Main Menu: A simple menu works best as we count down to Christmas

By JAN MAIN

Tradition plays a large part in planning Christmas menus. Every family has their favourite.

For me, the anticipation and family time of Christmas Eve is the best celebration.

Because many people have to work on Christmas Eve, a simple menu works best. In fact, it is so simple it can be organized in an hour and be ready for that magic time. It consists of smoked salmon with all the embellishments: great bread, lemon wedges, dill sauce, cream cheese, sliced onions and capers and this wonderful salad followed by a homemade Yule log.

Even if you do not follow all the menu, you may feel inspired to try some of the following recipes for your festivities.

Spiced Nuts

It’s amazing how many of these nuts can be consumed! Make a large batch of spiced nuts because they have a number of tasty uses: great simply to nibble from a bowl with a drink, as a crunchy salad ingredient (suggested here) or jarred with a festive lid for a hostess gift. You will find your own ways to use this addictive ingredient.

2 cups (500 mL) walnut or pecan halves
2 tbsp (25 mL) melted butter
2 tsp (10 mL) curry powder
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine walnut or pecan halves with melted butter to coat lightly. In separate bowl, combine curry powder, sugar and salt. Sprinkle over nuts and toss to coat evenly. Arrange nuts on baking sheet in single layer. Bake 10 – 12 minutes or until fragrant. Watch carefully because nuts burn quickly. Cool on a rack. Place them in freezer bags or jars and use within one to two weeks.

Christmas Salad

You can use this salad throughout the holiday season. However, it is my favourite for Christmas Eve. It is particularly good to add freshness to rich menus. For a more dramatic presentation, try serving this salad on a large platter. The salad may be prepared ahead, covered and refrigerated until ready to serve (may be done the day before.)

Just before serving toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves (about ½ cup/ 125 mL). This salad serves six. People will love it!

1 box (large 283 g) mixed greens (check the expiry date)
1 red pepper cut into thin slivers
4 clementine oranges, peeled and separated into segments
1 cup (250 mL) fennel, cut into very thin slices
1 cup (250 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup (250 mL) thin slices of English cucumber, halved or steamed broccoli florets or green beans
1 cup (250 mL) spiced nuts

Basic Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp ( 2 mL) fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) vegetable oil (canola or sunflower)
1/2 cup (125 mL) cider vinegar
2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard

In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, salt and pepper. Combine until garlic is finely chopped. With motor running, pour in oil, vinegar, honey and mustard. Pour into jar. Makes 2 ½ cups (625 mL). Keeps well covered in the refrigerator for two weeks.


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