Thursday, 24 January 2013

An Epicurean Christmas

Christmas celebrations, whether rightly or wrongly, have become synonymous with excessive eating and drinking.  I too am guilty of Christmas excess, and begin my Christmas planning often far earlier than required.

 To me, the planning only heightens the anticipation of the big day.  

This year's pine tree
Rather than gold, frankincense and myrrh, here are three culinary offerings I prepared during the festive season to ensure that my family and friends felt as though they were Kings.

1. Gathering Friends for a Seafood Feast

The festive season is cause for celebration and reflection upon the past year, so there is no better time to welcome friends to your home for dinner. As the mercury rises frequently about 30 degrees, a seafood feast is the perfect meal.

I’m fortunate to live on Port Philip Bay and a nearby neighbour whom sells Snapper freshly caught from the bay. The Snapper, with their bold glassy eyes and shining silver scales, are so fresh I can picture them happily swimming only mere hours earlier. 

Entree Tasting Plate

·       Tomato Gazpacho Soup
·       Natural Oysters
·       Salmon Carpaccio


Baked Snapper
Our Snapper prior to gutting and cleaning

·       I gutted and cleaned the fish, and stuffed the cavity with slices of lemon, sprigs of flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper. The fish was then drizzled generously with extra virgin olive oil.  I wrapped the fish in large pieces of foil, laying further slices of lemon and sprigs of parsley under and around the fish. The foil is sealed in an almost air tight parcel-like manner around the fish.

·       The fish is baked in a moderate oven for 40 - 50 minutes. You will be able to tell when the fish is cooked as the skin and scales will be easily peeled back in large pieces, revealing the moist flesh.

·       A fish of 3.5 kg feeds 6 – 8 people depending on size of entrees and appetites.

The skin flakes away easily from the flesh

The baked Snapper was accompanied by salads.

Mango, Avocado, Whitlof and Watercress

2. Boxes of baked treats for hard working colleagues

There is no better way to thank those whom have assisted me throughout the year than with a gift of home made delicacies. In an age where everything can be purchased, a little effort is greatly appreciated. Every year I make mince pies for Christmas, but this year I went on a baking spree.

Boxes of Baked Goodies

·       Traditional Mince Pies
Fresh from the oven

·       White chocolate and Pistachio Cookies
·       Cranberry Nougat

·       White Chocolate and Strawberry Rocky Road
White Chocolate and Strawberry Rocky Road
Assembling the boxes

Wrapped and ready to be dispatched.

Wrapping paper from my favourite supplier
The Wrapping Paper Company

3. The Family Lunch

This year the Husband and I hosted the Christmas Day lunch for the first time ever! It was a perfect time to combine culinary Christmas traditions from both our families.
Glasses at the ready!
Here is our menu:


·       Natural Oysters

·       Gigantic Prawns accompanied by my Grandfather’s secret seafood sauce

·       Smoked Salmon Terrine

· Salmon Carpaccio


·       Father-in-law’s Baked Ham

·       Baked Snapper (as per above!)

·       Potatoes baked in Duck Fat

·       Sugar snap peas and beans

·       Green salads



·       Traditional pudding made as per the Husband’s late grandmother’s recipe

·       Ice cream Christmas pudding (recipe devised by my Mother & Aunt)


Unfortunately, we were enjoying the meal so much that I forgot to photograph the delicious ham and desserts. There is always next Christmas!