A Christmas Dinner Party

After selling 150 Christmas trees for the Scouts I came home to get ready for a dinner party.  I do like to host at least one dinner party every Christmas.

A Christmas table

A Christmas table

We had three couples coming for dinner, my friend Jen and her husband who do a lot of entertaining, Mr Competitive and his wife, and you might remember my friends Rich and Deb who married a few months ago.  All people who are lots of fun as well as a little challenging as amongst the mix there are two seafood allergies, one coeliac and one gluten-free.

The heirloom tomato salad minus the basil and before I added the haloumi

The heirloom tomato salad minus the basil and before I added the haloumi

After setting the table with bon bons and Christmas napkins and lots of candles, we started the meal with a glass of celebratory champagne and a platter of vegetarian antipasto.  That suited everyone.

Charred haloumi

Charred haloumi

For the main course I brined two turkey breasts that then had a herb and garlic butter rubbed under the skin and were then wrapped in prosciutto and roasted for an hour.  I had a situ buying the breasts as had phoned the butcher to ask if he had any and he confirmed he did so I beetled over to his shop only to be told there had been a mistake and all the turkey breasts had to be set aside for orders.  ‘Never fear’, he said, and then cut me up an entire turkey giving me the breasts and everything else so I also roasted the legs and thighs.  It was just as well as non-seafood eaters, the gluten-free and the coeliacs turn out to be very big eaters and there was nothing leftover.

The turkey before going into the oven

The turkey before going into the oven

When the turkey came out of the oven, the crispy prosciutto was supposed to be drizzled with a little maple syrup and then covered with foil to rest.  I totally forgot about the maple syrup and everyone else was blissfully unaware.  I served the turkey with my homemade cranberry sauce and I might have mentioned more than once that the cranberry sauce was homemade.

Too much champagne - this is the only shot of the turkey!

Too much champagne – this is the only shot of the turkey!

We also had duck-fat potatoes that were lovely and crunchy and then a salad of baby spinach leaves, grilled haloumi and heirloom tomatoes.  There was a situ with the haloumi.  Drew asked if there was something he could do to help so I said he could pan-fry the haloumi.  That was my first mistake.  I knew we were in trouble when he flooded the pan with the very expensive and extremely good quality olive oil Tanya gave me that is strictly for salad dressings but alas, it was too late.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Then he struggled to get the temperature of the element right and spent so much time fiddling with it he didn’t seem to notice the haloumi charring in front of him.  All moisture was erased from it and it was dry, like chewing on a piece of chalk.  But don’t tell Drew I said that because he likes to think he helps me enormously.  Anyway, I got so worked up over the state of the haloumi that I forgot to add the basil to the salad.

Duck fat potatoes cooked with rosemary and bay leaves

Duck fat potatoes cooked with rosemary and bay leaves

Just before everyone arrived I went around the house lighting candles and turning on the fairy lights and the lights on the tree and thought I had everything sorted.  It was only after everyone had gone home that I realised I’d forgotten to put the Christmasy paper hand towels in the bathroom that I’d bought for the occasion.  They must have dried their hands on their trousers!

Hand towels that weren't used.

Hand towels that weren’t used.

For dessert I made individual lime tarts topped with a slice of mango and meringue that you then blow torch.  Love getting my hands on a blow torch – interesting how everyone immediately takes a step back!  I used GF flour for the pastry and once the tart shells were cooked I found them to be very powdery and was wondering if they were going to come out of the tins okay but Praise the Lord, they were all fine and I was greatly relieved.

A terrible shot of the dessert

A terrible shot of the dessert

The filling was basically eggs, lime juice and cream and for the dairy-free bloke I switched it to coconut cream and it worked very well and the lime, coconut and mango flavours were perfect for a summer’s evening.  A finishing touch was some finely sliced kaffir lime leaves that were sprinkled around the plates.  When Mr Competitive saw the desserts arriving on the table he said, ‘Oh these won’t be gluten-free’ and I was so pleased to be able to tell him that they were and that he didn’t have to miss out.

A Christmas table

A Christmas table

My photos are horrendous as all were taken ‘on the fly’ so I will make the turkey recipe and the tart recipe in the New Year, do a better job with the photos and share the recipes with you – they’re keepers!

Each couple went home with a Christmas cake and yes, they were all gluten-free.

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts

It was a fantastic night shared with wonderful friends and I was so relieved the food was very well received.


  1. In spite of the helpful guest charring the halloumi and the lack of Christmas themed hand towels, it sounds like the food was great and the guests had a good time. I must included duck fat roasted potatoes in my Christmas or New Year’s dinners. Not that I’ve decided what I’m having for either. 🙂

    PS: Still loving the colourful glassware.

  2. This all looks really fab charlie. I like the idea of using coconut cream in the tarts. Yes I always forget to put out half the things I was going to when people come over. And that turkey looks yum.

  3. The turkey looks and sounds delish and the look of the gravy with the goose fat potatoes……yum! Your mention of bonbons made me smile – in the UK they are sweets (lollies) so my first Christmas in Melbourne I was a bit clueless when my brother told me I was in charge of the bonbons 🙂

  4. looks like a great dinner party – I like to hear your little situs because it is the sort of thing I always do and because it doesn’t look like the party was any worse for it (must note that next time I do this sort of thing – not to sweat the little things and there are so many little things to remember when entertaining).

  5. Oh we are having a couple of courses that are similar but I promise that I am not copying, it’s all part of a larger theme for our Christmas dinner!

  6. Merry Christmas! Looks and sounds like a lovely Christmas party. The lime tarts especially look fab. 🙂

  7. Have I told you how much I love you? I’m SO guilty of having big plans and then forgetting one key element. I left the towels on the bench in the laundry room and my friend came back and said, “I put the towels up for you.” Oh well.

    What a great dinner in spite of the mix-up at the butcher. You’re a terrific cook.

  8. I love a good dinner party especially a Christmas one… Our connect group decided to have a Christmas breakup dinner and I cooked… I just love it when everyone loves food, even when you do have challenges, it is great to overcome them and everyone surprised at how good everything tastes! I’m sure the haloumi wasn’t THAT bad! 🙂 can’t wait for the turkey recipe! Liz xx

  9. It all sounds wonderful! I love the blue glasses!

  10. Hi Charlie, I’m not sure how you keep up with it all, seems there is always so much going on. Love reading about your adventures though. Sounds like your dinner was a big hit and the cakes were such a thoughtful touch.

  11. I suspect you don’t ever hand the blow torch over to Drew. (I still want to call him Karl.)

    What fun it would be to dine at your table.

  12. Food, table and cakes all look amazing!! You did a great job and I’m sure the party was s a grand hit. Lucky guests!! Hope you’re feeling better! xx


  13. What a lovely meal, Charlie. Just lovely. All of the food looks great (even if you aren’t happy with the turkey photo!), but it is the salad with haloumi that makes me drool. I know it sounds silly, but when I lived in both London and the Middle East, I could easily get haloumi and ate so much of it. Here in Mexico, it hasn’t appeared–yet. One day, I hope.

  14. Merry Christmas Charlie! Glad you had an awesome dinner party, there is something so satisfying about being a great host! 😀
    I bet everyone enjoyed themselves that night!

    Choc Chip Uru

  15. Wow that looks fantastic. You certainly prove to be a fabulous host every time, but it just goes to show, if you want something done properly, you need to do it yourself. Even if you turn yourself inside out.

  16. What a wonderful holiday party! I enjoy seeing you celebrate the holiday in summer as there is no snow where I live either! I also love your realness in moving along despite little oops that honestly no one would really notice. It’s so much more about having a great time and it certainly looks like you pulled it off fabulously!

  17. Mmmmmmmmmm, duck fat baby potatoes!

  18. Your dinner looked amazing and I’m sure no one was the wiser about your missing items. I am quite famous for doing the same thing. Every dinner gathering everyone leaves and I find at least one item in the fridge or on the counter that I forgot to serve. Now I’ve started writing a list and checking it off right before serving.

    Love the colorful candle holders on the table and your cakes look beautiful all wrapped up and add to the decor. 🙂

  19. Charlie, even your situations turn into successes! Everything looks glorious! And how luck your friends are to go home with one of your delicious cakes! 🙂 xxx

  20. G’day Merry Christmas Charlie! Your friends are truly blessed to have you as a friend and your cakes are great!
    Cheers! Joanne

  21. How fabulous – I would love to be your friend and be served such a glorious meal – and a take home cake too…good news is that you will have the special paper towels still available for Christmas Day! x

  22. You put on quite the dinner party! I love your table setting and am in love with the turkey wrapped with prosciutto! Delicious! It’s no doubt there wasn’t any left! 🙂

  23. Dear Charlie,

    That turkey and prosciutto!! Heirloom tomatoes go so well with basil and haloumi doesn’t it? Have a great Christmas!

  24. Oh, my gosh, what a feast! Everything looks outstanding (I’m going to have to buy some turkey breasts very soon!). You’re the hostess with the mostess!!! xx

  25. You had a good night with friends – that’s better than any photo – Charlie – your table looked beautiful and they won’t have appreciated the Christmasy hand towels – just keep forgetting to put them out and they will last forever:)

  26. Elegant.
    I do not have enough adjectives for this wonderful Christmas dinner party, Charlie!! xx

  27. What an impressive party Charlie – all of the food sounds lovely even if there were a number of “situs” and photography was understandably forgotten at times! I hope you had a nice evening and am also glad you are ok after the recent horrible hostage situation xo

  28. What a wonderful friend you are Charlie. It’s always tricky accommodating all different diets.

  29. It looks like a smashing success Charlie, and I’d say you’re still on top of the competitive ladder! Every dinner party has a bit of hidden mishap going on, the trick is not to let any of the guests find out 🙂 xox

  30. Sounds like a fun party! And I’ve given up trying to take photos when I entertain — both the photos and the guests suffer. So I just concentrate on the guests — makes for a much more fun evening!

  31. the hand towels are much too pretty to have used anyway. 🙂 A lovely spread Charlie! I’ve got to remember those duck fat potatoes. Those sound awesome!
    I hope you and your family continue to have an absolutely wonderful holiday season!

  32. What a thoughtful hostess you are – it can be tricky making sure that everyone’s dietary requirements are met. I love the sound of the turkey – that’s a tasty way to prepare a bird that can lack flavour.

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