What’s Pamela Clark, chef, editor, food presenter and author of some of Australia’s most beloved cookbooks, serving for dessert on Christmas day lunch? Something wildly inventive and experimental?
“It’s hard to beat Christmas pudding,” she tells SBS Food with a laugh.
While it might not rival the creativeness of the choo-choo train or jelly swimming pool cakes (yes, one of the iconic cooking book Clark is responsible for is the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book), traditional Christmas pudding is a brilliant idea.
“Pudding does need reheating, but it stays hot for quite a long time after it’s been heated,” explains Clark. “It’s quite happy to sit there for almost an hour and settle. You can take it out before you serve the main course and then it’s ready to serve for dessert.”
All hail the traditional Christmas pud!
Start making this pudding… now. Find the recipe here.
When it comes to hosting Christmas, it’s not just the pudding that Clark has sorted. You get the feeling that a Christmas hosted at her place would run as smooth as the finest panna cotta.
“Hosting is really a series of lists,” Clark emphasises. “Menus, orders, timings, guests…”
Here’s what Clark recommends you put on those lists.
Plan well in advance
The sooner you start planning, the easier things will be on the day. Clark advises that you map out your menu, ingredients and cooking times so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
“Get orders together well in advance as things get busy,” she advises. “You just have to get organised and have things ready to be picked up.”
Where you can, prepare food in the days before Christmas day.
“There was a time when a lot of people felt they had to have Chrismas dinner prepared before the day, ready to be reheated on the plate after mass on Sunday,” Pamela recalls. “It’s a big ask. When I was at the Weekly, there were some very scary phone calls…”
Pamela Clark and her husband Paul will celebrate Christmas at son Robby’s place this year.
Catering for the masses
Prepped fully in advance or not, deciding on your menu is one of the more testing aspects of hosting.
“Catering is different today with vegan, vegetarian, non-dairy, gluten-free – you need to know who you’re feeding,” says Clarke. Her best tip for keeping on top of everyone’s individual requirements is to make at least one main meal that suits them all.
If you’re stumped for a main meal that ticks all the boxes, try one of these gluten-free vegan meals:
A fresh and festive vegan offering that’s nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free and fuss free.
Source: Adam Liaw
Grilled summer vegetables with cumin dressing recipe here.
Cooking on the day
Here’s an excellent tip from Clark for freeing up some precious oven space: do your ham on the barbecue.
Her instructions are to prepare your ham as you would for an oven dish but set it into a disposable foil …….