Our Christmas Eve spread
In addition to opening the majority of our presents, we celebrate with a spread of cold plates (smoked fish, frikadellen meatballs, salads and dips) and the all important bunter teller - decorated plates piled high with chocolate, sweets and lebkuchen biscuits. This kind of meal would also be perfect for New Year's Eve (or any other celebration to be honest) - because the dishes are all served cold, you can prepare everything in advance and focus on the festivities.
In addition to the fish plate (pictured above) we had cold sausages and home-made frikadellen meatballs, my mum's special German potato salad (chopped potatoes, apples, boiled eggs and gherkins with Heinz sandwich spread - it's amazing!), prawns in a Marie Rose dressing, a selection of vegetable crudites and dips, and - the highlight of this year's feast - two very delicious bean salads.
The first of these was based on a recipe for "butterbeans with sweet chilli" from the Ottolenghi cookbook. This is a lovely dish with a subtle (but not overwhelming) Asian influence; hints of nutty sesame, sweet chilli and soy sauce all combining to bring an interesting fusion feel to the traditional bean salad.
Here is the original recipe:
400g dried butterbeans
6 garlic cloves, crushed
70ml sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 red peppers, cut into 2cm squares
4 spring onions, chopped
35g coriander, chopped
30g mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Sweet chilli bean salad
I richi e i poveri, aka prawn and bean salad
500g dried borlotti beans
2 bay leavesIf using dried beans: Soak your beans overnight. The next day, drain and place in a large pan with the bay leaves, onion, and enough cold water to cover the beans by around 13cm. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for around 45 minutes or until tender (removing any scum which appears on the surface). Drain the beans, discarding the onion and bay leaves.
Add your beans (dried beans, cooked as per the instructions above and still warm, or tinned beans) to a large bowl with the crushed garlic, half the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, and set aside.
If using raw prawns, place your prawns in a saucepan with cold water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the teaspoon of white wine vinegar. Bring to the boil and cook for around 4 minutes (test a prawn at this point to see if it is done). Drain and set aside. My mum used pre-cooked prawns and they tasted great - so skip this step if you prefer!
Not too long before you plan on serving your salad, combine the beans and the prawns, adding the remaining olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Seperate the raddichio heads into leaves and line a large plate with them. Heap over the bean and prawn mix, and (if you wish) sprinkle chopped parsley over the top.