We’re off on holiday tomorrow! So excited! We’ll be spending Christmas on the beach, sipping fruity drinks and reading good books.
Every year we escape Sydney for the week of Christmas. I hate the idea of sitting in our apartment alone on Christmas day, so we hit the road instead. It’s really odd, and kind of hard, to not see our families at this time of year. So, last night, we did the next best thing. We invited our “Sydney family” over for a night of festive food, funny movies and holiday cheer.
I want to keep this post short- I still have bathing suits to pack! Here are two recipes that we enjoyed last night with our lovely mates. Both are tasty, pretty and seasonal. I hope you feel like celebrating, too!
1 bottle dry red wine (I used a cab merlot)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup water
1 large orange, thinly sliced into rounds
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
2 cinnamon sticks, slightly crushed
6 whole cloves
Place the wine, sugar, brandy, water, orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a large saucepan over low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture is aromatic. Do not boil- you’ll burn off the alcohol and then, what’s the point?? Remove from the heat and let stand for several hours. I made my mixture in the morning before work and let it sit all day to infuse.
Before serving, drain the wine so you’ve removed all the solids. You can keep a few slices of orange and lemon for decoration, but you don’t want shards of cinnamon sticks floating in your glass.
Return the drained wine to the pan and heat gently. Serve warm.
Chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts
Serves 6 as part of a meal or 2 for a big lunch
2 chicken breasts
3-4 tbs plain yogurt
1/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 tsp ground sage
salt and pepper to taste
Begin by poaching the chicken breasts. I have made this chicken salad so many times, with all manner of leftover chicken. But, if you don’t have leftover chicken, poaching is a fast and easy way to get the chicken you need for this salad. Put the chicken breasts in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 15-20 mins, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the water and let cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with two forks. Easy!
While the chicken is poaching, put the walnuts in a dry frying pan. Place the pan over medium high heat and toast the nuts until they are a deeper brown and they smell great.
Mix the cooled, poached chicken with the mayo and plain yogurt. I should point out that I loathe mayo, so don’t worry if you don’t like it. You won’t even taste it in this recipe! The plain yogurt provides the needed moisture without overwhelming the taste of the other ingredients.
Add the cranberries and walnuts and mix well. Add the sage and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste (I like plenty of both in this recipe.)
Serve in sandwiches for lunch, or on slices of toasted baguette for a party.