About this time every year, I go into panic mode over Christmas lunch. This sort of thing should get easier with time, but it never does for me.
The only thing I have done so far is order ham from a place I have never ordered from. I have never even tasted it, but a friend tells me it is "very good leh".
So now I am wondering: Should I order back-up ham? I am eyeing a very good option that I have tried and my parents love ham.
There is also the turkey question. Should I? A Christmas meal never seems complete without one, but my parents are indifferent to it.
And what side dishes should I serve with all this food?
MAKE IT YOURSELF: SAVOURY BREAD PUDDING
Softened butter, for greasing
1 large onion
200 to 300g ham or cooked
300g cheddar cheese
500g stale white bread
shichimi togarashi to taste
salt to taste
6 eggs, each weighing about 60g
1. Butter a baking dish or casserole pan that is 31cm by 23cm and at least 5cm deep.
2. Rinse the kale under running water. With a sharp knife, slice off the thick stems from the greens. Discard. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels and slice into thin strips.
3. Peel and chop the onion finely. Cut the ham or turkey into 1cm cubes. Coarsely grate the cheese. Trim the crust off the bread and cut into 2cm cubes.
4. In a large frying pan or wok set over medium heat, melt the 50g of butter. Add the onions and stir-fry until softened and fragrant for one to two minutes. Add the kale and stir-fry until wilted. Add the ham or turkey and stir to mix well. Add shichimi togarashi and salt to taste.
5. Add the bread and 2/3 of the cheese to the vegetables and meat, and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
6. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with 1/2 tsp salt, add the half-and- half and whisk to combine. Ladle it evenly over the bread mixture. Cover the pan with foil or cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Place the remaining cheese in a covered container and refrigerate.
7. Take the bread pudding out of the fridge about 45 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, remove from oven and scatter the remaining cheese over the pudding. Continue to cook another five to 10 minutes or until the cheese bubbles. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.
Serves six to eight
The two things I have settled on are potatoes roasted with duck fat and my food-coma-fighting cucumber salad with wasabi.
Everything else is up in the air.
Should I make "stuffing" which never goes anywhere near a turkey? Salad or a cooked vegetable? How many cooked vegetables? What cooked vegetables?
Dessert. I have not even begun to think of that.
So it is somewhat ironic that while the main event is in disarray, I am writing about how to deal with the leftovers from it.
But if I do not have a strategy, I end up eating ham and turkey sandwiches for weeks. I know that there will be way too much food, despite my best efforts to foist leftovers on guests, whether they want them or not.
This year, Christmas is a three- day weekend, so I will not have to stagger back to work on Boxing Day.
I might even invite people over for brunch and serve glammed up leftovers like this week's recipe: a savoury bread pudding.
It is easy to make and uses up a lot of Christmas leftovers - ham, turkey, vegetables and bread.
I have used ham for the pudding because that will be the centrepiece of my Christmas meal for sure, but cut up leftover turkey and sausages would work too.
Kale is in the pudding because I think I might serve it at the Christmas lunch. I love its juiciness when stir-fried. Spinach will work just as well and if you have cooked broccoli on hand, chop it fine and use that instead.
Cheese is another vital ingredient and if you are putting out a cheese platter for Christmas, the odds and ends can go into the pudding.
Even leftover bread is pressed into service. It is best to use stale bread and what I do is buy a loaf and let it sit for two to three days to dry out. Bread rolls, sourdough bread or brioche work too. You just need to remove the crust and make sure the bread is slightly dry. Toasting it lightly does the job.
The idea is for the bread to soak up the custard mixture thoroughly. This mixture, which binds the pudding together, is made with just eggs, salt and half-and-half, which is half milk, half cream. Larger supermarkets carry it, but if you have full fat milk and whipping or single cream on hand, make your own. Just use equal parts of both and whisk together to combine.
The best thing to do is to make the pudding the night before you plan to serve it, so that the bread gets a nice long soak in the fridge overnight.
Then the next day, it is simply a matter of taking it out of the fridge 45 minutes or so before baking.
It puffs up in the oven, but will sink back down.
My favourite part of the pudding is the top. The bread gets brown and crisp and the molten cheese is just irresistible.
All I will need to do is make a big salad, chill some bubbly and brunch is served.
Now, to figure out what to serve for Christmas lunch.