Make the most of Christmas Day with these fail-safe recipes.
I love hearing about people's Christmas food traditions. The only truly constant for my family is croissants, cherries and bubbles for breakfast.
We usually have lamb and ham to ensure the leftovers go for days - Boxing Day ham and cheese toasties are not to be missed. This year we will be at the beach, so I've kept things simple. A couple of big salads and salmon as the main makes this is a low-key, summery Christmas menu. Whatever you end up cooking and eating, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.
I did a cooking course with a nonna on a farm when I was in Tuscany this year. It was fun, and learning about proper crostini/bruschetta was a revelation. Rubbing raw garlic on the bread before toasting gives a subtle yet crucial flavour. This recipe will only be as good as the ingredients you use. I used a Wild Wheat sourdough baguette, Ghiotti salami and J. Friend beechwood honeydew honey.
1 good-quality baguette
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Olive oil, for drizzling
80g (approx) good-quality salami
100g good-quality pecorino cheese
Small bunch fresh thyme
Small drizzle runny honey (about 1 tsp)
1 Cut the baguette into 1cm-thick slices. Place on a baking tray and rub the raw garlic clove gently on to one side of each slice.
2 Drizzle over a little olive oil and grill at 180C for a few minutes, until the bread just starts to colour.
3 Remove from the oven and carefully turn over each slice of bread. Tear the salami into pieces, and place on to each piece of bread. Cover with a slice of pecorino. Scatter the thyme leaves over the crostini and crack over some black pepper. Return to the oven.
4 Grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden. Remove from the oven and drizzle a thin amount of honey over the crostini. Scatter over more thyme leaves if you have them and serve immediately.
Salmon with fennel and lemon
1 side of salmon (approx 150g per person)
1 large fennel bulb, cut into ½ cm slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch dill (or use just use fennel fronds)
1 small bunch tarragon
1 Heat oven to 180C. Lay salmon on a roasting tray.
2 Add fennel slices to the tray.
Slice one of the lemons, unpeeled, into very thin slices and place on the tray. With the other lemon, finely grate over the zest, then squeeze over the juice, catching any pips.
3 Sprinkle over a generous pinch sea salt flakes. Drizzle over the olive oil, then scatter over the herbs.
4 Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on how big your salmon is. When it's done the centre should be opaque and flakes will come away with a fork.
5 Sprinkle over additional dill and serve.
Festive greens orzo salad
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 clove fresh New Zealand garlic, crushed
1 tsp dijon mustard
Small pinch chilli flakes
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 red onion
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 cup cooked orzo
1 bunch asparagus
½ cup broad beans, shelled
Small bunch each of fresh mint, parsley and basil, roughly chopped
¼ cup toasted, chopped almonds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 Whisk all dressing ingredients until combined. Taste and adjust as necessary.
2 Scatter the red onion on to a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt flakes. Roast at 200C for about 15 minutes, until some pieces are soft and some are charred slightly. Set aside.
3 Add the cooked orzo to a large mixing bowl. Blanch the asparagus and broad beans, and after rinsing in cold water, add to the orzo. Add the soft onions, herbs, almonds and sesame seeds. Dress and serve.
Haloumi, avocado and mango salad
½ red onion
Juice of ½ lemon
1 block haloumi
Oil, for frying
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe mango
1 tsp roughly chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp dry-roasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 Thinly slice the red onion and place in a small dish. Cover in lemon juice and set aside.
2 Fry the haloumi in a hot pan with a little oil, until golden on each side.
3 Cut the avocado into large dice or slices and arrange on the serving dish. Add the mango, cut into chunks or slices. Add the onion slices and the lemon juice, then scatter over the haloumi. Garnish with mint and hazelnuts.
Festive banoffee tart
I vividly remember learning to make banoffee tart when I was about 12. That version used a base made with wine biscuits and butter, and I remember thinking that boiling whole tins of condensed milk to make caramel was like magic.
For this version I cheated by buying the tart shell (a good-quality French bakery one from the supermarket) and the caramel, which meant the tart - which looks impressive and tastes amazing - took 10 minutes to assemble.
To make this gluten free, you can find a gluten-free tart shell recipe (there is one from my chocolate ganache tart from last year's Christmas recipes on bite.co.nz)
1 sweet pastry tart shell, approx 20cm
395g tin sweetened condensed milk (or use 395g tin pre-made caramel)
2 ripe bananas (I use All Good fair trade bananas)
250ml cream (I use Lewis Road Creamery)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or the seeds of 1 vanilla pod, or 1 tsp good-quality vanilla extract (I use heilala vanilla)
4-5 strawberries, sliced
Seeds of ½ pomegranate
1 If using condensed milk to make your caramel, place the tin unopened into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours, turning the tin carefully with tongs at intervals and topping up with more water to keep the tin covered. Allow to cool fully before opening the tin. When you open it, your caramel will be ready.
2 To assemble the tart, cover the tart base with a generous layer of caramel. Slice the bananas, and layer on top.
3 Gently whip the cream with the vanilla paste or seeds and spread over the bananas.
4 Garnish with strawberry slices and pomegranate seeds. The tart can be eaten immediately or made ahead and kept in the fridge a few hours. Remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving.