We have a family tradition for a number of years now making Christmas Eve and Christmas festivities humble and modest – both in terms of presents as well as dishes served on the table. One major rule about the food – a little bit of several different dishes for Christmas Eve, so there would be some left for Christmas breakfast and then lunch and dinner we would already prepare something fresh, all together. There are several “best parts” about it – we try to make those few dishes really stand out and no complaining about gluttony.
It does give me a sense of accomplishment, when I don’t stuff myself with loads of food just because it’s sitting there on the table. And I guess in general – I do feel that the true Christmas spirit is lost somewhere between black Friday sales, all the urging to buy everything for Christmas before it’s gone [#ThisIsYourLastChanceToBuyToReceiveItByXmas], getting more, spending more and then eventually complaining how tough it is to live through January, because there is way too much month left at the end of the money.
For me it is all about family time. Being together and enjoying what we have rather than overloading ourselves with things we don’t need and have nowhere to store. This year the gifts for the loved ones will also be hand made. Time preparing the gifts and putting our thoughts and love into them is the most precious thing we have that no money can buy.
But let’s come back to food. Fish is the queen of the Christmas Eve table. I absolutely love the pure and simple carp, which is so delicious oven roasted served with some some oven roasted root vegetables or pickles and mashed potatoes. Carp does have quite a few fish bones, but despite this small downturn, it is a really delicious fish!
Oven roasted juicy carp on spruce
- 1 1-1,5 kg Fish
- 6-8 Carrots
- 2 Garlic heads
- 6-8 Potatoes
- 1-2 Parsnips
- 1-2 Sweet potatoes or Butternut squash
- Oil (in this case I used sunflower)
- Spruce branches
- A few sprigs of sage
First prepare the stuffing – heat a few tablespoons of oil in a medium pan and cook 1-2 grated carrots until soft, season with salt.
Prepare the fish – cut in the sides every few centimetres, season with salt and pepper on each side. Lay the fish on spruce branches in a baking dish and stuff the fish with carrots. Drizzle the fish with a bit of oil.
In a separate baking dish spread diced vegetables – carrots, potatoes, sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash (go with whatever you have) and garlic cloves. I leave the garlic in its shell – once cooked it will be soft and sweet inside. Add a few sprigs of fresh or dry sage, drizzle everything with oil and season with salt.
Bake the fish and the veggies in the oven at +/- 170 degrees for 40 minutes.
The spruce was there for the scent – lift the fish of it and remove any needles prior to serving, with a few lemon wedges on the side.
So with just a bit of dicing and if the fish is all cleaned by the fishmonger – the dish requires very little effort and time.
No matter how big or small your family is – whether you are with your loved ones or alone. There are the little things in life to be cherished and enjoyed. My sincere wish to you – to find those reasons to celebrate the way you want and not the way the whole world around you tells you to. This is your time!