Sarah Todd Cooked with Spice, Made with Love

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More time at Christmas


The holidays are just around the corner and it got me thinking.  Why does Christmas dinner which is synonymous with fun, festivities and celebrating with loved ones go hand in hand with the feeling of fear, anxiousness and the pressure of pulling off a Martha Stewart-esque feast?


Don’t be shy to stray away from some of the traditional dishes.  I have created a menu where most of the preparation can be done in advance so that on Christmas Day, it’s all about plating the dishes and enjoying the occasion.


For my family celebration on Christmas Day, we make the most of Australia’s wonderful seafood and summer fruits with a long leisurely alfresco lunch.  What’s great about this menu is that the dishes are super simple to prepare.  Traditional dishes like the delicious Christmas pudding can take a long time to prepare so unless you’ve already started soaking your fruit, I recommend trying the incredible range from Coles.  My pick this year is Heston’s Hidden Caramel Sauce and Figgy Christmas Pudding, yum!


The theme behind this menu is

  • Simple fresh ingredients
  • Quick and easy recipes
  • Keeping ingredients in their most nutritious form
  • Bags of flavour
  • Traditional with a twist
  • A couple of tapas style dishes


Click on the links below to go directly to the recipes.

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Garlic prawns with gremolata

Coles Finest Australian Free Range Ham with Bourbon + Cherry Glaze

Quinoa salad with mint, feta and sultanas

Tea cured salmon served with crudités

Individual trifles with walnut sponge and macerated blackberries

Pavlova, mango, blackberries, macadamias

Coles Heston’s Hidden Caramel Sauce and Figgy Christmas Pudding



The first rule is, after planning your menu, take the time to work out a timeline for preparation with the main goal to have most of the work done before Christmas Day.


I created this feast with two shops to Coles.  The first shop I purchased all the non-perishable items to begin preparation early, finishing my second shop at Coles Christmas Eve for all of the fresh herbs, vegetables and seafood to ensure quality and the freshest of ingredients.


Now it’s time to begin preparing.  In the professional kitchen, we would call this our mise en place, which is a French phrase meaning ”putting in place”. This is one of the biggest skills I learnt from working in a kitchen. It takes all of the hard work out of the day itself. It refers to doing whatever steps possible out of your menu in advance. Below I have broken it down for you and written a list of steps you should do the day before and which steps are best done on the day to ensure freshness.  This gives you the ability to make it through each recipe without running out of pots, pans and utensils on the day.

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If you find yourself unable to venture out to your local Coles or you simply get a little overwhelmed with the Christmas rush, you can try their online shopping functionality here.  There’s free delivery on your first shop, 7 days delivery.  I’ve found them to be very reliable and completely stress free.  You can now order your ingredients straight from all recipes.


My biggest piece of advice is to remain calm and enjoy yourself.  Give yourself more time at Christmas.



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