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Help with christmas dinner for a newbie

(17 Posts)
Myneaux Tue 23-Oct-12 15:10:41

Hello everyone

After many years enduring enjoying christmas dinner at the MIL I am hosting this year.

There will only be the 3 of us and DS aged three and I am fairly comfortable doing the usual Sunday roast so that doesnt really faze me....but I would like to put on an effortless, sumptuous feast and not spend all day in the kitchen plus eat a nice christmas dinner for the first time in 15 years.

I will be doing beef and the usual veg....but unsure what to do about a starter and pudding? Growing up we just had yorkshire puds as a starter (local tradition) and cheesecake for pud (as no one liked christmas puddings). But, my mum is a very informal, plain cook who sensibly didnt try to impress and just wanted everyone to enjoy. MIL on the other hand likes things done the 'correct way' eventhough her own efforts always consisted of dry meat and soggy veg (kept for hours in the heated hostress trolley !!!'

So....do i have to do a starter (dont like smoked salmon so not an option)? and can you recommend a nice pud which can preferably be made a couple of days in advance. Also can you do braised red cabbage in advance and zap in the microwave?

Many thanks

AMumInScotland Tue 23-Oct-12 15:35:01

If you are happy and confident doing "plain" food, then do plain food. Don't let MIL make you think that you "ought" to be doing things her way.

I find a starter a total pain, as it's just at the point where I am stirring everything and getting things out of the oven. But if you want to do something, how about just some little nibbles, they could come out of the fridge and your DH could take them through to the lounge (assuming he will be there keeping MIL and DS out of your hair while you cook). Looks posh, but doesn't interfere with the cooking.

Cheesecake sounds lovely to me. I normally do a trifle, which can be done the day before, and have an option on single-person Christmas puds which can be microwaved if anyone really wants one (which they never do in my family)

Myneaux Tue 23-Oct-12 15:41:36

I want to do a mixture of plain food but look like ive made a special effort (but in an effortless way iyswim !)

I just cant see the point of starters as you have so much to eat anyway....plus I have to think about DS who will def not sit still for 3 courses. I think nibbles is the way forward !

thanks for the reassurance

ISingSoprano Tue 23-Oct-12 15:44:06

I think a starter on Christmas Day is a bit unnecessary - I'd rather leave room for pud! Braised red cabbage can be cooked weeks in advance as it freezes really well, then just zap it in the microwave or put in a covered dish in the bottom of the oven to warm through (if you have enough oven space).

Good luck!

ContinentalKat Tue 23-Oct-12 15:55:52

I wouldn't bother with formal starters, just a few nibbles on the table.
Trifle or Tiramisu is a good idea for pudding, both can be made the day before. Google "Waitrose easy tiramisu recipe", it's the easiest I know.

You're lucky that nobody expects a bloody turkey! We will be hosting this Christmas and my plan is to say that either they eat what I want to cook or they can do the cooking. I hate Christmas.

milk Tue 23-Oct-12 16:00:17

Dessert:

Gu hot chocolate melting middles. They come in packs of 2, and are totally delicious and impressive grin

Waswondering Tue 23-Oct-12 16:09:06

Pudding if feeling extravagent?

Or choc truffles DIY

For starter: soup? melon/parma ham concoction?

smile

mateysmum Tue 23-Oct-12 16:10:21

Cheesecake sounds fine as you can dress it up with cream and berries and it is best made in advance. Trifle is a Christmas classic and it doesn't have to be the boring jelly one (I hate jelly in trifle).

For a starter, yes nibbles are good and shock horror apparently you can buy quite good ones in the supermarket these days! Whatever you decide, keep the starters light - not too much bread or everyone will be stuffed before the beef. Or if you go for sit down, you could just serve some baby salad leaves and baby tomatoes etc with some prawns or pate - minimum prep and you can do it a while in advance and just dress the leaves at the last moment.

It's your cooking,do what you want.

DontmindifIdo Tue 23-Oct-12 16:15:11

If you want to do formal starters and pudding, could you buy some posh pate and have it with little toast triangles for a starter? Pretty instant and minimum fuss.

For pudding, I'd do a choice, buy a Christmas pudding if it's what your MIL wants/expects and then do cheesecake as "your family tradition". (and then watch everyone eat your cheesecake instead of pudding).

Whatever you go with, I'd go for as easy as possible to ensure you keep the cooking to a minimum. Once everything's in the ovan you can then relax and you want your starters/puddings to be easy.

Myneaux Wed 24-Oct-12 08:54:27

thanks everyone for all your suggestions....yes I am lucky I dont have to do bloody turkey ! Fortunately eating different types of meat is a family tradition on both sides and I actually dont think MIL will expect a christmas pud either.

However, i was thinking about doing a hot pudding...maybe something lighter than christmas pud but still festive (think I am imagining something orangey maybe?). DH doesnt like chocolate so choc puddings are out (Yes I know - crazy fool !).

Am definitely going to stick to nibbles for the starter....can use DS as an excuse as there is no way he is going to sit still for three courses. I think I may even buy them too. We are having a --piss up--party for friends/DS friends on Christmas eve so want to keep things as simple as possible.

Good news that cabbage freezes too - I love red cabbage but never had it for christmas before always end up with sodding sprouts.

I think I am actually looking forward to this now....at least I get to do things my way and eat nice food. DH can deal with the MIL while I enjoy the wine peace and quiet in the kitchen.

loubielou31 Wed 24-Oct-12 12:49:23

If you wanted to sound posh you could call the nibbles canapes. Same thing really.
Pate and little toasts is a nice easy starter thats not too filling, also parma ham wrapped round I want to say prunes.
In fact I've just found this thread that might do the job.

gregssausageroll Wed 24-Oct-12 13:34:59

For a starter you could do a meze plate with cheese, meats, hummus, bread sticks, olives etc. That way it is on a plate and guests can eat and have a glass of fizzy while the mains are heating?

higgle Wed 24-Oct-12 14:59:22

We always have champagne and nibbles at 12 noon and lunch at 2pm. I get the little canapes from Waitrose, or make blinis in advance and top with various bits.

shesariver Wed 24-Oct-12 15:17:27

I know you fancy nibbles but pate by itself is such an easy starter - minimum prep - and can be put on a plate in advance with oatcakes, redcurrant jelly and a little salad.

Are you going to make the pudding itself or are you going to buy a lovely shop bought desert and pass it off as homemade by sprinkling some icing sugar on it ?

Myneaux Wed 24-Oct-12 15:44:15

I think I will do nibbles.....the trouble I have is finding a starter that we all like....DH doesnt like pate, MIL is diabetic and has to watch the amount of carbs she eats. I could do something prawny (or maybe mushroom) I suppose as we all like those... bonus points from MIL as she would think that anything I considered to be a bit 'retro' to be the height of sophistication.

And.....how do you do cook veg etc (ie brocolli carrots damned sprouts) if you are sat eating a starter?..do you just excuse yourself afterwards to go and finish the cooking?.

Spoke to DH and he was like 'you are going to do a starter...are you mad !'...forget it and have more roast potatoes !

Ideally want to cook the pudding.....but definately needs to be something I can make in advance and then heat up. I can do a good cheesecake but worried about where I would keep it as I am expecting the fridge to be full of christmas eve party food.

Waswondering Wed 24-Oct-12 16:16:57

LAst year I did nibbles with champagne ...

... then topped up the wine glasses with whoever was around to head to the kitchen to sort the veg, with the glasses refreshed as needed .... then ate when the veggies were ready (half an hour later than planned, as we were almost ready to go when I remembered to cook Auntie Bessie's roast potatoes! Ah well, was an excuse to refill the glasses once more.

What about smoked mackerel pate as a dip with oatcakes? Lowish on carbs .... Hugh FW has a really nice smkd mack pate recipe which can be done in advance.

shesariver Wed 24-Oct-12 20:40:30

What about good old fashioned prawn cocktail then, easy again to prepare in advance and light.

Re what I do - I always make a traditional family recipe of lentil soup as a starter on Christmas Eve, and just heat it up on the day itself. I dont tend to have any as I serve it up and go back to the kitchen but I dont mind.

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