After a busy time in the restaurant, Liv enjoys a break at Christmas, but she does have one or two quick and easy dishes up her sleeve: “My favourite festive recipes come from my very first job in Liverpool – sprouts, manchego cheese, Marcona almonds and honey and caramelised almonds – great stocking fillers and all round table snack pleasers.”
As head chef at Bold Street’s Maray, Liv Alarcon, has a busy December. Here she shares her Christmas tips, including a perfect recipe for sprouts that’ll have everyone coming back for seconds…
For Liv, Christmas is all about family, and spending time with those you love the most.
“On Christmas Eve my dad travels to his friend’s butchery to pick up the turkey or goose – goose is my firm favourite,” she says fondly.
“All the trimmings are always on the table but staples have to be parsnips, roast potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and, of course, bread sauce.
“My mother is a culinary genius, in my house the kitchen is still very much her domain when I’m home for Christmas. I just pick up anything I can to help and any kitchen mishaps that require fixing.
“On Boxing Day we always have glazed ham at my grandparents, I can’t remember a Christmas where we haven’t done this.
“At Christmas we always drink Peter Lehman’s masters black queen sparkling Shiraz. It’s not your average every day wine so we save this for special occasions. After dinner drinks are always Brandy Alexanders.”
How about New Year? “My perfect New Year’s Eve is for our evening service to be very successfully at Maray, and a huge after party with my closest friends, family and partner. My toast to the new year will always be with an Aperol spritz, nothing more, nothing less. 100% party, after working the hours as a head chef in the Christmas and new year period, your party time is always after the new year.
“My new year resolutions have always been job related: To work even harder than last year, and with that happiness will follow.”
Cep tahini: tahini sauce, cep powder, water and salt
Cherry puree: Cherries, fresh or frozen, caster sugar
Par boiled sprouts
To make Cep Tahini, use Tahini that’s already been blitzed with garlic and lemon juice, add the cep powder and water until fully incorporated, taste and adjust seasoning. For the cherry puree, place a suitable sized pan on the stove and allow the pan to get very hot before adding the cherries and slowly – to taste – the sugar. Reduce by half and blitz until smooth. Taste again. If the consistency is too thin, reduce it some more until it has a gel consistency.
Fry off your par-boiled sprouts until they have a slight golden colour. Transfer into a bowl and season with salt. Put two-pound coin sized blobs of cherry gel around the plate and add two large circles of cep tahini in between the cherry circles. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on the plate, pile the sprouts on top keeping them central and add another sprinkle of crushed pistachios over the top.
Who said sprouts were boring?