Christmas for me is all about food and family.
Naturally much of that food includes cheese, traditional cooked meats, and of course wine. However the Christmas sweets and specialty dessert's of Europe also make me feel very festive!
This Christmas I want to focus on making your Christmas meal memorable, drop dead delicious but.... also simple, so you can spend more time with your family, eating cheese and drinking wine.
Lets start with the cheese!
When to eat it? Well, that's completely up to you. For me, we generally have a big lunch and I like to begin with the cheese. This is the starter when everyone is arriving, there is zero preparation except for popping it on a big board with a few fruits and nuts. I skip the bread and simply serve it straight up. As a general rule for a starter about 20-30 grams per person is a good guideline. Obviously it depends how cheese obsessed your guests are. I without doubt, ensure there are a few portions of cheese left hidden in the fridge to enjoy after my post Christmas lunch nap.
Next... lets talk meat.
Turkey, Ham, Pork, Chicken... It's a tough choice, and it's easy to want them all. I believe simplicity is key, so I just choose one meat.
For me, I can't go past a glazed ham, I prepare and glaze the day before and serve it cold with a side of fresh prawns, a big array of salads and plenty of condiments. On occasion you will find a sneaky pork pie in there too.
Dessert comes around so quickly.
Being the ever consummate professional, no matter how committed I am to stuffing my face with cheese and meats, I, of course, ALWAYS have room for dessert,
Again, keeping things simple and hassle free, Panettone is an absolute must. For those of you who are new to the Panettone world, you will be wondering how you ever lived without it. An Italian sweet bread, that comes with an array of fillings including, candied orange, chocolate and many more.
My preference is just plain sultana, warmed with custard poured over the entire creation, the absorbent cake sucks up the custard and softens like pudding. Sometimes a dash or three of some whisky helps finish things off nicely. Mascarpone works beautifully also.
To serve, I place the whole Panettone on the table, with a small selection of chocolate, fresh fruits and my favourite Italian nougat. Yes, Italian nougat, a mix of soft and hard, its denser then then French stuff but you won't loose a tooth, it simply dances and dissolves on your tongue, giving you a lovely sugar buzz to push you through the afternoon.