It’s finally here!! Our favourite time of the year. Parties and indulgent foods are abundant, and we’re not holding back. We’ve got a special guide today to help you host the BEST Christmas Eve Dinner ever! Hold onto your Santa hats folks, because we’ve got the goods. Six new recipes, to be exact, with a bit of something for everyone. Please excuse the not-so-great photos. We’ve yet to learn how to take pictures inside during these really dark winter days. Artificial lighting is in our future I think.
What’s a family get-together without a bit of booze? Sparkling rosé, pomegranate juice, and our new favourite liqueur, St. Germain (elderflower), make up the base of our pretty (and pink!) party punch. Dump it all into a pitcher, add some sparkling water and ice, and let the good times flow. The St. Germain is a bit on the pricey side, but you don’t need a lot, so you can enjoy it for months to come!
As people wait for the main event, it’s nice to offer them a bite to eat. Cheeseboards and baked dips are always a popular choice, so we opted for a baked camembert with homemade rolls. We were inspired by a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Christmas cookbook and decided to give it a Newfoundland twist, with lassy bread rolls and a partridgeberry compote. The compote can be made up to 3 days in advance, and we recommend making the bread dough the day before and leaving to proof overnight in the fridge. Anything to lighten the load on the day of is a bonus in our books!
Onto the main event!!! As mentioned above, we’ve got something for everyone. There’s a savoury lentil and rice- stuffed butternut squash (that’s also vegan and gluten-free). It’s fantastic.
Up next, a salad that will impress everyone. Mulled wine poached pears…maple goats cheese…chocolate vinaigrette…and toasted walnuts on top. It may sound a little fancy, but it’s actually pretty easy and can be made in advance. Even our “chocolate hating” father loved the vinaigrette.
And finally, the BEST moose meat pie you will ever have. We adapted a recipe from BBC Good Food. The original recipe is a steak and ale pie, and we kept the ale in it, but we opted for moose and changed up a few of the ingredients to suit what we had on hand. It turned out so good. Everyone was commenting on how delicious it was.
But wait, we’re not done yet. Oh no, we couldn’t leave you without a sweet finish. The pièce de résistance. Chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and a white chocolate buttercream. Despite the fact I just called this a sweet finish, we did hold back on the sugar. We opted for a dark chocolate homemade cake and an ermine buttercream. In case you never heard of ermine buttercream before, it’s relatively easy on the butter and sugar. At least compared to a regular buttercream.
How to have the day go smoothly:
- Prepare as much in advance as possible. The moose pie can be made and left uncooked a day in advance in the fridge or in the freezer for a few weeks. The pear salad can have the pears poached and dressing made the day before. Make and rise your dough for the rolls overnight in the fridge and make the compote several days in advance. Finally, the stuffing for the squash can be made 3 days before.
- Set your table the night before. This will help you realize if you need to pick anything up the next day. Napkins anyone?
- Enjoy yourself and relax! You’ve got (hopefully) great company and delicious food, it’s okay if everything isn’t perfectly timed.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone!!
Moose and Ale Pie
A fantastic rendition of the traditional moose pie, with a British twist.
For the filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 kg moose meat (stew chunks)
- 2 large onion, chopped
- 4 large carrots, chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml brown ale
- 1 cube beef stock, mixed with 200ml boiling water
- 1 bunch each thyme, bay leaf, and parsley, tied together
- 5 slices bacon, chopped
- 270 grams cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pinch salt and pepper, to taste
For the pastry
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 scant cup butter
- 1 scant cup shortening
- 1 tsp salt
- 10-20 tbsp ice cold water
For the filling
Heat half the oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Brown the moose meat and bacon in batches and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350F at this time.
Add the remaining oil, and the onions and mushrooms and saute until soft and slightly browned. Once browned, add the carrots and saute for a further 2-3 minutes.
Scatter the flour and sugar over top and give it a good stir. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the flour is browned.
Return the meat to the pot, along with any juices that have settled. Add the stock and ale, and the herb bundle, pushing it under the liquid.
Cover and place in the oven for 2 hrs, or until the meat is tender and the vegetables are cooked through. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the pie
Combine the flour and salt. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until you have pea-sized pieces.
Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time until it comes together when pinched. Be careful not to overwork your dough. Form into 4 discs and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hr if you have time (if not, it's fine).
To make one pie, roll out 2 discs of dough on a well-floured surface until slightly larger than your pie plate. Carefully roll one layer onto your rolling pin to easily transfer to the bottom of the pie plate.
Fill the pie with half the moose filling, then cover with a top layer of pastry and pinch the sides together to seal. Poke a few holes in the top to vent any steam.
Place in a preheated 425F oven for 15 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until pastry is browned and cooked through.
Savoury Lentil and Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash
This dish is gluten free, vegan, and works as a main dish or a satisfying for everyone. If you have Celiac, be sure to check that the brand of broth you use is gluten free as well!
- 2 cups mushroom broth + 1 generous splash
- 3/4 cup green or brown lentils
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 large spanish onion
- 1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, finely diced
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries
- 2 tsp dried savory (summer savory)
- 1/4 cup basmati rice
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
Add the garlic (skins still on), lentils, thyme, and broth to a small saucepan and simmer until the lentils are soft and the broth is evaporated. Remove the garlic from it's skin, mash, and stir back into the lentils. Preheat the oven to 375F.
Saute the onion and mushroom with a tbsp of oil until they release their juices, then add the rice and savory. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the pan is dry. Add a splash of mushroom broth and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is almost cooked but still slightly firm.
Remove from the heat, stir in the cranberries and lentil mixture, and season to taste. Split the butternut squash into 2 halves lengthwise and remove the seeds and make a partial hollow in the centre of the squash neck. Fill the squash with the mixture and press tightly together. Wrap the whole thing in foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Mulled Wine-poached Pear Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette
This recipe doesn't waste - we repurpose the mulled wine from the pears to form the base of the vinaigrette!
For the poached pears
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 inch knob ginger (peeled)
- 4 bosc pears, peeled lengthwise
For the vinaigrette
- 50 grams dark chocolate
- 3 tbsp avocado oil (or vegetable)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- reserved pear poaching stock
For the salad
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 log maple flavoured goat cheese, crumbled
- 4 diced poached pears
- 4-5 cups mixed salad greens
To poach the pears
Place the wine and spices into a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Add the pears, being sure to fully immerse one side of each pear in the wine. Cover and poach for about 15 minutes, turning the pears halfway through. Remove the pears and let cool slightly before dicing and refrigerating.
For the vinaigrette
After removing the pears from the poaching liquid, strain the liquid and return to a smaller pot. Reduce the liquid until about a 1/2 cup remains.
Break the chocolate up into small pieces and add to the liquid, whisking until it has melted and combined. Remove from the heat and add the oil and balsamic vinegar, and continue whisking until you have a smooth emulsion.
For the salad
Assemble the salad in a large salad bowl. Place your greens on bottom, scatter the poached pears over top, followed by the crumbled cheese and nuts. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette just before serving.
Molasses Overnight Rolls with Camembert & Partridgeberry Compote
These pull-apart rolls proof overnight in the fridge, then bake around a camembert for an instant party dip
For the Partridgeberry Compote
- 1 1/2 cups partridgberries
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 oz spiced rum
- 1 large orange, juice and zest
For the molasses rolls
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 cup fancy molasses
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 whole camembert cheese round
For the compote
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until partridgberries have released their juices and volume is reduced. Remove from heat and cool. Can be stored for several weeks in the fridge.
For the rolls
Combine the yeast, water and sugar in a small bowl and leave to work for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, combine your flour and spices in a large bowl. Warm the milk, molasses, and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted,but the mixture is just warm to the touch, not hot.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, mixing until it comes together. Knead the dough until it is no longer too sticky. Butter your hands if you need to. Put the dough into a bag, tie it off and put it in the fridge to proof overnight.
The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 3 sections. Divide each of those sections into 10, to form 30 little rolls.
Remove your camembert from the fridge and cut the top of the rind off - leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge to hold everything in when it bakes. Place it in the middle of a well-greased pizza pan or similar.
Starting with your first section of dough, divide it again into 10 pieces and form little balls with the dough by pulling the edges and tucking them under. Place them around your camembert, working outwards until you have 30 rolls surrounding your cheese. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave proof another hour.
Remove the tea towel, drop a bit of butter over top of the rolls and bake in a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes or until the camembert is gooey and the rolls are cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes before serving with the partridgeberry compote on the side.
Elderflower Pomegranate Rose Punch
This punch is a beautiful pink colour but is not too sweet. You can use either a sparkling rose or a regular rose for this punch - we've used both and it tastes great both ways!!!
- 1 bottle rose wine (sparkling or flat), chilled
- 1/2 cup elderflower liquor
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, chilled
- 2 cups perrier or similar, chilled
- 1/2 cup frozen pomegranate arrils (optional)
- ice, as needed
Combine first 3 ingredients to a large pitcher or punch bowl. Add the perrier and pomegranate arrils and stir to combine. Add ice if desired. Serve in champagne flutes.
Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate buttercream
A fantastic homemade cake, filled with raspberry preserves and topped with a lightly sweetened white chocolate buttercream.
For the Cake:
- 2 tbsp instant coffee
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (we used avocado)
- 2 tsp real vanilla extract
- 1 cup raspberry preserves, homemade or store bought
White Chocolate Buttercream
- 4 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g good quality white chocolate (we used Just Us! brand)
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the coffee granules with the boiling water. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt.
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, oil, vanilla and coffee. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until combined. Grease two 8inch cake pans, dusting with cocoa powder to prevent sticking, then pour the batter equally into both pans. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from pans and allow to cool fully.
For the Buttercream
Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a pot. Add the milk and whisk till combined, then place over a burner on low heat. Allow mixture to come to a boil, whisking constantly. Once boiling, cook for 1-2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the white chocolate, whisking until fully dissolved and incorporated.
Using a spatula, scrape onto a large flat plate. Cover with saran wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and allow to cool.
Once pudding has cooled to room temperature, beat the butter until light and fluffy, around 5-6 minutes. Now add 1 tbsp of pudding to the butter, beating it in after each addition. Once the pudding is all added, mix in the vanilla extract. Smush the buttercream against the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to remove any large bubbles.
Use immediately or store in the fridge for 1 week. Allow to come to room temperature before using from the fridge and mix with beaters until smooth again. Can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
To Assemble Cake
Place cake in fridge to harden slightly for 20 minutes. Remove from fridge and using a long serrated knife, cut the dome off the cakes so you have a flat surface. Spin the cake as you cut so that you can keep an eye on the knife being level. Using the same method, you will then cut both layers in two, so you can make a four layer cake.
Start layering the cake. Use jam for the bottom layer, the middle layer will be frosting and the top layer is jam again. Using a cake spatula, put a thin layer of icing on the cake as a "crumb coat", then put in the fridge or somewhere cold for 20 minutes. Once the icing has hardened, you can frosting the rest of the cake. Enjoy!