Sides don't have to be plain! In fact one or two well dressed side dishes are far better than 5 or 6 tasteless dishes of veggies! Don't you agree?
It's terribly easy to give your festive sides a little make over and totally worthwhile when entertaining a crowd.
When planning a festive menu, it's worth keeping it manageable and being time savvy. The last thing you want to be is stressed and unable to interact with your guests. So prepare ahead dishes that just need a little time in the oven whilst you fuss and pour the fizz are just perfect!
So, every week up until new year, I will share with you a full menu plan and hope it helps!
Here's this weeks menu!
Coconut Prawns and sweet chilli dip
Pork Fillet Mignon in Tarragon, white wine and cream
Honey carrots and parsnips
Boozy Festive Baked Cheesecake with caramelized apples
Slice you potatoes thinly using a mandolin or food processor. I actually use a knife as I have had plenty of practice! Once you have prepared at least 5 large potatoes leave these soaking in iced lemon water until you are ready to drain and use them. The soaking helps get rid of some of the starch. If you don't add a little lemon to the ice water they will turn brown.
Now mix up the liquid mix.
200 ml of half cream, half milk.
2 teaspoons of garlic paste
salt and pepper
fresh herbs or dried such as rosemary and thyme.
A pinch of paprika
70 g of grated french or swiss cheese or parmesan *optional
Place the potato rounds in slightly overlapping layers adding a little of the liquid mix as you go. I season each layer. Then finally add the cheese and weight the whole dish down with something heavy. Fridge over night.
Next take your fillet's (one large fillet feeds 2/3 people. I use one per 2.
Roll the pork in a little oil and seasoning mix of salt and pepper, garlic paste and dried tarragon.
Wrap in cling film and fridge overnight.
Mean while prepare your shallots and fridge.
You may as well prep your sprouts, carrots and parsnips ahead and pop these in iced lemon water over night.
Now time for the Cheesecake.
Prepare you apple slices, skin on, add a few sultanas and roll these in brown sugar and cinnamon. Later fry these in butter and add calvados! Pop these in a tupperware to warm later.
The cheesecake is better done the day before and rested well, then popped in the fridge.
Wizz up 1 pack of fairly plain biscuits in the processor to make a fine dust. Mix this with a cup of melted butter and a few good splashed of Amaretto!
Press this into your loose bottomed deep cheesecake tin. Ensure the bottom is covered with parchment and the sides are greased well. Pop in the fridge.
Now mix together until smooth
2 x 300 g cream cheese
100 g of mascarpone cheese
100 mrs of thick double cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1/2 cup of amaretto
3 large free range eggs
2 large yokes
1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour
1.5 cups of icing sugar
Pour this mix on top of the biscuit base.
Bake in a large oven dish filled with 1/3rd of water for 2 hours on a medium heat. Cover the top if concerned about browning. Then leave the cake in the oven for a further hour with the heat turned off.
Rest the cake for 4 hours. Then fridge overnight. Bring back to room temp during the meal service. Serve in slices with a glass of Amaretto, a dollop of cream and the apple mix.
Fry your quartered Brussels with shallots and bacon.
Roast your sticks of carrots and parsnips in a little oil, nutmeg and honey.
Finally an hour and a half before you guests arrive bake the dauphinoise and turn down the oven down low once fully baked. You can use the warmth of the oven to keep plates and other veg warm.
Coconut prawns - tail on
Spray the prawns with a little coconut oil
then dip in seasoned coconut flour
then dip in seasoned beaten egg
finally roll in coconut shards/shredded coconut
Deep fry and serve with shop bought sweet chilli sauce
These will need deep frying and take seconds to prep and cook.
Whilst your guests are tucking into canapés or the starter, you can prep the pork.
Brown the pork in butter and oil with shallots. Once browned on all sides remove the port and cover in tinfoil and pop in the medium heat oven to finish off. You will want to serve this slightly pink so don't over do it.
Whilst the pork and veggies are in the oven and the plates warming, Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine. Add chicken stock and finally some cream and simmer until reduced and thicker. You can add a little gravy browning and cornflour if you like, I don't and I pour this over the sliced pork.