We recently hosted 17 adults and 9 babies for a Christmas lunch, the perfect way to road-test a new house (especially the kitchen!). The secret to it running smoothly… good preparation (and a kitchen with plenty of bench space and a big oven!).
My husband and I usually host a Christmas BBQ & drinks every year for all our friends. Having recently moved 1.5 hours drive away from our friends, we decided we would keep it local and invite my amazing mothers group, their partners and babies over for a Christmas lunch.
It was also a dress-rehersal for us – we are hosting Christmas Day lunch this year. We needed to get into the festive spirit, so we ventured to the nursery the day before and bought a potted Christmas tree, and decorated that:
I then focussed my attention to the table, I wanted to creat a beach Christmas theme. I collected weathered branches from the Torquay foreshore, bought Star fish, filled hurricane lamps with sand and candles, and finally found a use for the shells I had collect over the years (this post is for all those people who have asked me over the years “What are you going to do with all the shells you’ve collected?”) …
All my Christmas decoration inspiration can be viewed on my Pinterest Christmas board
We kept the menu very Australian and simple, using the BBQ to cook the meat, and having cold (frozen actually!) plum pudding…
Hollandaise sauce, apple sauce, mustards and chutney
Non-alcoholic punch (with a bottle of vodka sitting next to it, for those that wanted to spice things up a bit).
We did have dessert wine and cheese to serve as well, but no one had the room for it (but it did come in handy later that evening when there were still a few of us still ‘chatting’).
Here are the recipes…
Where there isn’t a link to the recipe above (because it has already been a feature in a previous post) you will find the recipe below:
Baked Eggplant chips
2 eggplants (aubergines) medium – large
Tandaco Southern Fried Chicken seasoning (or any other fish or chicken seasoning/coating)
– Slice eggplants into 1.5 cm slices lengthwise.
– Sprinkle with Salt and let stand for 10-20 mins (or until you can see little drops of liquid sitting on the flesh)
– Rinse off salt and cut into desired lengths (If you cut them too thin they will dry out too much in the oven, try to keep them about 1.5cm think)
– Generously spray a baking tray with oil
– Whilst wet, toss the eggplant chips in the seasoning mix (the skin doesn’t usually coat very well, so don’t worry too much about that)
– Arrange on the tray evenly spaced
– Spray the top of the eggplant pieces with oil
– Cook for 15-20 mins at 180C, turn each piece and continue cooking for another 15+ minutes.
– If they have not browned, turn the oven to 200C and cook until they look ready to eat. If you’re not sure if they are ready… just try one!
– Serve with an aoili. Alternatively light sour cream (for a healthier option) seasoned with cumin and garlic.
3 kg pork scotch roast (with the rind on)
hickory chips (for smoking)
Make sure you’ve soaked your Hickory chips in water for an hour before using them. Cut the rind off the meat. generously coat a 3kg of pork completely in the rub. Place the Hickory chips in a disposable cooking tray, or another small container that won’t melt of burn. Light the chips so that they start smoking, then place the bowl in the BBQ. Cook on the BBQ set up as an oven – it will require some moving around of BBQ plates etc (best to check your instruction book to know what to do) with the meat resting directly on a BBQ rack with a drip try beneath it to catch the meat juices. Slow cook with the lid closed, for 3.5 hours at 110C. take the meat off the BBQ and let it rest for 10- 15 minutes before carving.
3kg porterhouse roast
Hickory chips (for smoking)
Make sure you’ve soaked your Hickory chips in water for an hour before using them.
generously coat the top of the beef with the seeded mustard.
Place the Hickory chips in a disposable cooking tray, or another small container that won’t melt of burn. Light the chips so that they start smoking, then place the bowl in the BBQ.
Cook on the BBQ (set up as an oven – it will require some moving around of BBQ plates etc (best to check your instruction book to know what to do) with the meat resting directly on a BBQ rack with a drip try beneath it to catch the meat juices. Slow cook for 3.5 hours at 110C. take the meat off the BBQ and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper.
Mix all the ingredients at high-speed in a blender.
Melt but do not brown 1/2 cup of butter, and blend into the above ingredients at high-speed. Serve immediately or stand container in warm water until required (placing cling wrap so it rests on the liquid to stop a film forming on the surface). You can freeze this sauce and reconstitute it over warm water.
Spinach salad with roasted baby tomatoes, houlumi, crispy prosciutto and a basil and lime vinaigrette
Baby spinach leaves
Shaved prosciutto slices
(all the quantities will depend on how many people you are catering for)
Pre heat over to 180C.
Cut all the stems off each of the spinach leaves (you don’t have to do this, but it makes it easier for your guests to eat!), wash and place in the serving bowl.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut each of the tomatoes in half and place on the tray with the cut part facing up. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over each of the tomatoes. Also sprinkle with ground garlic, sea salt and cracked pepper.
Lay the prosciutto slices out individually on baking paper on a tray. Place in the oven and dry out until very crispy. remove from the oven, when cool break up into small bite size pieces.
At the same time bake the tomatoes in the oven until they are starting to brown, and shrivel slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray.
Cut the houlumi in half width-wise to make the square thinner. Pan fry with some olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Whilst still warm cut into small cubes. Ideally it is best to serve the salad while the houlumi is still warm, but I let it cool and served it later.
Sprinkle the tomatoes, prosciutto and houlumi over the top of the spinach leaves, pour the dressing over the top, and toss the salad before serving.
Snap the base off the end of each asparagus spear (I recently learned this trick from mum – I love tat she’s still teaching me things! By snapping and not cutting you don’t get any tough bits, that should all break off).
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bring to the boil, then let simmer to reduce it down and make it thicker. You want it to be thick enough to stick to the asparagus when you pour it over.
Using a non-stick frypan on medium heat (no oil), tip the pine nuts in and continue to stir until golden brown. Remove from the pan the minute they are done, otherwise they will continue to brown in the hot pan.
Bring water to the boil, and cook the asparagus so there is still some crunch when you bite it – best to keep testing (could be anywhere from 5 mins depending on how thick the spears are).
Arrange the asparagus on a serving plate, pour the balsamic reduction over the top, then sprinkle with pine nuts. You can serve this hot or cold.
– Wash the potatoes and boil until cooked through.
– Allow them to cool slightly to make handling a little easier (you don’t want to burn your fingers!)
– Heat your oven to 180C
– Place the potatoes on a large baking tray coated generously with olive oil.
– With a knife cut a cross into each potato (each line of the cross stretching from one side to the other of the potato), cutting almost all the way through to the tray.
– Take your potato masher, press down hard on each potato, with the aim to squash and open it up.
– If the potato ends up really flat, mess it up a bit so that there is some potato flesh and skin exposed to go crispy when you bake them again.
– Drizzle each potato with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and chopped rosemary.
– Place in the oven and bake until golden brown and with crispy bits. If they are not browning turn the oven up to 200C (but keep an eye on them!)
– Remove from the oven and serve (Yummo!)
6 egg whites
440 g (15 oz) caster sugar,
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tsp white vinegar
250ml whipping cream (full fat)
Silver cake decorating balls
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a tray with baking paper.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add caster sugar, one third at a time, allowing each third to be well incorporated so you end up with a thick, glossy meringue. Fold through the vanilla, cornflour, white vinegar.
Spoon into a greased and lined 23cm springform cake tin or spread in a high circle on a sheet of baking paper on a tray. Place int e oven, lower the temp to 120C and bake for 45 minutes. Turn the oven off, leaving the pavlova to cool inside the oven overnight preferably.
Place cool pavlova on a serving tray and cover with whipped cream and you decorating of choice (fresh fruit, silver balls etc).
So there you have it… a really simple Christmas menu, allowing you to prepare a lot of things beforehand, and not having to do any last minute cooking while your guests are there – the perfect scenario!