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Christmas Dinner

A Christmas dinner inspired by travels to Italy. This year's Christmas menu, celebrated on Christmas Eve featured several types of seafood as per Italian custom. The main event was a prosciutto wrapped Turkey Porchetta, a surprisingly easy and perfectly seasoned dish. Along with this we served a crab and leek lasagna, a last minute addition that ended up being a favourite at the table. Spiced cherries and gravy accompanied the turkey porchetta while a Mont Blanc chestnut cake with chestnut shortbread and plenty of marron glaces and whipped cream was served alongside chocolate salami, Italian ciambelle and biscotti as well as plenty of wine.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Recipe Quicklinks:

Turkey Porchetta recipe

Crab and Leek Lasagne recipe

Wreath Caprese Salad recipe

Chestnut Cream Dessert Recipe

Every year around mid December, friends and acquaintances start inquiring about everyone else's Christmas plans. For us they're a jumble of combining families, seeing one family and then another and then friends. Ours goes a little like this: a family dinner with my family and Mr NQN's on Christmas Eve, then my family Christmas Day, Mr NQN's extended family on Boxing day lunch and then seeing friends that are like family on Boxing day evening. We go back and forth seeing each family until New Year's Eve!

Christmas Dinner

As the Elliott family grows in size, the Ng family (my family with my parents and my sister) stays much the same. Mr NQN's brother Manu is overseas while the situation with his sister Araluen is complicated so it is a relatively small group of nine at our place. I asked Queen Viv to join us as her son isn't able to make it to Sydney from Brisbane and nobody should ever be alone on Christmas.

Christmas Dinner

The theme for this year's Christmas was formed a couple of months ago when we were in Italy. It's perhaps true to say that all food lovers have at some stage wished for Italian blood to run through their veins but it was when I was thinking about families and how they eat that I decided that Italy would be the theme. I started researching it and I found out that traditionally, the Italian meal taken on Christmas Eve is different from that on Christmas Day and of course there are variances with each region.

Christmas Dinner
Turkey "Porchetta"

Christmas eve is usually a meal replete with seafood dishes which happens to suit our warm weather perfectly. In the present day, a lot of people in Italy however are said to eat turkey for Christmas which suited me because I had seen a turkey porchetta in the window of a deli in Italy and thought that it was a brilliant idea. What I didn't figure on was a) a free range turkey shortage two days before Christmas or b) how easy it would be to produce something delicious and spectacular! Instead of cranberries, I took advantage of the fantastic fruit on offer and used spiced cherries cooked in red wine with a cinnamon stick. They take just ten minutes to make and are fantastic with the turkey.

Christmas Dinner

Soup and pasta also features on Italian Christmas menus and I decided to make a version of lasagna that I had wanted to make for the longest time but needed a special occasion for - a crab and leek lasagna. I crossed my fingers, bought a tub of crab meat and hoped for the best. It was the hit of the night and I was delighted when the whole thing disappeared without me even having to urge anyone to have seconds.

Christmas Dinner
Italian Roasted Vegetables

We had two main side dishes, a hot dish with Italian roasted vegetables seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, garlic and balsamic vinegar.

Christmas Dinner

There was also a wreath caprese salad, inspired by Rebecca's gorgeous wreath salad that took all of five minutes to put together!

Christmas Dinner

Dessert was inspired straight from our visit to the Testaccio neighbourhood where we visited a patisserie called "Barberini". It was there that I fell in love with a chestnut dessert that featured meringue and billows of whipped cream studded with small pieces of marron glaces. I wanted to recreate a simpler version because the kitchen would be busy enough as it was.

Christmas Dinner

Of course we finished things with Matilda's incredible cookies. She is a Dear Reader that has been reading for years and every year I have been lucky enough to get a beautiful box of her Italian ciambelle and biscotti! These were served along with slices of chocolate salami.

Christmas Dinner

Dinner was incredibly fun and I think the smaller number meant that people could easily negotiate our small apartment without feeling too over crowded. It was a night full of funny family stories from all sides and went into the wee hours of the night.

Christmas Dinner

1 year old Jett, the son of Mr NQN's sister Amaya and Laporello was a delight amusing with his eager eating habits. He is a hungry eater and an adventurous one apparently picking up and happily biting into an onion! Plenty of games were played, presents were opened and not a single person went home hungry!

Christmas Dinner
Looking back on old family photos

Before I get onto the recipes first I want to send you all a heartfelt thank you for reading this little blog of mine. It has been over seven years and some of you have been there from the beginning while others are new readers. I think of every story as a letter written to each of you, I write them as though I am writing to a friend. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, full of warmth and happiness!

Lots of love,

Lorraine and Mr NQN xxx

So I'm so eager to know Dear Reader, what have you got planned for Christmas dinner or lunch and what are your plans for the holidays?

Christmas Dinner
Queen Viv

Christmas Dinner
Amaya and Tuulikki called the chocolate salami the vegetarian salami!

Christmas Dinner

Turkey "Porchetta" & Gravy

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Christmas Dinner

Click here for Turkey Porchetta Recipe

Spiced Cherries

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

I know, how spoilt are we for fruit during Christmas? I know that spiced cherries aren't a traditional accompaniment to a turkey but cranberries are difficult to come by in Australia. Given that they're down to $6 a kilo I just had to buy a kilo of them cherries. We ate some and poached the rest in red wine and cinnamon. It's also very easy to do this taking about 15 minutes from beginning to end. The reward is a bowl of heavenly spiced cherries that can go either sweet or savoury. It goes brilliantly on a cheese plate, over ice cream with the sauce or we served this with the turkey where it was the perfect accompaniment.

  • 750g/1.65lbs. cherries
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup if you want it sweeter, I suggest going with less and seeing what you think first)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Step 1 - Place the red wine, sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a medium sized saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved. Add the cherries and simmer for about 8 minutes or so, the cherries turn a slightly lighter colour once cooked. Be sure to move the cherries around so that the ones on the top get cooked too.

Step 2 - Using a slotted spoon, remove the cherries from the saucepan and set aside in a bowl. Increase the heat and rapidly simmer the red wine sauce until reduced slightly. Store the cherries in this sauce.

Crab & Leek Lasagne

Click here for Crab and Leek Lasagne recipe

Wreath Caprese Salad

Click here for Wreath Caprese Salad recipe

Roasted Onions, Potatoes and Carrots

Christmas Dinner

An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 1kg/2lbs. kipfler potatoes, washed and cut in half lengthways
  • 250g/8.83ozs. eschallots
  • 1 bunch Dutch carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic, still in skins
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 needle of rosemary, chopped

Christmas Dinner

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Place all vegetables and garlic cloves on a baking tray and toss in 3 tablespoons of oil and rosemary. Bake for 20 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss again and bake for another 15 minutes.

Christmas Dinner

Chestnut Cream Dessert

Christmas Dinner

Click here for Chestnut Cream Dessert Recipe.

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