A friend of ours recently said that his family were having their main festive dinner on Christmas Eve; how very 'European' I thought, but actually very sensible as it left Christmas Day free of all the kitchen-related stresses that often dominate this great family celebration.
Whilst we ourselves enjoy a fairly traditional British Christmas, we do like to add a few touches from the Mediterranean just to mix things up a bit! Certainly, in the days following the 25th, we are lucky enough to enjoy Eleni's father's festive offerings, which include 'Pasticcio' (a Greek version of Lasagne, using thin pasta tubes instead of layered pasta and seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg) and Avgolemono (a hearty soup combining chicken, lemon and rice).
They say that variety is the spice of the life, so why not do something a little different this year and include some inspiration from overseas, adding to but not replacing your traditional fare. Here are three of our favourite food and drink ideas, with links to recipes.
Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)
The perfect dish on a cold winter's day, 'Avgolemono' is a classic Greek delicacy but actually very simple to make. It's basically a creamy broth, consisting of poached chicken, boiled rice and a delicious egg-lemon sauce. Click here for a great recipe from a wonderful source of Greek culinary inspiration, MyGreekDish.com
Spanish Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Continuing the 'lemon' theme but this time drawing inspiration from Spain, Lemon Olive Oil Cake will typically be eaten by Spaniards as a dessert at Christmas time; serve with cream or creme fraiche and a pot of strong coffee. The beauty of this cake is that it is not too sweet, but instead it is bursting with citrus flavours and moistness from the olive oil. Try this recipe which combines ground almonds for extra flavour and texture.
Rasberry Prosecco Bellinis
For a simple party cocktail with a foot firmly in the Italian camp, try this refreshing Rasberry Bellini. Prosecco is a fantastically light sparkling wine that lends itself to cocktail mixing. However, this one doesn't even require a cocktail shaker. Simply add one part rasberry liqueur to a Champagne flute with a sprig of fresh basil. Then pour in four parts Prosecco and away you go!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! (or should that be: KALA CHRISTOUYENNA!)