By SHEENA RAWCLIFFE
One of the most relaxing Christmas lunches we enjoyed was when there was just the two of us. With all the family in the UK for Christmas we wondered how things would pan out – and, it has to be said, it was just fine.
Breakfast comprised slices of smoked salmon with lightly scrambled eggs. When the mood took us we had a light lunch of boiled prawns with garlic mayonnaise, accompanied by Bucks Fizz (champagne and orange juice) and, in the evening, we had fillet steak and salad, followed by lemon torte from the Sweet Marilyn range. Not a mince pie, turkey slice or brussel sprout in sight!
We read, listened to CDs and generally pleased ourselves what we did and when we ate. Of course, having the family and friends around you is delightful, but I hope that the above indicates that Christmas can be just as enjoyable when you do what you want to.
These days, turkey is so readily available and so the joy that we knew at Christmas when we were young(er) at this special bird has diminished. Occasionally it is good to stretch your culinary imagination. Why not treat yourselves to an excellent fillet of beef, either simply roasted or wrapped in puffed pastry, with a few finely chopped mushrooms and herbs (Beef Wellington)?
Whatever you choose to serve over the Christmas and New Year period, the important thing to remember is that you are not a slave to those visiting you. It is also your time to enjoy the festivities and to have time for yourself.
Ensuring your enjoyment takes a little planning and some delegation. Don’t be afraid to apportion little tasks to your visitors and those who live with you. A kitchen is one of the most territorial areas in the house and many people shy away from offering their assistance for fear of getting in the way or doing something wrong. So, as well as a list for those things you need to purchase and making a timetable for your cooking activities, make a third list allocating jobs to ensure a harmonious Christmas.
Don’t forget, the dishwasher needs to be loaded and unloaded and someone has to uncork the wine at the right time. Above all, please remember that if you have delegated a task let that person get on with it.
A smooth frustration free day can be achieved by reminding yourself and everyone else that the meal will take as long as it takes, that it is not a day for racing and that there will be a reasonable break between each course. This may be one of the very few times you all sit down for a meal together!
Christmas cake is delightful, as you will know, especially if you have followed the recipe I have offered previously in The Resident. It is rich and therefore, if you are already serving Christmas pudding then it may be as well to leave the cake until the following day, New Year or anytime in 2007 – most recipes have so much preservative (alcohol) in them that they will not go off!