For some, the word Christmas is enough to bring on an anxiety attack, while for others it's a joyous occasion they can't wait for. If you're hosting Christmas, there's a lot to consider - food, drinks, decorations, and even take-home gifts. It's a lot of planning and it's no wonder some hosts want to hide behind the Christmas tree. However, planning that perfect Christmas needn't be a complete nightmare. Who better to turn to than the team at The Women's Weekly to help you create the perfect menu.
- Christmas: The complete collection, The Australian Women's Weekly, Penguin Random House, $24.
Freeze the piece of salmon for about one hour before cutting; this will make it easier to slice as thinly as possible. Using a long thin knife held at a 45-degree angle, cut the salmon into thin slices.
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 finger limes, halved lengthways, seeds removed (see notes)
500g piece sashimi salmon, sliced thinly
1 shallot, chopped finely
4 watermelon radishes (see notes), trimmed, shaved thinly
1 tbsp fresh dill sprigs
1 cup watercress sprigs
1. Combine juice, oil and finger lime seeds in a small jug or bowl.
2. Arrange salmon slices on serving plates; top with shallot, radishes and dill. Drizzle finger lime dressing over salmon. Season.
3. Cover; refrigerate for one hour. Serve carpaccio with watercress.
Serving suggestion: Serve with thinly sliced toasted bread.
Notes: Finger limes are an aromatic Australian citrus available from selected greengrocers from March to June. Cut in half lengthways to scrape out the juice sacs. Watermelon radishes are available from specialist greengrocers. If you can't find them, use the regular red variety.
Minted roast lamb and vegetables
2.5kg easy-carve leg of lamb
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 cups water
800g baby carrots, scrubbed (see notes)
40g butter, chopped
1/2 cup mint jelly
500g asparagus, trimmed (see notes)
1 tbsp honey
1. Stand lamb at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Rub lamb all over with combined mustard, garlic and salt. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Place lamb on a wire rack in a medium baking dish. Add the water to dish. Roast lamb for 11/2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, trim carrots, leaving tops on. Place the carrots on a large oven tray; dot with half the butter. Roast, on a separate shelf, with lamb for 30 minutes or until tender.
4. Microwave half the jelly in a small microwave-safe bowl for 20 seconds or until melted. Brush lamb with jelly. Roast lamb for a further 40 minutes for medium-rare, brushing again with jelly halfway through cooking, or until done as desired. Cover lamb loosely with foil; stand for 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, place asparagus on oven tray, dot with remaining butter, season; roast for 10 minutes or until just tender.
6. Drizzle carrots with honey and toss to coat. Slice lamb; serve with remaining mint jelly and vegetables.
Notes: You will need two bunches of baby carrots and three bunches of asparagus for this recipe. This recipe is not suitable to freeze.
Pumpkin, rosemary and thyme gratin
1.5kg butternut pumpkin, cut into slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
125g Swiss cheese, sliced
1/2 cup thickened cream
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coarsely chopped stale breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 220C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. Place pumpkin on a tray, drizzle with oil; season. Toss well to coat. Bake for 20 minutes. Add onion, garlic and herbs; toss to combine. Bake for a further 25 minutes or until pumpkin is just tender.
3. Layer pumpkin and cheese in a 1.5-litre ovenproof dish. Combine cream and nutmeg; pour over pumpkin, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
4. Bake gratin for 30 minutes or until golden and heated through.
Do ahead: Recipe can be completed to the end of step two, up to two days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Serves 6 as a side or 10 as part of a buffet.
Fig and eggnog cheesecake
350g fruit cake, cut into 1cm slices
750g packaged cream cheese, softened
300g sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
5 fresh figs, halved
100g red seedless grapes
1 medium pomegranate, seeds removed (see notes)
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line base of a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
2. Cover base of tin with cake slices. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned lightly. Reduce oven to 150C.
3. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, sour cream, extract, brandy, nutmeg and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Pour mixture into tin.
4. Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes or until just set. Cool cheesecake in oven with door ajar. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
5. Stir honey, the water and cinnamon stick in a medium heavy-based frying pan over high heat; bring to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sticky. Remove cinnamon stick.
6. Remove cheesecake from tin, place on a serving plate; top with figs, grapes and pomegranate seeds. Serve drizzled with syrup.
Note: To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, cut the whole pomegranate in half crossways; hold it, cut-side down, in the palm of your hand over a bowl, then hit the outside firmly with a wooden spoon. The seeds should fall out easily; discard any white pith that falls out with them.