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Article: Ideas for Appetizers, Soups, Main Courses and Desserts

Ideas for Appetizers, Soups, Main Courses and Desserts

Christmas is a time for gathering with loved ones, sharing laughter and savouring the flavours of the festive season. It has a unique connection with culinary traditions and, in this blog, we'll embark on a delightful culinary exploration through four classic Christmas courses. We'll explore two enticing appetizers, two delicious soups, two traditional main courses and two delectable desserts. Each dish has earned its place as a holiday favourite, and we'll delve into the significance and flavours that make them so special. To inspire your festive menu, we've included links to renowned chefs' recipes.

A delicious christmas feast

Appetizers

Garlic Prawns

Our Christmas feast begins with the tantalising flavours of an oldie but a goodie - garlic prawns. For this dish, you'll need plump prawns (and there are usually plenty about, come Christmas-time), fresh garlic and butter. Start by sautéing the prawns in a generous amount of garlic-infused, buttery sauce and wait until they turn pink and tender. The richness of the prawns paired with the aromatic garlic creates an appetizer that sets the tone for a memorable Christmas meal.

Jamie Oliver, the well-known British chef, offers his take on this classic garlic prawn dish in the form of prawn kebabs. This delicious recipe uses fresh, high-quality ingredients and is simple to prepare, making it an ideal starter for your Christmas feast. Oh, and don’t forget the bread (baguette style is best) to soak up the scrumptious tomato-based sauce!

Garlic Prawn Kebabs

Garlic Prawn Kebabs

Credit: Jamie Oliver

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms, a cherished Christmas classic in many families, grace our holiday table with their earthy and savoury goodness. To prepare this dish, you'll need large mushrooms such as portobello, cream cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs. Hollow out the mushrooms and fill them with the creamy, herb-infused stuffing mixture. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is golden brown. These bite-sized morsels offer an irresistible combination of flavours and textures.

There are, of course, plenty of different takes on this delectable vegetarian dish, and our pick for this year is by celebrity chef and restaurateur Matt Moran. His mixture consists of bread crumbs (homemade, bien sûr!), olive oil, oregano, thyme, parsley, garlic (optional if you’ve also made garlic prawns!), pine nuts, lemon zest, wine and parmesan. It’s an easy recipe and only takes about half an hour all up, with prep and cooking.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

Credit: Matt Moran

Soups

Chilled Gazpacho

Transitioning from appetizers to summer soups, we start with a refreshing chilled gazpacho. This Spanish-inspired soup is a celebration of ripe summer vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicums and onions are blended together with a dash of olive oil and vinegar to create a cool and invigorating starter. Perfect to beat the summer heat of an Australian Christmas!

For this one, we were inspired by Neil Perry’s delicious recipe. He opts for vine-ripened tomatoes (although the Italian tinned variety are a good hack), Lebanese cucumber, red and green capsicum, red chillies, garlic, onion, vinegar, olive oil, Tabasco sauce and a healthy dose of seasoning. Also included are the steps for crunchy croutons – irresistible to many a soup lover! 

Chilled Gazpacho

Chilled Gazpacho

Credit: ABC Everyday

Avocado and Lime Soup

Another summer delight, avocado and lime soup brings a creamy and zesty twist to your Christmas menu. This soup features ripe avocados, tangy lime juice and a touch of fresh coriander (also called cilantro) for a burst of flavour. With peak season for avocados in Australia being April to December, there’s generally no shortage of this versatile and healthy fruit at Christmastime. And the soup is such a light and refreshing option, perfect for starting a festive summer meal.

Here we turned to a recipe on the Eat Smarter! website, which highlights the simplicity and vibrancy of fresh ingredients. With a straightforward five-step method and using everyday ingredients (avocados, onion, butter, chili peppers, coriander, vegetable stock and seasoning), this is a soup you’ll have on the Christmas table in no time at all!

Avocado and Lime Soup with Coriander

Avocado and Lime Soup with Coriander

Credit: Eat Smarter!

Main Courses

Roast Pork 

The centrepiece of our Christmas feast is usually a succulent roast pork with apple sauce. For this dish, you'll need a pork loin or shoulder, apples, brown sugar and spices. Begin by roasting the pork until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender. While it roasts, prepare a delicious apple sauce by simmering apples with brown sugar and spices until they are soft and fragrant. (Or sidestep and buy it ready-made.) Paired with the roast pork, the apple sauce strikes a perfect balance of flavours, making it an all-time Christmas classic.

Or how about trying a new approach this year with Donna Hay’s sage and fennel roast pork with cider apples? With her culinary prowess, attention to detail and expert techniques, this Australian food stylist and magazine editor shows us the way to a succulent and flavourful roast that’s well worth the little extra effort. Mouthwatering!

Sage and Fennel Roasted Pork with Cider Apples

Sage and Fennel Roasted Pork with Cider Apples

Credit: Donna Hay

Vegetarian Wellington

For a delightful vegetarian main course that celebrates the holiday season, consider the Vegetarian Wellington. This hearty dish features a flavoursome mix of vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs wrapped in puff pastry. A perfect meat-free alternative to the mighty Beef Wellington! 

And, if you’re feeling really creative, why not try Gordon Ramsay’s scrumptious recipe? It elevates this dish to a truly gourmet level. You’ll need to take your time to prepare and cook the super tasty vegetable mix (mushrooms, parsnips, hazelnuts, tarragon, panko, cheese and egg), blanch some cabbage leaves, make a crêpe, assemble, wrap in pastry, and bake. Not for the feint-hearted, this dish will be sure to impress!

Vegetarian Wellington

Vegetarian Wellington

Credit: Gordon Ramsay

Desserts

Pavlova

A quintessentially Australian dessert, the pavlova is a delicate and elegant dish ranked at the top of many people’s favourite Christmas food lists. While you might opt to buy one ready-made and then get creative with a yummy topping, this might be the year to make your own! (With a nod to the resident expert dessert makers in many families who’ve been doing so for years! – thinking of you, Aunty Julie!) 

For this festive dessert, you'll need egg whites, sugar, cornstarch and vinegar. Create a crisp meringue base by whipping the egg whites and sugar until stiff, then fold in the cornstarch and vinegar. Bake until the exterior is crisp, and the interior is marshmallow-like. Top with a vibrant medley of fresh berries and a luscious drizzle of whipped cream. 

Or try the mini version – ideal for smaller groups of diners. We love Australian cooking icon Maggie Beer’s recipe, which creates a perfectly crisp meringue on the outside and a perfect marshmallow inside. Pop bowls of cream and fruit on the table so everyone can decorate to suit their own tastes!

Mini Pavlovas

Mini Pavlovas

Credit: Maggie Beer

Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)

Finishing off our list of favourites for Christmas 2023 is the scrumptious Yule Log or Bûche de Noël. In contrast to the pavlova, this dessert pays homage to a centuries-old European tradition. Originally intended for the white Christmas of the northern hemisphere, the Yule Log represents the celebration of the winter solstice, where families would burn a large log to (depending on the tradition) either symbolise guiding beacons for the Christ Child or banish evil spirits and welcome the return of the sun. Today, it's a visually stunning dessert that captures the magic of the festive season.

The simple steps are to create a light sponge cake, roll it with a creamy filling and then decorate to resemble a log. But we can’t go past the recipe of popular TV personality and YouTuber, Chef Jean-Pierre. Every ingredient, cooking utensil and detail of the method is spelled out and there’s a helpful (and fun) video guide as well. This could be your culinary showpiece this Christmas!

Yule Loge or Bûche de Noël

Yule Loge or Bûche de Noël

Credit: Chef Jean-Pierre

In our exploration of these traditional Christmas courses, we've uncovered a rich array of flavours that define the festive season. From delectable appetizers and soups to rich, flavoursome main courses and delightful desserts, each dish brings its special charm and significance to the dining table. 

As you prepare your Christmas feast, whether you opt for cherished family recipes, innovative dishes or culinary inspirations, may your celebration be filled with joy, togetherness and the delightful flavours of tradition and creativity.

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