For me, Christmas means food.
But one of the main things I think about when I think of this lovely time of year is the feasts, feasts, feasts, feasts.
No-matter that by the time Christmas morning rolls around, I can barely fit into all the clothes that looked so lovely when I tried them on a mere three weeks ago. The food is pretty much worth risking that humiliating moment which, like Santa, somehow always manages to arrive.
Our family has two big turkey dinners every year, one on Christmas eve and one on Christmas day. I have the pleasure of being part of the set-up and hosting of Christmas Eve, and as stressful as it always manages to be (one year the turkey surprised us by declaring its readiness at 4 pm, followed by frantic calls to all the guests who had been planning on arriving two hours later) it always manages to be one of my favourite - and one of the most delicious - nights of the year.
This year was no exception. Here's a sneak peek into what we
stuffed our faces with daintily nibbled on throughout the night.
Crudites made a great light prelude, and the delicious and flavourful green goddess dip accompanying them kept me lingering by the platter all night.
Seriously, this dip is scarily addictive. Despite the hefty serving of mayonnaise in it, I've convinced myself that its green hue and inclusion of avocado and herbs qualify it as a health food. I dare you to try and convince me otherwise.
Here's the recipe.
Candied salmon is one of my favourite West coast treats. I literally beg my mom on an almost-monthly basis to send me a package in the mail while I'm living in Ontario. There's just nothing quite like the B.C. stuff in Toronto - or that I've found, at least.
Smokey-sweet, tender and juicy, it truly is candy to me. This batch was caught by a family friend at a fishing lodge up island, who then had it smoked and candied.
I'll do a post on it later, but check out Hardy Buoys for cross-Canada shipping.
Brie drizzled with honey and pistachios and served with pistachios, apple slices and toasted slices of baguette was an indulgent starter with the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy.
Yams with brown sugar, maple syrup, pecans and brandied raisins were a new addition this year from Bon Apetit.
(We subbed pecans for the original recipe's call for walnuts, 'cause we like em better).
Nana's stuffing. Enough said.
And finally, behold the masterpiece that was my plate!
You can bet I cleaned this off... and went back for seconds. Boo-ya.
And finally, when we thought we couldn't fit one more bite, came my dad's bread and butter pudding with brandy-soaked sultanas. He got this recipe from a South African friend/amazing chef a few years ago and has been busting it out for Christmas ever since.
Light, fluffy, not-too-sweet and perfectly crisped on top, somehow, magically, we can always make room for this.
Bread and Butter Pudding
90 g (3.25 oz) sultanas
3 tablespoons brandy
12 slices good-quality white bread or brioche, crusts removed
60 g (2.25 oz) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons marmalade
3 egg yolks
200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1.5 cups cream
3 tablespoons brown sugar
- soak the sultanas in brandy for 30 minutes or until slightly plump
- lightly grease a 10-cup capacity shallow, ovenproof dish
- butter the slices of bread, brush with marmalade and cut into diagonal quarters
- arrange the bread in two layers, butter-side-up in the dish
- drain the sultanas and scatter between the layers of bread, reserving any remaining brandy
- whisk together the eggs and yolks, sugar, vanilla and any reserved brandy
- whisk in the milk and cream and pour over the bread
- leave in the refrigerator to soak for 1 hour
- preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius/315 fahrenheit
- remove pudding from fridge and sprinkle with the brown sugar
- put dish in roasting tin three-quarters full of hot water and bake in preheated oven for 1-1.25 hours or until custard is set and the bread slightly puffed and golden/crispy on top.
Enjoy, and make sure to follow by complaints of never being able to move again!
I hope your Christmas was equally as delicious, as I'm sure it was!
Anyone else still stuck in a turkey-hangover/coma on the couch? Hope so, too.
(Because that would make me feel ever-so-better about my own boxing day).