Ah, Christmas.  The sparkle, the glitter, the food.  It was all set to turn to custard this year, however.  I was one day too late in ordering my free-range, home-cured ham and they were all sold out.

Not much beats a proper ham.  One year we ended up with a processed one that was nigh on inedible – it seemed to be reconstituted nasty bits that even our cat turned her nose up at.

But now we are hamless.  So, we will have to employ Plan B, which is Making Do. 

Sausages can be quite nice actually if they are the right type and treated in an appropriate manner.  This means adding champagne to them, and green grapes.

I first tried this almost 10 years ago.  In those days, when I was younger and obviously had more energy, I had put my hand up to help a friend with his end-of-year party.  He ran a garden centre and had invited his top customers in for Yuletide celebrations.  As we used to cook together almost weekly, I was press-ganged into catering service.

We had decided to do a Christmas brunch, and as a treat, I didn’t have to help milk our cows later that day.

Some of it was easy – baskets full of croissants next to bowls of shredded ham (the good stuff) plates full of antipasto temptations – sundried capsicums, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts.  A massive fruit salad and bowls of cherries.  Huge, wonderful cheeses.  No expense was spared.

The number one dish, however, was good old sausies.  We used breakfast ones, which were faster and easier to cook.  All was going well, we’d planned it down to the tiniest degree, with a last-minute shop in the morning. 

Then – calamity.  Almost as bad as leaving ham buying to the last moment.  The only grapes available were packed full of seeds.  I sat around a table seeding grapes for what seemed an eternity, as did my husband, six-year-old daughter, and brother.  We got there though, and the masses were fed until they were purring.

We even managed to grab a bite ourselves.  So, this year, I’m doing the same dish on the 25th, although I might track down the right grapes a few days ahead. 

Champagne sausies

  • 12 breakfast sausages
  • 1 tbsp tarragon oil (or really good olive oil)
  • 12 tbsp champagne
  • 1-kilo green grapes
  • Italian parsley
  • black pepper

Pierce the sausages and grill over high heat until nicely brown.
Wash and dry grapes, eating a few along the way.  Leaving some in small bunches, slice some of the grapes down the middle. 
Heat oil and heat sausages, then add grapes.  When hot, add champagne and cook for a few minutes, tossing gently.
Sprinkle parsley on top, with fresh ground black pepper.

Roasted tomato salad

Easy to do but very yummy.

  • Six tomatoes
  • chopped garlic
  • fresh basil
  • salt, black pepper
  • Dressing:  equal amounts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Chop tomatoes in half, season, and sprinkle with garlic.
Drizzle some oil over this and top with basil.
Roast for an hour and allow to cool.  Serve on a platter and pour on dressing.