Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Parties


We had such fun hosting Christmas parties on Sunday (yes, that's right - 'parties', plural).  Seeing as we have limited space, I thought it'd be a good idea to do two Christmas parties on one day: a 'lunch' party in the arvo, and a 'dinner' party in the evening, with about an hour in between.  It was fabulous, but a lot of hard work.  The three days leading up to the party were a blur of cleaning, cooking, trips to the market and lots of late night baking. Phew!

All my friends were in a very festive (and hungry) mood, which made the day so fun, and filled with great memories.  So, in that spirit, I've decided to use a retro filter for the pictures, the type that seems so popular right now.  Thanks to Sandra for showing me how!  (You can also read about the lunch party here, at Food Rehab - thanks Adrian for the awesome blog post and the yummy coconut macaroons!)


Christmas Lunch Party for 19 (!)

Roast Pork Belly
Cured Salmon
Spinach, Cracked Wheat and Triple-Cheese Pie
Garlic-Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Rocket Salad
Guacamole
Baguette, Corn Chips


Apple-Maple Cakelets with Mascarpone-Calvados Cream
Chocolate Cranberry Cake
Venetian Carrot Cakelets
Vanillakipferl


Christmas Dinner Party for 10

Roast Pork Belly
Cured Salmon
Garlic-Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Rocket Salad
Baguette, Corn Chips

Apple-Maple Cakelets with Mascarpone-Calvados Cream
Chocolate Cranberry Cake
Venetian Carrot Cakelets
Vanillakipferl

As you can see, the menus for both parties were pretty much identical, except we didn't have the spinach pie or guacamole at night (no vegetarian contingent in the evening).  All the other dishes were things that could be prepared at once and split up easily between the two parties - slices of cured salmon, slices of cake, individual cakelets and so on.  None of the preparation was particularly difficult in-and-of-itself, but needed quite a bit of advance planning and some logistical juggling.  And of course the preparation was long and tiring.

I'll be blogging the dishes individually in the upcoming weeks, but for now let's just enjoy some pretty pictures!

Cured Salmon
The salmon (a Nigella recipe from one of her old Christmas programs) was prepared a few days in advance, and all I had to do was slice it just before people started arriving.  (Sliced some in the arvo, and the remainder in the evening).

Spinach, Cracked Wheat and Triple-Cheese Pie

For the pie, (Nigella again) I'd mixed up the filling and made the pastry the night before.  About an hour before my friends were due to arrive, I assembled the pie and popped it in the oven.  Those of you with sharper memories will know that I previously made this pie about a year ago, and it was good but very bland.  This time, as per my previous suggestions, I doubled the seasoning ingredients and added cubes of feta.  (So glad that I have a blog, otherwise I would have forgotten about this).  I also made it in a much larger tin, and let the pastry make a rough border, instead of covering the pie totally.  I think it looks more attractive this way. If you were so inclined, I suppose you could cut out a festive Christmas tree shape out of pastry and place it on top.  But... I'd run out of pastry.  Anyway, kitsch decoration or not, it was a success!  Much tastier than my previous attempt, and the large flat shape meant it was easier to share amongst a big group.

Garlic-Butter Roasted Mushrooms

I got this recipe for garlicky, buttery mushrooms, from one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  (She does them in the oven, but I cooked it on the stove).  Apart from being delicious, it's similar to something they serve at German Christmas markets, and is suitable for veggoes and coeliacs!  A winner all around.  One of my friends (who came to the evening party) is new to being gluten-free, and I wanted to make sure she had some nice things to eat.

And now... the main event.  The PORK BELLY!


I had 2 pork bellies - I slow roasted both of them the night before, and as people were arriving, I blasted the bellies in a hot oven to get them hot and crispy.  (Again, one during the day, and one in the evening).

Slab o' Pork

Cut into bite-sized pieces for easy consumption!

And just to prove that I really did two in one day... here is the second pork belly, roasted about 5 hours after the first.

Pork Belly #2
Let's have a look at the desserts!  Apart from the Vanillakipferl, I'll give each of them their own post soon, so I won't explain them in too much detail here.


Vanillakipferl
Apple-Maple Cakelets (Donna Hay's Seasons) with Mascarpone Calvados Cream
Chocolate Cranberry Fruitcake (David Lebovitz' Recipe)
Venetian Carrot Cake - gluten AND dairy free! (Nigella's Kitchen)

Duncan made and brought the most delicious Stollen, with homemade almond paste inside.  I do believe he said I was "mercenary" in my insistent requests for him to bring one to the party.  But look at it!  Wouldn't you be mercenary too?  Hehehe.


Yum yum yum.  I daresay I like this Stollen even more than his delicious macarons.  Shhhh...!  (Except maybe those delightful passionfruit ones).

With homemade almond paste on the inside. Oh, you've Stollen my heart! (Puns FTW).
My friend Matt brought homemade marshmallows (for realz, he made marshmallows from scratch - I didn't even know you could do that), which looked like big square heavenly clouds.


I normally don't even like marshmallows that much, as I find them a bit sweet, but these were wonderful, especially with their coating of toasted coconut.  Our attempts at toasting them didn't work out so well though, as they didn't develop a burnt crust on the outside, but rather just melted and dripped straight onto the stove. D'oh!
Check out my Wusthof carving fork of awesomeness!

The only special drink we made was a "Pig" cocktail (inspired by the fabulous one down at Spice Temple), which is made of sparkling wine, gin and lychees. Dee-ricious, and we went through heaps of them!  For some reason we ended up with more alcohol than when the party started... a nice surprise.  I guess we have generous friends!  (Or maybe they're just huge lushes, hehe).
Drinks station. When did that happen?
Carnage (the red paper cups and plates are from Ikea)

I think the double party idea worked quite well - at this time of year people tend to be quite busy and will pop in and out of parties anyway.  The evening party happened to be a bit smaller than the lunch party too, which made things easier.  It also helped that I'd had a couple of days free beforehand to prepare, and that I'd planned all the food logistics with reasonable specificity.  I didn't do a military-style list with timings like Nigella does for a roast beef lunch, but I knew, for example, that I'd be buying the salmon on Thursday morning, baking the apple cakelets on Saturday arvo, and slow-roasting the pork bellies on Saturday night.  Finally, I'm not the most motivated person when it comes to cleaning up (Hah! Not by a long shot!), but I think it is so important to clean-as-you-go, so that the mess doesn't get the better of you.  (Not easy after a few drinks, but you know, give it your best shot).

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everybody!

8 comments:

almostalwaysravenous said...

i still prefer the modern super sharp + crisp white washed ones =). For food at least =P.

April @ My Food Trail said...

OMG I have to bow downto the queen of parties!! :) What a mammoth effort to prepare enough food for so many people in one day!! And everything looks so yum!

Now I have to work out how to get an invite to the next one ;)

penny aka jeroxie said...

You go GIRL! Merry Christmas :)

Hannah said...

Oh my wow! You are the master(/mistress) of entertaining, for sure! That spinach pie looks heavenly, and the Venetian carrot cakelets are adorable. Honestly, you should raffle off a ticket to your next party - you'd be rich :P

Adrian in Food Rehab said...

Thanks again for the invite- it was a delicious party indeed. Although I tried almost everything, I didn't get to dig into your yummy looking cakelets! waaah...

Till next year! Merry Christmas to you both!

Celeste @ Berrytravels said...

That's an incredible effort! I couldn't possibly do what you have done in a day! 19 to cater for in one party already does my head in. Two big parties in one day?

*worships*

hungryandfrozen said...

Wow wow wow, you're amazing! But I have to say for all the mental taxation, there is something fun about putting on a huge feast for lots of people. And I love a bit of late-night baking :) looking forward to hearing about the Venetian carrot cake, that recipe intrigues me...

Su-Lin said...

Cooking for 19?! You're a star!