I’ve cooked it all. Legions of cookies and cakes. Gallons of egg nog and mimosas. Baked hams. Beef Wellingtons. Roasts of pork and lamb. So many turkeys I can’t even count. Creamed spinach, scalloped potatoes, Sacher Tortes, Buches de Noel.
I asked myself, what do I really feel like eating at Christmas this year? The answer was: not complicated elegance. More like sexy bistro food. I have visions of pulling a bubbling casserole from the oven, served with a glass of seriously fabulous wine. My DD tells me I’ll be everyone’s new best friend by bringing a large Spanokopita, a Greek spinach pie to a Christmas eve supper I’m invited to.
Soul satisfying, elegant comfort food to be sure. Home made French onion soup with a big crunchy crouton made soggy with oozy melted cheese floating on top. That and a salad is a sexy dinner by the Christmas tree. An elevated mac and cheese made with fine cheeses and slivers of baked ham. A brilliant chard and sweet potato casserole I just discovered on Smitten Kitchen.
Okay, there’s a theme here: melted cheese. That’s comfort for me and for everyone I know.
There’s one thing I do make every year, and that’s my mother’s “orange salad.” It’s a blast of sunshine and the perfect, gently acidic accompaniment to anything you serve. Refreshing and cheerful.
Helen’s Orange Salad
Peel a bunch of naval oranges and pick away as much of the pith as you can. You’re left with a whole orange.
Cut slices of orange crosswise, into thin discs, so that you are cutting perfect slices of the whole sphere, all the sections intact. Put the orange discs into a lovely crystal bowl.
Slice some fresh strawberries, and layer them in amongst the sliced oranges. No strawberries in December? A box of thawed frozen strawberries works just as well and gives you all that lovely liquid too.
Everything’s now nestled in the pretty glass bowl. Pour in a few sloshes of Grand Marnier and a tablespoon of sugar if using fresh strawberries. If using frozen strawberries, leave the sugar out.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge. This sunny ambrosia can be served with your meal as an accompaniment or as dessert, with a piece of chocolate or a sliver of cake. I’m not into garnishes, so I don’t put mint, but that’s up to you.
To continue on my elegy. Over the hols I’ll make a pot of creamy New England clam chowder and watch a movie on the telly. A proper croque monsieur for a post Christmas lunch. The Brits do comfort food really well, so I’m putting Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie on the list.
We’ve had a crazy year and there’s def more craziness to come in the new year. I say, grab all the comfort you can. Pass Marcella Hazan’s spaghetti and meatballs please.
P.S. I’m back from my pre Christmas retreat at the beach. Will tell all over the next few weeks. In the meantime, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Hello my lovelies! Tell me what you’ll be cooking and eating over the hols. We all want to know so start chatting in the comments box below. If you are a vibrant woman who enjoys witty, intelligent conversation, do enter your email in the box above so you won’t miss a thing.