Monday, 21 December 2015

It's beginning to feel a bit like #Christmas...and yummy food and drink.

Well, we're well into December, and my life has been so crazy with travel and now renovations at our beach house that I've hardly given a thought to the upcoming festive season. When I do I crumple in a heap as we're having our usual sweltering weather which makes everything take twice as long. And writing? What's that again?

I'm not into dissing the commercialism of Christmas, rather I choose to wallow in this time of celebration. I have Jehovah's Witness friends who bite my ear off about the pagan festival enjoyed by Christians, that's okay, but to me the spirit of Christmas is still thankfulness for a civilized life in a civilized country which I did nothing to deserve. Nor did I deserve the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is what Christians celebrate.

I teach students from Iraq, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other such troubled areas of the globe. They don't have a problem wishing me a Happy Christ-mas. They are so thankful to be living in Australia and celebrating their own new-found freedom however they wish.

Now, to me, Christmas is about sharing with family, friends and the community. How about you? Carols by Candlelight is HUGE in Australia, with cities and country towns alike all offering outdoor venues for celebrating Christmas together in the spirit of well-loved hymns, with Santa arriving with much pomp and circumstance, showering children in sweets and gifts. Large stores and libraries offer places where we can donate food and gifts which are delivered to struggling families and the homeless. There are plenty of Christmas Dinners provided for those with no families, so no-one misses out unless by their own choice.

Christmas at the beach house

A snowy Christmas in Paris
 When I'm not overseas checking out white Christmases, I always celebrate Christmas at our beach house. Plenty of room on the deck to eat, drink and be merry, and an excellent Carols by Candlelight in our little village...yes, it is called Peregian Beach Village. So European and cute.

Alongside writing, reading, looms large in my life. I adore cooking and especially love trying new recipes for Christmas. Not just dinner, but all the other meals we take together.

MY FAVOURITE TRIED AND TRUE CHRISMAS RECIPES for a heatwave-infused Christmas are below. My aim is to cool off, so no heavy, hot Christmas pudding or eggnog or whatever you have 'up there'. Most Australians gave up the British tradition a long time ago. Seafood and salad works for us, followed by cool desserts and leaves us more time for the pool or beach.


Gather all this yummy stuff:

1 cup plain chocolate biscuit crumbs - our only option these days is Chocolate Ripple
80g butter, melted
1/4 cup ground almonds (OPTIONAL - but lowers the GI, ha ha)

500g block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar (OPTIONAL – I don’t add any!)
1/2 cup thickened cream - I'm guilty of having a heavy hand when it comes to cream (((licks lips)))
200g TOBLERONE Milk or Dark Chocolate, melted

200g TOBLERONE Milk or Dark Chocolate for shaving 

Here we go:

Combine biscuit crumbs, butter and almonds, press into the base of a lightly greased 20cm springform pan. Chill.

Beat PHILADELPHIA cream cheese and sugar until smooth using an electric mixer. Beat in the melted Toblerone and cream until well combined.

Pour onto the prepared crumb base and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours until set, or overnight. Serve topped with the TOBLERONE shavings. I often add sliced strawberries.

This cheesecake is easy as...only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. I always bring it along when asked to provide dessert to a gathering.

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We like to make what we call a Toblerone Cocktail (like a mudslide) for after Christmas Tea or for cool (ha ha, not exactly snowy) nights on the deck. It makes a delicious change after all the wine or whatever you've been sipping during the day along with the odd majito or two! And it really takes the place of dessert if you want to feel especially pious.

I’m not a measurer, so pretty casual with the amounts.

In a blender throw some icy cold milk, a few scoops of vanilla ice cream, shots of any liquor you have left - (Tia Maria, Kahlua, Frangelico, Cointreau, Bailey's Irish Creme - get the drift - not all!! You definitely need the Bailey's and about three others). Whizz for a bit in that blender you usually use for your health-giving green smoothies. Get some parfait glasses or somesuch out of the freezer (or snow, lol!) 

Artistically drizzle (if you can keep your hand steady by this stage), melted Cadbury's chocolate or Toblerone chocolate or at the very least, chocolate sauce (ugh), around the inside of the glass, then gently pour in the mix. Top with whipped cream if you're absolutely disgusting! And why not some hunks of Toblerone or chocolate sauce if you're determined to milk this for all it's worth!

Sip reverently and dream about Christmas 2016 when you can drink this again.

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Here are some of my Christmas Posts from the past if you've got nothing better to read:

13 Desserts of Provence
Christmas Quiz sent while travelling from Malaga, Spain
Christmas in Brisbane

  • Now I'm interested in your Christmas or cultural celebrations. What do you do? What do you eat? 
  • Would you share a recipe if I asked nicely? I love to try new things and I'm sure others do too...

Thanks for calling!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Doesn't matter the climate or the food, it's still Christmas. (And we tend to have non-traditional meals on Christmas Day. Why waste all that precious family time cooking a giant, complicated meal?)
Hope you have a most Blessed Christmas, Denise.

Jo said...

We are going out for Christmas this year. However, I am cooking for Boxing Day. I wouldn't dare make your recipes, they sound loaded with calories. Delicious mind you. Doesn't look as though we are having a white Christmas in this part of Canada this year, but certainly not as hot as yours. Not sharing a recipe, there are lots of those on my blogs as you know.

Tamara Narayan said...

We celebrate with a tree and gifts a few days before visiting my parents for "real Christmas". There we will attend a Christmas Eve church service with lighted candles and have more presents the next day. Then it's off to my husband's family for more fun, food, and, you guessed it, presents. Every year I swear I won't go overboard, but every year I fail spectacularly. Time to clean out the house and truck all the un-used clothes and toys to charities.

Jen said...

Our Christmas feels a lot more like summer this year! We had chilly winds yesterday but now we're baking in the upper 70s! Ah, Christmas in Savannah, GA. The Deep South, USA is notorious for changing weather when no one expects it.

We spend Christmas with family. This year, we're going back home to see all the fam on both sides. This includes 9 nieces and nephews and more cousins and second cousins than I can count! There's always coffee and dessert and my husband and I make something that's not traditional. Where's the fun in that! There's always a Christmas tree and lights and presents around the tree.

It's my favorite time of year! Have a wonderful Christmas week, Denise! See you next year! Enjoy the festivities :)


cleemckenzie said...

You can count me among the pagans I guess. I love all the festivities. They're fun. They remind me to think of others more than I usually do. They bring friends and family together for special food and lots of reconnecting that might not happen otherwise. I say "Hear! Hear!" for those pagans. See you in 2016!

Botanist said...

Happy Christmas, Denise. Christmas is usually a quiet family time for us, and that Toblerone cheesecake is still a favorite at any time of year!

Stephanie Faris said...

Yummm to the Toblerone cheesecake. I know The Cheesecake Factory has one of those, and it's delicious. I have never spent Christmas at the beach, but I've always wanted to!

Denise Covey said...

I hope you get to spend Christmas at the beach one day Stephanie! Sure is different to what you're used to!

Denise Covey said...

Yes, I know you like my recipe Ian! Here's to a chocolaty Christmas!

Denise Covey said...

Glad to meet another festive lover, Lee! Enjoy your celebrations!

Denise Covey said...

Sounds like you're having a family-filled Christmas Jen! Enjoy!

Denise Covey said...

Your Christmas celebrations sound lovely Tamara. It's hard not to go overboard. I might spend 2 days cooking, but then I don't cook for ages afterwards! Got it covered!

Denise Covey said...

Yep. I'll be trawling your blog for recipes for sure Jo. Calories=extra walking/running. Hard not to eat a bit extra, but when I do I enjoy it.

Denise Covey said...

Yep. Hearing you Alex. You could spend hours in the kitchen, but why? Coming back at you. Blessed Christmas, Alex!

Anonymous said...

Yum, toblerone cheesecake. I know my daughter would like to try that!
We live overlooking a beach, and I know it is a popular destination for Christmas because around this time of year it is packed.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

This Christmas, we're hosting a brunch -- an egg casserole, homemade Belgian waffles, BACON, and maybe a little orange juice and champagne. :)

Denise Covey said...

Rhonda nothing nicer than watching the ocean from our deck and eating and drinking good stuff! Merry Christmas!

Denise Covey said...

Mmmh. Sometimes I make hot cakes with maple syrup, bacon, raspberries and ice cream... But not this year! Yours sounds scrumptious. Merry Christmas!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - wonderful post ... and you must learn lots from your foreign (now Aussie) students - and thus appreciate the life we were lucky enough to be born into - stability and opportunity.

Love the idea of the toblerone cheesecake ... but I much prefer savouries ... always aim in that direction. The beach house loosk wonderful - that hot hot weather not so much - I remember SA days when I wilted.

Have a lovely time with family and friends of all nations and communities ... Happy Christmas, festivities and here's to 2016 - cheers Hilary

Denise Covey said...

I learn so much from my 'foreign' students...right on, Hilary. Mostly how valuable education is in making it in the world. Merry Christmas Hilary! Yes, let's have a great 2016! :-)

Yolanda Renée said...

I think the December celebrations are all wonderful and to be embraced totally! Why not? It's a great reason to forget the stress, over indulge and not feel guilty, well, at least until the 1st of the New Year. :) It's simply a delightful time!
Merry Christmas, Denise!

Denise Covey said...

My feelings exactly Yolanda. Merry Christmas!

Deniz Bevan said...

Yum. I'll take two slices of cheesecake. And I have some Amarula I'd like to put in my drink...
Love the idea of carols by candlelight, I haven't seen enough of that at home.
Merry Christmas!

Denise Covey said...

Merry Christmas Deniz!

Unknown said...

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Wish you a wonderful new year.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Damyanti! Same to you!

Li said...

My family pretty much saves gift giving for the kids, although adults exchange "token" gifts like fuzzy slippers, craft beers, magazine subscriptions, etc. It's more about getting together and having fun. Even my ex invites me to join their holiday celebrations - an unusual (and occasionally awkward) custom that we hope will serve as an example to the younger generation on how to set aside past differences and maintain family ties.

I'm a lousy cook and a worse baker so I leave the food prep to my sister and her husband and volunteer for clean up and entertaining kids instead.

Best wishes for a happy and peaceful New Year!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Li for sharing. Happy New Year!

Nas said...

Yummy recipe, thanks for sharing.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Olivia Rose!

Arlee Bird said...

My wife and I took an intense cross USA drive trip to visit our kids and grandkids. Great fun, but someday we need to start thinking about moving closer to them. It's really a lot of driving.


Denise Covey said...

Sounds like a lot of fun, but tiring Arlee.

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