December 16, 2017
Ever wondered what Christmas Day at the Beers' looks like? Well, here's a glimpse...
Maggie, how do you spend your Christmas Day?
We are definitely a Christmas lunch family. It allows for a longer, lazier run into the afternoon, that quite often makes its way to dinner anyhow. We keep it really simple so there is no fuss or bother, with everyone chipping in so that much of the preparation is done the night before. Our favourite Christmas’ are when we all sit under the pear tree at the bottom of the garden, or in the courtyard under the umbrella of what must be a hundred year old wisteria, whiling away the time eating and chatting without any guilt on the behalf of those who choose to sneak off for an afternoon nap. The sharing of good food in a truly relaxed way is always my priority on Christmas Day.
What's on the menu this year?
When it comes to Christmas, I must admit a streak of extravagance - if I am tempted by something special, I’ll justify it by saying, ‘but it’s Christmas…’ The house will be overflowing with flowers, the cellar will be raided for special wines and if there’s enough water in our dam for Colin to catch some yabbies, they’ll definitely be on the list. We'll start with a favourite of mine, a generous plate of King Prawns with Verjuice Mayonnaise. This year I'll have a Roast Goose and Quince Glazed Ham at the centre of the table with lovely salads and vegetables to match. I'm trying out two new salads this year - the first a Chickpea, Beetroot & Roasted Pumpkin Salad and the second, Grilled Cauliflower with Almonds, Kale and Currants. Of course, we'll have Roasted Potatoes (a favourite of the grandkids). We'll finish off with a Salted Brandy Caramel & Banana Pavlova, and a Christmas Pudding. Although I have to admit, our family never manages to eat the Christmas pudding on Christmas Day. What tends to happen is that it’s covered well and put back into the fridge. In the evenings that follow, it is taken out, a slice at a time, and warmed a little, to enjoy with a cup of tea after dinner.
Do you source your Christmas produce and ingredients locally?
I always head to our local Farmer’s Market at the very last moment that I can before Christmas Day to gather all the fresh produce my garden doesn't provide; things like fresh raspberries and strawberries are always a must at the market, and closer to home, I love picking the seasonal stone fruit from our orchard; apricots, nectarines and peaches. There is nothing that comes close to the flavour of just picked, sun ripened fruit, it really is the luxury and flavour of Summer in the Barossa to me. Before the fresh produce shopping and picking, I buy the ham to store before glazing and baking closer to Christmas Day, put in an order for properly brought up free range turkey or goose, and perhaps even order any seafood ahead of time too, if you have a trusted fishmonger. I also try and find the cheeses I’m wanting to have on Christmas day too, they can be bought now and put aside, along with any staple ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, anchovies etc.
Any tips or tricks for a stress-free day?
Biggest thing is organisation and preparation so it’s all a breeze. Preparation, for me, is all about making a great stuffing for the goose the night before. I also make the meringues for the pavlova ahead of time and store until I'm ready to assemble on the day. Prepare the ham by stripping the skin and scoring the fat read to glaze. Have all the salad ingredients washed, dried and prepped and the goose into an oven bag. Checking your basic pantry items is also worthwhile as you don’t want to find you’re missing something you need when it may be too late to source it. I also like to think about getting drinks together ahead of time; choosing wines, chilling bubbles etc can all take place now.