Does the thought of having Christmas at your house make you:
1. Want to set your hair on fire;
2. Uncork the closest bottle;
3. Contemplate sticking pins in your eyes; or
4. Head for the nearest airport?
We all feel a little rabbit-in-the-headlights at the thought of being responsible for the Christmas Feast, even me who cooks for a living. What happens if you bugger it up? You’ll ruin everyone’s Christmas and become a social pariah, never to be trusted again. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas! Hardly….
Why is it that we put so much pressure on ourselves for Christmas Day? It’s not as if we don’t have enough to completely stress us out at this time:
– Getting together with your family
– Playing nice with his family
– Finding the perfect gift for everyone in your family (because you love them), his family (because you have to), your besties (can’t live without them), the kids’ teachers (you may get them next year), the crappy kris kringle at work (god, who invented that?), the guy who makes your coffee every morning (best to keep him happy), your hairdresser (best not to annoy her – GI Jane’s not a good look), your doctor (coming up to pap test time, want it to go smoothly), the garbage man (so could not live without him) and the dog (the only one who loves you no matter what you say to her)
– Finishing a year’s worth of work in 2-3 weeks
– Tanning your legs so if they do try to roll you back into the sea at least you won’t blind them (they’re doing a public service after all)
– Oh my god, did someone say waxing?!?!
I blame Nigella with her gorgeous kitten heels, smooth hair and soft fairy lights glow….
No, this year we need to chill out and take it easy. Sure, whatever we decide to cook has to be special and gorgeous and worthy of Christmas Day, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. This year we’re going to put down those matches, hide the pins and put away the passports (but perhaps not the bottle) and have ourselves a stress-free little Christmas.
My advice is to choose dishes that you know how to cook and give them a little Christmas cheer – add some cranberries or cherries to an easy dessert, decorate the plate with holly or fresh red currents to look festive, add a glaze to a roast that you feel comfortable cooking.
I’m doing exactly that with roast lamb. I cook lamb all year long but I’m giving it a Christmas twist – Roast Lamb with Pomegranate Glaze served with Pomegranate & Cherry Salsa. So incredibly easy and something I know how to do with my eyes closed.
Roast Lamb with Pomegranate Glaze – Serves 8
Roasted leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and pomegranate glaze.
2kg lamb leg, trimmed of most of the fat (leaving a thin layer over the top)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses*
2 tbsp apple juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
*Pomegranate molasses is available from good food delicatessens or most fresh food markets.
Heat oven to 180⁰c and line roasting pan with baking paper.
Mix glaze ingredients together and paint over lamb with a basting brush. Place lamb on a rack in the pan and roast for 90 minutes, basting frequently. Keep an eye on the lamb as the sugar in the molasses can burn easily. If the top of the lamb is getting too brown, pop a piece of aluminium foil loosely over the top to prevent burning.
If you just can’t have a roast without gravy, make it easy for yourself and buy one in a sachet or tin. When making gravy, add a couple of teaspoons of pomegranate molasses to give it a fruity kick.
Pomegranate & Cherry Salsa – Serves 8
Sweet yet piquant, this salsa is honestly one of the best you’ll ever taste. Just looking at it is pure happiness…
Seeds from 2 medium pomegranates, white pithy membrane removed
200gms ripe cherries, deseed
ed* and roughly chopped
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
*You can buy a cherry pitter (also great for olives) from most kitchenware shops for about $4.
Place vinegar and sugar in a jar and shake to dissolve sugar – set aside. Place all other ingredients into bowl and pour over dressing just before serving.
So chill out, take it easy and enjoy yourself this year. It’ll save on nurofen and you may actually enjoy it….
Are you cooking this Christmas? What’s your favourite Christmas dish (whether you cook it or not)?