Christmas Lunch, Jamo-style
  |  First Published: December 2011


Rather than doing a traditional three-course lunch, this year I have put together some finger foods to pass around before the main fare and a no-fuss individual lemon meringue pie that can be handed around and eaten while standing, so you can still mingle among family and friends.

Calamari and Chorizo Arancini with Taleggio

There are so many different possibilities for arancini combinations. I love this combination because of the spicy hit from the chorizo with the subtleness of fresh calamari, then the oozing taleggio when you find the middle. Taleggio is a washed-rind Italian cheese with a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. Its crust is thin and studded with salt crystals.


Ingredients for the Calamari and Chorizo Arancini with Taleggio

500g Arborio rice

700mls fish stock

250mls white wine

3 tbsps olive oil

4 cloves garlic chopped

1 large onion diced finely

1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped

1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

250g chorizo chopped into small dice

350g fresh calamari (tube and tentacles ) chopped small

Zest of 1 lemon and salt and pepper to taste

200g cave-ripened taleggio, diced

1 egg beaten

150mls milk

Sufficient breadcrumbs and flour for crumbing

Vegetable oil for frying

Heat the fish stock until almost simmering.

In a heavy flat saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté garlic, onion, herbs, chorizo and calamari, then add rice and combine well.

Add the white wine and fish stock alternatively, stirring consistently and adding more liquids as the rice absorbs it.

You don’t want the risotto to be too wet at the end, with nice pieces of rice sticking to your teeth when chewing it (al dente). Depending on your cooking, you may need less or more fluids.

With a fine micro plane, add the lemon zest and combine well with seasoning.

Transfer the risotto into a tray, flatten it down evenly with a wooden spoon and refrigerate uncovered until the mixture is completely cool.

With a metal spoon, portion out equal quantities of risotto to form a ball, not too big or it takes too long to cook and if too small won’t leave enough room to fill them with cheese.

Once the balls have been rolled, poke a small hole into each one, fill with a small square of taleggio then close them back over with no cheese being exposed.

Set up your crumbing station: plain flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs, then crumb them all.

Heat vegetable oil to 180° and cook until the taleggio is melted in the centre. This will vary with the size of your arancini.

Serve hot on their own or with a dipping sauce, I have made a pumpkin mayo for this.

Lemon Meringue Pie

This has a bit of a twist to the usual recipe. Rather than using pastry, I like sponge cake to line the pie dish, with everything else placed on top. This can be made individually or as one large pie for any occasion.


Ingredients for Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Custard

600ml full cream milk

5 eggs separated

100g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Sponge Cake

500mls whole free-range eggs

250g caster sugar

250g plain flour sifted

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Lemon Curd

150ml fresh lemon juice

115g unsalted butter cold and diced

290g caster sugar

3 free range eggs, beaten and strained


5 egg whites

200g caster sugar

To make the sponge, place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a kitchen mixer and beat until fluffy and pale.

Remove from mixer and fold in sifted flour with large metal spoon.

Pour into a 30cm round cake tin lined with greaseproof paper and sprayed with canola spray or similar.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 35-40 minutes; cool on wire rack.

To make the lemon curd, place the butter, zest and juice in a double boiler and heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved.

Pour beaten, strained eggs into juice mixture and stir until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove and cool. Don’t over heat or the mixture will curdle.

To make the lemon custard, cream the eggs, zest and sugar.

Place milk on the stove until scalded, then add to the egg mixture and stir well.

Return it to low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon; remove to cool slightly.

To make the meringue, whisk whites in a clean, dry bowl until fluffy, then add sugar gradually until thick and glossy.

Cut sponge into 1.5cm slices and line the base of pie dish until the entire bottom is covered.

Pour lemon custard over sponge until the cake is well soaked.

Spoon lemon curd on top of the custard-soaked cake, then spoon or pipe meringue on top of that.

Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes until meringue is set; serve straight away with ice cream or cream.

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