It was Christmas in London for us this year and it was our first proper Christmas in our house! We have family visiting us and I’ve been cooking for the past couple of days.

Christmas day started with a massive brunch of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, sausages, croissants, hams, jams, etc. Oh, and hashwaffles. I’m not sure if that’s its correct name but I saw somewhere online that frozen tater tots could be cooked in a waffle iron. Well, it was just one step away from tater tots to frozen rosti from Waitrose and boom – I can vouch that they do indeed cook brilliantly in that multi-tasking device. Place them frozen into a hot waffle iron, apply constant pressure until the soften and the waffle iron closes fully and then let cook until done. They cook very quickly and are fabulous.

Christmas day brunch

Dinner was unconventional but it’s what we love doing for special occasions: hotpot!

The Hotpot Spread

Pork and Beef

All the Balls

Mushrooms

Vegetables, Tofu and Spam

After cooking all those ingredients, the broth is brilliant to drink afterwards. If you’re looking to host your own hotpot party, I’ve written general guidelines for it previously.

Boxing day is never an afterthought. The day started with brunch again – Catalan pa amb tomàquet with fried eggs and bacon.

Boxing day brunch

Dinner was steak!

The Boxing Day Dinner Table

Let’s zoom into my plate. There’s a ribeye steak covered in a black pepper, mushroom and brandy sauce, served with mashed potatoes and sauteed Brussels sprouts. The sauce is a family recipe, similar apparently to a pepper sauce served in a restaurant in Fraser’s Hill in Malaysia – we bring it out at every special family steak meal!

Steak with a Black Pepper Mushroom Sauce, Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes

And now that Christmas is over, I’m looking forward to heading out in London to eat! Hope you’ve all had a fabulous holiday season!

For my family, it’s all about the eating at Christmas time. This year, I’m in Vancouver with my father and I’m finding it quite a challenge not overdoing the cooking for two! Like last year, I cooked a Chinese meal for Christmas Eve and this year, there was a steamed fish again – and this time, this was a brilliantly fresh giant trout my father found at a local supermarket. I feel like I’m starting a new tradition with the Asian Christmas Eve meal.

Steamed Trout

And for dessert? A big bowl of jelly, tinned fruit and some honey and walnut frozen yoghurt.

And last night's jelly, tinned fruit and honey and walnut frozen yoghurt...

On Christmas day, there was steak! Steak with a mushroom and pepper sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries. I do believe I’ve converted my father to sprouts! It’s not a conventional Christmas meal but steak’s great for smaller parties.

Steak, Sprouts and Sweet Spuds

For dessert – homemade sherry trifles. These were supposed to be individual serving sizes until my brother pointed out that they were huge. Oops. Yup, that’s a pint glass. And yes, they were extremely rich and definitely filled us up!

Trifle

What did you have for Christmas?

Wherever you are this year (I’m in Vancouver!), I wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas! Happy eating!

Last year, my friend Roxanne and I managed to visit four Nordic Christmas markets in one day and only missed out on the Danish Christmas fair. This year, we vowed to visit the Danish one to finally tick that off our list! On the same weekend as all the other Scandinavian markets (it happens on only one weekend each year – keep an eye out for next year’s!), we made our way to the Danish YWCA near Finchley Road. It’s a beautiful grand building and yes, that day there were a lot of Danes about. This Christmas Bazaar cost £2 per person for entry.

Danish YWCA

There were not one, not two, but three eating ‘zones’ interspersed between the craft and grocery rooms and raffle tables. The first was outside with the wreaths and evergreen branches for sale. There was a Tulip hot dog stand!

A Tulip Hot Dog Stand

I loved all the hot dogs I ate in Copenhagen oh so many years ago and here was my chance to get one with the full Danish works again: ketchup, mustard, remoulade, diced raw onions, crispy fried onions, sliced pickles. And I even went for the bright red sausage (the rød pølse)!

Hot Dog!

Inside, we found rooms of traditional Danish Christmas crafts and even a groceries room full of Christmas goodies. The crafts were indeed very beautiful and I yearned for a reindeer head to decorate my living room.

Inside

Crafts

The Head of Rudolf

I didn’t buy anything major this year but I did leave with a few packs of Danish Christmas biscuits – mmm, such buttery buttery biscuits.

Outside in the back garden, a marquee had been set up as a sort of cafe serving drinks, meatballs and aebleskiver, the Danish spherical pancakes. Aebleskiver are delicious! They’re have a much more tender crumb than I imagined and they’re just perfect with jam and powdered sugar.

Æbleskiver

Everyone seemed to be drinking either gløgg or these yellow cans of chocolate milk. I had to try one of the latter and it is very moreish!

Chocolate Milk

Back inside the building, we finally made our way to the last room for eats – the YWCA’s canteen turned into a cute and cosy cafe where one could have various savouries, sandwiches and pastries.

I had to try the liver pate smørrebrød after one woman waxed poetic about hot liver pate. This was some good pate and I bet it would have been even better if it had been served hot.

Liver Pate Smørrebrød

Chicken and mushroom puffs were very generously filled and served hot.

Chicken and Mushroom Puffs

We finished with a slice of Christmas kringle – a puff pastry with plenty of dried fruit and spices of the festive season.

Christmas Kringle

We were stuffed by the time we left. Highly recommended! Keep your eyes peeled for when the 2014 weekend is – this year, I also reported the dates on Twitter.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! We’re not religious at all but I’ve embraced the whole idea of Christmas and the fact that we get an enforced break from work and well, all of that eating, of course! Our feasting started Christmas Eve with a big Chinese meal for the three of us (Blai joined us this year for his first Christmas in London).

Christmas Eve Dinner

My brother had brought over a roast duck from Four Seasons (our usual duck of choice comes from Gold Mine but they had closed early the day before!) and I added a steamed fish, wontons in chilli oil, kai lan with oyster sauce and mapo tofu (I added some pork to that last recipe).

Mapo Tofu

A couple of the recipes came from Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Every Grain of Rice – and I highly recommend this book! I feel I ought to be cooking more Chinese food and I’ll certainly be using her recipes often.

Afterwards, there were slices of Heston’s Black Forest Buche (bought at Waitrose) for dessert. We’re still eating our way along the length of this excellent chocolatey buche.

Cross Section of the Buche

On Christmas Day, we rose late and started with a breakfast of smoked salmon and crème fraîche on blinis along with scrambled eggs.

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs

Soon after breakfast, I set out a few bites while the main course was cooking. A bit of cheese, A bit of charcuterie, a bit more salmon. It’s what the Catalans call pica pica, all these little bites.

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And the main course? Well, we can’t go wrong with another slab of pork belly – it always goes down well in this family. This year, I roasted it with apples and onions and I loved the sweetness and slight tang the apples gave. For a recipe, start with this one and instead of fennel, use a couple of sliced onions and a couple of sliced, peeled green apples and a bit of dried or fresh thyme.

Slow Roast Pork Belly with Apples and Onions

Very buttery mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets, sauteed sprouts, roasted carrots and parsnips and, of course, that pork and there’s my first plate made.

My Plate

And now it’s Boxing Day and that’s all about using up the leftovers… but first, I’d like to hear what you’ve been eating this Christmas! Have you tried new recipes this year or is this a time for sticking to tradition?