Christmas Dinner. It means something different to all of us.
Sometimes it even means Xmas breakfast at ours. Then we all go and do our own thing.
This year we’re taking the family away from sweltering Brisbane and off to Hobart to visit my brother and his family.
It’ll be much the same as here but cooler. And better cheese. But still my Mum’s best ever potato salad (no, you can’t have the recipe).
So we thought to leave you all with these ideas for your own Xmas table before we go.
Crispy Roast Spuds – Desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces. Boil the spuds in salty water until 3/4’s cooked. Add some star anise to the water to add flavour. Drain, toss in fat, sea salt and chopped rosemary. Duck fat, pork fat, beef fat. Whatever. Clarified butter is good too.Spread on a tray lined with parchment and bake on 220*c until golden. 200*c for fan forced. Give them plenty of space.
I do 2-3 batches if necessary, rather than crowding them. Turn them occasionally. Season whilst they’re still hot.
Cauliflower Salad – Roasting the cauliflower adds a delicious nutty edge you won’t get from blanching. 1 small – medium cauli, 1 pomegranate, 2 tablespoons pistachio dukkah, 1 loose cup coriander leaves, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil. S&PHeat your oven to 180*c. Cut the cauliflower in to thumb size pieces. Toss in half the olive oil and sea salt. Roast on parchment for 5 minutes. It will burn quickly though, so put that timer on. Chill. Scatter all of the ingredients over a serving plate and drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil.
Pistachio Dukkah – equal quantities pistachio kernels, sesame seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Roast in the oven on 140*c for 15 minutes or until aromatic and toasty. Smash the spices whilst still hot. Wait till the nuts have cooled then smash them up. Mix together with a little sea salt.
Panzanella Salad – Ours has a couple of not so traditional optional extras. Buy the tomatoes a couple of days ahead and ripen on the window sill. This recipe is from this article
Mac’n’chorizo – An easy way to fancy up a mac’n’cheese. Peel the skin from a semi-cured chorizo. Chop into chunks and then pulse in a food processor until crumbly. Saute in a medium pan until deep red and a little crispy. Add this to the cheese sauce for a fab mac’n’cheese.
Charred Asparagus – Use a hot, clean bbq or griddle pan. If you have lovely young asparagus, no preparation needed. Just toss with some oil and sea salt and cook quickly. Larger, woodier asparagus will require trimming and peeling. Cook a little slower for a little longer. To serve – persian feta, toasted and crushed pepitas, avocado oil and a squeeze of lemon.Roasted Baby Onions – Onions are always best roasted in their skins. Cut baby onions or banana shallots down the middle from top to bottom. Toss with a little balsamic, olive oil, chopped thyme and sea salt. Place skin side up on on a baking tray lined with parchment. About 20-25 minutes on 160*c.
Cherries to serve with ham, turkey or chicken – Cherries, good balsamic. Recipe.Stone Fruit Salad – Make the dressing the night before if possible. 4 parts lime juice, 1 part light palm sugar, sliced red onion, a couple of anise stars (remove before serving). De-seed and slice nectarines, peaches and mangoes. Arrange on a plate with torn Viet mint and dress lightly. As with the tomatoes, buying ahead of time gives you a chance to get them properly ripe, and therefore tastier.Nigella and Miso Butter – Sounds odd? Isn’t. Miso adds a delicious nutty, meaty character owing to its umami taste. Whip the butter in a mixer until pale and fluffy. Add miso and finish with nigella seeds for a bit of crunch. 5 parts butter to one part white miso paste. Spread on a roll and munch. Substitute nigella for toasted sesame if you like.Roasted Cashews – 250g raw cashews, 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 cloves garlic – finely sliced, sea salt. Heat your oven to 150*c. Toss all ingredients well and spread thinly on parchment. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool the nuts on some kitchen towel. Serve. Avoid refrigerating them. Any nuts could be done this way. I always associate Xmas with cashews. By the handful. Green Xmas Salad – Cos lettuce, rocket, shaved fennel, pear, shaved radishes, parmesan, craisins. Crisp is the theme here. Dress with a little mayo or a light vinaigrette. The radishes add a crunchy,peppery touch while the dried cranberries say ‘merry Xmas!’
Kale Crisps – wash and dry kale. The rough, curly one. Not the cavalo nero. Pre-heat the oven to 160*c. Strip the leaves off the storks and tear into palm size pieces. Toss with light olive oil and sea salt. Bake for about 20 mins. When the edges start to go brown it’s time to come out and cool down. Season whilst still hot. They will crisp up a little more after the oven.Watermelon, raspberry and mint juice – Place some chopped watermelon, fresh raspberries and torn mint leaves in an upright blender. Blitz till watery. Serve over ice or with a little soda water.
Cham-Gria – White sangria made with champagne. Add a splash of orange juice, a crushed mint leaf, 2 chopped cherries and a little cherry juice to you champagne glass. Top up with your favourite sparkles. Rimming the glass with lemon or vanilla sugar works wonders too. Or hell, just make a whole jug of the stuff. Nobody’s watching…
Is that twelve yet?
Leftovers – Try and get you and your family on board with this Food Safety Article. You can’t leave the ham and prawns out ALL day, okay?! Nobody wants to spend the day with their head in the toilet.
What Kids Can Do
Kids are on holidays so they can help with prep the day before ie peeling potatoes, pipping cherries, washing lettuce and kale, picking herbs, making salad dressings. Then they can enjoy Xmas morning with presents. Xmas is a great opportunity for lots of colour on your table from your wonderful dishes and kids can also help present this.
Whatever you do though, avoid Xmas day burn out. Taking on too much in the kitchen can really ruin your day, despite best intentions. Keep it simple, let people help and enjoy your day. If buying a pav off the shelf means you get to spend an another hour relaxing with the fam, then please allow yourself. Stuff what the in-laws say.
And when you do finally sit down for your well prepared meal, raise a glass to all those less fortunate than yourselves today. They are many.
Then put on your favourite Xmas song. Mine’s that one by Paul Kelly , you know, the one about the gravy.
“Just add flour, salt, a little red wine,
And don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce
For sweetness and that extra tang”
Here’s how we make our gravy.
A safe, well fed and very merry Xmas to you and yours.