We are having Christmas lunch at my brother and his wife’s house this year. We all pitch in and bring food so no one has to work too hard. I was quick to bags dessert because a wonderful recipe sprang to mind courtesy of the lovely Jan. I also volunteered a couple of salads because I love how festive you can make a salad for Christmas. Of course a couple turned into four because there were just too many great salads to choose from.
I also made a jug on sangria because I felt like it and took a jar of Sheep’s Yoghurt Cheese and crackers for nibbles for pretty much the same reason.
I didn’t get any food photos because the camera was too busy today.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova
Serves 8-10
For the meringue base
6 egg whites
300g castor sugar
3 tbs cocoa powder – I used Dagoba
1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate – finely chopped – I used Rapunzel
For the topping
500ml double cream – I used Gippsland
500g raspberries or mixed berries
2-3 tbs coarsely chopped dark chocolate – Rapunzel again
Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to the baking tray in a fat circle about 23cm in diameter, smoothing down the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150˚C and cook for about 1-1 ½ hours.
When its ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the side and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
Invert onto a big flat plate. Beat the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate in curls over the top.
Damn it’s good.

Antipasto Salad
1 zucchini, sliced
1 asian eggplant (the long thin ones), sliced
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes
3 roma tomatoes, halved
4 sundried tomatoes
handful pitted kalamata olives
tin artichoke hearts, drained and each heart cut in thirds
extra virgin olive oil
juice 1 lemon

Grill zucchini and eggplant on grill plate, brushing each side with oil.
Place cherry and roma tomatoes on baking tray, drizzle with oil and bake in a low oven until they collapse.
Combine all ingredients and mix lemon juice through.

Simple Tomato and Onion Salad
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 salad onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
Layer onion and tomato in a bowl. Season each layer of tomato to taste. Mix olive oil and vinegar and dress salad just before serving.

Chickpea Fattoush
I found this recipe in the current issue of Good Taste magazine. The original had capsicum which I omitted as they make my father ill. I added the garlic to the dressing
2 pieces wholemeal pita bread
spray on olive oil
2 tablespoons sumac
500g grape tomatoes, halved
2 lebanese cucumbers, cut in quarters longways and thickly sliced
1 bunch parsley
1 cup mint leaves
1 can chickpeas, drained
juice 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Spray pita with olive oil and sprinkle with half the sumac. Bake at 200 degrees for about 5 minutes per side or until golden and crispy. Break into small pieces. If you want to do this a day in advance, store in an airtight container.
Combine chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and mint. Add remaining sumac and season to taste. Mix well.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Dress salad, toss well and then mix through pita bread.

Raspberry and Feta Salad

This is my Christmas staple, no idea where it originally came from. I’ve been doing it for years and the recipe is on a scrap of paper I keep in a folder.
300g raspberries (frozen will work if fresh are too overpriced)
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup honey
500g mixed salad greens
150g crumbled feta (bulgarian is perfect for this)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Stir 1/2 berries into vinegar. Stand 1/2 hour. Puree with honey and season to taste.
Just before serving, combine all salad ingredients and dress.

2 cups orange juice
1 bottle sparkling shiraz
2 tablespoons rapadura
2 lemons, sliced
4 oranges, sliced
Mix all together in a large jug and serve cold