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If your stress levels are already starting to rise at the thought of all that Christmas entertaining, here is some good advice from Kim Evans:
“Celebrations don’t have to be grand. It’s the simple act of coming together to eat that makes a gathering special and creates good memories to last a lifetime. The most important thing is to delegate. Don’t try to do it all by yourself.”
Kim owns the hugely popular Little and Friday Cafes in Takapuna and Newmarket and has entertaining down to a fine art. Her recipes, designed for special occasions such as Christmas, weddings, birthdays and picnics, can mostly be prepared in advance, reducing stress on the day of the party.
After browsing through her new recipe book Little and Friday Celebrations, I’m well on the way to having Christmas dinner sorted. We’ll have a summery meal rather than the traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings. If the weather is fine, we’ll sit outside on the deck under the sun umbrella.
Kim’s festive ham spiked with cloves and glazed with mustard, maple and orange juice will be the centrepiece.
For the vegetarians I’ll make the savoury tarte tatin with layers of onion jam, tomatoes and feta. It may sound rather exotic, but it’s not at all difficult to make.
You simply drape the flaky pastry over the top, tuck it around the other ingredients like a baby’s blanket and bake. When done, the tart is turned upside down.
For the sides I’ll serve two light and decorative salads. The first could be the zucchini, mint and basil salad prettily garnished with courgette flowers. The second, panzanella, is a mixture of several varieties of tomatoes tossed with croutons and scattered with torn basil leaves.
A dish of scalloped potatoes will also be on the table. We have always had these for Christmas dinner and as everyone loves them I couldn’t possibly leave them out.
Christmas time is a time of very fond memories of my mother-in-law’s Christmas pudding. After a lengthy boiling in a floured pudding cloth several weeks before
Christmas it would be hung on the clothesline to dry out.
On Christmas day it was boiled again for a couple of hours before serving. Although we would have already eaten our fill of chicken, boiling bacon, roasted vegetables and peas, no-one could resist it, if only to see who would be lucky enough to find the coins that were hidden within.
But Christmas pudding takes ages to make and can make a rather heavy finish to an already big meal. I’d rather serve Kim’s summer Pavlova for dessert. This is her
Mum’s recipe. It can be made two days in advance and then dressed up on the day. After spreading a thick layer of whipped cream on top it is decorated with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, all of which are in season now. A drizzle of Cherry Coulis is the final touch.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a few little sweet treats. Our granddaughters who love to bake have already had a practice run making Kim’s chocolate biscuit recipe. Hundreds of these are made each year for her cafes. We couldn’t find the Christmassy stamps she presses into them but they had fun decorating them with an icing pen instead.
If the baking adrenalin kicks in we might also attempt a batch of her salted caramel biscuits or the macaroons .These would make a nice change from more traditional treats such as shortbread, mince tarts or truffles. Some will be nicely parcelled up to give to friends or neighbours.
It feels good to have Christmas dinner planned well ahead of the day. With a bunch of willing helpers on hand to share in the preparation, the cooking and washing the dishes afterwards it should be a relaxing and enjoyable family get together.
Title: Little and Friday Celebrations
Author: Kim Evans