A whizz with Christmas fare

Extraordinary Christmas recipes that won't sit around for long.

Extraordinary Christmas recipes that won't sit around for long.

Brigid Sheriff at home. Pictures (and eating) by Liam Clayton
BERRY BERRY NICE: Brigid’s champagne jelly with summer fruits is a stunningly beautiful dish to look at with the bright red fruit gleaming in the translucent jelly.
Raspberry and lime semifreddo.
Tilly, Brigid’s gregarious Australian terrier, took a shine to Gisborne Herald photographer Liam Clayton. She wanted to help with the photo shoot, and testing the food.

BRIGID Sherriff’s name kept popping up when I began to ask around about outstanding home cooks and Christmas fare to feature on the Weekender food page.

“Brigid is an amazing cook and has some fabulous Christmas recipes,” everyone said, so it was with great anticipation that photographer Liam Clayton and I arrived at her gorgeous country home and garden to meet the legend herself.

Fresh from a full-on week’s cooking for the Chelsea Fête last Sunday, Brigid was about to welcome five house guests. Nothing flusters this kitchen whizz.

The first dish she presented was her champagne jelly with summer fruits which is made from an entire bottle of Lindauer and the yummiest of summer fruits — strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries.

It’s a great favourite with her family especially her sister, and a dish she’s been making for years.

On this occasion, she used Lindauer Brut but she sometimes uses Fraise because of the lovely strawberry flavour.

It’s a stunningly beautiful dish to look at with the bright red fruit gleaming in the translucent jelly.

The second dish was a raspberry and lime semifreddo with coconut wafers, colours that match Brigid’s love of pink and green.

“It’s super for a ladies’ lunch on a hot day,” says Brigid.

It wasn’t quite lunchtime or particularly hot but Liam and I made short work “testing” the delicious colourful plate of frosty pink semifreddo and crispy wafers. The flavours, sweet and sharp at the same time, were divine, and the texture of the wafers was superb.

“I also serve this with shortbread,” says Brigid who describes it as a simple dish to make — “a doddle”.

Brigid has loved cooking since she was a young child.

“I wanted to cook from the age of about nine years. It has always, always fascinated me.

“I learned to cook with my mother who was a typical good home cook of her generation.”

In her younger days, she did a stint as cook at the New Zealand High Commissioner’s residence in London and was also chef at the well known Pascal’s restaurant in Wellington.

Brigid loves European and Mediterranean food, especially French cuisine.

“Cooking is about the heart, bringing joy and delight to others,” she says.

“If the table is quiet, then I know my guests are enjoying the food. People don’t say much when they are really loving the food.”

When Brigid is not in the kitchen, she’s riding her two horses and tending to her beautiful garden which has featured in the garden festival on several occasions.

Other inhabitants include William the goat, three inside cats, three outside cats, two dogs and Didier, a cockatiel she rescued from a restaurant in Wellington.

Tilly, the gregarious Australian terrier, wanted to help with the photo shoot . . . and the testing of the food.

Raspberry and lime semifreddo

INGREDIENTS:

800 grams raspberries (approx two cups after straining the berries into puree). Frozen are fine.

½ cup caster sugar

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 cup caster sugar extra

1 tspn grated lime rind

1¾ cups cream

METHOD:

• Put raspberry puree in saucepan with first quantity sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring till sugar dissolved and slightly thickened. Cool.

• Put eggs, yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water and beat with an electric hand mixer for 5 minutes till pale and frothy. • Take off the heat and beat for 7-8 minutes till it gets really thick and shiny.

• Gently fold through the cooled raspberry mixture and lime rind.

• Lightly whip the cream (very soft peaks) and fold through.

• Pour into an icecream container and freeze at least overnight.

Coconut wafers

INGREDIENTS:
1½ cups chipped or shredded coconut
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup plain (standard) flour
4 oz melted butter
2 egg whites

METHOD:
• Mix all together well.
• Line a baking tray with baking paper.
• Put a dessertspoonful (just) of mix on lined tray and spread into a round of about 2½ - 3in. Only do about four biscuits per tray.
• Bake at about 175 - 180 deg C for 7 minutes. You may have to jiggle the time. I turn my paper around for the last 1-2 minutes for even browning.
• Stand for 1-2 minutes on tray to harden then carefully transfer to baking rack to cool.
• When cool transfer to airtight container.
• Only keep for 2-3 days.

BRIGID Sherriff’s name kept popping up when I began to ask around about outstanding home cooks and Christmas fare to feature on the Weekender food page.

“Brigid is an amazing cook and has some fabulous Christmas recipes,” everyone said, so it was with great anticipation that photographer Liam Clayton and I arrived at her gorgeous country home and garden to meet the legend herself.

Fresh from a full-on week’s cooking for the Chelsea Fête last Sunday, Brigid was about to welcome five house guests. Nothing flusters this kitchen whizz.

The first dish she presented was her champagne jelly with summer fruits which is made from an entire bottle of Lindauer and the yummiest of summer fruits — strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries.

It’s a great favourite with her family especially her sister, and a dish she’s been making for years.

On this occasion, she used Lindauer Brut but she sometimes uses Fraise because of the lovely strawberry flavour.

It’s a stunningly beautiful dish to look at with the bright red fruit gleaming in the translucent jelly.

The second dish was a raspberry and lime semifreddo with coconut wafers, colours that match Brigid’s love of pink and green.

“It’s super for a ladies’ lunch on a hot day,” says Brigid.

It wasn’t quite lunchtime or particularly hot but Liam and I made short work “testing” the delicious colourful plate of frosty pink semifreddo and crispy wafers. The flavours, sweet and sharp at the same time, were divine, and the texture of the wafers was superb.

“I also serve this with shortbread,” says Brigid who describes it as a simple dish to make — “a doddle”.

Brigid has loved cooking since she was a young child.

“I wanted to cook from the age of about nine years. It has always, always fascinated me.

“I learned to cook with my mother who was a typical good home cook of her generation.”

In her younger days, she did a stint as cook at the New Zealand High Commissioner’s residence in London and was also chef at the well known Pascal’s restaurant in Wellington.

Brigid loves European and Mediterranean food, especially French cuisine.

“Cooking is about the heart, bringing joy and delight to others,” she says.

“If the table is quiet, then I know my guests are enjoying the food. People don’t say much when they are really loving the food.”

When Brigid is not in the kitchen, she’s riding her two horses and tending to her beautiful garden which has featured in the garden festival on several occasions.

Other inhabitants include William the goat, three inside cats, three outside cats, two dogs and Didier, a cockatiel she rescued from a restaurant in Wellington.

Tilly, the gregarious Australian terrier, wanted to help with the photo shoot . . . and the testing of the food.

Raspberry and lime semifreddo

INGREDIENTS:

800 grams raspberries (approx two cups after straining the berries into puree). Frozen are fine.

½ cup caster sugar

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 cup caster sugar extra

1 tspn grated lime rind

1¾ cups cream

METHOD:

• Put raspberry puree in saucepan with first quantity sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring till sugar dissolved and slightly thickened. Cool.

• Put eggs, yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water and beat with an electric hand mixer for 5 minutes till pale and frothy. • Take off the heat and beat for 7-8 minutes till it gets really thick and shiny.

• Gently fold through the cooled raspberry mixture and lime rind.

• Lightly whip the cream (very soft peaks) and fold through.

• Pour into an icecream container and freeze at least overnight.

Coconut wafers

INGREDIENTS:
1½ cups chipped or shredded coconut
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup plain (standard) flour
4 oz melted butter
2 egg whites

METHOD:
• Mix all together well.
• Line a baking tray with baking paper.
• Put a dessertspoonful (just) of mix on lined tray and spread into a round of about 2½ - 3in. Only do about four biscuits per tray.
• Bake at about 175 - 180 deg C for 7 minutes. You may have to jiggle the time. I turn my paper around for the last 1-2 minutes for even browning.
• Stand for 1-2 minutes on tray to harden then carefully transfer to baking rack to cool.
• When cool transfer to airtight container.
• Only keep for 2-3 days.

Champagne jelly with summer fruits

INGREDIENTS:

1 750ml bottle champagne

2 cups sugar

3 tbsp gelatin

½ cup hot water

2 cups cherries, stemmed

1 punnet each of raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.

METHOD:

• Pour champagne into a pot, add sugar, bring to boil to dissolve sugar.

• Add 2 cups cherries, stemmed, bring to simmer, covered over low heat so as not to split cherries.

• Soften 3 tbsp gelatin in ½ cup hot water, add to cherry mixture and gently stir.

• Let cool then add 1 punnet each of raspberries, strawberries (hulled and halved) and 1 punnet of blueberries.

• Pour into lightly oiled mould. Chill overnight, covered.

• Lasts in refrigerator for at least 3-4 days.

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