Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy so here are some tips for ditching the stress and ensuring that cooks and hosts can be merry too!
Christmas! For many cooks, it’s the biggest day of the year. My menu includes traditional turkey, ham and prawns (traditional in Australia, mates!) but they’re given a tasty, fresh spin. I’ve also included lots of make-ahead dishes so that the big day is smooth and simple. Enjoy the luxe touches and the bright, sunny flavours.
Jingle Bells and then some
You need Christmas music to really know it’s Christmas so here’s a playlist to fill your house with seasonal joy. We always start Christmas morning with James Brown so he’s definitely here, along with plenty of pop stars who’ve released the obligatory Christmas album. Hope Yule love these tunes as much as we do.
A Joyous Christmas is all about being organised so that you can go with the flow and let the day unfold in glorious, gluttonous flow. Have as much cooking as possible done beforehand so you’re not in a flurry on the day. If that means asking people to bring something then do it – they’ll most likely be delighted to contribute. We tend to have dishes on a bench or in the centre of the table for people to help themselves: I love the look of a laden table and I love the performative hubbub of carving the ham and passing the potatoes.
Make sure there’s plenty of ice. Have extra glassware on hand. Keep your guests hydrated – Christmas can turn a little ‘tired and emotional’ especially if people are drinking more than they’re used to or if the day is warm.
I think Christmas is a day to say ‘yes’ as much as possible. If visiting kids need to unwrap their presents NOW then that’s probably fine. When Uncle Ken decides to have a nap before dessert then you’ll work with that. And, of course, you can say ‘yes’ too. If you someone asks if they can help with the dishes and the clear-up, definitely let them!
I love starting my Christmas with a glass of sparkling Rosé – the touch of pink is so festive. The delicate seafood and rich avocado at the beginning of the meal is nice paired with a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, then I’d move to Rosé or Pinot Noir for the turkey and ham. Many people like a nip of whisky to finish their Christmas feast but why not mix it up a little and serve a dry Spanish sherry, served chilled if you’re doing a hot, summery Christmas.
So many ideas! I definitely think Frosé is a great addition to Christmas day. It’s festively pink and the flavours are enlivening! Albert Adria’s Lettuce sauce and Oysters are an easy seafood starter. It’s always good to have a classy dip on hand: Anthony Femia’s Cervelle de Canut is best made the day before: bonus! My Beetroot Salad is bursting with colour and it’s extremely easy to throw together. If you’re wondering about beef as part of your spread, have a look at this easy and elegant Boeuf a la Ficelle: you can probably leave out the vegetables if it’s part of a larger menu.