Home FOOD At home this Christmas...

At home this Christmas…

If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s the importance of spending quality time together in a warm, welcoming space. This beautiful spread, created by North Coast experts, offers some magical, warm Christmas inspiration.

THE CHEF
Nicky van Eeden, Avocado Pair
Not only has she managed a busy 100-seater deli and café in one of London’s busiest districts, but Zimbabwe-born chef Nicky has been a private chef in France, worked at a tennis club in Notting Hill and catered for a nursery school. She also worked alongside celeb chef Jamie Oliver at his deli and cooking school in London for two and a half years, where she gave cooking lessons for large groups, up to three times a day. Nicky and her husband Rory recently relocated to South Africa (where he is from) and settled in Ballito. Nicky’s business is called Avocado Pair, and she offers cooking lessons to both kids and adults in their own homes and also bakes for a pop-up coffee shop called Chai Wala at The Litchi Orchard and various other events. “I always knew I wanted to work in the food industry because, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved making people happy with food,” she says. We asked her to create a special, comforting Christmas lunch menu, easy enough for the home chef.

THE FOOD
TO START … Sharing Fish Platter
“I decided on a fish platter starter because I love fish … and I love a platter! Platters encourage conversation and can be simple, while still attracting attention. The best part is most of it can be done in advance! The perfect way to start a Christmas lunch.”

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FOR MAINS
Leg of lamb stuffed with plenty of herbs & garlic
“I chose lamb as the main protein. It is not traditional but it is always so enjoyed and feels like a spoil. I stuffed it with herbs, plenty of garlic and lemon zest and left it to marinate overnight. The beauty about this recipe is that you do the work the day before! I served it with simple hassle back potatoes topped with gremolata and breadcrumbs, a delicious kohlrabi and carrot slaw and simple green salad. I gifted beautiful products from Home Grown in Ballito, which were sublime. Kerry from the Family Farm Shop at Litchi Orchard suggested kohlrabi for the salad – and it’s so versatile and worked perfectly.”

SWEET ENDINGS …
Christmas cake parfait with almond shortbread
“I decided to go with ‘Christmas with a twist’, having celebrated so many Christmasses in London, I had to stick to a little bit of tradition. It’s too hot for a traditional Christmas pudding with lashings of thick brandy cream, so I thought that this dessert would be a bit lighter!”

THE TABLE
In keeping with the comforting, ‘at home’ vibes, Tash Sutherland and her team at The Creativity Lab put together this beautiful, homely-yet-luxurious Christmas table for us. “We used décor and furniture elements that are easy to find, basically home-made, while keeping up with popular colours and trends. This lush Christmas table has a minimalistic feel with a few special details to make it unique – so unique you’ll want to recreate it this year … and next year … and maybe every month for a dinner party? Putting together a table like this won’t take too much effort and will instead allow you to spend more time where you should be spending it – celebrating with your friends and family. We love the simplistic neutral colour palate and the splashes of ‘opulence’ with fluffy mat and cushion and gorgeous gold cutlery. And what about that stunning macrame wall hanging?! Speak to Tash and her team about hiring any of the items on this table!

Details: The Avocado Pair: IG: @the_avocado_pair, FB: @theavocadopair, 063 469 3257;
The Creativity Lab: www.thecreativitylab.co.za, [email protected], 031 171 0895, FB: @creativitylab10, IG: @thecreativity.lab

RECIPES:

STARTER
Snoek paté (FROM THE SHARING PLATTER)
You’ll need: 200g smoked snoek; a lemon; 5g parsley leaves chopped, 70g cream cheese; 90g cream; salt and pepper.
To make: Flake snoek into either a bowl or straight into food processor bowl. Snoek has a lot of bones so please be careful to remove them all before you make your pate (this step is the most laborious when making this pate). Once all your fish is in the bowl, zest your lemon into it, then cut in half and juice 1 tbsp into the bowl. Add the parsley leaves, cream cheese & cream. Then either mash with a fork until you get a pate consistency or blend using a food processor. Add lemon, salt or pepper to taste. Spoon onto croutons and top with pickled cucumber.

MAIN COURSE
Leg of lamb stuffed with plenty of herbs & garlic
You’ll need: 1.8kg leg of lamb, 15g parsley, 3 rosemary sprigs, 10 thyme sprigs, 10 cloves garlic peeled, 1 lemon, 5g salt, pepper
and 6 tbsp oil.
To make: (The day before: Pull the rosemary and thyme off the sprigs, add the parsley and chop roughly. Add 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chop. Use mortar and grind into a paste. Zest your lemon into the mortar, add salt, pepper and olive oil and mix. Make incisions all over the lamb using a sharp knife and also loosen the meat around the protruding bone to about one-third of the way into the joint. Rub the paste all over the lamb and into the incisions. Cover loosely with foil, refrigerate for 24 hours. Bring out of the fridge two hours before you want to roast it so it can come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Put the lamb into a roasting tin and cook it for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180 and roast for another 45 minutes. Cover with foil and insulate well with tea towels. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. Heat up the juices and serve them in a small jug alongside the leg of lamb.

DESSERT
Christmas cake parfait with almond shortbread
You’ll need: A 900g loaf tin, 6 egg yolks, 150g caster sugar, 200g Christmas cake chopped into small dice, 400g whipping cream, 4 eggs whites, zest of 1 lemon, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 70g toasted and crushed pecan nuts.
To make: Line loaf tin with either cling film or parchment. Whisk egg yolks and caster sugar together over a pan of simmering water until the mix is doubled, creamy in colour and you can trail a figure of 8 off the whisk. Gently fold in the Christmas cake and leave to cool. Lightly whip the cream (be careful not to over-beat it), then fold into the mix with the lemon zest, vanilla essence & crushed pecan nuts. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then fold through the mix gently. Carefully pour into the loaf tin, cover with more clingfilm or parchment and leave in the freezer until ready to eat. (TIP: Slice with a hot knife to ensure a clean line.) Served with almond shortbread and garnished with berries.

Text: Leah Shone | Photographs: Chris Allan Photo

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