Hello! I’ve been madly baking and confecting and singing and baking again for the last three weeks and have barely had time to glance at this blog (and I have so many recipes to write up, all of them unphotographed because they were all last-minute panicked pantry specials), but I’m back now, because I have *done* most of the cooking for tomorrow’s Christmas Eve lunch with Andrew’s family and I have definitely done all the work-related baking and all the confectionery and while I haven’t done all the singing yet, I only have two more services to get through, so there’s a very good chance that I will survive. And I’m going to my aunt’s place on Christmas Day and she makes my over-catering look like under-catering, so I pretty much get to call that one a rest day.
(Though of course, tradition states that we are all told not to bring anything for lunch… and then everyone does… so I may have to consider what I am not bringing, so to speak.)
The challenge of cooking for Andrew’s family is that on the one hand, there is my father in law, whose tastes are conventional meat and three veg, and who feels that a meal without meat in it isn’t a meal (or at least, not a celebratory one), and on the other, there are my brother and sister in law who are vegetarian. And Andrew, who is just plain picky and won’t touch meat and three veg. (My mother in law is reasonably adaptable to any of these options, fortunately.) Also, my brother in law, having inherited the Picky Eater Gene so excellently exemplified by my Andrew, doesn’t eat mushrooms or eggplant and I seem to recall he isn’t big on tofu or tomatoes, either.
Also, at Christmas, the family is evenly divided between the Puddin’ Eaters and the Why Would You Ruin A Dessert By Putting Dried Fruit In It brigade. So we tend to have multiple desserts.
Actually, I am totally on board with that part of the proceedings.
(Not that I’m not on board with the rest of the proceedings, because I am all about getting as wide a variety of food onto the table as possible – if we are going to be eating leftovers for days, it’s good if they aren’t all identical, and believe me, when I do a feast, we are going to be eating leftovers for days.)And then, as if that wasn’t sufficient, we have the other, unspoken guest at the table, which is Melbourne’s weather. Because Melbourne is just as capable of doing hail and even snow on Christmas Day as she is of doing 40°C and humid, and you never truly know which way it will go until the last minute. In fact, Melbourne delights in pranking me – we have an agreement about the weather for outdoor events, but on Christmas Day, all it takes is for me to plan a nice, cooling, hot-weather sort of lunch for Melbourne to bring on the freezing rain, whereas a traditional European Christmas lunch is the signal for blistering heat. Of course, we’re sneakily doing Christmas tomorrow instead of Wednesday, so the weather is actually looking pretty mild, but I will certainly be paying for that next time it’s my turn to host Christmas.
With all this taken into account, Christmas around here tends to involve room temperature antipasti, followed by what I think of as The Token Meat, accompanied by a very wide collection of salads, vegetables and a vegetarian main dish of some kind. Most of this is fairly light and healthy, except in quantity, which is a deliberate attempt on my part to try to balance the decadence of dessert. After all, if you’ve eaten a lot of rich food, you won’t even want dessert, and that would be a tragedy. Also, this way you can pretend that it’s totally OK to sample all three desserts on the table, because you just ate all that salad! Everyone wins!
Anyway, I hereby present my menu for tomorrow’s festivities. Which, I realised after doing all the shopping, is so veggie-centric that if I had a last-minute vegan guest, I could feed her three courses (though it would be better to have twelve hours notice, because the vegetarian main is quite veganifiable, but is not, in this incarnation, vegan).
Also, it’s very colourful.
Entree / Starter / Thing That Will Be On The Table When People Arrive
Roast Pepper & Rosemary Spread
Sage and Walnut Pâté
Zucchini rolls with ricotta, basil and passionfruit
(All of these come from the excellent Green Kitchen cookbook, incidentally)
Roasted potatoes & carrots
Pumpkin roasted with ginger, star anise, chilli, chickpeas and cherry tomatoes
Stuffed Silverbeet leaves with bulgur, cashews, zucchini, pecans, cheese, and lots of other goodies (recipe coming soon!)
Roast pepper antipasto salad
Green salad with apricots and blueberries
Slow-roasted tomato panzanella
Corn, mango, coconut and black bean salad
Green salad with herbs, because someone out there probably likes normal salads
Summer pudding which is almost certainly going to be a disaster because it turns out there are very good reasons to use cheap bread for the crust
Seriously decadent multilayered chocolate biscuits from the Savour class I did yesterday
Miniature Christmas puddings
Fresh peaches and strawberries
I am also fighting a desperate urge to make mince pies because even though I know perfectly well that this is too much food there have to be mince pies, but I am trying to resist…
So, what are you making for Christmas Dinner?
~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Last Minute Fruit Mince (see, I really am supposed to make mince pies now!) Two years ago: Raw Vegan Mini Christmas Puddings