Belinda Jeffrey

Christmas 2015: The Ham Dinner, and other deliciousness

12/29/2015 08:43:00 PM

Treacle-glazed ham, Christmas outfit

On Sunday night we had two of our oldest friends over for dinner, and I pulled out one of my favourite festive meals - a glazed ham with peas and mac and cheese.

A Festive Dinner for Four

Lychee Spritzers
Prawn Cocktail Lettuce Cups
Treacle-Glazed Ham
Petits Pois à la Française
Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese
Spiced Peaches

So, you can see I've done the ham and peas festive meal many times before (in 2008, 20092010, 2011, 2013 and 2014), usually with mac and cheese or a potato-based side. It's a great combo! Comforting but not stodgy, rich but not excessive.

This year I tried Nigella's treacle glazed ham from Simply Nigella (and I'm still planning on doing a round-up post of all the lovely recipes I've been making from Queen Nigella's latest book!) Her recipe instructs you to purchase a gammon (i.e. raw ham), and slowly cook it in a low-low-low oven for 12-24 hours, before studding with cloves and glazing in a treacle-mustard-sugar mixture. However, raw ham is extremely difficult to come by here in Australia. Our hams here are usually already smoked and cooked when you purchase them - they can be eaten cold straight away, or heated through if you prefer them hot. (During my Sarah Discovers How to Eat days, I always made Nigella's hams using pickled pork, which is the closest thing to raw ham that's readily available).

So, for this meal, I bought a regular boneless ham and skipped the slow-cooking. All that I needed to do was to stud it with cloves and glaze it, before baking it in a 200C oven for half an hour, until it was heated through and burnished on the outside. N.B. this was for a one-kilo boneless ham, cutely called a "ham nugget" from Peter Bouchier. If it were a larger ham, I'd suggest wrapping it up in foil and baking at 180C until hot all the way through, then glazing it and baking at 200C for 20 minutes. This way it can heat through without the glaze burning.

Clove-studded ham

Treacle-glazed, clove-studded ham

The mac and cheese of choice was Nigella's sweet potato mac and cheese, again from Simply Nigella. This is a regular mac and cheese (i.e. a white sauce, cheese and cooked pasta), with the addition of mashed sweet potato. (Plus a little paprika, mustard and sage for extra flavour). Super delicious!

Sweet potato mac & cheese, ready for the oven

There was actually more than enough mac and cheese mixture to fill my enamel dish (and I knew that the amount in this dish would serve four generously as a side), so I took the remaining mixture and portioned it into individual mini tins, let them cool and refrigerated them for another lunch we were hosting the next day.

Nigella's spiced peaches! Interestingly enough, it's really hard to get peach halves in syrup these days - almost all the tinned fruit I saw at the supermarket was in juice. I think the colours of this one are so lovely and festive.

Spiced peaches

Here's the ham! It goes dark quite quickly due to the treacle in the glaze, but certainly didn't taste burnt.

Baked treacle-glazed, clove-studded ham

Sandra was on starter duty on this night, and she outdid herself with these fabulous lychee spritzer cocktails (prosecco, soda water, lychee and lychee juice)...

Lychee spritzer

... as well as these super pretty prawn cocktail lettuce cups! (Gem lettuce leaf, sliced avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cooked prawn, cocktail sauce). Yum! I had been thinking about making prawn rolls (i.e. prawn cocktail mix in mini brioche buns) but I think that would have been way too filling before a big meal of ham! These were just perfect.

Prawn cocktail lettuce cups

And here's dinner! I love how it just fit on our table.


The ham was just gorgeous! I've decided that Peter Bouchier hams are now my favourite - I'll continue buying their hams every Christmas! It's got the perfect level of salt and smoke - deelicious. I loved the treacle glaze too (what is it about caramelised sugar and pork fat together that is just so good?) As you can see, some of the glazey bits fell off because the fat layer was a bit thick but I made sure to keep them because they were so damn tasty.

Sliced ham

I really like Nigella's spiced peaches - the combo of sweetness and spicy warmth is just great with ham.

Spiced peaches

Sweet potato mac & cheese

Petits pois à la française

Dessert was pavlova! Australian Christmas classic. I went festive with ruby red raspberries and green pistachios for the topping. (And you can see in my first photo that I even matched my outfit too, heh). I always wonder if people think of pavlova as a boring dessert, especially as it's so popular. (I certainly make it very often!) But no, it always goes down really well. Everyone loves pavlova. Because it's frikkin great.



We made a cup of matcha for my friend Adri to go with dessert - naturally, I couldn't resist sneaking in another festively red-and-green photo.

The next day, we had our friend Duncan over for lunch. My initial plan had been to make a turkey and ham pie using leftover scraps of meat, but we had so many excellent leftovers from the ham dinner that it seemed like a waste to ignore them! So, I baked up the individual-portioned sweet potato mac and cheeses, wrapped the ham slices in foil and let them heat through in the oven whilst the mac and cheeses were cooking. I reheated the leftover peas on the stove, adding an extra cup of frozen peas to make enough for three people, and put the spiced peaches out. Boom boom.

Ham meal, version 2

Duncan loved the meal - hooray! I was worried he might not like a meal that was so obviously made of leftovers, but he enjoyed it, describing the peaches as "kick arse" and wondering out loud why people only eat ham for Christmas when it's so delicious.

Duncan also brought a dessert - a luscious lemon slice (recipe from Belinda Jeffery's Mix & Bake). I loved the sunny golden colour and the rich butteriness of the shortbread layer.

Belinda Jeffrey's Luscious Lemon Slice
I was also ludicrously excited that the dessert matched my new Princess Highway lemon dress. Yay!

Lemon slice, lemon skirt

Ok, so I think this is the last Christmas post I'll be doing this year, so I wanted to quickly show you some other Christmas-related deliciousness!

In the week leading up to Christmas, I came down with a cold (booo), and had to take a day off work. I spent most of the day in bed, but did manage to drag myself out to bake Nigella's Sticky Gingerbread (recipe from Nigella Christmas). It's so good! Lovely and moist and spicy. I liked it fresh out of the oven when it was still crunchy on the outside, but it keeps for ages. Now I want to go through all of Nigella's gingerbread recipes! (I can highly recommend the stem-ginger gingerbread from How to Eat, and I have my eye on the chocolate gingerbread from Feast next).

Nigella's Sticky Gingerbread

With the leftover turkey from Christmas dinner, I made myself a pretty epic sandwich. Light rye bread, avocado, turkey, crispy fried dry-cured streaky bacon, lettuce and hot German mustard.

Turkey Sandwich

Turkey Sandwich

And finally, here's a little salad I made for dinner tonight - definitely in the mood for something light after all that feasting! It's just a mixture of chopped vegetables that I found in the fridge (little gem lettuce, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, avocado) and chopped turkey meat dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refreshing and nourishing!

Turkey salad

Merry Christmas everybody! Hope you've all been enjoying the festive season!

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  1. Merry Christmas Sarah! You're definitely the biggest Nigella fan out there :D

  2. Surely that top photo is the cover of your new cookbook? Everything looks awesome as always. Hope you have a very Happy New Year, Sarah. Here's to even more incredible eats in 2016 :)

  3. Excellent blog. This blog has a lot of information regarding my needs. I’ll defenately put it to good use.



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.