Beach Cottage Coastal Christmas ~ Easy Christmas Entertaining
Thu 8th, Dec, 2011
G’day Beach Cottage chickens, I hope you are chirpy and full of the festive spirit?
I have had quite a few emails about Christmas entertaining and how to survive it! As if I would know, I spend most of my time on the broomstick anyway ;-) Not really.
Well first of all, I, in the whole keeping it simple and keeping it real thing, don’t think there will be any big food spread posts from me, that might be a bit much for me right now and to be very honest, I am totally pretty much more interested in the party shoes for my trip to KL next week rather than what I am cooking, but I will try and get my crock pot salmon dip, layered salad and mulled wine recipe on here…because I love you and you seem to like me too.
…I love cooking Christmas dinner though and we always always have turkey, but I don’t get all stressy over it…really I think of it as just a glorified roast dinner, with a bigger, more unusual bird…and I certainly don’t go in for that cook it til it’s dry and horrible school of thought, getting up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven is not in my make-up…I just treat it as if it were a large chicken and change the times accordingly…with the turkey I just do roast potatoes, a tray of roasted veggies & aromatic gravy (just shove turkey, pots and veggies all in the oven at the same time, no brainer) and now we are in Australia we also have a salad too…mostly a layered salad that I make the day before and sits happily in the fridge until needed.
…plus there are a few simple things I do to keep things easy and enjoyable for me and not just in Christmas entertaining but when having anyone over for dinner.
For me, I like to foof around with main courses, as long as they are fairly easy but the other courses I like to make as least work as possible.
So what I do for easy entertaining to save me running around like a headless chicken getting stressed… firstly when someone asks what shall I bring? I nearly always answer can you bring the dessert? One main reason for this, I am not a dessert-maker or a baker, as you know, so this solves that problem in one fell swoop, also I often think people like to bring something other than just wine and I think when you are asked to bring a dessert along to something it can actually be quite enjoyable thinking about it and making it when that’s all you’ve got to worry about.
Failing that, I will nearly always buy or make some kind of tart especially if there is a budget (I do have a French Apple Tart recipe that is no-fail, using frozen pastry that even I can bake with my eyes almost shut)…you can buy some lovely patisseries, indeed those pastry chefs are qualified in the art…so why not utilize it?
Next up, you can’t go wrong with a cheese plate.
Now I have had a whole lot of cheese plates in my little life…including many in France, where cheese in nigh-on a national sport.
Here’s what I think…first of all you don’t need to go ultra fancy, if you are on a tight budget, one nice cheese, some crackers and an apple or pear can go a very long way…I am so over food snobbery and cheese snobbery it’s untrue
…secondly I like to only do a couple of cheeses, there is something that is disagreeable to me when faced with a whole array of cheeses artfully placed on some swivelling cheeseboard…I would much rather two (possible three) well chosen and lovely cheeses.
Three I will always choose a goat’s cheese…mainly because goat’s cheese is nearly always nice and more, not many people buy goat’s cheese as part of their regular repertoire so it’s a bit more special but not ludicrously expensive and when people dip in they more often than not love it.
Since moving to Australia, we noticed a very funny and strange (to us) thing. Now this may have nothing at all to do with Australia or Australians, and you may have experienced it before but we hadn’t….after a few lovely invitations for dinner we noticed that cheese comes out very often as a first course, a cheese plate as an appetiser. Yes.
Now for me, in the old days, cheese always followed the main course, before dessert, so on arrival at someone’s house to be presented with a lovely quality cheese and a few crackers as a first course was pretty surprising. Sorta weird but really really nice and very tasty.
And these days, I keep this trick up my sleeve quite a lot, it’s different on the palate if you are not used to it…but there is something to be said for it…and mainly that, if you are a cheese lover, like me, relishing that cheese before you are full up and have had two courses already is really very nice….plus sharing the cheese, in a relaxed and laid-back way is a very informal way to start the evening…all dipping in to the cheese plate in the middle and with a glass of bubbly too…
I always stick a chutney, relish or most likely a lump of Quince Paste on the side and depending on the mood, some fruit or cornichons…it’s no brainer entertaining….oh and I like plain old old-fashioned, give it to me water crackers, and I buy Carrs if they are on offer, being By Appointment to Her Majesty, no less, of course they are good…but really any plain cracker floats my cheese boat, I wouldn’t go near any of those fanchy schmancy ones that cost more than the cheese plate…duh.
So that’s my tip…farm it out (the dessert), throw in a few bought things, and buy nice cheese dressed up on a foofy plate…and spend your time on the main course and obviously dressing up the table…
OK, I am outta here…I would love to hear your entertaining tips for this time of year? Go out for dinner? Oh yeah that’s one… Or maybe I’ll just show you my new black ankle-strap-oh-my-God-I-Love-You PARTAY SHOES….. I think I love them more than my new boyfriend and Flicky Cloud’s. Yep indeedy.
Flying through people (and not quite on the stick yet), flying through