I hosted a dinner party on Christmas Eve with those members of my family who were able to be there. There were 14 of us in all, 15 if you count five-week old Freddie who had flown in from the US. The days leading up to Christmas were sweltering to the point where I was trying to buzz about finishing off everything on my list but the heat had me wandering around in sweaty daze.
All too soon Christmas Eve was upon us and I will admit that in hindsight, I should have started preparing much earlier but I’ll remember that for next year. (But I say that every year and every year turns out to be no less chaotic than the year before).
The Eve of Christmas was cool; there was even rain. However, not so cool that we couldn’t sit out on the verandah framed by my multi-coloured icicle lights. As Carl was still at work, Alfie helped me join two tables together and yes, I ironed the tablecloths.
I decorated the tables with a silver theme and all you DIYers out there might like to know I made my own place cards and pinned a little sparkly decoration onto the corner of each one. My father liked them so much he asked if he could borrow them for Christmas Day.
I bought a whole leg of ham as I prefer its presentation in complete form rather than a sawn-off half however I asked for the smallest one they had which came in at just under 9ks (20lbs). Carl arrived in time to be of some use so he took the rind off but left it on the shank end and scored the fat, not quite through to the meat, in a diamond pattern and then it was studded with cloves. I made an Asian-inspired glaze with honey, soy, Chinese wine, brown sugar, garlic and 5-spice powder.
Into the oven it went where it came out a little charred but it was fine. Totally fine and not at all dry – a good layer of fat protects it well. We served it with the spiced cherry chutney I made a few weeks ago.
Man cannot live by ham alone and so I made crispy potatoes roasted in duck fat and sprinkled with the rosemary salt that was a gift from Claire in the Secret Santa she organised. Whoops! Photo of crispy potatoes cooked in duck fat is MIA – it must be Christmas Eve. I made a salad of bitter leaves and watercress sprinkled with Persian fetta, pistachios and pomegranate seeds with a dressing made with pomegranate molasses. It was the first time I’d made this salad and I loved it so much I’ll definitely be making it again.
In preparing myself for a heatwave there was no steamed pudding for dessert but rather a frozen white chocolate bombe with a raspberry coulis. Delicious even though there was no heatwave to be concerned with. This dessert is one my mother has been making for many, many years and there would be an outrage if we didn’t have it every Christmas. I’ll share the recipe with you in a future post because even if you’re in the chilly Northern Hemisphere, I’m sure it’s never too cold to enjoy a creamy ice cream, especially one with white chocolate, glace fruits, nuts and rum.
Everyone had left by 11pm and so then it was time for us to put Alfie to bed, (so excited as he was), and clean up. When all was quiet I started wrapping the presents and Carl came into the room with an enormous box. Yes, it was flat-pack furniture that needed to be assembled. We were giving Alfie a desk for Christmas! ‘Worse than a meccano set’, said Carl as he emptied the hundreds of bits and pieces onto the carpet. Out came the electric drill with a Phillips head screwdriver bit and while I wrapped he tooled. The project was finished at 1.30am.
We staggered into bed with those words from a very famous book ringing through our ears, ‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night’.
Do let me know how you celebrated Christmas Eve. If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!