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Culinaria on the Festive Table – Start with something sensational

Planning for the festive table is very important – not only because you have your most important guests around, but also because shopping at the last minute is not a good idea – the closer you get to Christmas, the more over-crowded and out of stock the shops are.

This year, we give you recipes for the Festive Table to help you plan and make life easier. We also give you the ideal wine combinations from our Culinaria Collection, a range of wines specifically designed to celebrate the age-old relationship between food and wine.

Let’s begin at the beginning:

Starters are often disregarded and a bowl of chips has to suffice. What an injustice to your festive meal! Starters set the tone for your celebration and can turn an ordinary get-together into an extraordinary and memorable evening.

Try this impressive, but quite easy to prepare starter of Caramelized pears with melted brie and pickled beetroot served on spiced brioche. Then serve it with a glass of the 2012 Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Pinot Noir Chardonnay and you will have impressed each and every guest around the table!

Recipe for Caramelized pears with melted brie and pickled beetroot

Serves 4


2 pears

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp chopped parsley

200g ripe brie



Pre-heat your oven on the grill function.

Peel, core and quarter your pears, then cut each quarter in half again.

Heat a non-stick frying pan to a moderate heat then add the butter and allow to foam.

Gently colour the pears in the foaming butter and cook until tender.

Strain off the excess butter then add the honey.

Caramelize the pears in the honey for 1 minute until the honey forms a glaze.

Add the parsley.

Place the caramelized pears on a slice of toasted brioche and lay slices of brie on top of the pears.

Now place them in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes allowing the cheese to melt over the pears and slightly colour.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately with small salad of fresh watercress and pickled beetroot.


Recipe for spiced brioche (if you do not see yourself baking bread, get a special loaf from your nearest bakery or deli)

Makes 2 bread loaves


600g cake flour

¼tsp star anise powder

1tsp cinnamon powder

2tbsp preserved figs diced fine

60ml warm milk

60g sugar

30 g fresh yeast or 10g instant yeast

Zest of one orange

5 eggs yolks

7 whole eggs

350g soft butter

1 egg for glazing brioche


Pre-heat your oven to 190°C.

Sift the flour, spices and fig together into a bowl of an electric mixer.

In a sauce pan heat the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, allow to cool slightly then add the fresh yeast is using and allow to dissolve.

Add the orange zest and instant yeast (if using) to the flour and spices, start mixing the dry mix with a dough hook attachment to disperse all ingredients evenly.

Add the whole eggs one at a time, followed by the egg yolks and milk mixture. Start speeding up the kneading process and knead for 10-15min until the dough starts to come away from the sides.

Add the butter a little at a time and incorporate. At this point the dough should be smooth, soft and shiny.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled plastic container; allow proving in a warm place for 40 minutes.

Once the dough has risen by three times its original size, knock it back and divide the dough into two lightly oiled bread tins.

Let it prove once again for 30 minutes or until the bread has risen twice the original size.

Mix one tablespoon water with an egg and egg wash the top of the dough before putting the tins in the oven to bake for roughly 20 minutes.

The dough will colour quickly once in the oven, a sheet of foil might be advised if the bread gets to dark before the baking time is finished. Once bakes remove from the oven, take the bread out of the tins and leave to cool on a wire cooling rack.

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