There are so many different feelings that bubble to the surface at this time of year, and we all carry some emotional baggage from the past, whether it’s good or bad, that this season can have very different meanings for each of us.
Although my approach to Christmas is positive and most of my memories happy ones, there are always some bittersweet ones as well, generally remembering people I’ve lost over the years and times we shared over the holiday season, whether that’s a skating party, decorating a Christmas tree together, baking days, Christmas Eve or Day together or New Year’s.
Even how—or whether—you celebrate Christmas is often vastly different from one person to another, depending on cultural background, religion, means, personal history, social circumstances and interests.
So, when it comes to planning food for Christmas, I try to remember that not everyone will sit down with a dozen or so of their closest family, as I will, to a stuffed turkey and all the traditional fixings.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with a special dinner that would suit a much smaller group, or just two, as a celebratory Christmas bird that’s sure to result in some warm memories for the future.
However you spend the coming week, I hope you celebrate the simple pleasures of good friends and close family while you enjoy fresh, local food prepared with love.
If you’re really lucky, perhaps some thoughtful person will have picked up a copy of Jude’s Kitchen and wrapped it up to put under your tree.
Mom’s Light Rum Pudding
This is a wonderfully light, but delicious dessert which is perfect after a heavy holiday meal. This was always a Christmas treat in our home when I was a kid, often topped with a few strawberries or other berries that had been thawed from summer. This is even better if it’s make one day and served the next, which is very helpful when you’re preparing a big dinner.
1/2 c. (125 ml) white rum
1 tbsp. (15 ml) gelatin
1/2 c. (125 ml) sugar
1 c. (250 ml) whipping cream
Heat rum in a small pot, but do not let it boil. Sprinkle on the gelatin powder and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
Pour into a large mixing bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
Separate eggs, and in a small bowl beat egg yolks with a fork, then stir in white sugar until the mixture is creamy.
Stir in cooled gelatine mixture.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold in egg and gelatin mixture.
Finally, whip cream to soft peak stage and fold in carefully until completely incorporated.
Transfer to a serving dish, cover and chill for at least two hours.
Top with preserved or fresh fruit such as canned peaches, cherries or unsweetened strawberries.
Chicken Roasted with Orange & Ginger
This takes the ordinary roast chicken to another level in flavour and is reminiscent of my favourite way to serve a duck, with a nice orangey sauce.
1 roasting chicken
1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter
1 green onion
1 garlic clove
2 tsp. (10 ml) grated ginger
1 tsp. (5 ml) lemon juice
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) cracked black pepper
pinch of cayenne
pinch of sea salt
a few peppercorns
Soften the butter in a small bowl.
Zest the orange and chop it finely, adding it to the butter, along with a minced green onion and garlic clove, grated ginger and its juice, Worcestershire Sauce, salt and peppers and mix well.
Carefully loosen the skin over the breast, thighs and legs of the bird and use your fingers to spread the spiced butter between the flesh and the skin, without tearing the skin.
Reserve just a smidge to smear over the top of the skin before washing your hands well.
Coarsely chop the remainder of the orange and toss into the cavity of the chicken with a few whole peppercorns and a little coarse sea salt.
Truss and roast.
I use a countertop rotisserie which leaves the meat incredibly moist and flavourful, but pop it into a 350 F oven for about 20-25 minutes to the pound otherwise.
Let the bird set for about 15 minutes before carving.
A 3-4-pound bird will need an hour to an hour and a half to cook, but don’t overcook it.