For me, celebrations during the holiday season always encompass a meal. But unless you book in advance, reservations at popular restaurants are tough to get, especially for larger groups of six or more people.
Why not whip up a home-cooked meal instead? Cooking for a dinner party is not as daunting as it seems, even if you have to do it at the last minute. Plus, in a home setting, everyone is more relaxed and there is no need to feel bad about ending the merriment when it is time for the restaurant to close.
Not only is hosting a dinner party at home is more personal, it is also a good way to showcase the Christmas spirit.
FairPrice Finest has everything you need to prepare a gourmet feast to impress the guests.
I have come up with an easy meal for six people, keeping to a budget of $120, which is enough for a salad, three side dishes, a main course of roast turkey breast and sausages, dessert and six cans of cider.
For some quick ideas, take a look at the FairPrice Finest Christmas catalogue (available in stores and online at fairpriceon.com.sg/finestxmas) – that is how I decided on what to cook.
Here is my simple festive dinner for six: A tomato and bocconcini salad; bacon-wrapped turkey breast and grilled GourMeat sausages; roast baby potatoes with rosemary and garlic; sauteed kale; grilled vegetables – eggplant, capsicum, onions; Apple Fox Cider to drink and a Tesco Finest Christmas Pudding with Coneflower gelato for dessert.
A tomato and bocconcini with fresh Italian basil is a colourful, delicious and insanely simple salad that requires minimal effort. Use vine-ripened tomatoes such as Beekist Tasty Mix or Angel tomatoes – let the sweetness of the tomatoes take centre stage – and any brand of bocconcini or mozzarella balls.
Halve each tomato and tear the bocconcini into halves with your fingers. When you are ready to serve the salad, add sliced basil leaves then toss with a good glug of olive oil, a smidgen of minced garlic and a swirl of balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Get two packets of the GourMeat sausages (five sausages in each packet). Choose from chicken rice, tom yam, pork and cheese, and wagyu fennel flavours.
A frozen Butterball turkey breast (about 1.3kg) can thaw in water in a couple of hours. Thaw it in its original packaging, submerged in water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
To keep the breast moist, I like to cover it with streaky bacon when roasting. The bacon acts as shield to keep the juices in and prevent the breast from drying out.
Marinate the breast with some chopped rosemary, thyme and balsamic vinegar, season it with salt and pepper, then wrap the entire breast with a bacon lattice. Roast it in a 180 deg C oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 77 deg C – about one hour.
Meanwhile, cut the potatoes and roast with olive oil, two sprigs of rosemary and two whole heads of garlic - tops trimmed; cut the capsicum, eggplant and onions into chunks, season and toss in olive oil, then pop them in the oven, too.
Remove the stems and the veins of the kale, cut the leaves into pieces and sautee with garlic.
Score the thawed sausages and grill them on a skillet.
When your guests arrive, serve them a cold cider.
For dessert, follow the instructions on the box on how to serve your Tesco Finest Christmas Pudding – a rich, boozy pudding laced with Courvoisier VS cognac and packed with lots of plump, dried fruit and nut.
I suggest serving it warm, with a scoop of Coneflower gelato – pistachio or honey lavender, your choice.