During our Wellcuisine retreats, we always cook multi-course meals in the evening, which we then eat under the starry sky. During our autumn retreat, the table talk often revolved around whether the menu of the evening would be suitable for Christmas too. The main criteria being whether the menu could be well prepared or not. Because who likes to be in the kitchen the whole day on December 24th? Christmas is supposed to be a contemplative celebration, but in truth it is often quite stressful. Most of us still have a lot of work to do and finish just before Christmas, as customers, bosses and companies want to tick off as much as possible before the end of the year. In the meantime, gifts are bought, Christmas parties attended, cookies baked, trees decorated and gifts wrapped. On Christmas Eve there should be a menu for the extended family, and by then the nerves are on edge if something doesn’t work out as we imagined or if it takes longer than expected. That is why the best Christmas menu is one that can be prepared in advance and can just be finished on Christmas Eve.
The Wellcuisine Christmas menu starts with a chestnut soup and lemon-thyme crumble. You can prepare all of this the day before, except for the crumble. The main course is a warm winter salad. Please don’t let the word “salad” scare you off. It is a full-fledged dish that makes you full. You can serve the salad straight or with a side dish. For example, falafel balls (see recipe here) or a fried piece of organic goose, chicken or duck are suitable. Except for the fried pumpkin, all components of the salad can be prepared the day before. The menu ends with a semi-frozen gingerbread icecream with chocolate sauce and caramel nuts. You could even prepare the half-frozen a week before Christmas and keep it in the freezer until Christmas Eve.
Chestnut Soup with Lemon and Thyme Crumble
FOR CHRISTMAS PLANNING: Except for the lemon-thyme crumble, the soup can be prepared the day before and stored in the refrigerator.
CHESTNUT SOUP WITH LEMON AND THYME CRUMBLE
For the soup:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
- 400 g pre-cooked chestnuts from the vacuum pack
- 350 g floury potatoes peeled and diced
- 50 ml sherry plus more to taste alternatively white wine or, for a non-alcoholic version, 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1.2 l hot water
- 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sweat the onion and garlic in it. Set aside 10 of the chestnuts. Put the rest together with the potatoes and fry briefly while stirring. Deglaze with sherry or white wine. Add water and salt and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Puree in a blender until creamy. If the soup is too thick, add a little more water. Season to taste with salt, sherry and freshly ground black pepper.
- For the crumble, dice the chestnuts that were set aside. Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Fry the chestnuts in it until browned. Then add the thyme, fry briefly and remove from the heat. Salt and pepper lightly and stir in the lemon zest.
- Pour the soup into bowls, arrange with the crumble and a small dash of olive oil and serve.
Warm Winter Salad
FOR CHRISTMAS PLANNING: The dressing can be prepared the day before. The pomegranates can also be pitted the day before. Then simply store the pomegranate seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Only the pumpkin has to be baked on Christmas Eve.
WARM WINTER SALAD WITH PUMPKIN AND POMOGRANATE SEEDS
For the salad:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Cut the Hokkaido squash into thin wedges and mix with the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and salt in a bowl. Spread on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for about 15 minutes. Then bake for another 5 minutes on top heat and fan-assisted.
- Divide the pomegranate. Hold the cut surface over a large bowl and use a wooden spoon to knock out the seeds. Set the seeds aside.
- Mix all ingredients for the dressing.
- Place the rocket and beetroot in a bowl or on a plate and mix with the dressing. Arrange the baked pumpkin wedges on top and serve sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and walnuts.
Semi-frozen Gingerbread Icecream with Chocolate Sauce and Caramel Nuts
FOR CHRISTMAS PLANNING: The dessert can be completely prepared in the days before. If you are preparing it on the same day, you should start doing it in the morning, as you have waiting time.
SEMI-FROZEN GINGERBREAD ICECREAM WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE AND CARAMEL NUTS
For the semi-frozen:
- 17 cm springform pan
- Either soak the cashew nuts for the semi-frozen food for 4 hours in cold water or boil them in water for 10 minutes. Then place in a sieve, rinse and drain. Puree together with the other cream ingredients in a blender for 2-3 minutes on the highest setting.
- Line a 17 cm springform pan with baking paper and spread the mixture in it. Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
- For the chocolate sauce, put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until you get a smooth sauce. If you don't use the sauce right away, it will solidify again. In this case, heat it up slightly before using it until it is liquid again and then let it cool slightly before pouring it over the semi-frozen food.
- Roast the hazelnuts whole in a pan. Put on a kitchen towel and rub off the skin as far as possible. Roughly chop the nuts. Heat the pan again and add the coconut blossom sugar and maple syrup until the coconut blossom sugar melts. Add the nuts and stir-fry briefly. Be careful that nothing burns. Put the nuts on a plate and let cool.
- Take the half-frozen food out of the freezer just before serving, cut into 8 pieces of cake and layer two pieces on top of each other on the plate. Dip a fork in the chocolate sauce and sprinkle the sauce over the semi-frozen food. Sprinkle with the caramel nuts and serve immediately.