My Christmas Menu – Dani Valent

As 2021 winds down, ramps up, dwindles and roars to a close, I am finding myself looking forward to Christmas Day. I actually wondered if I would ever get to this point because time has not been normal this year – or last year either, for that matter! It’s lurched and dragged and zoomed and behaved altogether erratically. The very fact that Christmas is fast approaching doesn’t seem quite logical or believable. And yet – the calendar keeps asserting that December 25 is creeping ever closer. Like any grumpy grinch, I will eventually put a bit of tinsel in my hair and a bit of ham in my mouth and get into the spirit of the day.

My Christmas table is usually laden with family classics and a new dish or two. We do ham and turkey – at least as much for the leftovers as the big day! I love a bit of seafood to nod to the Australian summer. And there is always ALWAYS a pavlova!

I hope you love these Christmas suggestions and choose some for your celebration table.

  • See below for tips on looking after your ham.
  • See below for chef Daniel Wilson’s top 3 tips for staying calm over Christmas!
  • Want more inspiration for your Christmas Day celebrations? I have more food ideas here.
  • I have loads of Christmas entertaining ideas here, including a music playlist!
  • Gift crisis? Here are some edible gifts you can make!


Christmas Cocktails

Ah, frosé! It’s pink, it’s slushy, it’s wine and it’s fruit. It’s frozen rosé, aka fro-zay baby! This is the drink of the summer and it’s so easy to make in your Thermomix or even a sturdy blender. (And if you’re watching this in a chilly hemisphere, it’s the drink to make you look forward to next summer!)
This elegant and party-friendly spin on a classic martini begins with a colourful, tasty rhubarb syrup that’s spiked with saffron. Then we add our pink potion to gin and vermouth and turn it into a chilled, stirred martini. It’s such a nice drink!

Christmas Starters

I love a cool soup on a summertime Christmas table, and I especially love the luxurious combination of avocado, citrus and crab. Add the crunch of celery and cucumber and you’ve got an entree that’s surprising and very pretty. I’ve suggested great variations, including for vegetarians.
This summery recipe comes from the lovely Emma Warren, author of the Catalan Kitchen, a book that celebrates the food of Spain where Emma has spent many years. This recipe is a great example of the Spanish passion for combining fruit with cured meats.
A fresh and fruity take on the traditional chilled tomato soup, this cool strawberry, cucumber and capsicum soup is served with a tomato, goat’s cheese and basil salad.
Great for picnics and light meals, it’s hard to decide whether the pastry or the filling is the star of this savoury tart. Sour cream pastry has just the right balance of crumble and crisp, and the filling is fresh and lush at the same time.
This BBQ Prawn Kofte Salad from Shane Delia includes funky bastourma (air-dried beef) and purslane but you can just as easily use prosciutto and baby spinach – I love the flexibility of this Middle Eastern salad!
If you have my book In the Mix 2: More Great Thermomix Recipes, also have a look at this stunning Cured Salmon and Snapper Terrine. Cold seafood is an Australian Christmas classic and this dish adds a bit of Euro luxury.
Prawns and (Aussie) Christmas go together like kisses and mistletoe. This salad is a celebratory tumble of colours and textures with bright pops of flavour from the pickles, horseradish and caviar. Want another way with prawns?
For Christmas, I make mini versions and bake them in the shape of a Christmas tree – very easy and festive! Also, no-one needs to fill up on bread at Christmas!

Christmas Main Course

Here’s a delicious recipe for Spicy Peach and Mango Jam Glazed Ham. Make extra chutney to give away as gifts and to last you all through the year.

There’s a Vietnamese angle to this peanut-loving recipe so add a handful of Vietnamese mint if you want to theme it even more. This salad goes brilliantly with grilled chicken. I love putting chicken ribs on the BBQ and serving them with this salad!

Great served warm or cold, this is a simple vegetable dish that can easily be made with broccoli, broccolini, peas or snow peas, either instead or in combination. Ricotta salata is a salted ricotta – there are easy substitutes if you can’t find it.
You will not believe how great this dish is! It’s quick, easy, impressive and feeds the whole gang. It’s fast enough for a weeknight and impressive enough for the fanciest dinner party. We augment sublime steamed fish with layered flavours and textures, building up excitement and a sense of occasion.
A turkey buffe (often called ‘buffet’ in poultry shops) is turkey on the bone with the drumsticks removed. It’s much easier to cook evenly than a whole bird. The turkey is first brined to add moisture and flavour, and its skin given some butter-loving before being stuffed with festive tri-coloured quinoa.
If turkey just ain’t your jam, how about this elegant terrine. It looks fancy but it’s very do-able! I promise, you can easily make this picnic-friendly chicken and pistachio loaf and serve it up with pride and delight.

Christmas Dessert

This classic butter biscuit recipe is made very special – and rather Christmassy! – by making a festive spice mix to stir through the mixture. The spice can also be added to preserves such as apricot or plum jam, or ham glazes. It can even be infused into spirits such as gin, vodka or rum – Christmas cocktails, here we come!
These little cuties are my take on Kueh Lapis Beras, or Rainbow Sweets, Asian sweets that are usually made with rice flour or glutinous rice, often with coconut and always with lots of sugar! This Indonesian-style rice-flour kueh presents so beautifully and is really easy to make.
The main thing I need to tell you about these chocolate truffles is that they are life-changingly good. Berry-infused vinegar brings a tart finish, both undercutting and highlighting the richness of the chocolate ganache.
OF COURSE you’re making a Basque Cheesecake for Christmas! As soon as I ate this cheesecake in the Spanish Basque country, I knew my mission: get the recipe and adapt it for Thermomix. Now that I’ve done so, my life is pretty much complete. Witness my bliss and create your own!
A great pavlova is simple and tricky at the same time; the ingredients and method are basic but you may need a few hints to help you to pav perfection.
This cake is an absolute stunner, moist and gently marzipanny, like the filling you’d find in an almond croissant.

I am about ready to lie on the couch already! I’d love to hear about your Christmas menu. Whatever you do and whatever you eat, I wish you a delicious and happy Christmas.

Christmas Tips & Tricks

Handy ham storage tips, thanks to Otway Pork:

  • Make sure the ham is not out of the fridge for more than two hours on Christmas Day (or any spring/summer day you’re entertaining).
  • To store, soak a ham bag in a mixture of 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Ring out the ham bag and place the ham inside.
  • Keep soaking the ham bag every two days in the water and vinegar mix to keep it fresh, tender and succulent.

Chef Daniel Wilson’s Top 3 Christmas Tips

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Top chef and Queen Victoria Market ambassador Daniel Wilson has shared his top three tips for staying calm this Christmas.

Accept Help or Delegate!
Christmas is a time for togetherness. Don’t try to be a hero and do everything yourself! If Aunt Norma offers to make something to help you out don’t ‘try to be kind’ by telling her she doesn’t need to but instead gladly accept the help as it will make your job easier and fill her with warm fuzzies by being able to contribute! However, if no-one is offering to help and you’re feeling snowed under, then ask for help! Some family members might not volunteer help because they are trying to be conscious of not stepping on your toes. Take the awkwardness out and just have a conversation about it.

Be Organised & Strategic with Your Shopping
It goes without saying that food shopping for the big day can bring some of the biggest stress! Make sure you write down the menu and make shopping lists and don’t forget that Aunt Mavis is bringing the trifle so that’s one thing you don’t need to think about. One of the major stress points here is if you’re being a, consider buying prawns frozen in a block and keeping in the freezer until the day before and then letting them defrost overnight in the fridge rather than buying them already defrosted on Christmas Eve while jostling with every Tom, Dick & Harry for not only a parking space but a space in the queue.

Use Produce that is in Season
Another no brainer is to use produce that is in season, not only is it more cost-efficient because it is abundant, but it is also at the peak of its flavour. For me, cherries are one such fruit that is synonymous with Christmas. Also, there are plenty of excellent quality mangoes, passionfruit, stone fruit and berries available at the moment. They all sound like the perfect addition to a pav to be remembered! Finally though, please remember that it is a day to be enjoyed so make sure that you have fun and enjoy yourself! Merry Christmas!


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