DAVEggie Christmas Menu

I guess all my followers will have decided upon their Christmas day menu weeks, if not months ago. I believe a Christmas dinner should be celebratory, but not enslaving to make. So this year the DAVEggie household will be tucking into Borscht Consommé, followed Lasagne coi Gemberi e Canestrelli (Lasagne with Prawns and Scallops – look – it’s my blog and I can be pretentious if I want.)

Anyway, I think this is a wonderful combination, ruby red Borscht (very different from my earlier recipe), followed by creamy indulgent seafood lasagne. I am not a great pudding person myself (you’ve noticed the lack of pudding recipes), so I am leaving the pudding in the capable hands of Mrs DAVEggie, who is promising an indecently wobbly Lemon Panacotta. As soon as she lets me have her recipe I will share it with you. Also, no photo’s as I haven’t made the recipes yet. With a bit of luck these will follow on Boxing day, and I hope they might inspire you to try the menu for a special occasion.

It is not particularly time consuming (especially if you were to use dried lasagne.) However, fresh pasta is fun to make, indeed children love to help. The soup can be made in advance and reheated. Actually so could the lasagne – it will not look as pretty, but there is an argument that the flavour improves.


Serves 4

Borscht Consommé


500g raw beetroot (peeled weight)
200g carrot
200g swede
1l clear vegetable stock, infused with porcini mushrooms (Take care to only simmer the stock, and do not press the liquid out of the vegetables)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
sour cream or crême fraîche


  1. Peel the beetroot and cut into small pieces. (You might want to wear kitchen gloves for this.)
  2. Simmer beetroot, carrot, and and swede in the stock until soft and the soup is red (About 1 hour).
  3. Strain through a sieve. Do not press the vegetables as this will make the soup cloudy.
  4.  Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat. Add the vinegar.
    Serve with a bowl of sour cream or crême fraîche on the side.



3tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1tbsp parsley
300g scallops
200g raw prawns
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 quantity Béchamel Sauce
fresh pasta made with 2 eggs


  1.  Make the Béchamel Sauce.
  2. Chop the onion, garlic and parsley finely.
  3. Add the olive oil to a frying pan, and sauté the onion until ligh golden (about 5 minutes.) 
  4. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for a further minute. 
  5. Turn the heat up high and add the scallops. Fry for about 1 minute until no longer translucent and any water released has evaporated.
  6.  Add the prawns, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the prawns turn pink (about 2 minutes.)
  7. Add the Béchamel Sauce.
  8.  Roll out the pasta, and cut into strips the width of the lasagne dish and 10cm wide.
  9. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Drop 6 sheets of pasta in at a time and boil for 1 minute. Remove, rinse in a sink of cold water and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat until all the remaining pasta is blanched.
  10. Grease a baking dish with about 10g of butter.
  11. Line the dish with pasta and cover with about 1/5 of the sauce mixture.
  12. Repeat 4 times, finishing with a layer or sauce.
  13. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and bake in the oven at 200◦C for 15 – 20 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

A simple salad of iceberg lettuce in a sharp dressing goes well.

© DAVEggie

Risotto Alla Milanese

A well made Risotto Alla Milanese is one of the world’s true culinary wonders! It should be creamy, not dry like long grain rice. It should be al dente; slightly chewy, but no hint of chalkiness. It is not difficult to make, but it is difficult to predict how long it will take (20 and 60 minutes) and how much liquid it will absorb. You need to hover over it with patience and attention for as long as it takes…

Risotto Alla Milanese is traditionally enriched with bone marrow. I substitute butter. It is made with chicken stock, for which I substitute vegetable stock infused with Porcini mushrooms (please do not use stock cubes!) It is flavoured with saffron, and while my normal adage is: if you can taste the saffron you have added too much, in the case of Risotto Alla Milanese it needs a really good hit of the stuff.

I like to serve it with Roasted Vegetable Salad with  balsamic dressing, and Tomato Sauce with Gremolata . Gremolata is actually a mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest, which I stir this into a tomato sauce at the last minute. Both of these compliment the risotto, and counterbalance the richness.

serves 2

1 medium onion
50g butter
200g risotto rice
50ml dry white wine
25ml dry sherry
750ml homemade vegetable stock
3 vials of saffron
50g Parmesan cheese

1. Chop the onion finely
2. Melt half the butter in a large frying pan, and sauté the onion gently for about 5 minutes until soft but not browned.
3. Add the rice and fry for a couple of minutes stirring continuously until the grains turn opaque.
4. Turn the heat to medium, add the wine and sherry and stir until the wine has been absorbed.
5. Add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while is is being absorbed.
6. After about 10 minutes, dissolve the saffron in a little hot stock, then add to the rice
7. Continue to add the stock, stirring occasionally. Stirring is important as agitates the rice grains of starch and makes the sauce creamy. The rice will probably absorb 600ml stock but maybe more. It is done when the grains have lost their chalkiness.
8. Turn off the heat, and stir in the remaining butter, and the Parmesan cheese. Adjust the seasoning.

Roasted vegetable salad
1/2 aubergine
1/2 courgette
1 yellow pepper
200g pumpkin
100g fennel
2 garlic cloves
2 Roma tomatoes
30ml olive oil

30ml extra virgin olive oil
1/2tbsp balsamic vinegar
2tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, mashed
1 pinch sugar

1. Cut the aubergine and courgette into 2cm slices. Cut the slices in half.
2. Cut the pepper, pumpkin, fennel and tomatoes into similar sized pieces.
3. Put all the vegetables into a deep roasting tin, and cover well with olive oil.
4. Cover the tin with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes add the tomatoes.
5. Remove the foil and grill until the vegetables are browned at the edges.
6. Allow to cool, and transfer to a salad bowl. Mash the roasted garlic and stir it in well.
7. Cover with the dressing.

Gremolata Sauce
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 stick celery
1 clove garlic
15g butter
100ml dry white wine
300g Roma tomatoes
150ml vegetable stock (you may use a stock cube if you wish!)
1/2 bay-leaf
pinch of oregano and thyme

10g parsley
2 smallish garlic cloves
grated rind of half a large lemon

1. Chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic finely.
2. Heat the butter in a small saucepan and add the above vegetables. Fry until lightly browned.
3. Add the wine and boil rapidly for 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
4. Skin and chop the tomatoes and add to the pan along with the herbs.
5. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
6. Make the Gremolata by chopping the garlic and parsley very finely, and grating the lemon.
7. Add to the sauce.

To Serve:
1. Place 2 or three ladles of risotto to one side in pre-heated deep pasta bowls.
2. Place 2 tablespoons of sauce to the side of the risotto.
3. Serve the salad on side plates.

© DAVEggie