Christmas is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing – food, mulled wine and all things spice! I absolutely love Christmas and dare I say it’s not for the right reasons, but if only as an excuse to share good food and drinks with those I love. Since I moved to London I have been spoilt for choice around this time of year as there are so many special restaurant christmas menus, mulled wine wafting from the shops and wonderful seasonal produce available absolutely everywhere. I just wanted to share what Christmas means to me and let you in on my christmas day menu which I start planning before December hits!
When I was young Christmas was always a special time of year in my family home. My parents would always make sure they were home around the holiday season and my mum usually tested out a new recipe she’d been working with on my brothers and I. It was always a challenge getting us all to bed on Christmas Eve as we couldn’t contain our excitement. And when Christmas day hit I can’t even begin to describe the craziness in our house with us three kids running around as if we’d have had a box of choccies with a red bull!
Over the years my mum’s Christmas menus have changed and with us all growing up and deciding what we like and don’t like, I imagine much to my mum’s unhappiness she has had to make several dishes to please us all. One thing we are always united on is my dad’s pork ribs. We call them ‘dad’s once a year ribs’ mainly because that is the only time we have them. All families have their traditions and this is one of ours. Perfectly braised pork belly ribs smothered in my dad’s secret marinade. My mum and I like to let him believe we don’t know the recipe but through our years of experience we pretty much know how to recreate it – bless him!
I took over the Christmas meal challenge many years ago. And that’s exactly what it is! No matter how many people you are cooking for it always seems a daunting task, but if you break it down and write a timing plan, cooking Xmas lunch/dinner can be a breeze. Planning is the key! And prepping as much as you can in advance will keep you calm and collected on the big day. Whether you love the traditional turkey, roast potatoes and trimmings, or if you are like me and enjoy other cuts of meat, as long as you have planned it out, it should all work out.
This year I have had to take planning to a whole new level! My family are flying in from abroad to spend Christmas with me and I am working until Christmas Eve. I have already baked my Christmas cake and I’ve been feeding it for the past few weeks. My pannetone has been bought and christmas crackers are picked and ready to go! I have decided to start with my Coriander Citrus Cured Salmon with mini potato rostis – that is for nibbling with some fizz, and then it’s time for the good old prawn cocktail with plump, juicy, sweet prawns. My family aren’t keen on turkey and so my dad’s once a year ribs will be the main event with perfect roast potatoes and the usual trimmings – creamy pancetta sprouts, honey roast parsnips and thyme infused carrots. And not forgetting the apricot,prune and pistachio stuffing balls. For my dad, the only veggie amongst my guests, I’m thinking of my favourite Stuffed Salmon. Always a winner and is a fabulous show stopper dish. Once the over eating has settled down it’s time for cheese and homemade Caramelised Onion Chutney, saving room for dessert which this year I’m keeping simple. Fresh mince pies, christmas cake and a cranberry semifreddo should finish us all off nicely.
Lastly we always have a family game of Monopoly….a Pathak tradition that goes way back. We all have our favourite pieces (I’m the dog!) and our usual arguments! And then it’s time for a snooze in front of the tv watching a classic Christmas movie zzzzzzzzzz……