Christmas Dinner Ideas at Home
By Kevin Cain
The festive season will be soon upon us, and many people will be turning to what they will be doing on Christmas Day for lunch or dinner. Should you go out, or stay in? Should you cook at home, or order food in? For those of us who are fed up of meeting restaurant dining times and do not want to venture out in our cars, eating at home is a great and viable alternative. Especially if you have guests from back home who are visiting and would like a traditional Christmas lunch.
What perhaps does not have to be traditional is what you eat, you do not need to cook the compulsory turkey for example, as there are plenty of other delicious options from which to choose. In this article we can explore some of the delectable options that will guarantee to festoon your table and bring delight to all your guests.
However, a word of caution, firstly you must think well ahead if you are planning something a little more unusual, it may take time to order the particular items that you need, especially if they have to be imported.
Starters or “hors d'oeuvres”
Your Christmas Lunch will be hectic enough to prepare, so preparing cold starters the night before is an excellent plan. A simple idea is to have a mixed platter of cured salamis and meats served with a fresh green salad and pickles. It always looks terrific if a little attention is given to the presentation, and definitely provides a Wow factor for your guests.
SCALLOPS AU GRATIN
Serving seafood in their shells is also another bling moment, scallops au gratin or crab in mayo with a simple lemon garnish are not only stunning visually but simply delicious.
For an oriental touch, why not try Cambodian Spring Rolls, these can be made in the morning and kept cool in the refrigerator, they should also be accompanied with a piquant dipping sauce and garnished with peanuts and scallions.
The Main Event
By keeping your starters simple you will have time to concentrate on what you will be serving for the main course. One way of alleviating cooking everything on the actual day is to select dishes that can be prepared before hand. So as a real alternative why not try your hand at preparing a true Corned Beef. This has nothing to do with the concoction you find in small tins with funny keys to open the can with. No it is in fact a whole piece of beef brisket that has been cured for four or five days in Pink Himalayan Salts along with some fragrant spices and then slowly cooked in the oven for about five hours. You can carve at the table, guaranteeing a show stopping moment, and serve with warm vegetables and new potatoes scattered with butter and chives. It is ideal accompanied by a selection of pickles and mustards.
Or why not try Dry-Aged Duck Breasts ? It is possible to age your own duck breasts by simply laying them skin side up on a plate with the bone still in and leaving them in your refrigerator for up to a week uncovered. Then take the duck breasts out of the fridge at least an hour before you cook them and remove the bone. A wonderful accompaniment to the Duck is a beet salad, tossed with crispy lardons, croutons, tomatoes, scallions and oregano. This should have a tangy dressing consisting of olive oil, red wine vinegar and seasoning.
A festive table is never quite complete without a glazed ham, but you can actually make it the main feature of your Christmas Day lunch if you put the time and effort into making a simple dish into something that is fit for a king. A good roast ham is a real treat and has enough meat to feed a crowd, the perfect centerpiece, golden and juicy and wafting with succulent aromas that are bound to get the taste buds tingling.
The best hams come from the shoulder or the leg, and will taste far better if you roast them on the bone. Of course you will need to brine the ham first and this can be done days beforehand. Before you decide to roast the ham soak the meat in cold water preferably overnight. The piece de resistance is the glaze you put over the ham, this is all personal choice but three options are: marmalade glaze, Earl Grey tea glaze and peppered cranberry jelly glaze.
Desserts / Sweets
Of course plum puddings and trifles are the traditional choices and are a fine way to finish any sumptuous lunch. But perhaps you may wish to consider something different to impress your guests. For example chocolate is also synonymous with the festive season and one simple dessert is a Malteser Bomb. Simply find an appropriate serving board and working quickly, shape a large cone of vanilla ice cream on it then you will probably need help to decorate the outside by pushing Maltesers into the ice cream. Chill and serve with ladles of your favourite fruit compote.
Another brilliant looking and impressive dessert is always a fancy cheesecake, and the good thing is that it can be made the night before. For your special lunch try a chocolate and orange cheesecake, the zesty and light cream cheese filling contrasts perfectly with a dark chocolate biscuit base. Decorate the top with mandarin segments and a raspberry coulis is the perfect sauce to finish this decadent dessert off.
Whatever you decide to do this Christmas, these dishes will be perfect for any celebration or dinner party and will definitely impress your guests. Sometimes it is time to wander off the traditional path for a short while and try something different. Variety is after all the “Spice of Life.”