have a reputation for bucking tradition, finding our own identity and way forward, so why should Christmas be any different? It’s a time for celebratory fun, catching up with friends and family, travelling. It’s holiday mode for many.
The food you choose to cook and eat can certainly give a nod to tradition without turning you into a slave to your kitchen. Think of food that is appropriate to your climate, your mood, your budget, your favourite flavours and get organised ahead of time so it all appears seamless and so easy. Make sure you can achieve what you set out to do without causing a meltdown.
When it’s hot, start with food that is equally flavoursome to those cold country traditions but in an entirely different way. Change your mindset and prepare a menu that is bursting with summer sunshine. I am always drawn to the beach in summer and a dreamy tropical escape suits the festive season perfectly. I adore the relaxed informality of the beach, the allure of a fun-filled few days on some tropical island where a languid pace reigns supreme.
My code this Christmas is beach-chic and this menu is full of flavours that sing, that are punchy yet refined, that titillate the tastebuds. It exudes fun in a sunny, beachy atmosphere; and I think captures the essence of Christmas in Australia.
Wherever you are – bush, beach or city – the sense of occasion is what matters most. Apart from these recipe suggestions, if you can get your hands on soft-shell crabs from southern Queensland at your fishmonger, grab them – they are an incredible treat and so easy to prepare – dip in tempura batter and deep fry for a few minutes in hot oil till crisp, eat immediately with a chilli relish, a spicy pickle or horseradish mayonnaise. Otherwise, a freshly cooked mud crab served with a large napkin for mopping up the juices is equally delicious and appealing.
The following recipes can be prepared ahead of time and eaten cold. Perfect if you choose to celebrate this Christmas with a picnic. I thought it may be time to spice up the meat offerings on the groaning buffet table. Purchase shavings of leg ham if you don’t have the time or inclination to glaze your own ham and peppery salami, sausage and cured meats, choosing three or four of the best you can find, and serve them with pickles – cornichons, hot mango pickle (either homemade or bought) or with these slightly spicy, sweet and sour tomatoes that take only a few minutes to prepare.
Have other staples on hand so you’re not kept manacled to the stove when you should be indulging, kicking back and taking it pretty easy. Potted yabbies or prawns (try the tropical red spot prawns from Queensland or the royal reds from Ulladulla) are great with toast or brioche, or you could make a spiced coconut broth – adding aromatics like lemongrass, ginger, chilli, galangal