We celebrate Christmas with my side of the family on Christmas Day and that means numbers of 20-plus so I thought we’d have a quiet family Christmas Eve dinner relaxing before the big event.
So that would be five of us. Easy! But then Archie mentioned the poor plight of Cockney-Dave who Archie met while working at the RSL. Cockney-Dave comes from a town close to Blackpool in the UK and he is out here working and traveling and would otherwise be spending Christmas Eve at his digs at the Youth Hostel. And that won’t do so then it was dinner for six.
Then my parents would otherwise be home-alone and that’s a bit sad on Christmas Eve so it was dinner for eight.
But then word of ‘hot ham’ and ‘Christmas Eve dinner’ got to Em, who had flown in with her husband and two boys moments earlier. Quick as a flash she sent me an email asking, ‘What time do we need to be there for the ham?’ And that she had organised a babysitter for her littlest chap so that was another three around the table that was now being extended and so it was dinner for 11.
Then Archie said how lovely it would be if his girlfriend could come and that as she doesn’t drive, we wouldn’t have to transport her home as her mother had booked her a taxi. So it was dinner for 12 and that’s where we capped the numbers.
We rearranged the furniture on the verandah and pulled a foldaway table out from the storeroom and set ourselves up for a dinner party.
I needed some head-space for the kitchen-action so Drew took the little guy out for Mexican because that’s the little guy’s absolute favourite and of course quesadillas go with mocktails so he had one of those as well.
When he came home, Alfie helped me set the stable, light the candles, and turn on the Christmas lights. When it was close to the time everyone was arriving he went and sat on the roof of the garage looking for the guests to roll up in their cars.
We started with an appetiser of porcini mushroom pate that I had made earlier for our night at the carols. I didn’t want too much in the way of an appetiser because there was plenty more food on its way. This pate worked well as being a little something to enjoy with a drink.
The main course was a leg of ham, glazed with soy sauce, garlic, Chinese five-spice powder and char-sui sauce and baked in a hot oven. It was served with the cherry chutney I’d made a few weeks ago.
We had duck fat potatoes that could have done with some extra crispiness but the oven was having a space crisis and so without a serious delay in serving the food, that was as crispy as they were going to get.
I was very happy with the salad. Ice berg lettuce cut into wedges topped with a variety of herbs like chives, dill and parsley, then sprinkled with crispy bacon and toasted pine nuts. There was a creamy dressing made from buttermilk, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. I’ll be making this again.
The dessert was individual fruit mince tarts topped with ice cream then covered in meringue and blow-torched. A sort of a bombe-Alaska. Once the tart shells are made, these are very easy as all you have to do is fill the shells with fruit mince, (I used store-bought), add the ice cream and then the meringue. They looked very pretty when being taken out to the table.
I did have some chocolates and nougat to serve after the meal but forgot entirely to serve them. But I don’t think anyone was looking for them as it was time to loosen belts and regret not wearing stretchy-pants.
Then it was time (way beyond time) for Alfie to go to bed. As I tucked him in he said, ‘Mum, I’m so excited for Christmas. How will I get to sleep?’
But Alfie was out like a light.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with family, friends and loved ones.