December 14, 2016
How can it be mid-December already? It’s time to start planning and prepping for the parade of celebratory meals coming up, from our Christmas party to New Year’s brunch.
It’s the time of year to pull out all the stops with some traditional recipes, like homemade mincemeat and panettone, and some new things, like the sticky toffee pudding I’m going to make this year for our Christmas dinner dessert instead of plum pudding. The cake itself, moistened with grated ripe pears and soft Medjool dates, can be made in advance and frozen - ditto the sticky toffee sauce, which only needs to be warmed before serving. It’s kid-friendly served with ice cream and toffee sauce (OK, this is the way I like it too - and because we’ve been able to freeze the insert of our ice cream machine outside this week, we’ve been making lots of ice cream), or you could douse it with bourbon or rum if you like boozy desserts. Or spike the toffee sauce with bourbon!
And then there are the Big Dinners. Because not everyone loves turkey as much as I do, we’re planning to make prime rib with Yorkshire puddings and gravy for at least one of our big family dinners. Prime rib can be scary to make, but once you’ve tried the blast-it-at-high-temperature-then-turn-off-the-oven-and-don’t-peek-for-2-hours method, you’ll realize how easy it is - the roast emerges from the oven already rested and ready to slice, in a pool of drippings that are ready to go (if you want to serve it au jus) or get quickly transformed into gravy.
Our annual Christmas party is cheese-themed - everyone brings a chunk of it, or cheesy crackers, a cheesy dip or cheese ball - and we load up on crackers and bake a ton of easy desserts, like butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, some of the cookies we froze after our cookie exchange, and perhaps an upside-down pear gingerbread topped with maple-sweetened whipped cream. But I think my favourite meals to plan during the holiday season are the breakfasts and brunches - I love having more time to lounge in the mornings, and it’s often easier to gather friends and family (especially the ones with kids) in the morning. (It’s more affordable too - all you need is a couple bottles of prosecco and some OJ or pink grapefruit juice to make fizzy mimosas!) Eggs Benny is suitably festive, and to really put them over the top I like to nestle them on top of cheesy waffles, which gives the hollandaise plenty of nooks and crannies to dribble down into.
Of course if you just want to snooze and not spend too much time in the kitchen in the morning, panettone French toast is brilliant - I always keep a loaf or two on hand to nibble toasted, with butter, and to turn into French toast. Super festive with minimal effort!
Happy holidays everyone!
Standing rib roast
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I’m a fan of the roast chicken. Not only is it simple, versatile and delicious, it makes the best leftovers.