This Christmas we were seeing our families as we planned a small family dinner combining my family with Mr NQN's. His family were all over the place (their natural state of affairs being chaos), and trying to find a date that suited everyone meant that Christmas was going to be on December 26th. I had to point out that December 26th was no longer technically Christmas so I invited whoever could come over to our place on December 24th for dinner. Christmas Eve is when the Finnish celebrate Christmas and this is when my family celebrates Christmas because quite honestly my sister and I couldn't wait another night to open our presents and our parents just relented and it became tradition.
Well it turns out that all of the family members could make it on December 24th after all (I guess it was that annual tradition of herding cats preceding Festivus that the Elliotts seem to delight in!). And suddenly our small family celebration burst out to a table for thirteen...around our table that seats 8! But not to worry, we had plenty of food. My ham was a 5 kilo beast-modest enough and covered in a crunchy, moreish breadcrumb crust and then basted in a flavoursome root beer caramel. I had made this many years ago before the blog and before Mr NQN and was so besotted by it that I vowed to make it again when I had a lot of mouths to feed. The ham is easy enough to do and just requires a basting every 30 minutes and then a coating of a breadcrumb crust. It is then baked and basted to glistening perfection before being sliced up with some of the breadcrumb mixture and the sweet, fragrant caramelised syrup.
I have tweaked the recipe so that it is juuust right. It is different from other hams baked in root beer and Coke because it has that crust and to me, the crust is what really makes this ham.
I also made the cake the day before as I didn't want any stress. It was from the new Maha cookbook by Shane Delia and I was sold on the name and description. Said to be like a Cherry Ripe cake, it uses dark chocolate and pomegranate molasses and is topped with an intriguing glossy olive oil syrup mixture, pine nuts, mint leaves and redcurrants (in the absence of pomegranate at the shops).
Unfortunately the cake looked nothing like the cake in the picture and it actually made me wonder if it was indeed the same cake that they had used in the book. I must admit a swearing Christmas elf came out at that point! But once we tried the cake we were smitten. I'm still not convinced that the cake in the picture is the one that matches the recipe but it is a divine cake-with a slight tanginess that will appeal to the dark chocolate connoisseur or those that like a little liqueur in their cakes although this cake has no liqueur in it at all, just the delicious tang of pomegranate molasses.
Then, and because you know dessert should always be a multi course affair, there was the amazing Celia's gorgeous chocolate Christmas tree which was her Christmas gift to me along with her divine truffles (sorry Mr NQN scoffed these before I had the chance to photograph them) as well as a multitude of goodies-she's such a generous soul.
There were also Matilda's wonderful Italian biscuits which I hope to receive and look forward to every year. Matilda is one of NQN's longest, most loyal readers and every Christmas she sends me a batch of these divine biscuits. And every year I squeal when I receive the box as they are truly delicious!
And of course some plump, sweet, fat cherries that came from Harris Farm! Another gift that I look forward to and one that the Elliotts just fall into raptures over. I need to keep a little stash for myself as they are plump, juicy and sweet. We managed to squeeze everyone on a table meant for eight and with the exception of a couple of strange incident (of course!) the dinner went off without a hitch. Aura proved an entertaining challenge as she is strong and fast and already making her way across a room within seconds pounding the floor boards with her tie dyed bloomers and tiny, defiant red shoed footsteps. After dinner Secret Santa presents were exchanged and desserts were eaten. And after that not a creature was hungry, not even a mouse!
So tell me Dear Reader, what did you or what will you have for Christmas dinner? And who will you be eating with?