If planning ahead is not your forte or you’re really strapped for time, fear not! Here are some shortcuts to rustling up a Christmas dinner to impress!
For a successful last-minute Christmas dinner, start by not getting bogged down with the pressure of producing a spread befitting a magazine cover. Concentrate on putting some thought into the presentation and you’re sure to be alright on the night.
Luckily for you, there is a wealth of ready-made dishes available, all you have to do is pull them together and dazzle your guests with your hosting skills.
You can’t go wrong with a cheeseboard and a platter of Iberian cured and smoked meats with pickles. There’s no shame in resorting to ready-made dishes; from vegetable soups, stir-fries, tartlets and other pastry dishes, sauces, dips, savoury jams, caramelised onion chutneys and puff pastry sticks as well as chocolate desserts in all shapes and sizes. What’s more, around Christmas, you’ll find many gourmet ranges you don’t usually see during the rest of the year.
A Christmas or New Year’s Eve menu requires eye-catching appetizers, irresistible starters, a dazzling main course and a festive dessert. All of this should be quick and easy to prepare. Better still, get a lot of it prepped in the morning so all you have to do is heat up before serving.
Sophisticated plating is a foolproof way of distracting guests from the fact that you haven’t been slaving away in the kitchen for the past week… Just add a sprinkling of nuts, aromatic herbs, seeds and shoots to make an everyday dish look like a real feast. Play with special sauces like truffle, dill, mustard and honey, cranberry, oriental or mint sauces. Prepare pretty glasses, cutlery and napkins and add Christmas-themed decorations.
For eye-catching canapés, serve in shot glasses, mini bowls, catering spoons, mini waffle cones, edible bases such as mini vol-au-vents or filo pastry parcels, skewers… And pre-prepare platters of cheeses and cold cuts, as we mentioned before.
Good, light starters include warm or cold salads with unexpected ingredients like nuts, honey, some melted or sprinkled cheese, or even truffle, for that gourmet touch. The main course is the highlight of the evening. Fish is ideal as it’s not too heavy. How about monkfish skewers, sea bass, turbot or salmon rolls, prawns or scallops…? If you opt for a meat menu, you can always serve cold meat such as stuffed chicken or turkey breast and top off with a variety of garnishes and sauces.
For your festive dessert, try pastries, fruit in syrup, candied fruit, ice cream or Greek yoghurt and chocolate. Must-have postprandial goodies include mint-chocolate thins, traditional Spanish turrón nougats and mantecado shortbreads.