So. Christmas. Do you get sick of all the articles and shows touting tips and tricks for the best Christmas ever? They’re usually trying to tell you you need entrees and mains and desserts and nibblies and cocktails, all beautifully co-ordinated to match with the perfectly decorated table.
I’m a big fan of cooking what makes you happy. I’m not out to impress people like all those lifestyle blogs, shows and magazines want us to. I hate that whole “make this dish that will impress everyone and they’ll NEVER KNOW you took our crazy shortcut to achieve culinary perfection”. I mean, who cares? For me it’s all about being with people I love, eating delicious food and just enjoying ourselves. I’m grateful that we usually only have 3-4 people at our Christmas lunch so it’s not a massive production.
Up until now, I’ve been lucky that mum has pretty much always done our Christmas Day cooking. Even when I have good intentions of contributing, I just get a bit of a mind fog and give up. But this year I’m rising to the challenge, and going to use the Thermomix to either cook or prep our meal. I’ve already started making stuff and it’s been both super easy and fun. So this post isn’t so much about “Bec’s tips and tricks to have the best Christmas evah!!!!” but just an insight into how we’re doing it this year, and some of our traditions that make us happy.
The biggest thing was doing Mama Grace’s Christmas pudding. Every year we go “oh we won’t do a pudding this year” because mum and I are the only ones who like it (my brother’s not really a sweets kind of guy…I have no idea how we’re related). But, as with most traditions, we usually end up going “oh…let’s just make a small one”. It usually involves suspending the pudding (using a Macguyver-esque rig of string and chopsticks) in a giant pot of boiling water for 4 hours, steaming up the whole house, which is never great in unbearable hot weather. This year I decided to try it in the Thermomix – my very first attempt at making Mama’s Christmas pudding, so hopefully it turns out!
I used some tips and tricks from other pudding recipes on the Recipe Community, and converted Mama’s recipe to suit. Wrapped it all up in calico, popped it in the simmering basket and set it to Varoma (steaming) temperature for two hours. Didn’t heat up the whole house, either. Now it’s hanging, drying out, in the kitchen and all we need to do is heat it up on Christmas Day by putting it back in the simmering basket while we have lunch. The verdict as to taste, etc will be out next week…
Another thing we converted is Mama Grace’s shortbread recipe. Mum makes it most years, and usually gives a big jar of it to my brother (it’s one sweet thing he does enjoy). It’s a really light shortbread, with a hint of saltiness, and I have never found one I like as much in any shop. They’re usually way too dense for my taste. The normal process involves sieving the dry ingredients three times, which I’ve always found to be a pain, but contributes to the lightness of the end result. I hate sieving icing sugar, it always takes forever and I have very little patience. Mum wasn’t convinced the Thermomix would get the same result, but I gave it a go anyway.
What do you know? It was perfect.
So I thought I’d share my process here – my first blogged recipe! Ta da! Let me know if you make it and how it turns out for you.
Mama Grace’s Christmas Shortbread
125g raw sugar
250g plain flour
250g butter, cubed
a good pinch of salt (about half a teaspon I reckon)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Mill sugar 15 seconds/sp 9
3. Add cornflour, mill 15 seconds/sp 9
4. Add plain flour and salt, mill 15 seconds/sp 9
5. Scrape down sides and mill another 15 seconds/sp 9
6. Add butter. Mix 5 seconds/sp 5, then knead 40 sec
7. Turn dough out onto a non stick work surface and knead into a ball. Then flatten out ball and cut out shapes as required, continuing to re-incorporate the offcuts and broken off bits back into a ball and reflattening until all dough is used.
8. Arrange on a biscuit slide and bake at 180 degrees, 10-15 mins until just golden. If too brown they will be crunchy. Best way is to check on underside of biscuit – if golden, it’s done. If still white, cook a bit longer.
Tip: Leave plain or decorate with some 100s & 1000s, flaked almonds or silver cachous.
Makes stacks of little bite-sized biscuits (approx 50) but you can make them into any size/shape you desire! Put them in a jar, tie it up with a pretty ribbon and there you have it, an easy, affordable and tasty Christmas present!
What are some of your Christmas traditions? Are there any foods you particularly look forward to eating at this time of year?