Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Tag: Christmas Recipes

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 2

Christmas Recipes
(Photos : Karen E Photography)

"Special flavours from my childhood"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

We are doing things a little different this month for Christmas 2012. It is all about the recipes this month and my column is not going to be on the last Saturday of the month as I normally do but I showcased six recipes last Saturday the 15th December and then another 6 today, Saturday 22nd December. So if you missed the 15th … I insist you find a copy of the WITNESS-beg, borrow and steel... or click here. How I looked at this was doing my 12 days of Christmas in a format where-by recipe twelve is the recipe one should make the earliest and then working down to Christmas day and the actual day preparations and putting together. I hope you have a lot of fun with these recipes and I hope you enjoy the South African twist to each individual recipe. These are all special flavours from my childhood.

Have a very merry Christmas and a stunning New Year celebration. All of us in the industry, don't forget it is Christmas so work hard and play even harder! Here is to a festive DECEMBER. See you in January.

Take these recipe and try them!


The Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 1

Christmas Baking Recipes
(Photos : Karen E Photography)

"Memorable, happy-childhood flavours"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

I'm ringing the changes and giving you two columns during December. They are about festive-season recipes so cannot be published on the last Saturday of the month as is usual. I shall showcase six recipes today and another six next Saturday - December 22, 2012.

So, if you happen to miss either of these copies of The Witness, I suggest you beg, borrow or steal to get your hands on some really interesting and mouth-watering ideas. Better still... diarise a to-do note for yourself to ensure you're up there with the rest of the readers!

The format I have chosen is to highlight the 12 days before Christmas and start with what needs to be done first, working down to the last-minute items which have to be done on the day - the final preparations and putting everything together.

I hope these recipes provide you with as much fun and as much inspiration as they have given me; and that you enjoy the South African twist to each dish. They are all memorable, happy-childhood flavours that I wish to share with you.

It's an exciting time so enjoy choosing your Christmas tree and putting up the decorations. I haven't heard Boney M yet!

To my fellow chefs, and others in the hospitality industry, prepare for a busy time. It can get quite chaotic - I know!

Remember to buy next week's copy of The Witness. I'll be back to complete the 12 days.

Take these recipe and try them!



New Age Avocado Ritz

New-Age Avocado Ritz
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)

"It's with starters that we can demonstrate flair and creativity..."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

The spirit of Christmas surrounds us. It must have struck you too.

I have compiled a few recipes so you can woo family and friends with a traditional home-cooked dinner on the 24th or 25th - whichever you fancy. Mains and desserts are pretty much a given at this time of the year when old favourites such as roast turkey, glazed gammon and Christmas pudding make a profound statement.

It's with starters that we can demonstrate flair and creativity. Remember keeping things simple, homely and wholesome is imperative.

Reviving the classical avocado Ritz seems appropriate for this traditional occasion. That's what we'll have because my parents' avocado pear trees are laden with the very best of the creamy - smooth fruit. A crème fraiche spicy dressing drizzled over lightly-blanched, firm shrimps is best with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some crisp Melba toast. There are some flavour combinations that will never die.

I have often written about ceviche (Peruvian cooking style of marinating seafood in soya sauce and lime or lemon juice). This time I have chosen prawn ceviche with asparagus and caviar for you.

Leaving it to marinate improves the taste as it takes on the flavour combinations. Its added value is that it can be prepared beforehand.

A risotto must always be straight forward. If enhanced, it loses its Italian roots. Served with a sizeable helping of smoked salmon or piece of fresh Norwegian salmon or line fish brings a summery touch to a hearty dish.

Chicken-liver pate or parfait is ridiculously over served but still I enjoy smearing a thick layer onto crispy, homemade, white bread. Add your personal touch by preparing it with love and the finest ingredients.

My grandmother's shortbread recipe adds a fun-filled dimension to the menu. Top this with prune compote, creamy gorgonzola, a drizzle of honey and a large, juicy, black, mission fig.

And for the decadent, serve prawns with litchis and coconut cream. Butter poached prawns add a certain grandness that Christmas lunch deserves.

I wish you all the very best for this festive time of the year - happy cooking, eating and celebrating with friends and family.

Don't miss next week's article where I give you New Year's decadent dessert combinations.

Take these recipes and try them.

african christmas tree


chocolate fondant

Chocolate Fondant
(Photo : Sally Chance)

"...a World Class Experience"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

My 10th year in the industry means it's my 10th Christmas away from home. Making a festive-season impression is a family tradition and this custom came with me when I started at Hartford House. This means Christmas lunch guests at the hotel can expect a lavish affair with many scrumptious tastings. The menu's first draft is complete and now the trials begin so we can confirm the finer details of each course. This involves tastings and kitchen discussions. We all know there are busy days ahead.

Contrary to my family's preference I've planned a fine-dining braai and salads. They will be joining the celebrations at Hartford House so the pressure is on! I believe in the old adage "when in Rome…" so I'm encouraging you to do the South African thing! But you have to be innovative and present unusual and exciting dishes.

I'd like to share a few of the recipes on the Hartford House Christmas tasting menu - a sneak preview of the 12 or so courses, you may say. One of the first dishes will be a garden-fresh pea soup with a bright green-pea puree, gammon "brawn", Bacon-infused panna cotta and a creamy crème fraiche. A delicious hint of Christmas! This dish may be a bit "over kill" for those of you at home but any of the options with the soup will work well.

Duck is a favourite of mine so I've planned a crispy duck confit with hummus, sultanas and local honey mead, the drink of the gods. Duck thighs cooked in their own juice for three hours are delicious. I prefer doing this on the stove rather than in the oven. It gives me full control and I like to witness the changes as they take place. Serving this with hummus (a crushed chickpea puree) takes the richness from the dish and adds a pleasing creaminess. The sultanas and the honey mead add a sweetness that balances the duck flavour.

A recent trip to Spain inspired the next dish, and is the basis of my Christmas menu. I had the most luscious beef tartar and foie gras "tapas" burger, served with a mouthwatering fresh truffle mayonnaise. So my take on this is : hay-roasted Midland's beef fillet with truffle oil aioli and beef tartar toasty. Home-grown beef from the Summerhill farm coupled with the award-winning Hartford restaurant promise a world-class experience.

The cheese course comprising camembert with fresh asparagus, rocket and pear delivers a savoury light freshness with a slight sweetness. This prepares the palate – and the mind – for dessert, which is still many days of preparation away but it will include toasted marshmallows, chocolate fondants (oozing decadent Belgium chocolate) and lots of fresh summer fruits and berries.

Cheers to your Christmas celebrations. May they be the success we at Hartford House are working towards.

Take these recipes and try them.

christmas angel


Leftover Cheese with extra Nuts, Dried and Fresh Fruit finished with Caramelised Sugar

Leftover Cheese with extra Nuts, Dried and Fresh Fruit finished with Caramelised Sugar


In true festive-season spirit we serve all the traditional fare from honey-glazed gammon and succulent turkey to flambé Christmas pudding and hot brandy sauce. Our Christmas lunch table, as a matter of course, groans with abundance. Although my family is guilty of over catering, there is never any waste because what I enjoy most at this time of the year is the chance to be creative with leftovers. The more the merrier – to put a different slant on the phrase...

The kitchen door will hardly have closed on Christmas supper when it’s reopened for breakfast the following day. Vegetables from yesterday’s gourmet lunch can kick-start day two’s laid-back celebrations. I create an irresistible “bubble ’n squeak” corn fritter and serve it with scrambled egg to which I’ve added freshly-picked herbs. With smoked salmon rosette, cream cheese and the optional caviar, I add a final delicious touch. This, served with crispy, crunchy homemade bread drenched in butter, is scrumptious.

Lunch on the Day of Goodwill should be relaxed and stress-free. I could suggest recipes for pizza, pasta, risotto and quiche with all the leftover meat but, because my mom makes the very best glazed gammon, I choose to serve it on an elegant platter with a few mouth-watering salads. These include a creamy, spiced rice salad using the left-over rice. I wait 365 days for this treat! Its simplicity never ceases to impresses me.

Yesterday’s traditional eggnog – if you have leftovers, that is – can be frozen using the same method as you would when making ice cream. Serve this with fresh cherries and hot cherry sauce. You’ll never have made too much!

Christmas cake made into balls, drizzled with brandy and coated in crumbled shortbread and a dusting of icing sugar makes an unusual, morish treat.

One of my favourite flavour combinations is rich fruitcake with mature cheddar. The union of sweet and savoury tickles the taste buds while tantalising the appetite.

Most occasions call for a selection of cheeses and this, generally, results in many small portions of cheese leftovers.  Place the off-cuts neatly together and top with fresh or preserved fruit, nuts and hot caramelised sugar. This crispy, crunchy extravagance oozes splendid flavours.

I hope these unusual ideas help you re-invent your Christmas leftovers.

May the festive season be an indulgent, gourmet treat. Kiss your waistline goodbye – you have the whole of 2010 to get it back!

Happy cooking!

Take these recipes and try them.

santa hat


I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
+27 33 263 2713