Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas this year was a very quiet affair. We contemplated having an open house but decided instead that we would just celebrate it quietly with the family over a nice lunch. The Lovely Wife wanted a nice sit down lunch and asked if she could invite over two of her dearest friends, Lynn and Tina. I decided to make a leg of lamb, a simple citrus salad and a chicken casserole. I would get some pita bread to eat with the lamb, make a little rice and of course potatoes to finish everything off. I contemplated making dessert but since I had made the obligatory chocolate cake, I reckoned that would be enough for dessert.

Usually at Christmas Eve, we host dinner for the extended family where we also open all our presents. However, this year, we celebrated Christmas Eve at my Mom-in-Laws house and my parents joined us there too. Both my brothers had plans of their own so again it was a quiet affair.

We went for Christmas Eve mass and then went to my mom-in-laws. After dinner at my in-laws, we returned home to open up our presents.

This year, we seemed to have overdone it a bit with the presents with each of us getting something big, huge and splendid. Michael got the Millenium Falcon lego set that I managed to get at a large discount via searching online and finding it on eBay!

As per usual, there were a lot of other smaller gifts for each child. Sarah got Michael a tiny dinosaur mug/pencil holder from Petrosains while Mike got her a beanie in the shape of a dogs head. For some reason, my princess loves wearing beanies - especially to sleep!

Also through online shopping, I managed to get Sarah a Pogo Stick. She had been asking for a pogo stick for the longest time and I was glad that we were able to get it for her. While shopping online, I saw this amazing deal for a QuadCopter and decided that we would get that as a joint present for the kids as well.

On to The Lovely Wife. in addition to some smaller gifts, her big gift was a Marc Jacobs handbag. The kids and I had decided that this year there would be no jewellery and since TLW likes bags, we decided we'd get her a nice one. We tossed up between an Oroton bag and a Marc Jacobs bag and the Marc Jacobs won. Both were on sale but we were still surprised that the Marc Jacobs seemed reasonable compared to what we had seen elsewhere. Turned out that it was a Marc by Marc Jacobs - meaning it was the lower end of the Marc Jacobs brand. Not that I know the difference. Regardless, TLW was extremely pleased with our gift although while opening it, she seemed to not believe it when she saw the Marc Jacobs bag cover. You see, we often put other stuff in branded boxes to fool her!

As for me, I got a lovely bow tie to add to my collection and a few other smaller gifts. After opening all the presents, the kids suddenly ran upstairs and came down with a large box for me. It was super heavy and when I opened it, a bright orange box appeared. It was a Le Creuset Dutch Oven! Wow! TLW said that this was a joint Birthday and Christmas present since it was so expensive. I was practically speechless! Le Creuset! I always wanted a pan that you could cook in and also put in the oven and this was just beyond my expectations. I remarked that I could use it the very next day for the chicken casserole!

Early on Christmas morning, I took out the lamb that I had marinated the previous night. Before putting the lamb in the oven, I covered it with some Dijon Mustard and bread crumbs and then placed it in the oven to slow cook.

1 Leg of lamb
5 cloves garlic
5 pepper corns
handful rosemary
handful thyme
Knob butter
Olive Oil

1 cup dijon mustard

Pound garlic, pepper corns, rosemary and thyme together. Add butter and enough olive oil to make a paste. Make slits on the lamb and rub all over with the paste. Wrap in foil and leave overnight in fridge. Heat oven to 200C. Cover lamb with dijon mustard and then with the breadcrumbs. Place in a roasting pan and roast at 200C for about 45 mins. Cover with foil and continue roasting at 160C for another 3 hours.

For the casserole, I used the Le Creuset for the first time! The care instructions stated that you always had to cover the base of the pan with oil before heating. It also mentioned that you should use a slow heat to gently heat the pan as it would retain heat. I marinated the chicken with a little ginger at first and I also bought some herbs to put into the casserole. However, what I thought was fresh oregano was actually tarragon!

1 chicken - cut into small pieces
1 inch ginger - shredded
1 large onion - chopped
3 gloves garlic - chopped
1 tsp oregano
250 g mushrooms - quartered
2 stalks fresh tarragon
200 ml cream
200g Spinach Leaves

Cut the chicken into pieces and rub with ginger. Set aside. Heat oil in pan and then add in onions and garlic. sautee till soft. Add in oregano and then lightly sear the chicken. Add in the mushrooms and cook till juices come out. Add in the cream and tarragon and bring to the boil. Place in oven for about an hour. Remove from oven and place on stove top. Stir in spinach leaves and allow mixture to reduce. Add in a little corn flour mixed with water to thicken if necessary.

The lamb turnd out really tasty although I was worried it wouldnt cook as there didnt seem to be much juice coming out of the roast. It was probably a lean piece of meat. The lamb was tender and the herb crust was really yummy. It had a bit of a crunch to it from the breadcrumbs and the mustard gave it a nice flavour as well.

The chicken came out really soft and tender and all the flavours seemed to meld in. I didnt take any pics of the casserole as we were too busy eating!

To things a little more festive, I made Virgin Mojitos! Tina and Lynn loved the mojitos. Vanesh joined us for lunch too and later Soo Liang popped round for drinks.

It was a nice quiet christmas and the christmas lunch was indeed lovely. Thanks to TLW and the kids for the amazing Le Creuset pan and I am certainly going to have a lot of fun cooking good food with it!

Merry Christmas everyone!

* The kids wanted me to stop taking pictures after a while and so I wasn't able to capture all the gifts!

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