During our years in Sydney, Christmas dinner was an easier affair. In the heat of summer, the Australian Christmas feast includes as much fish and salads as heavy hunks of meat - with heaps of oysters and prawns, and tuna and salmon steaks flung on the barbeque amongst the sausages.
Back in the UK of course meat is the undisputed centrepiece. And so, wherever we go for Christmas, we are always met with the question: "what are you two going to eat on Christmas day?" It feels awkward. Extra effort has to be made to accommodate your 'difficult' dietary requirements. So, this year, we offered to cook the whole Christmas dinner ourselves: vegetarian style.
A preconception-challenging, tradition-upheaving, Christmas dinner revolution!
After some research and a few practice runs, we settled on a pie as our centrepiece. This pie to be precise - a triple layered feast of spinach, ricotta, pearl barley, mushroom, chestnut and butternut squash.
After the run-through revealed that the timings given in the recipe were overly optimistic (40 minutes preparation time was more like 4 hours), we made the pie on Christmas eve and kept it in the fridge overnight. It looked like this:
We put it in the oven at 11am on Christmas day, and by 2pm it looked like this:
And here it is as part of the full spread: we did all the usual roastie trimmings, with sprouts and peas too.
For pud, we baked pears (again, the day before) in a mix of white wine, brandy and apple juice, seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. We thickened up the juice with arrowroot to make a syrup. It made a nice alternative to Christmas pudding, which I can NEVER eat after a big roast dinner and I am astounded by anyone who claims they can.
Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without a bit of Christmas pudding. We didn't make a pudding, but we made a compote of stewed fruit in Marsala for the same effect. Delicious!
Anyone got any other good alternative Christmas dinner ideas?