25 September 2023

No-stress Christmas

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By Christine Salins.


Minimum effort, maximum effect: that’s my mantra at Christmas, and indeed at any time of year. I admire people who made their Christmas cakes and puddings three months ago, but unfortunately I’m not one of them. So it helps to have a few quick recipes up the sleeve to put on a feast that is suitably festive but allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with loved ones.

Set the party mood with a colourful Cherry Sangria (recipe below). If even that is too much trouble, simply drop a pitted cherry into a Champagne flute, add a few drops of brandy and top it up with some well-chilled sparkling white or red.

For a quick appetizer, combine some diced mango and tomato with finely chopped basil, grated ginger and a drizzle of olive oil, then spoon it onto bruschetta.

Seafood is always an excellent quick option. It’s easy to toss some fish or prawns on the barbecue, grill some scallops in the shell, or dress up some bug tails as per the recipe here.

Turkey became the Yuletide roast of choice in many northern hemisphere countries because it was one of the few animals which could provide a large roast in mid-winter. Our Aussie summer calls for lighter dishes – the turkey terrine here can be made ahead of time, making even lighter work on Christmas day.

Although there’s nothing nicer than a beautiful platter of fresh fruit for dessert, you could give your fruit salad a festive touch by pouring some dessert wine over it and allowing the flavours to mingle overnight.

Another quick idea is to take a tub of good-quality vanilla ice-cream, allow it to soften a little then fold through some roughly chopped glace fruit, honey-roasted macadamias and a splash of Amaretto or Cointreau. Do it the day before and refreeze overnight. How easy is that?

Cherry Sangria

Serves 6

750ml red or white wine

¼ cup caster sugar

1 orange

1 lemon

1 lime

1 litre lemonade

300g pitted cherries, halved

Combine the wine and sugar in a large jug. Thinly slice the orange, lemon and lime and add to the wine mixture. Stir in the cherries and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to three days).

When ready to serve, add the lemonade and serve over lots of ice. Alternately, serve the wine and the lemonade in separate carafes and allow people to mix the sangria themselves, to taste.

Grilled Grand Marnier Bug Tails

Serves 4 as an entrée

8 medium to large bugs

50g butter, cubed

5 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, peeled or crushed

1½ tablespoons Grand Marnier

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine butter, basil leaves, garlic, Grand Marnier and pepper in a food processor until butter is smooth and basil chopped. Cut bugs lengthwise through the underside of the tail shell and spread a tablespoon of butter evenly over each tail, on the underside. Place tails onto the barbecue, topside down first and cook for about two minutes on each side or until flesh is completely white. Baste tails with butter during cooking.

Turkey and Nut Terrine

1½ kg turkey meat without bones

1 large onion

5 cloves garlic

100 g pinenuts

5 eggs

150 g shelled pistachio nuts

bacon to line the terrine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Coarsely mince turkey meat, onion, garlic and pinenuts. Mix in lightly-beaten eggs, salt, pepper and pistachios. Line a one-litre terrine with bacon and bake in a bain-marie in a preheated 180 deg C oven for one hour. This dish can be served hot or cold.

Cherry recipe and photo courtesy of www.australiancherries.com.au

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