It’s often useful to design a menu that can easily be turned from a cold to a hot meal (or vice versa) without too much thought or drama
Picture it. Christmas Day, 2015. You wake up to a cold and drizzly morning. Certainly not the hot, sultry conditions the TV weatherman has been promising for days. And which you’ve designed your whole Christmas spread around. It’s a social and domestic disaster! What to do?
Weather can be a big factor in the decisions you make about your menu. And as Australia can have such capricious weather patterns at this time of year, it’s often useful to design a menu that can easily be turned from a cold to a hot meal (or vice versa) without too much thought or drama.
So it’s a great idea to have options that are easily modified. Let me give you an example…
SCENARIO ONE: It’s a hot summery Christmas day with a warm, silky breeze and the background hum of cicadas. Christmas lunch/dinner to be served in the back garden or on the decking/porch.
• Oysters natural with cucumber, lime and Hendrix gin
• Roasted baby capsicums filled with Persian fetta
• Chargrilled zucchini with herb and caper dressing
• Sliced meats such as prosciutto, or other cured hams, may include homemade liver parfait.
• Sourdough and other bread options to your liking
Mains: Seated at the table
1. Fresh seafood selection: prawns and aoili, chargrilled baby octopus, lobster/scampi/salmon (pick your favourite)
2. Roasted whole spatchcocks with pine nut and bread stuffing
3. Selection of salads: quinoa, avocado, mint and fennel; root vegetable with coriander and rocket dressing; green beans and pomegranate
1. Homemade parfait, served with fresh berries
2. Tiramisu trifle (always a winner)
3. Marinated figs and marscarpone baked cheesecake
SCENARIO TWO: Dismal and windy with a cold drizzling rain falling from a heavy slate grey sky. How do you modify your menu to suit the weather?
• Keep the oysters natural or make a quick mornay sauce and enjoy oysters mornay.
• Toss the chargrilled, marinated zuchinni and red capsicum in a pan, oven roast the breads with garlic and serve as a crostini.
• Cut the spatchcocks into pieces and warm in the oven on a tray, drizzled with your choice of dressings and enjoyed with the other meats. The prosciutto and ham can be warmed too.
• All the seafood can be made into a wonderful paella or seafood risotto. Use the roasted root vegetables exactly the same except serve hot and crispy.
• Serve the green beans hot and crumble over the Persian fetta dressed with the pomegranate olive oil.
• Dessert can always stay as planned but you could also make a very easy zabaglione with the fresh figs and serve with Savoyard biscuits.
So who cares if the weather is hot or cold? Whatever the day brings, you’ll be prepared. Really, just use your imagination.