Christmas in England: “For many of the islanders, this anniversary is memorable (apart from all religious significance) because it evokes a great slaughter of turkeys, geese and all kinds of game, a wholesale massacre of fat oxen, pigs and sheep; they envisage garlands of black puddings, sausages and saveloys... mountains of plum-puddings and oven-fulls of mince-pies... On that day no one in England may go hungry... This is a family gathering, and on every table the same menu is prepared. A joint of beef, a turkey or goose, which is usually the pièce de résistance, accompanied by a ham, sausages and game; then follow the inevitable plum-pudding and the famous mince pies.” - Alfred Suzanne
Christmas in Australia is a Summer Christmas, with temperatures often up in the mid- to high-30˚C mark. This seems to preclude traditional Christmas fare on the Christmas lunch/dinner menu (although there are a few die-hard traditionalists that do the full roast stuffed turkey, roast pork, ham, Christmas cake and hot steamed pudding bit with flaming brandy sauce). Christmas fare has adapted to the climate and season and there many options for cool summery salads, cuts of cold meats, cheeses, assorted seafood, barbeques, ice cream cakes, pavlovas and cool fruit salads.
Here are a few Australian Christmas menus to give you an idea of our Christmas fare:
Watermelon ice with malibu & coconut milk
Barbecued prawns with papaya & chilli relish
Fennel & coriander fish cutlets
Asian greens & tofu salad
Pink grapefruit & endive salad
Grilled vegetables with almond & wasabi dressing
Mango & coconut slice with palm sugar cream
Oysters with ponzu, mignonette sauce and gazpacho salsa
Balmain bug and prawn salad with saffron vinaigrette
Barbecued whole salmon with cracked wheat stuffing and coriander cream
Barbecued fontina and herb polenta fingers
Green leaf salad with lime and macadamia dressing
Soft pavlova roll with liqueur mascarpone and berry compote
Barbecued lime & mint chicken skewers
Oysters with chilli and bacon
Prawns with caper tartare
Barbecued stuffed pork loin
Lemon & oregano lamb racks
Barbecued corn with chilli-herb butter
Prosciutto, green bean & pumpkin salad
Roasted capsicum salad
Cranberry & champagne granita with berries
As you can see, the accent is on informality, with the food to be prepared quickly and to be preferably consumed outdoors: At the beach, in a park, in the backyard, or in a garden. All suited to the glorious summer weather and the heat! Here is the recipe for a Christmas Cake Ice Cream:
Christmas Cake Ice Cream
2 L vanilla ice cream
200 g sultanas
125 g pitted prunes
125 g glace cherries
60 g mixed peel
125 mL rum
160 g toasted almonds
100 g block of dark chocolate, broken up into small pieces
300 mL cream
300 mL cream
1. Leave the ice cream out on the bench to get really soft while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Chop up the chocolate, nuts and fruit into small pieces of roughly the same size, keeping the fruit to one side.
3. Place all of the fruit into a saucepan on medium heat and add the rum.
4. Heat gently for a few minutes so that the fruit begins to soak up the alcohol, then set aside to cool down.
5. Stir the cream into the ice cream, mixing well.
6. Add in everything else and place into a bombe container to freeze overnight.
7. Unmould to serve and decorate with some molten chocolate if desired.