Four days to go, or five if you live in northern climes … there’s no stopping the arrival of Christmas day, it is coming to you some day soon. This year we have opted out of present-giving, and it is such a relief. I have not had to keep lists (lest I forget brilliant gift ideas that occur to me throughout the year), trawl the shops with the masses, fret about the choices I made, count the pennies and hide stuff away in order not to ruin the surprise. The Christmas tree does not look bereft, the lights still twinkle, and the house looks very festive. I’ve just saved myself hours of stress by not getting caught up in the whole commercial nightmare of Christmas shopping. Instead, our family will enjoy delicious food and more bottles of Champagne than is probably good for us. Great! Pop another cork! There’s no better time to celebrate than when you have your nearest and dearest with you.
I don’t eat pavlova as a rule, although I love meringues and cream, but I’m a fussbum and like it just so. I like the meringue shell crisp, the centre marshmallowy, with not a weeping goobeyish bit in sight. It’s hard to make a decent one without a cake mixer, because the mixture becomes very dense once sugar is added and it gets tiring mixing it until stiff. Follow my method and success is guaranteed – you’ll produce the best pavlova ever! The great thing about a pavlova on Christmas day is that it can be filled in the morning then trotted out when everyone feels they can cope with more food. The best cream to use is Lewis Road Double Cream. It’s more expensive than regular cream, but its higher fat content ensures it doesn’t weep. Your fridge will probably be bursting, but a filled pavlova must be kept cold. Fill a large chilly bin with ice and rest the pav on that and cover with a food umbrella (or use the bath!). Kiwi ingenuity … you’ll find a place. Pavlova
Ovens generally get a real work over on Christmas day. Remember the whole country is drawing power from the grid at pretty much the same time and you might not quite have the same power as normal, so allow a little longer to cook things. And open the oven door only when necessary, and don’t leave it gaping open while you toss, baste or turn food to avoid unnecessary loss of heat. The same thing applies to your fridge, but in reverse. Open it, get out what you need, and close it immediately to avoid losing cold air.
Juggling a festive menu with a single oven is tricky. I like to get some vegetable dishes cooked ahead to free the oven for dishes that need to be served hot. We love this roasted kumara and pumpkin salad – it’s loaded with flavour and will go with most meats or happily form part of an all-vegetable feast.
Our last festive dish this week is our favourite feta and char-grilled red pepper dip. It is so addictive with its nice little salty hit, and a sprinkle or two of chilli flakes on top gives a sneaky heat.
Shared Kitchen foodie goodies can still be ordered through the summer months, as can the FURI knives, and if you are considering a trip to Italy in 2017, have a natter with friends over the summer break about joining our fabulous foodie trip to Puglia in May. There are still some places!
All that’s left is to wish you all a fabulous festive week. Slow down, have a cup of tea and a second mince pie, or a 5 o’clock snifter with a friend, whatever is necessary to relax a bit and lower the stress. Santa will turn up no matter what!
There are heaps of festive recipes on Shared Kitchen, and I will put a list up on the Home Page by the end of today, so check back if you are short of ideas.
Have a very merry Christmas. And may PEACE be with you all.