As far back as I can remember Christmas has been a special feast for all of us. As part of it, a festive dinner plays a very important role.
Remembering celebrating Christmas with my grandma, she used to prepare a magically delicious meal in the form of a cheeseboard and cold cuts. Aside from that she did a minimum of 13 different cookie flavours!
Later on when celebrating Christmas with my, at the time, boyfriend I learned from his family to eat festive dinners on all Christmas holidays 24th, 25thand 26thof December. We had a goose on the first day, fish the next day and lobster or roast pork the third day. That combined with exquisite wine and champagne - you can imagine how much we were celebrating and enjoying ourselves.
Around five years ago, when celebrating on the 24th– the day we celebrate Christmas here in Austria – I started to be responsible for the dinner department. I was so keen and very dedicated in preparing the best dinner ever seen. And, almost naturally, I completely messed it up the first time. I did all the mistakes someone can make when preparing a dinner. I did my research, but never cooked the main dish before. I did a shopping list and it just so happened that my mom went and did the shopping that very day. She naturally chose the ingredients known best to her, but I wasn't used to cooking with them. Then my pan was too small for what I had planned and so on.
The next year I was determined to learn from all my mistakes. I did my research starting in October: roast pork was on the menu. I knew that my ex-boyfriend's dad was famous for preparing the best roasted pork in the family, so I did my research, cooked roast pork with him and learned all the tricks, do's and don'ts. The following months I cooked a total of three roast porks to make sure everything would go right for Christmas. And - it was amazing! - on the 24th, I cooked roast pork: I knew the butcher, the meat, what parts of pork taste best, I knew how long it had to be cooked in the oven, how to prepare the sauce and what sides go best with it.
The year after that we had Tafelspitz – prime boiled beef based on Plachutta's Viennese cooking tradition. I again did my research and cooked two Tafelspitz in advance to research the ingredients, try recipes and different parts of the beef. On Christmas day we had soup from the Tafelspitz with pancake strips, as a second course Tafelspitz – prime boiled beef with the traditional side dishes: apple-horseradish, cream-horseradish, mangold and roasted parsley potatoes. For dessert I made a fruity yoghurt-cream with a hot raspberry-sauce on top.
The following year I prepared my first vegan Christmas dinner only to find out, a couple of days later, that they had been serving vegan food at the Grammy's just weeks before. I was very proud and felt very in vogue.
I made a corn-salad with avocado, tomatoes, walnuts and pears as a starter, a nuts-mushroom-rice strudel with vegan gravy as a main course and vegan chocolate mousse with hot berry-sauce and vegan cream on top for dessert.
This year we had four courses:
Carrot-ginger soup with vegan cream
Butterhead lettuce with walnuts, pears, avocados, tomatoes in balsamic vinegar, mustard, blackberry jam, olive oil dressing with vegan breaded brie pieces
Mushroom and mangold strudel with vegan gravy and rolled stuffed beef for the non-'vegans' in my family, plus roasted parsley potatoes and Brussel sprouts
Warm apple crumble with almond vanilla ice-cream
If anyone is interested in any recipes, I have saved them all and am more than happy to share them - just drop me a message!