In a week it will be Christmas!
I thought you might like to see how we celebrate here in subtropical Brisbane, where Christmas Day is almost always very, very hot - it has been known to hit 40C - and also what I cook when I'm not cooking Chinese food.
Food is such an integral part of Christmas, with an early afternoon feast with close family a strongly held custom. The food itself can be entirely non-traditional, but should always be special - Australians often dispense with traditional cooked ham and turkey because of the unwelcome heat generated by the oven, and choose seafood, fish and salads instead.
Here's what we ate last night, for the second of three feasts with my extended family. Next week on Christmas Day I get the chance to cook an entirely different menu for my husband's family! A cooking extravaganza I'm really looking forward to!
Baby pea and mint soup, served cold with crunchy prosciutto and dill
Hot-smoked rainbow trout with dill and horseradish cream, served with roast fennel, parsnips and potatoes, and a herbed bean salad
Raspberry, passionfruit and lime cheesecake 'trifle'
Champagne and chocolates
I'm so lucky to have the abundance of a full table and so many people I love to share it with. Cheers!
Preparing a Feast
5.30am: Brine rainbow trout for 4 hours - it will make them more sweetly tender.
8am: Make passionfruit and lemon curd for the trifle
10am: Make chicken stock, then pea and mint soup. Make a hell of a mess.
12 midday: Assemble the raspberry, passionfruit and lime cheesecake trifley thing.
2pm: Set the table. Actually, get the girls to set the table. Race to the shops and buy everything I've forgotten.
4pm: Check status of trifle. Cold, and fully set but not looking as pretty as it did at midday. Oh well. Ensure adequate champagne supplies to compensate for this.
6pm: Frantic last-minute chopping, mixing, tidying house. Everyone arrives! Serve white rum mint and lime mojitos, very refreshing on a hot night.
6pm: Light Christmas lanterns
6.30pm: Smoke the trout using alder sawdust. Given this is my first attempt at hot-smoking I feel very excited. And also very anxious.
7pm: Get everyone seated. Pull Christmas crackers. Wear paper hats. Tell each other bad jokes from inside crackers.
7.10pm: Serve the pea and mint soup
7.30pm: Roast the potatoes, parsnips and fennel. Check trout - needs longer in the smoker.
8.30pm: Serve the trout! Success! They taste incredible.
9.30pm: Serve Raspberry Passionfruit Lime Cheesecake Trifle Masterpiece. Enough champagne has now been consumed that no one really minds how it looks, only that it is cold, sweet and delicious.
11pm Make sparkler portraits out in the garden. No Christmas feast would be considered complete without some kind of feast-end shenanigans. Collapse into bed after midnight.
Merry Christmas everyone! Happy New Year for 2014 and may the year ahead bring you much happiness, joy and many adventures!