Annabel Langbein's modern Christmas dinner
My idea of a modern Christmas dinner is a fabulous feast that doesn’t require a lot of work, and ideally doesn’t cost a fortune. These days it’s also handy to have a menu that dairy-free and gluten-free eaters can enjoy too.
For years I tried to emulate the efforts of my dear mother at our Christmas feasts, thinking that adhering to our family traditions would make everyone feel happy and anchored in a wonderful handed-down family ritual.
I could never match her efforts, but oh how I tried. Finally I figured out that no one was having any fun – it wasn’t just me that was stressed out, but the entire family took on my stress and the weight of all my expectations.
It’s not hard to lose all sense of Christmas bonhomie in the face of too much schlepping. Drop the bar and lower your expectations, I say. It will still be delicious and memorable and, most of all, fun.
If you can, share the love and get everyone to bring a course or a dish. But if it’s your turn to dish up the goods this year, then an easy, prep-ahead menu is the way to go.
So much of the way we feel about things is driven by how they look. Setting a festive table with candles and Christmas crackers and little bowls of cherries, almonds, figs and chocolates, sets the scene for a Christmas feast and signals the rituals we associate with this particular festival.
A meal always feels special if you add in an extra course, and seafood comes to the fore for a simple prep-ahead option. This year I’m opting for a raw salmon starter, followed by a main of succulent slow-cooked lamb, and a fabulous dairy free ice cream.