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Article: Fantastic Food For Christmas!

Fantastic Food For Christmas!

Our Ten Favourite Dishes for 2022

Imagine how under-dressed the Christmas dinner table would feel without a snappy cracker on each place setting! Since they originated in the UK in the 1840s and really hit their straps in the 1860s, crackers (or bonbons – whatever term takes your fancy), have been a wonderful part of the Christmas tradition in many countries. 

In most instances, we crack the bonbon before serving one of the meal courses. In this way, everyone can be elegantly coiffed with a paper crown, found inside the cracker, throughout the dining experience. Here at Bonbon Fusion, we’ve been told that many people enjoy opening our crackers between the entrée or main course or main course and dessert. Not only does this create lots of between-course fun with our interactive games, it’s also sure to set a joyous mood for the rest of the meal. And, of course, every player gets their own paper crown!

And now that we’re talking about food … what better topic for this December blog than some of our favourite Christmas dishes? We have to admit, it was hard to whittle down our very extensive list, with so many delicious options to choose from, but we’ve made some tough choices and bring you ten irresistible plates for Christmas 2022!

Fantastic christmas food ideas

Appetisers

Tasty Savoury Pinwheels

We’ve included a few alerts in this list of favourites, and here’s the first one: If you’re chasing a modern, novel dish, then skip this one! This is a tried-and-true palate pleaser that we’ve been cooking in our family for decades. It’s scrumptious, easy to make, and great for larger groups who are feeling peckish before the main event. 

You’ll find lots of savoury pinwheel recipes online but, for us, the simpler the better. Try this delight from Honey Kitchen, requiring only seven everyday ingredients (sausage mince and puff pastry being the heroes of the dish) and 30 minutes’ cooking time. 

It’s inexpensive and adaptable – you can replace the sausage mince with any variety of options, such as tinned salmon, spinach and fetta, pizza topping, fetta and pine nuts, chorizo and cheese … and the list goes on. Plus, you can freeze the uncooked mixture for up to four weeks and then bake while frozen for 35 minutes, making this a great standby for any unexpected Christmas dinner guests!

Savoury Pinwheels

Savoury Pinwheels

Credit: All Recipes

Caviar Waffle Bites

Caviar? we hear you say! Well, yes, it’s a bit of an extravagance but this is the Christmas season! And, besides, there’s plenty more on the market than the luxury Beluga! Check out these tasty alternatives suggested by Riccardo Meggatio.

It was the imagination behind this creation that first drew us in. New York recipe developer Justin Chapple has made this perfect and oh-so-morish appetiser by taking the popular waffle, cutting it into strips and filling the pockets with caviar, crème fraiche and snips of chives. So mouth-watering, don’t you think?

Caviar Waffle Bites

Caviar Waffle Bites

Credit: Food & Wine

This is a simple four-step recipe and you might need a waffle iron. However, we do a cooking hack on this one and use store-bought waffles (a quality brand, of course 😊!). Then it’s just a matter of following the grid marks to cut each waffle, first into four wedges and then into three long rectangular pieces. This gives you 12 pieces per waffle (the homemade version generates 24 pieces in total), which just need some caviar spooned into the outmost square, a small dollop of crème fraiche piped into its neighbour and a chive garnish added as a final touch.

If you do make your own waffles (full credit to you!), they can be made ahead of time, frozen for up to three months and reheated in about five minutes. A sure crowd-pleaser!

Soup

Spider Crab Bisque

Second reader alert – there’s some name dropping ahead … 

I first discovered this soon-to-be favourite on my first and only dining experience at the historic haven of French gastronomy, Maxim’s de Paris. Located on the wonderful Rue Royale, the restaurant caught the eye of a friend I was with one evening on a double-decker bus tour of the city. I laughed at his suggestion that we stop there for dinner – what, with no reservation and all! However, stop we did, only to be warmly greeted by the maître d', whose only query was whether Monsieur would prefer to wear a cravate (fortunately they had ties for loan!) 

The entire meal was superb and the highlight was the soupe d'araignée (spider crab soup). And, while we’ve never tracked down the Maxim’s recipe, this one by Stephane Reynaud at  Goodfood is hard to go past!

Spider Crab Bisque

Spider Crab Bisque

Credit: Goodfood

The main ingredient of six fresh spider or blue swimmer crabs might take a bit of tracking down but, once that’s done, the rest should be easy to locate: potatoes, carrots, French shallots, olive oil, white wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, pouring cream, salt and pepper. 

And then onto Stephane’s clearly-explained method, which, apart from the crab preparation, is relatively uncomplicated and worth every minute spent! Yum!

Celeriac, Hazelnut & Truffle Soup 

As a healthy, vegan precursor to the main dish, we love this celeriac and hazelnut soup. Plus, the truffle oil adds a touch of luxury and lifts the soup to a level fit for the celebration!

One thing to note: celeriac (celery root) is generally in season in Australia from around March to October (although this depends on the region and grower). So, you might like to try a substitute, such as chopped carrots (they give a sweeter flavour), if you prefer to avoid cold storage. Alternatively, consider preparing and freezing it late in the season, ready for the final flourishes at Christmas. 

Turning to Goodfood again, Sophie Godwin suggests an excellent four-step recipe for this delicious menu item, which consists of vegetables (celeriac, onion, potato, garlic), herbs (thyme, bay leaves), oil (olive, truffle) vegetable stock (check the label for the vegan option), soya cream and blanched hazelnuts. It only takes 20 minutes to prepare, 45 minutes to cook, and serves six. 

Convinced to give this one a try? If so, try to source a good truffle oil. It’s widely available and there are some really special varieties on the market, such as la Tourangelle (available in black or white) at the Culinary Club. Originating from the Loire Valley in France and following a 150-year tradition, this truffle-infused grapeseed oil will bring that special something to many a dish over the festive season!

Celeriac, Hazelnut & Truffle Soup

Celeriac, Hazelnut & Truffle Soup

Credit: BBC Goodfood

Entrée

Asparagus with Pink Peppercorn Dressing

In season from August to December, asparagus is the perfect candidate for a light, nutritious and tasty entrée. And lots of non-vegetable lovers nevertheless warm to this crisp, flavoursome delight! Did you know it’s been prized by gourmets since the Roman times? 

Of course, you might prefer the classic accompaniment of hollandaise sauce, but we opt for this two-step, no-fuss method. A bit of time economy in the kitchen never goes astray! In fact, as the recipe we’re linking to suggests the barbecue method, it might be a matter of only a few minutes’ prep time in the kitchen, anyway. 

You might find you have many of the ingredients already at hand for this dish – light olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, shallot, pink peppercorns and two bunches of the freshest asparagus you can find (adjust amounts, as required). 

The two steps suggested by Taste are to char grill the asparagus for two minutes and then combine the remaining ingredients before serving. You can fire up the barbie or follow any number of methods. Check out Jessica Gavin’s six ways of boiling, steaming, roasting, sautéing, broiling and pan roasting. We also like Jessica’s tips about selecting, storing and preparing asparagus. 

Asparagus with Pink Peppercorn Dressing

Asparagus with Pink Peppercorn Dressing

Credit: Taste

Garlic Haloumi Chips with Lemon & Oregano Pepper

With co-founder Nick McLean having a particular fondness for haloumi, our Christmas dinner is never complete without at least one such dish on the menu! While usually opting for a haloumi salad (try this one by the Women’s Weekly), we’ve decided to mix it up this year with these delicious haloumi chips. 

Another Taste creation, these chips are simple to make and bound to be a winner if you have kids (big and little) about. Just one tip – they need to be served immediately for the best flavour and crunch hit. However, you can prepare the haloumi and seasoning mix well in advance, leaving just the frying until the last minute. The ingredients are generally readily available – two packs of haloumi, plain flour, garlic powder, oregano (dried and fresh), vegetable oil, lemon zest and black pepper. 

A few tips for the cook: before coating it in flour, be sure to pat the haloumi dry to remove excess moisture and don’t forget to check the use-by dates on your dried oregano and garlic – expired herbs tend to taste like dust!

Now, onto the three-step creation: first you prepare the haloumi and coating mix, then you fry the chips in a large frying pan (in batches with vegetable oil about 1 cm deep) and, lastly, you sprinkle the full batch with your pre-prepared pepper mix. And they’re ready to go!

Garlic Haloumi Chips with Lemon & Oregano Pepper

Garlic Haloumi Chips with Lemon & Oregano Pepper

Credit: Taste

Main Course

Roast turkey and gravy

How could we not include this time-honoured favourite in this year’s list (look for it next year in a different style)! If you managed to catch our October blog, you’ll remember we went on a journey back to the origin of this not-so-humble Christmas staple. 

Many families use the same recipe every year and, if that’s you, then so much the better! But if you’re looking for a change or perhaps another recipe to add to your repertoire, then this one is a beauty! 

Created by British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, this roast turkey and gravy delivers a lot more than its simple title might suggest. It takes a bit of preparation (no surprises there!) and there’ll be no corner cutting, like using Gravox mix or similar (tut tut!), but it will be effort well rewarded!

What we particularly like about this one is the added tips about preparation and choice of ingredients. Heston is big on brining the meat to keep in the moisture so that you end up with a juicier turkey on the Christmas table. He also provides instructions about cooking times and using an accurate thermometer to avoid over-cooking. Come the ingredients, the butter must be unsalted, the herbs fresh and the wine dry.

Head over to the Gourmet Traveller website for the recipe for this superlative dish, which is sure to impress!

Roast Turkey & Gravy

Roast Turkey & Gravy

Credit: Gourmet Traveller

Savoury-spiced Baklava

Happily, the days of vegetarians resorting to dining on the side vegetables and salads are long gone! Catering to vegetarian (and other) tastes when groups of people come together is the new norm, and Christmas is, of course, no exception!

This savoury-spiced baklava, created by Janine Ratcliffe at Olive, is a clever spin on the savoury Middle Eastern dessert. It makes a great substitute for the Christmas turkey, although we suggest you make plenty because there’ll be lots of non-vegetarians lining up to try it! It looks and smells divine! 

Pumpkin, chick peas, chestnuts and feta plus a load of herbs and spices constitute the basis of this delicious dish. There are twenty ingredients in total, so some list-writing and shopping will probably be in order. To make it vegan, swap the butter for olive oil and use a vegan feta or simply omit.

As in the sweet version, this baklava uses filo pastry for layering, which can be fiddly and a disincentive for some people. The good news is that high-quality, easy-to-use pastry sheets are widely available in stores. Plus, there’s a step-by-step video on the Olive website, which shows just how smoothly the whole assembly process can be. 

Once the ingredients are prepared, it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to cook. And then onto the table goes this delicious Christmas fare!

Savoury Spiced Baklava

Savoury Spiced Baklava

Credit: Olive

Desserts

Tim Tam Cheesecake

Final reader alert – this one is oh, so delicious but definitely not high on the health score! 

Apart from offering a twist on the traditional cheesecake, this recipe adds a real Australian touch with its key ingredient being the iconic Tim Tam. While it might not count among the traditional Christmas desserts, it has lots of pluses - the recipe turns out a perfect cake every time … there’s no baking involved … the centre and crust are both really tasty … it’s creamy and smooth … and … it will have all your Tim Tam lovers rejoicing! 

In addition to the pack of biscuits, you’ll need seven everyday ingredients for the Tim Tam Cheesecake, chiefly, cream cheese, thickened cream and chocolate (refer to 1st sentence!). The method is straightforward and, with a blender and electric mixer at hand, quite quick. 

The two main points to note are that you must refrigerate the crust before adding the filling and you need to allow the cake time to set (try hiding it at the back of the fridge!). 

You can also try different flavours, such as dark chocolate, white chocolate or double coat, although, truth be told, we’ve never been tempted beyond the original variety. Substituting other types of biscuits is also an option, although some might call that downright unpatriotic! 

Tim Tam Cheesecake

Tim Tam Cheesecake

Credit: Best Recipes

Ultimate Christmas Pudding

What the previous dessert might lack in the traditional Christmas-fare stakes is more than compensated for in the age-old Christmas pudding! In our October blog, we wrote about its origins in 14th century England, so this is a dish to be respected! It might wax and wane in popularity across different generations but it’s just so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine it losing its place of honour among the Christmas desserts anytime soon! 

Unsurprisingly, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to recipes, and many families have their own, sometimes passed down through the generations. Among our favourites is the Ultimate Christmas Pudding by English food writer and television cook Nigella Lawson. It’s a real treat and delivers on its promise of being moist, sticky and meltingly light. Nigella calls it ‘the Queen of Christmas puddings’!

This is a dessert that prefers a slow and attentive creation process. Allow lots of preparation and cooking time and try bringing in helpers, particularly if you’re doing the stirring by hand. It’s fun, the smell is divine and, what’s more, there’s a whole tradition around being involved in the pudding prep (check out our October blog for its history)!

The Ultimate Christmas Pudding method begins with the traditional steeping of dried fruits in sherry (for up to a week) and then on to the stirring of ingredients and steaming of the mixture. No real surprises there, but there are lots of helpful hints along the way and some special flourishes at the end, such as flaming the pudding in vodka and serving it with eggnog cream. A fine way to complete a magnificent Christmas feast!

The Ultimate Christmas Pudding

The Ultimate Christmas Pudding

Credit: Nigella Lawson

§ § § 

That’s it for this year’s favourites, and we have plenty more in store for 2023! We hope you enjoy these or whatever delicious dishes come your way this Christmas. And, as the year comes to a close, we would like to wish you all a very merry and joyous Christmas and New Year.

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