The family and I had a lovely Christmas this year, even though we did miss my brother Buster heaps. He had a traditional English Christmas with family friends of ours on the island of Jersey - celebrations that included a traditional dip in the English channel (!!!). Here's a round-up of what we got up to here in the land down under.
The houses across the road from best-friend-K in Northcote were completely blinged out in hideous Christmas lights. When I went over there for dinner on the 23rd, we walked along the street and marvelled at the tackiness and the carbon footprints. There were lots of people viewing the lights, and even a Santa handing out candy canes ("Santa I want an iPhone!!" shrieked a young girl)...
Several items on this year's Christmas menu were on last year's menu (hey, if it ain't broke...). For Christmas Day lunch with the Italian side of the family, Mum made more sensational salmon gravlax, relying on Stephanie Alexander's trusty recipe once again.
Dad dutifully sliced it up. It was served with pieces of toasted bread and dill mayonnaise.
Mum and Birdie both decorated the table, using a red, white and gold colour scheme.
Just look at these monster tiger prawns! Our friend C had them sent down to her by friends who caught them up in northern Queensland.
I took a photo including my hand, to give you some sense of scale. :)
We marinated and barbequed them, and served them up with a lime aioli. Divine!
Mum handmade the Christmas crackers, using toilet rolls, gold tissue paper, white ribbon, gunpowder strips, little red reindeer and daggy jokes she looked up on the internet. Each cracker also had a personalised gift for the designated guest.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a glazed ham. We entrusted the carving to D - as he's a surgeon, we figured he'd do a good job.
For main course I partook of the ham, Nonna's stuffed roast chicken with pureed vegetable sauce, zia P's red salad, beans and fluffy roast potatoes, done Nigella style.
For dessert, Mum whipped up some gorgeous little raspberry and cranberry jellies, using a recipe from the new Women's Weekly Christmas & Holiday Entertaining book.
My contribution was a 2.5 kg box of ubercherries I'd preordered and picked up on Christmas Eve from Damian Pike's at Prahran Market. Although the cherries came at vast cost to the management, boy oh boy were they good.
The ubercherries were served with a bowl of Wilson's Wonder walnuts from Myrtleford.
Mum also made her best ever mince pies. Like Sarah did, Mum started with a bottle of Robertson's mince, then jazzed it up - Mum added grated apple, lemon rind, almonds, dried cranberries, Cointreau and whiskey. They tasted brilliant. What I loved about these mince pies most of all though is that rather than pressing big circles of pastry down into a muffin tray, Mum painstakingly constructed each pie out of two pieces of pastry - the disc that formed the base, and a longer strip to form the side.
The mince tarts and mini Christmas puddings topped with melted white chocolate were served with a Flamigni panettone - the fancy brand we have as a treat only on Christmas Day.
With all these yummy desserts, we had two amazing wines: the 2008 Petersons Moscato Traminer, which we picked up when we visited the Hunter Valley in August, and a Tintara port... vintage 1945!!
On Boxing Day we sacrificed attending Day One at the MCG to drive down to Paradise, a heavenly little part of the world just inland of Apollo Bay, where my Aussie aunt and her husband run a bed and breakfast. They'd closed the B&B for a night and invited all of the family clan down overnight for a Boxing Day lunch/celebration, which started at about 2:30pm and finished after 10pm.
As you can see, the anglo side of the family does Christmas banquets just as lavish as the Italian side!
Aunt M did her speciality, smoked salmon trout.
Aunt J made a delicious semifreddo, containing raspberries, pistachio and chunks of Turkish delight, topped with rose petal flavoured Persian fairy floss. Since my Aussie grandfather passed away, cousin-in-law J now makes the traditional Christmas pudding.
As well as the options of custard and ice cream, we always serve hard sauce with the Christmas pud. Love the way the spoon stands in it!
Between main course and dessert, we wandered down to the lower garden and held an epic bocce tournament, with up to twelve people competing at any one time. Only once did I manage to get my ball closest to the Jack!