We decided this year to go for a Christmas Day buffet rather than to try to do one main menu. With 13 people in the house and even my family divided on what they would enjoy it seemed the best compromise.
After a fairly late breakfast we decided to do two rounds of buffet - one early afternoon and the other early evening - with a Dutch "Sinter Klaas" celebration in between (basically a sort of secret Santa accompanied with rhymes about the persons receiving the gifts). We had planned what we would do with the buffet a few weeks back, but the split between the two rounds was decided on the day.
Buffet Round 1
With everybody fairly full after a large breakfast we decided to keep this fairly light. The menu was (from left to right)
Grilled pitta bread with garlic and herb butter (front)
Nürnberger Bratwürste with sweet mustard (back)
Chilli rice crackers
Roast carrot and yogurt dip
Crackers with Canadian sockeye salmon
Sparkling wine, wine or beer
The next round was heavier. We decided to cook some fish and bake camembert cheese. A few years ago we had monkfish wrapped in bacon at a restaurant and loved it. We have done the same at home but usually used black forest ham rather than bacon; however that has had a divided response. Mrs Oregano and I like the thinness of the black forest ham and the smokey taste. Others, however, do not like the smokey taste and prefer unsmoked bacon.
In the end we compromised and did two monkfish tails one with black forest ham and the other with unsmoked bacon.
A handy tip with monkfish (saw it in a book by Jamie Oliver) is to salt the monkfish for an hour before grilling, then wash off the salt and dry the fish. This avoids the grilling releasing a milky liquid from the fish.
Another easy thing we did was baked camembert (right in the photo). Just cut to top 2 mm of the camembert and place thyme or rosemary on top. Bake in the oven at about 180 degress until the cheese bubbles up.
So the Christmas buffet round 2 was a bit more substantial. Going left to right it was
Roast Scottish smoked salmon
Orkney pickled herring (back)
Deep fried filo prawns (front)
Prawns in cream sauce
Cheese platter with 8 different Dutch and English cheeses, grapes and quince cheese (back)
Grilled monkfish wrapped with black forest ham or bacon
Dip sauce for vegetables
Raw vegetable selection (carrot, cauliflower, red pepper and cucumber)
Baked camembert (front)
Cold (boiled) quince (back)
Courgette pakora with dip sauce
The food seemed to be enjoyed by everybody and little remained by the end of the evening. However probably doing a turkey and trimmings would have involved less work in the kitchen. There was lots of chopping to be done plus deep fat frying and baking. Nevertheless we felt happy with the end result judging by satisfied guests. I was particularly pleased that the Dutch visitors liked the quince cheese with strong flavoured cheese such as their mature goat cheese.
Now we are looking forward to a relaxing few days...guests have just left.