While jingle bells are ringing, devour this scrumptious Christmas meal with your loved ones

Published: December 23, 2016
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I hope this meal fills your stomachs and makes your Christmas truly merry. PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

The festive season is entering its prime the world-over; a time when it is easy to overindulge and get out of your fitness routine. Plus, whether you are catering for herds of family members or serving up an intimate spread, preparing food during these times can be super stressful. And so, it’s better to be equipped with easy, tried-and-tested recipes since a state of blind panic can quickly ensue in case things go wrong when cooking for a gathering!

Plus, it is winters and the weather demands something warm and filling.

Quick, easy and filling, this is my go-to three course meal which meets all the requirements and will make your Christmas extra cheerful.

Potato Salad

Start your Christmas meal with this yummy, filling potato salad. This is one of my favourites. It’s a great addition to any meal. You’ll love this salad so much you’ll be making it for every BBQ, picnic or even an ordinary supper at your house, just like I do. Allowing the potato salad flavours to set is important. Usually, I’ll prepare it at lunch, or even leave it overnight so it can sit and build its flavour. This will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days – if it doesn’t get eaten up before, that is. It’s simple, but delicious!

Hail to the best potato salad. Enjoy!

Ingredients

White potatoes – 6 medium-sized

White vinegar – 3 tbsp

Celery – 2 large (diced)

Green onions – 6 (diced)

Eggs – 5 (hard-boiled and peeled)

Mayonnaise – 1½ cups

Yellow mustard – 1 tbsp

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Paprika – to garnish

Method:

1. Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of water. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and can easily be pierced. Drain the water and let them cool.

2. Peel off the potatoes’ skins and cut them into large diced pieces. Transfer the warm potatoes to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the white vinegar and stir. Add the celery and green onions. Chop the hard-boiled eggs and add them to the potato mixture.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Combine this with the potato mixture and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Chill for at least one hour or overnight before serving.

Baked Lemon Fish

You got everyone excited with that potato salad, but thankfully, this main course will impress those guests even more. Winters are the best season to enjoy fish. It’s wholesome and warm, the meat so soft. With a touch of garlic and a kick of lemon, you have a fool-proof combination that’ll dazzle your guests and give them a serving they’ll remember until Christmas comes around again. Here is my favourite baked fish recipe: it’s healthy, warm and easy on the stomach.

This main course is so easy, it’ll be on the table in 15 minutes, tops.

Ingredients

Unsalted butter – ¼ cup (melted)

Garlic – 3 cloves (minced)

Lemon juice – 2 tbsps or depending on taste (freshly squeezed lemon)

Lemon zest – 1 lemon

Fish – 4 fillets (you can cook any fish. I prefer sea bass)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (go easy on the salt)

Fresh parsley – 2 tbsps (chopped leaves)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F). Lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or coat with non-stick spray.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest; set aside.

3. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and place onto the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with the butter mixture.

4. Place into oven and bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10-12 minutes.

5. Serve immediately. You may garnish with parsley.

Apple Pie

It’s time for the finale. If you ask people what their favourite dessert is, I bet a lot of people would say apple pie. With a filling so warm, sweet and tangy, glazing over and under chunks of apples, oozing out of a crisp yet soft pastry, how could your Christmas be complete without it? Apple pie is definitely comfort food and the best ending to a wonderful meal. Serve it up with a scoop of chilled vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream and you are good to go.

Ingredients

Dough

Flour – 2 cups (heaped)

Butter – 5 oz

Caster sugar – 2 ½ oz

Chilled water as required

Egg yolk – 1

Baking powder – ½ tsp

Filling

Apples – 3 (cut into thin slices)

Sugar – ½ cup

Cornflour – 1 tsp (heaped)

Cinnamon – ½ tsp (heaped)

Lemon juice – 2 tbsp

Method

1. For the filling, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook until apples are tender. Keep aside.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder through a sieve in a large bowl.

3. Add in the butter and caster sugar. Mix slightly with your hands until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

4. Add in the egg yolk. Knead, adding chilled water as needed, until it reaches a dough-like consistency.

5. Divide dough into half. Roll them into two balls and chill them in the fridge for 15 minutes.

6. Roll out one ball of dough, spread it on the base of a pie dish and bake blind for 15 minutes.

7. Remove from oven. Put in the filling.

8. Roll the leftover dough and place it on top of the filling.

9. Brush the top of the dough with a beaten egg white. Bake for 30 minutes on 180 C.

Food is the binding force between family and celebration. I hope this meal fills your stomachs and makes your Christmas truly merry.

All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a Instagram food blog: @chakhoous (www.instagram.com/chakhoous/) . She tweets @arhama_siddiqa (twitter.com/arhama_siddiqa)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.