Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas celebrations round #2: friends

Posted by lea at 3:33 PM
So after the mostly successful Parkside Family Christmas Lunch on Saturday, we followed it up with our Kris Kringle Friends' Christmas Dinner. Most are married young couples now and there are two kids in the group - one a gorgeous one year old Korindian and the other a terrible-two year old Eurasian. We're a mixed bunch.

The menu was pot luck, and the dishes I brought to the table were:
Mussels in white wine, garlic and chilli for starters.

Quick directions: buy 2kg fresh mussels (local ones are best) and pull off beards just before cooking. In a large pot, heat up some oil and add around 6 cloves of chopped garlic and 3-4 small red chillis (less if you can't handle the heat). When it starts to get fragrant and a little brown, add the mussels into the pot. Pour a can of chopped tomatoes and a cup of white wine over the top. Stir and put the lid on. When the mussels start to open, add a good handful of chopped continental parsley, a little salt (not too much) and stir again. Replace the lid. When all the mussels have opened, served in a nice big bowl with plenty of broth. It's delicious and a surefire way to get the party started.

Turkish Lamb Pizza

Quick directions: fry up one chopped onion, 3 green chillis and a dash of cumin and paprika in a little oil. Remove from the pan and cook 500g lamb mince until brown, and drain the juice. Add the fried onions and chilli to the minced lamb and add 2tb of tomato paste.

Spread the resulting lamb mince mix thinly onto any base you like: pre-bought or home-made pizza base, Lebanese bread or Greek pita bread. Chuck it into a pre-heated oven at around 160 deg C for around 10-15min until the edges are browned. Serve with wedges of lemon. Yum!!

Also on the table were really delicious and naturally sweet prawns with a lemon dipping sauce, marinated chicken, a complicated but beautiful Chinese chicken salad, fresh sashimi salad with a yummy sesame-base dressing, and for dessert, tiramisu and black forest cherry cake.

It was a good night on the whole and fun for everyone - especially when the kris kringle gifts came out - but some lessons learnt:
  1. Ambience is important. Consider lighting, music and mood beforehand to set the scene and make it feel 'Christmassy'. Break out the candles and when desperate, pull out Mariah Carey's Christmas CD.
  2. Punctuality makes a difference. There were some stragglers and it just kind of deflated the mood that night. One or two coming unavoidably late is ok, but when most of the party is late... it's just a bit lame. Answer: don't serve dinner too soon - start with drinks and a few snacks and go as long as it takes until everyone's arrived.
  3. Large groups need something to hold it together. If it's a massive party then it's totally cool when people break off into smaller groups to chat, but when it's a cosy one, try to keep the group together. Board games or charades or something that keeps everyone laughing together work great, even if it takes a little persuading to get everyone involved.


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