This year my family celebrated our Christmas together a little earlier. With the summer weather heating up, but still wanting to create a delicious feast I decided a seafood celebration would make our early Christmas perfect. It also helped in keeping us all out of the hot kitchen and made the evening a relaxing one.
Sitting outside under the stars, enjoying a summer evening with family, friends and laughter is what it’s all about. Not slaving over a hot stove!
We all know that the easiest of Christmas seafood feasts would be fresh cold seafood and salads. Without a doubt. With me being pregnant there was no way in hell I wanted to miss out on the seafood spread, so our feast made use of the BBQ as well and it really was brilliant.
Table Decorations: focused on a simple white and hessian Christmas style with light pink accents.
Everything we created and devoured for our Summer Seafood BBQ was driven by fresh quality produce and, as always, packed with flavour. Yet behind it all was my philosophy of 'keeping it simple' this year, and it worked out so well.
With the crazy week of work ending only the day before, the menu had to be something delicious, yet easy to achieve. And it was. I even ordered most of the groceries online via Harris Farm and only needed to pick up the seafood and a few fresh ingredients on the day from a farmers market. I recommend you do the same. It makes life easier!
If you’re looking to make something simple, yet beautiful, this is definitely the menu for you.
Below you’ll find a full food “Menu”, “Recipes and Preparation”, “Wine & Drinks Suggestions” and at the very bottom, a suggested “Preparation Timeline”. It couldn’t be easier.
A beautiful table, fresh sashimi and the delicious Italian Barbecued Prawns
Purchase sashimi of your choice either the day of or day before your feast. Ensure you always buy sashimi grade fish for a platter like this.
We usually go for a selection of tuna, salmon and kingfish. Being spoiled and living close to the Sydney Fish Markets, we love the produce at Peters Sydney Fish Market and always grab their premade soy & wasabi sauce, pickled ginger and wakame as accompaniments.
This way we only need to assemble everything on the day.
To Assemble the Sashimi
Approximately two hours before your guests arrive, arrange the sashimi on a flat ceramic or glass platter, cover and place in the fridge.
Grab some little serving bowls ready for the accompaniments so it’s quick to put on the table when the Italian Barbecued Prawns are ready to go.
The Italian Barbecued Prawns are so good! Just look at them.
Italian Barbecued Prawns
TIP: The marinade can be made ahead of time. Make the day before and set aside in a jar to use on the day of cooking from step 3
1kg green prawns (with shell)
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of a lemon
1 long red chilli, finely diced (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Marinade - make in advance by placing all marinade ingredients in a jar, shake well and keep covered in the fridge.
2. Prawns - on the day of cooking, peel the prawns leaving the tails intact. Devein the prawns and butterfly.
3. Place the marinade and prawns in a ceramic or glass bowl. Toss together to coat the prawns. Cover and leave to marinade for 2-3 hours in the fridge.
4. To cook - preheat the BBQ to a medium high heat. Cook the prawns on the flat plate until opaque and just cooked. Be careful not to overcook. Remove from heat, place on a serving plate and enjoy with the sashimi platter and a glass or two of prosecco.
Serve the seafood on a huge platter with everything in the middle to share
Balmain Bugs & Crayfish with Homemade Flavoured Butters
TIP: Make the Homemade Flavoured Butters 2 or 3 days in advance.
Balmain Bugs (one full bug per person, halved) and Crayfish Tails (we used one per person as ours were small). If you prefer to only have Balmain Bugs, adjust quantities accordingly.
Olive oil + salt and pepper to cook
Homemade Flavoured Butters
TIP: You will need baking paper and cling wrap for the butters.
100g Pepe Saya Cultured Butter (salted), softened to room temperature
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
Zest of a lemon
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
100g Pepe Saya Cultured Butter (salted), softened to room temperature Zest of a lime
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or fresh) 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped 1 Kaffir Lime leaf, spine removed, flesh of the leaf finely sliced Salt and pepper
Thai Butter (left) and Italian Butter (right) discs
1. The butters - Using 2 bowls place the ingredients of each butter into each separate bowl. Mix well to combine and evenly distribute the ingredients.
2. Lay baking paper on a cutting board. Place the Italian Butter mixture in the centre of the baking paper, roll up into a sausage-like shape, twisting the ends tightly to hold the butter together. Wrap in cling wrap to hold its shape and place in the fridge.
3. Repeat for the Thai Butter mixture.
4. Preparation - early on the day of your celebration, prepare the butters easily by slicing into discs, placing on a serving dish and covering. Pop in the fridge until ready to serve. For the Balmain Bugs, get them ready early by cutting them in half from head to tail. Place covered in the fridge. Next, prepare the Crayfish Tails by removing and disgusting any roe. Trim the edges of the tail, remove and replace the Crayfish Tail meat to make it easier to eat later. Cover and also place in the fridge.
5. Cooking - preheat the BBQ to a medium-high heat. Cook the Balmain Bugs and Crayfish Tails shell-side down until they’re almost opaque. At this stage, brush with a little olive oil and turn to the flesh side to quickly and lightly sear to complete cooking. Remove from heat and place on a serving platter. Crack a light amount of salt and pepper over the top. Serve immediately with the Homemade Flavoured Butters, salads, lemon wedges and crusty bread.
The prettiest salad of them all - Haloumi & Pomegranate Salad
Haloumi & Pomegranate Salad
TIP: Remove the arils (jewels) from the pomegranate the day before, placing them in a covered bowl/container in the fridge.
Make the dressing a day in advance.
1 packet of haloumi, sliced (5mm)
2-3 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced into quarters lengthways and thinly sliced on an angle
1 pomegranate, arils only
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp fresh mint, finely sliced
TIP: This salad is best served on a flat platter.
1. The day before the feast, place all of the dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake well and place in the fridge, covered overnight.
2. Early on the day of the feast (or day before if you like) prepare the cucumber and slice the haloumi. Set aside in separate containers in the fridge until preparing the salad.
3. Assembly and Preparation - arrange the cucumber on the platter.
4. As, or just before, the Bugs and Crayfish are about to go on the BBQ, heat a fry pan over a medium-high heat. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in the pan and sear the Haloumi slices. When lightly golden on both sides, remove from heat and drain the haloumi slices on absorbant paper to slightly cool.
5. Lay the haloumi evenly over the cucumber, top with a generous scattering of the pomegranate arils and drizzle the dressing over the top. Serve alongside the French Green Salad, Seafood, lemon wedges and crusty bread.
As simple as the French Green Salad is to make, it's a great addition to the menu
French Green Salad
TIP: Make the dressing the day before when making the dressing for the Haloumi & Pomegranate Salad.
1 butter or cos lettuce, leaves removed, washed and dried
1/4 cup of fresh chives, finely chopped
1 avocado, finely sliced (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 2 tsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place lettuce leaves and chives in a salad bowl and toss together. Lay avocado slices on top, if using.
2. Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve with the Haloumi & Pomegranate Salad, Seafood, lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Indulgent desserts never last long!
Cheats Chocolate Trifle
TIP: Make the brownie, following the packet instructions, the day before. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container. The packet can be bought online or at your local Coles or Woolworths stores.
1 premade batch of Donna Hay's Molten Chocolate Chunk Brownie (Follow the recipe on the packet. You’ll need 125g of unsalted butter melted and 2 eggs for that recipe).
450g container of Yalla Chocolate Mousse (available from Harris Farm or the Carriageworks Farmers Markets), or similar substitute
600g Dollop Cream (we used Bulla)
2 punnets fresh berries of your choice
TIP: You will need a large trifle bowl for this recipe. This recipe can be made the morning of your celebration or before serving.
1. Make the brownie a day ahead as directed above.
2. Layer One - cut up and place a layer of the brownie at the base of the bowl. Top with a scattering of berries.
3. Layer Two - Create the second layer with the Yalla Chocolate Mousse. Use the entire container for this layer and top with some more berries.
4. Layer Three - create the final layer with the dollop cream. Place on top of the mousse and evenly spread across the top, smoothing it out. Decorate with the rest of the berries.
5. If made in advance, cover and refrigerate until serving time. If making prior to eating, serve immediately with the Pudding & Custard.
Pudding & Custard
We were lucky enough to have Rosana’s Christmas Pudding and Homemade Custard as part of our dessert. For your own feast, use a family Pudding and Custard, or simply store bought varieties, heated prior to serving.
These desserts all go perfectly together for a Christmas celebration.
If you are following this menu for another time of year, aren’t planning on having pudding, or need a third dessert for a bigger crowd, you should consider a tropical fruit pavlova to round things off nicely. Make your own base (or buy one) and top with dollop cream and sliced mango, peaches and a drizzle of passionfruit.
This celebratory feast is definitely a fantastic one. Everyone will love the food and enjoy one another’s company, but better than that, you won’t feel run off your feet!
It’s the perfect summer feast for an outdoor Christmas or celebration of any kind.
Don’t forget to scroll down for our matching wine and drinks suggestions to make everything even more amazing.
Everyone will love the Christmas Sangria. Just make sure they save you a glass!
WINE AND DRINKS SUGGESTIONS
Christmas Sangria. Create this deliciously festive drink by following my recipe here.
It’s really easy and super delicious.
To kick off any celebration bubbles are always a must. Enjoy a toast to Christmas, family and the feast together with a crisp fresh prosecco. For our night we enjoyed a bottle of Brown Brothers Prosecco, which was beautiful. Grab a bottle from your local bottle shop.
If prosecco isn’t your thing, have a look for a special French champagne to mark the festivities.
Being a seafood inspired meal, you can’t go wrong with a refreshing Riesling or a Semillon. We chilled a bottle of Riesling from the Wine Society and it went down a treat with the Balmain Bugs and Crayfish. The bottle we had cellared doesn't appear to be available at the moment, but hop onto their website and have a look at their great range as there is quite a few good ones. Click HERE to look through the list.
Often dessert wines aren’t thought of when planning to enjoy a meal with family, but for us, it’s part of every special celebration and really does make a perfect end to a dinner together.
To balance the sweetness of our desserts we choose one of our all time favourites, Krinklewood’s Lucia Dessert Wine. It’s a light fruity sticky and pairs so well with sweets, especially those that are fruit driven. If you’ve only chosen to go with the chocolate based dessert, you might be interested in looking for a good bottle of Pedro Ximenez Sherry. These go exceptionally well with all things chocolate and can be found in most bottleshops.
What to make and when for a more relaxed night. The list seems long, but every task is short and simple. I’ve laid it all out so you can think less and enjoy yourself more.
TIP: if planning to prep food in advance, having a few Tupperware containers or similar helps to store everything separately in the fridge as they stack well. This makes life easy.
3 days before
Homemade Flavoured Butters
1 day before
Marinade for the prawns
Dressings for both salads
Brownie (Donna Hay)
Prepare the pomegranate arils
Freeze ice cubes for the sangria
* consider buying the sashimi (with accompaniments), prawns, bugs and crayfish today if possible. Keep chilled.
The morning of the feast
* get all seafood if not bought yesterday
Buy crusty bread so it’s fresh
Prepare cucumber and slice the haloumi for the salad
Wash and dry lettuce leaves for salad
Slice butter into discs, place on dish, cover and return to fridge
Prepare bugs and crayfish, cover and chill. This is the most time consuming step, so if your fish monger prepares these for you, you’re on a winner
Make trifle if doing early
Put chosen wines & cider in the fridge to chill
Midday on the feast day
Prepare all fruit for the sangria, place in a container and chill
Cut lemon wedges, put in a dish, cover and put in the fridge
Peel and prepare prawns, marinade and place in the fridge
2 - 2.5 hours before guests arrive
Get decorations for your table set up
Lay out all serving plates, platters and bowls so you aren’t looking for them later
Arrange sashimi platter and store in fridge
Get yourself ready
30 minutes before guests arrive
Finalise any of your table decorations
As the first guests arrive
Everything else is made as it’s time to eat and most relies on the BBQ or simply putting salads into bowls (+ cooking of the haloumi), but is all quick and mostly ready to go. It helps to have someone on BBQ duty to share the load and make it free even easier.
Enjoy creating this fab feast for everyone, but most of all make sure to enjoy it for yourself too!
We know you will absolutely love creating this special Summer Seafood BBQ for your family and friends and can’t wait to see what you create and the fun you have together.
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