I’ve been wondering how you all celebrated Christmas and hope you had the best of days and thought I would give you a glimpse into how my family and I spent Christmas. After much debate and at least 60 emails it was decided Christmas would, as usual, be at my parents’ house which is actually within walking distance from where I live (if you’re fit, are able-bodied and have plenty of spare time!) We all had tasks assigned and I was given the job of bringing the turkey.
We planned an outdoor event (as usual) on the terrace under the pergola covered in wisteria however, after a week of the most fabulous weather that I was too busy to notice, we woke on Christmas Day to stormy dark skies and rain, rain and more rain. It just didn’t stop. And interrupting my seasonal carols playing on the amplifier was the constant and loud clapping of thunder – very unusual weather for Christmas.
Our plans for our outdoor event had to be aborted and there was a flurry of activity as outdoor tables were collapsed and seating plans rearranged and sofas moved to make room for extra tables and new seating plans organised. But the event went very well and as grey and cold as the day was, we all agreed that it was actually quite nice to be dining indoors at Christmas for once.
There were 18 of us ranging in ages from two to too-old-to-mention but one menu for all ages. We started with champagne (but not for the two-year olds) and a range of hors d’oeuvres that included smoked salmon and asparagus and a Jamie Oliver horseradish dip that somehow I didn’t photograph but here is the rest of our Christmas lunch.
My sister, Em, did the table setting and we had a new colour scheme this year set by the bon bons she’d purchased with blue hydrangeas and green of holly being adding to the scheme.
I had ordered a fresh 6.1kg (13.5lbs) free-range turkey that I was lucky to get given I turned up at the butcher’s just as they were slamming the doors. I had assumed they would be open for a full day but they had actually decided to close at 3pm. I rubbed a flavoured butter of ground roasted hazelnuts, garlic and parsley under the skin to flavour the meat and keep it moist during the cooking.
I made two seasonings that included a shallot, celery leaf, walnut and quinoa stuffing for the cavity and a forcemeat stuffing (sausage mince based) for the neck. I placed the bird on a wire rack, dressed it in oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper, then added some water to the base and covered the dish in foil. It was cooked in a moderate oven for three hours.
My other sister brought a free-range ham that was glazed and heated on the BBQ while her husband took care of it while standing under a golf umbrella.
Carbs go well with turkey and so we had some baby new potatoes that had been par-boiled then roasted on a high heat – a very high heat because they could only enter the oven once the turkey came out to rest.
We had a couple of salads including some steamed greens and a salad of spinach, finely sliced Spanish onion, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds.
I would have liked to have made my own cranberry sauce but my recipe requires frozen cranberries and these were just impossible to source. On Christmas Day I saw a recipe on Lorraine’s, Not Quite Nigella for a cranberry sauce made from dried cranberries and I have bookmarked that for next year as dried are so much easier to source (Downunder) than frozen.
I made a gravy from the pan juices, chicken stock and Maggie Beer Verjuice but there’s no photo!
After lunch we had a honey and nougat semifreddo made by my older sister and a steamed plum pudding which normally would be hard to swallow in a Sydney summer but given our cooler than average temperatures, it was no trouble at all. I think by this stage I’d bundied off and forgot to photograph the rest of the day.
As we limped from the table to the sofas there was just one more thing to enjoy and that was a slice of Christmas cake. I had made my parents a gluten-free Christmas cake that was covered in marzipan then royal icing. I left the iced cake plain as some of my mother’s grandchildren like to decorate the cake with her prized (worthless) figurines. One of the six-year olds was responsible for this arrangement that included Santa making footsteps in the snow towards the house that is miniscule in comparison with Santa-the-giant.
I think we arrived home well after dark.
I hope you had a very enjoyable Christmas and I look forward to hearing/reading all about it.