked, chopped
• 120g Parmesan, grated
• Chervil/dill to garnish

1. First make the pickled beetroot. Heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, thyme and chilli flakes in a saucepan until the sugar has melted. Add the beetroot. Simmer for 10 minutes, then leave to cool to room temperature.

2. To make the mousse, blend the goats’ cheese, cream, truffle oil (if using), salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a food processor until smooth and light. Transfer to a piping bag.

3. For the Parmesan crisps, preheat the oven to 190°C/375° F/Gas 5. Line a baking tray. Mix thyme and Parmesan, then sprinkle on to baking parchment in rounds, about 3cm in diameter and a couple of millimetres thick. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool on the tray. You’ll need to do this in batches to get the full 24 – probably nine to 12 on each baking tray.

4. Just before you want to serve them, construct the canapés. Lay the Parmesan discs on a large but low-rimmed serving platter. Pipe a little of the mousse on to each disc and top with a small amount, around ½-⅓ tsp, of the pickled beetroot. Sprinkle a little chervil or dill over the top. Then all you have to do is try not to eat them all before your guests have a chance.



Serves 4

• 500g tomatoes
• 1-2tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• A few thyme sprigs
• 50g ground almonds
• 2tbsp ground cumin
• 1tsp chilli powder
• ½tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼tsp ground cloves
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 1-2tsp cocoa powder
• 700ml fresh chicken stock
• 400g leftover cooked turkey or chicken, shredded
• 4 medium or 8 small corn tortillas
• 120g Cheddar cheese, grated plus 30g for topping

To serve
• 2 avocados
• Juice of 3 limes
• Sea salt flakes
• 4 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 red chilli, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, finely grated
• 100g soured cream
• 1 Little Gem lettuce, finely shredded
• 3tbsp pickled jalapeños
• Half a small bunch (about 15g) fresh coriander

1. First, char your tomatoes. You can do this one of two ways: the ‘safe’ way, by roasting them at the highest temperature your oven goes until the skins just blacken, or the more risky way of charring them on a griddle pan, or over an actual flame. Once blackened, bung the tomatoes, skins and all, into a blender and blitz until puréed.

2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion very slowly over a medium heat for 10–15 minutes or until the onion has fully softened and started to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and thyme for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Now turn up the heat, add the ground almonds and toast them for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and the cocoa powder and cook for a minute, then add the puréed tomatoes. They will be quite liquidy, so you will need to cook them until they have dried out a little, to concentrate the flavour. Add the stock to the pan and cook for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has begun to thicken, reduce and become full-flavoured.

3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/ Gas 7. Put the sauce into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour ¾ of the sauce back into the pan, along with your shredded turkey or chicken meat, and cook slowly over a low heat for a further 15 minutes. (The rest of the sauce will be used to top the enchiladas.) As it cooks, the meat will get really ‘shreddy’ now, and the sauce will get very intense in flavour.

4. In a dry frying pan, quickly warm your tortillas over a high heat. Divide filling and grated cheese between the tortillas and roll them up like cannelloni, placing them neatly into a 2-litre baking dish. Pour over the reserved sauce and top with the remaining cheese. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the dish is golden.

5. Meanwhile, chop avocados and mix with juice of two limes and salt to taste. In a separate bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with the chilli, garlic, remaining lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with the chopped avocado, salsa, soured cream, lettuce, jalapeños and coriander.

‘This recipe is terrific for using up leftover turkey, but you could also poach a whole chicken to make it,’ says Gizzi. ‘While the dish’s freshness is a welcome break from any heavy foods, there is also something reassuringly comforting about its spices and use of cocoa.’



Serves 8

• 225g unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the tin
• 225g dark brown sugar
• 225g black treacle
• 2 free-range eggs, beaten
• 290ml milk
• 340g plain flour
• 1tbsp ground ginger
• 1tbsp ground cinnamon
• A small fresh grating of nutmeg
• 2tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the clementine jelly
• 150ml water
• 50g caster sugar
• 300ml clementine juice
• 4 gelatine leaves
• 3 clementines, segmented

For the topping
• 100ml ginger liqueur
• 600ml fresh custard
• 300ml double cream
• 1tsp icing sugar
• 50g good-quality dark chocolate

1. For the ginger cake, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm roasting tin. Melt butter, sugar and treacle in a pan, leave for 10 minutes, then stir in eggs and milk. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and bicarbonate of soda in a mixing bowl, then fold in the butter mix to form a batter. Pour into a prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until risen and firm. Cool and store in an airtight container.

2. For the jelly, put water, sugar and clementine juice into a saucepan. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes, then add to juice to dissolve. Place clementine segments in trifle bowl, pour liquid over and refrigerate for at least four hours.

3. Next, chop up 150g of the cake and place on top of the jelly. Pour over the ginger liqueur and then the custard, and level the top. Whisk cream with the icing sugar until gently holding its shape, then spoon it over the custard. Grate chocolate over. Chill.



Makes 4

• 6 ripe blood oranges
• Small knob unsalted butter
• 1tsp caster sugar (optional)
• 1 bottle of medium-dry prosecco

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Cut oranges in half. Put the butter into a large frying pan and get it really hot. Place the oranges flat side down in the pan and leave to char for 5–10 minutes. You want to get them nice and black. Put oranges into a roasting tray and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

2. Squeeze juice from the oranges (if a little bitter, add caster sugar).

3. Half fill Champagne flutes with juice (about 75ml per glass) and top up with chilled prosecco.



Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings: Feasts and Celebrations from Halloween to Happy New Year by Gizzi Erskine (£25, Mitchell Beazley)


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