Let’s feast! Chef-approved festive fare

Let’s feast! Chef-approved festive fare

Christmas is just around the corner and it’s the time of year to start thinking about and planning your festive fare for the big day.

If you’re struggling with fresh ideas this year, don’t worry – GemLife Chef Matt Conquest has got you covered.

Matt has put together a mouth-watering yet simple Christmas menu that’s sure to get your tastebuds, and those of your guests, tingling!

Starting with a fresh, zesty prawn, mango and lime salad, followed by roast duck perfection, and finished with sublime chocolate and orange tarts, enjoy Matt’s chef-approved Aussie Christmas spread!

Double Roasted Whole Duck

Double Roasted Whole Duck

Duck is a fantastic option for a roast with a difference. For the perfect crispy skinned roasted duck, Chef Matt’s recipe is hard to beat!

With wonderful gamey flavours, the duck goes well with a range of your favourite side dishes. It pairs well with a sweet side note to complement the flavour of the duck itself, but works well with any combination of taste and style.

The finished dish can be served with a side of roast vegetables, atop a sweet potato puree with steamed greens, or shredded through an Asian noodle salad. You can also shred it and add some herbs and sauces to make a spring roll or crepe filling or mix it through some cooked vegetables and make a rolled pie.

You can do the first steps of the first bake ahead of time (a day or two), leaving the final bake to serve on the day.

Serves 2 or 4
(depending on how hungry you are!)


  • 1 whole duck (about 2kg – Pepe’s or Luv-a-duck are good options
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 1 orange cut into quarters

Matt’s favourite accompaniments

Enjoy trying new and different things in the kitchen. You never know what wonderful flavours you may find and enjoy. Any of these, and you are on the right track.

  • Roasted vegetables, pumpkin and sweet potato, steamed greens
  • Gingered sweet potato puree and bok choi
  • Sauteed red cabbage and green beans
  • Red currant and mustard sauce or orange scented jus
  • Asian salad of shredded carrot, daikon, bean shoots, soba noodle, mixed herbs and soy citrus dressing


  1. Pre-heat oven to ‘supercook’ on your Smeg oven at 160°C.
  2. Remove duck from its packaging and pat dry. Prick skin with a fork.
  3. Cut the neck off if it is still attached. You can dry in a fridge for a couple of hours, but it is not necessary.
  4. Insert orange quarters into the chest cavity (use the leg side not the neck end for ease of use).
  5. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Place baking rack in the tray.
  6. Lay the duck on the tray and pour half soy sauce over the duck to coat and the remaining sauce in the cavity (where the oranges are hanging out).
  7. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the tray and put it in the oven and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes or until tender.
  8. Once the duck is cooked remove from the oven and cool on the bench.
  9. Once it is cool enough to handle, cut the duck in half, top to bottom.
  10. Remove all bones possible. Leave in the leg bones and wing bones.
  11. You can cut the halves in half to create 4 pieces.
  12. You can chill the duck down now and set it for cooking at a later stage.
  13. To serve, heat the oven to 220°C.
  14. Put duck pieces on lined oven tray skin side up.
  15. Roast the duck until the skin is golden and crisp (about 20 minutes).
  16. Serve the duck with your favourite side dishes and sauce.
Grilled King Prawn, Fresh Mango and Lime Salad

Grilled King Prawn, Fresh Mango and Lime Salad

A super quick, light Christmas starter or salad option for the table is this grilled prawn and mango salad. You can serve it to each guest as an entrée or set it in the centre of the table for guests to help themselves. You can serve the salad in a lettuce cup like a san choy bow style dish, it is super versatile.


  1. Combine the dressing ingredients and let the flavours incorporate. Season as desired.
  2. Place ingredients for mango salad in medium bowl; toss gently to combine (do not dress the salad yet).
  3. You can skewer the prawns if you wish or leave them as they are.
  4. Mix the spices and oil and season. Add prawns and toss them through the marinade.
  5. Cook prawns, in batches, on heated oiled grill plate (or grill or barbecue) until browned lightly.
  6. Dress the salad and plate up with the salad placing the prawns on top. You can grill a couple of cheeks of lemon or lime to serve.



For the prawns

  • 1kg large king prawns, peeled and de-veined. Leave tail on.
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • Zest of the lime from the dressing
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the salad

  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion (100g), sliced thinly
  • 1 fresh long red chilli, seeded, sliced thinly
  • 120gm bean sprouts
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander

For the dressing

  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp grated palm sugar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
Decadent Chocolate and Orange Tarts

Decadent Chocolate and Orange Tarts

These beautiful chocolate and orange tarts are set to be a winner. They can be made days aheadand stored until needed. Serve them warm on a base of caramel or raspberry coulis together with vanilla ice-cream, fresh summer berries and chocolate shards.

Serves 8

To make

Chocolate pastry

  1. Cream butter and sugar together
  2. Sift flour and cocoa together
  3. Mix in eggs and combine with the flour
  4. Form pastry, do not over work
  5. Let it rest for one hour

Tart filling

  1. Melt chocolate in double boiler
  2. Bring cream and milk mix to the boil
  3. Combine chocolate and cream. Add the orange zest and juice.
  4. Once filling has cooled slightly, fold in the eggs, not whisked, so no air bubbles are


Chocolate pastry

  • 250g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 2 small eggs
  • 500g plain flour
  • 50g good cocoa powder

Tart filling

  • 400g Callebaut chocolate or other high-quality chocolate
  • 250ml cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 orange (zest and juice)


  1. Roll out pastry between two sheets of grease-proof paper. Cut out the pastry big enough to
    line your baking mould/tray (8 x 10cm round with pop-out bases)
  2. Line tart shells with pastry and bake in oven at 180°C for 15 minutes
  3. Fill tart shells with filling and put in oven at 120°C and cook slowly until set, 35-40 mins.
  4. Allow them to cool on the bench and chill in the fridge until needed.
  5. To serve, allow to come to room temperature during your meal.
  6. Turn the oven to 150°C. Warm in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  7. To serve, put your choice of sauce (chocolate ganache, berry coulis, or caramel) on the plate. Place the warmed chocolate tart on the centre of the sauce. Place a ball of vanilla ice-cream on the tart and top it with a big chocolate shard and serve immediately.

Bon appétit and happy Christmas!

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