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Need inspiration for 2 big pre-Christmas meals

(22 Posts)
Maria2007loveshersleep Tue 14-Dec-10 17:42:18

Hi ladies

need ideas & inspiration for 2 big pre-Christmas meals which are also celebrations for various things (so I want them to be special & yet relatively stree free, as much as possible).

First meal: 6 of us, this Thursday. Not many special requirements (beans, seeds & blue cheese are out but that's about it). Want to make a Christmas drink/cocktail with nibbles, then straight to a nice main course with side dishes & a good dessert (I prefer dessert to be more complicated & main simpler).

Second meal: this Sunday, 8 of us. No nuts whatsoever allowed, no mince allowed (!). Same requirements as with previous meal (as you can see I avoid starters).

Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

happysmiley Tue 14-Dec-10 18:54:15

For the Xmas cocktail, I would do cosmopolitans, anything with cranberries is xmasy in my book.

For nibbles, keep it simple. Maybe some spiced nuts, or parmasan popcorn is very easy to do. Maybe some cocktail sausages as everyone loves them.

For the mains, maybe beef wellington one day and ham (pref in coke) for the larger gathering. Both are straight forward and teh bulk of the work can be done ahead.

For pudding, depends what you fancy. Puddings that I make a lot around this time of year are all sorts of steamed puddings (think treacle sponge, jam roly poly), pavlova, trifles, cranberry tarts. But all depends on the kinds of things you and your guests might like.

Maria2007loveshersleep Tue 14-Dec-10 19:00:26

A pavlova sounds fantastic (if I'm brave enough!); and actually have never tried it so would be a nice challenge.

I usually make cheesecakes or things like trifle / flourless chocolate cake.

Beef Wellington I've never made. Any idea of a reliable recipe?

happysmiley Tue 14-Dec-10 19:11:39

Pavlova is surprisingly easy! The only difficult bit is the meringue and you make that in advance so on the day it's just an assembly job. If any great disaster befalls your meringue, not that it will, you have loads of time to do something different!

For the beef wellington, this year I'm making Delia's.

Last time I made Gordon Ramsay's. It was very good but this year, I don't fancy the prosciutto bit, hence the change.

Maria2007loveshersleep Tue 14-Dec-10 21:53:34

Delia's beef wellington sounds lovely & doable. Will try it, I think, for my 6 people meal. What should I serve it with? What potatoes & what veg?

The ham I'm not so sure about... Other options?

The pavlova I also like the idea of. Other options (for the 2nd meal)?

happysmiley Tue 14-Dec-10 22:15:34

Well, I'm serving my beef wellington with some garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, baked onions with pancetta, cauli cheese and probably a watercress salad.

For the other main, what kind of meat do you fancy? I usually choose the meat or fish and work from there. This time of year we have lots of roast pork (because I love crackling) and that's quite easy to do for a big group. Or maybe you could do something like a beef stew with some dumplings?

What kind of pudding are you thinking of? Do you want something chocolatey or somethng with fruit? Hot or cold? Stodge or quite light? I love pudding so have lots of ideas but it's quite hard to suggest something when I don't know what you like!

SeriousWispaHabit Tue 14-Dec-10 22:40:54

For the other meal how about 24 hour roast pork with dauphinoise (nigella recipe). Very easy and tastes divine.

How about cranberry bakewell tart for pudding?

SeriousWispaHabit Tue 14-Dec-10 22:41:57

Ignore that pudding suggestion as will have almonds in.

Maria2007loveshersleep Tue 14-Dec-10 23:35:44

Ok for the Thursday meal it'll be:

-cocktail (not sure yet what)
-nibbles (probably just spiced nuts)
-beef Wellington (have done online order) served with boiled new potatoes (tossed in butter/parsley), rocket/watercress/spinach salad. And maybe another veg dish but ocado didn't have cauliflower (out of stock for the moment).
-pavlova with berries (frozen ones)

....and: breathe.

My worry. How will I know beef Wellington is not undercooked or overcooked? And how to prevent soggy pastry?

Maria2007loveshersleep Tue 14-Dec-10 23:42:02

Also, other question. I do want one more side dish for my beef Wellington but I don't have double oven so things like cauli cheese I think are out as I wonder, when will they go in oven? (which is why I chose new potatoes). Any suggestions of a nice side dish- perhaps something creamy/cheesy- as side dish that can be done on stove?

TaffyandTeenyTaffy Tue 14-Dec-10 23:49:41

Just a thought for your pavlova - I make individual ones - frozen berries, lots of whipped cream and a dusting of chocolate. Just as simple to make but you dont have to cut and serve it - which is where it tends to look a bit messy if you are anything like me.

For nibbles how about smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis - perfect with a champagne cocktail.

Good luck - and enoy!

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 15-Dec-10 09:18:17

Taffy-individual pavlovas sound lovely, do you think they're trickier to make than a big pavlova?

happysmiley Wed 15-Dec-10 10:45:11

For the beef wellington don't worry too much about the pastry being soggy. I find that it's hard to get crisp pastry on the bottom but it's always fine on top (so not the end of the world).

I'll do my sides that need to go in the oven the day before and then just put on the bottom shelf to warm through while the beef cooks.

Re the pavlova, individual and big are pretty much the same amount of hassle. I tend to do a big one because it looks more impressive when you bring it out on a cake stand (but agree with Taffy that it looks less impressive once you start to slice it!)

TeaOneSugar Wed 15-Dec-10 13:18:45

happysmiley thanks for the link to the beef wellington recipe, I was planning to do it for christmas eve dinner and was going to post a question about preparing it in advance, all questions are now answered smile

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 15-Dec-10 16:10:29

OK now I'm all set for tomorrow's dinner Many thanks for everyone's suggestions.

...But still need suggestions for sunday's dinner (for 8). I'm playing with the idea of doing a buffet-like dinner rather than a sit-down dinner. In that case, I would opt for smaller dishes but more of them. Same for desserts. Still, wouldn't want too many dishes as I think then that becomes slightly crazy both to cook & to eat. Reminding you, for this meal no nuts allowed, no mince allowed (not sure why, but one of the guests hates it). Am opting for at least one meat dish as a central focus, and then plenty of side dishes, perhaps a pie? tart? And a couple of desserts.

Over to you, would love to hear suggestions for a buffet.

happysmiley Wed 15-Dec-10 17:20:01

How about going for an Italian antipasta selection if you are after a buffet? Lots of lovely bread (foccacia, bread sticks etc), hams, salamis, cheeses and salads. Lots of variety but nothing is too much effort to put together.

Last time I did this sort of thing made these breaded lamb cutlets as part of the selection. There was also a roasted onion and gruyere tart for the veggies.

For dessert I did this chocolate and vanilla semi freddo which is gorgeous.

Maria2007loveshersleep Wed 15-Dec-10 17:40:08

Many thanks Happysmiley. It does sound good; the thing is though, I don't particularly like antipasti... neither do I like semmifredo.

One thing I'd like to make is a tart / quiche / pie that would however rely on ready made pastry (to save time). I'm also thinking: a couple of dips, a couple of veg/salad dishes. And then am a bit stuck!

Also, am thinking a cake/cupcakes like dessert & a more creamy/moussy/puddingy one (always without nuts).

Maria2007loveshersleep Fri 17-Dec-10 08:13:46

Update: happysmiley just wanted to say many many thanks, the meal (based on your recommendations) turned out beautiful.

The beef Wellington (delia's recipe) was lovely & her timings spot on. I served it with boiled new potatoes sauteed with butter/parsley, and also petits pois a la francaise (Nigella recipe) & sauteed cabbage with garlic/pancetta. Very very good.

And the pavlova was great too despite the anxiety about making it. I served with whipped cream, pomegranates & (frozen) berries.

All in all a great success . Now need to find a menu for 8 for Sunday. Still undecided but one thing I know is I want to do simpler things, and also most of the prep in advance...

livvylouis Fri 17-Dec-10 11:06:52

Re the beef wellington James martin uses pancakes to soaf up the beef juices and prevent soggy batter,look here.

livvylouis Fri 17-Dec-10 11:07:15

Soak not soaf

punita123 Fri 17-Dec-10 12:50:24

You can make this delicious recipes on Christmas.

* 1 Turkey 10lb
* 1 Ham
* 20 Potatoes
* 2lb Stuffing Mix
* Parsnips
* 2 Broccoli Heads
* 8 Carrots chopped
* 2 pkts Gravy mix
* 1 jar Mustard
* 1 jar cranberry sauce


* Two Days Before
Collect your Turkey, soak your ham and mix breadcrumbs with herbs for stuffing.

Christmas Eve
Boil Ham for 1 hour. Peel veg and leave in cold water overnight. Parboil potatoes until tender. Dip in melted butter, roll in flour and place on a baking tray. And fry chopped onions in butter and add stuffing mix to fry for 30 minutes.

Christmas Day

-12.00 noon-
Cook turkey according to weight. Cover with tinfoil. Place in oven at 220` C for 30-60 minutes. Reduce heat to 170` C for 2 hours. Increase heat of oven to 200`C. Remove tinfoil for the last 30 minutes to brown the turkey.
Place potatoes in the roasting tin with the turkey. Baste regularly. Reheat Ham for 30 minutes.
Remove most of the fat from ham and score. Smear with mustard and cover with brown sugar.
Put parsnips in oven with potatoes and turkey.
Remove cooked Turkey from oven and leave to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Put ham in oven at 200`C for 30 minutes. Heat stuffing in a frying pan and add nuts
Boil carrots and broccoli for 20 minutes
Remove potatoes and parsnips from roasting tin and
add gravy to turkey juices in the roasting tin.
Carve Turkey and Ham and serve onto plates along with potatoes and stuffing.

Enjoy your Christmas Dinner!

Maria2007loveshersleep Fri 17-Dec-10 13:52:18


But actually it's not a Christmas meal I'll prepare, it's a meal for 8 this Sunday, which I'm thinking of doing in mezze/tapas/party-food style rather than sit down.

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