This Christmas, we’re serving up a stress-free menu with an Italian accent, and a relaxed, coastal-meets-boho table setting. Our multi-talented senior stylist Jonathan Fleming is here to walk us through his beautiful Christmas feast.
ON THE TABLE
Our T&W Christmas House this year is all about a style we like to call Boho CoMo – blending breezy coastal style with an eclectic boho look, tied together with native florals. To get this look, keep the base colours of your table light and neutral, and bring in texture through table runners and placemats. I used several table runners going across the table to act as place settings. Bring in a coastal element with indigo watercolour-inspired tableware, then add crystal glassware and gold flatware for that bling factor. Generous platters and serving boards are essential for this style of relaxed shared feast. For the finishing touches, we scattered Christmas decorations around the table centrepiece, interspersed with native florals.
ON THE MENU
Christmas shouldn’t be stressful in the kitchen, so I’ve come up with a few simple recipes that you can prepare the day before, or even a few minutes before serving. There’s a bit of an Italian theme running through the menu – everyone loves them and let’s face it, the Italians know how to do a feast.
These recipes work well as a menu, or you could choose one or two to add to your festive repertoire. Kick things off with the cocktail that’s sweeping the globe, frosé (frozen rosé). This limoncello-spiked version is the perfect cooling summer drink. As a starter, I came up with what’s basically a beautiful edible centrepiece that stretches the length of the table and will seriously wow your guests.
The salmon is a Christmas main that will feed the masses AND only takes 8 minutes to cook – you may never go back to turkey. And what could be more perfect for an Aussie Christmas feast than a frozen dessert. Make this no-churn semifreddo a day or two ahead, then serve with your favourite summer fruit.
750ml bottle rosé
1/3 cup (80ml) limoncello
1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice, plus strips of pared lemon rind to garnish
1/3 cup (80ml) simple sugar syrup (available from bottle shops, or make your own)
In a large shallow container, combine all the liquid together and place in the freezer overnight. Just before serving, break the frozen mixture into chunks and whiz in a blender until you have a smooth ‘slushie’ consistency. Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately with a twist of lemon rind.
Antipasti a tavola
This isn’t really a recipe, more of a guide to creating a rich full, grazing platter. You can present it on wooden serving boards, or make a bold statement like we’ve done here and use the table itself as your board. To do this, spread a layer of baking paper down the centre of the table as a base – bonus points for no washing up afterwards! Place four different cheeses and four varieties of sliced meat on the paper so they’re within easy reach of your guests. I love prosciutto, truffled Italian salami and bresaola (air-dried beef), and for cheese I opted for a brie, aged cheddar, creamy blue and Swiss. Next, add some bowls of dip. There’s nothing wrong with good-quality premade options – if you like you can accessorise them with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs. Now add some crispbread, crackers and grissini to your board. Tear up a couple of loaves of crusty bread and add them, too. Add a few piles of olives, then fill the rest of the board with fresh produce such as cherry tomatoes, carrots and fresh fruit. Finally, fill any gaps with a scattering of mixed nuts and scatter with sprigs of flowers and greenery to complete this bountiful look.
Salmon fillet with balsamic glaze and salsa verde
2 x 800g skinless, boneless pieces of salmon fillet (ask your fishmonger to pinbone them for you)
2 tbs caramelised balsamic glaze (found in your supermarket in a squeeze bottle)
Roast potatoes and green salad, to serve
Handful of basil leaves
Handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tsp baby capers
½ cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 anchovy fillet
Juice of 1 lemon
For the salsa verde, use a food processor or hand blender to whiz all the ingredients together until finely chopped. You can keep the salsa in an airtight container in the fridge overnight, then leave to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Preheat the grill to high. Line 1 large or 2 regular baking trays with foil. Add the salmon and season with salt and pepper, then brush with the balsamic glaze. Place under the grill for 6-8 minutes until the glaze is sticky and gently charred, and the salmon is cooked but still moist in the centre. Remove from the grill, transfer to a board or platter and serve whole at the table drizzled with salsa verde. Serve with roast potatoes and salad.
Strawberry & prosecco cheat’s semifreddo
2 x 250g punnets strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup (80ml) prosecco or other sparkling wine
300ml thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1/3 cup (85g) caster sugar
400ml crème fraiche
4 peaches, stones removed, cut into thin wedges (lightly poach first if preferred)
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
Edible flowers (from greengrocers)
Line an 11cm x 21cm loaf pan with baking paper, leaving some overhanging the sides.Using a blender or hand blender, puree 1 punnet of strawberries in a hand blender with 2 tbs prosecco, then set aside.
Place the cream, vanilla seeds and sugar in a large bowl and use electric beaters to whip to stiff peaks. Gently fold in the crème fraiche and remaining 2 tbs prosecco until smooth, leaving as much air in the mixture as possible.
Pour one third of the cream mixture into the loaf pan, then gently pour in the strawberry puree and spread evenly to cover. Add the remaining cream mixture, then cover with the overhanging baking paper. Freeze the semifreddo for at least 6 hours or overnight.
To make the topping, halve or quarter the remaining strawberries and toss in a bowl with the peaches and pomegranate.
Just before serving, remove the semifreddo from the freezer. Unwrap the top, then turn out onto a serving platter or board and remove the baking paper. Pile the fruit on top, garnish with edible flowers, then slice and serve.