While for many, Christmas brings people together, others prefer to keep things small scale.
And now that smaller groups are the new normal as South African experiences a second Covid-19 wave, it’s best to keep celebrations an intimate affair.
If you are spending Christmas with just less than five people, we have some ideas for you, from the extra special brunch right through to the dessert.
Christmas morning requires something special yet speedy. Go seasonal with an avocado salad.
Citrus salad with avocado
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 medium oranges, preferably a mix of varieties such as cara cara, blood, and navel
The flesh of 1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, shallot, honey, salt, and pepper in a liquid measuring cup to form an emulsified dressing.
Slice off the top and bottom of orange, standing it on one cut end.
Make a series of downward cuts as you work around the fruit, to remove the peel and all white pith.
Repeat with the remaining oranges, then slice them crosswise into thin rounds.
Discard any pits.
Arrange the orange slices on individual plates.
Fan out or arrange the avocado on top.
Drizzle each portion with the dressing and scatter coriander leaves over the salads, and serve.
Keep things simple with a delicious soup.
Creamy pumpkin coconut soup
1 small very finely chopped shallot
2 cups pumpkin purée
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tablespoon Maple Syrup
½ can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth (add more if too thick)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Dash of cayenne pepper or hot Hungarian Paprika
Salt pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, sauté the diced shallot and garlic until soft and golden brown.
Add the pumpkin purée; vegetable broth; maple syrup; coconut milk; cinnamon; allspice; hot Hungarian paprika or cayenne (optional). Salt and pepper to taste.
Stir all ingredients together and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat.
Roast up a whole turkey. A whole turkey is great for a few people and will give you generous portions.
Turkey on the Weber
1 free-range turkey 2 litres brine
4 cloves garlic
150g streaky bacon (or pancetta)
100g chicken livers
500g pork sausage meat
1⁄4 loaf white bread
10g fresh sage
Salt and pepper
Cut off the turkey’s legs and thighs, remove the skin and bones.
Cut the meat into chunks and feed through a mincer.
Cut out the spine using poultry shears, leaving the breast on the bone.
Remove the wings (freeze the wings and backbone to use for stock in the future). Put the breast into the brine and leave in the fridge overnight.
Finely chop the onions and garlic and dice the bacon or pancetta.
Gently fry them in butter in a saucepan.
When the onions are translucent, remove and allow to cool.
Roughly chop the chicken livers and combine them with the sausage meat and minced turkey.
Blitz the bread, crusts removed, into fresh bread crumbs in a food processor, then add these and the eggs to the meat.
Add the cooled onion mixture and chopped sage to the meat mixture and season to taste. Shape the mixture into a roll, cover with tin foil and leave in the fridge overnight.
On the day
Remove the turkey breast from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper, brush with a little olive oil, and season.
Put the breast skin-side up, together with the roll of stuffing, on a Weber over indirect coals.
Close the lid, leaving the top and bottom vents open, and cook for approximately 90 minutes (use a meat thermometer – it’s done when the internal temperature is about 80°C).
When the breast and stuffing are cooked, they need to rest for about 30 minutes.
To keep them warm, wrap the breast in foil and put both in an empty cooler box and close the lid.
Once the bird is well-rested, bring it to the table and carve.
For vegetarians, you can whip up a low carb spinach and artichoke lasagne
4 large brinjals
15ml olive oil
10ml chopped garlic
2x400g tins of chopped tomatoes
15ml tomato paste
10ml castor sugar
Salt and pepper
60ml chopped basil
30ml olive oil
2 onions, chopped
15ml chopped garlic
500g cleaned, chopped spinach
2x400g tins artichoke hearts, chopped
500g crème Fraiche
60ml grated Parmesan cheese
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
60ml chopped dill
300g mozzarella cheese
250ml extra Parmesan cheese
Cut the brinjals into 7mm thick slices. Brush with olive oil and place on a large oven tray.
Cook under a preheated grill for 2-3 minutes a side until lightly golden. Remove and set aside.
Tomato sauce: Heat the oil in a pot and fry the garlic over medium heat.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.
Remove and cool slightly before pureeing with a stick blender.
Artichoke sauce: Heat the olive oil in a pot and fry the onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft.
Add the spinach and cook over high heat until the spinach is limp and the liquid has evaporated.
Add the artichokes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Stir in the crème Fraiche, Parmesan, lemon rind, and juice, and season well. Stir in the dill.
In a 28x35cm ovenproof dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a third of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with a layer of brinjals.
Spread over half the artichoke sauce. Top with remaining tomato sauce, another third mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Top with another layer of brinjals and the remaining artichoke sauce.
Sprinkle over the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Remove and leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
A side dish
Sumptuous sides are a highlight of the Christmas table. Try creamy chicken liver pate. This is one of the perfect meals to serve during lunch.
500g chicken livers
2 lemons, juiced
45g Mooi river butter
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch chili flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
250ml white wine
250ml Clover fresh cream
Chopped parsley or coriander to serve
Extra-melted Mooi river butter to pour on top
Soak the chicken livers in the juice of one of the lemons for 30 minutes. Sauté the onions and garlic in half the butter until soft and brown, remove from pan.
Drain the livers and briefly fry in the remaining butter for 1-2 minutes until pink colour subsides. Add the chili, black pepper, salt, wine, and onion and mix. Reduce before adding the cream. Reduce again, stir in the chopped herbs and blend, pour into a serving dish, and top with melted butter. Refrigerate until set.
A classic cake or pudding will yield a hefty amount of leftovers, so try individual puddings or a lighter chilled dessert.
Malva pudding from Cape Malay Cooking
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon of apricot jam
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of milk
2-3 tablespoons of sugar
2- 3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
In the first step, pour the milk and vinegar into a small jug and let it sit on one side.
Next, in a bowl whisk your egg, sugar, butter, and jam for about 2 minutes, then add your sifted dry ingredients and your milk mixture and stir until well combined.
Pour in a square greased tin (not a big pan) or glass proof baking dish, bake for half an hour at 180°C or when inserting skewer it comes out clean, also the cake will be a brown colour.
While the cake is baking put all your sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer and stir till hot.
Keep warm on one side.
When your cake is done, take it out of the oven and immediately pour over all the sauce.
For a bigger pudding simply double all ingredients.
In place of making your own sauce, heat half a can of evaporated milk with a teaspoon of vanilla essence until warm and pour over the Malva cake immediately after taking it out of the oven.