Christmas cooking made deliciously modern and simple, with Instagram’s favourite home cook Jessica Nguyen
If your approach to a festive affair is a decidedly laid-back one, you’ll appreciate kitchen whiz Jessica Nguyen’s take on Christmas cooking. The modern, fresh menu she whipped up as part of her recent #AtHomeWithDJs Instagram live is what she calls a “fuss-free festive feast.” It’s based around a whole baked fish — a modern Australian summer staple — which can be popped in the oven as little as 30 minutes before guests arrive, along with moreish grazing platters and perfect sides. (Crunchy baked potatoes, anyone?) Most of the ingredients can be found at David Jones Food stores, because as Jessica points out when it comes time for a Christmas lunch or dinner, it’s nice not to have to prepare absolutely everything from scratch.
Oh, and forget a stuffy table setting: hers is a modern take on fun festive colours with plenty of summer pinks and yellow, sunset orange and a little floral thrown in for good measure, plus statement pieces from Maison Balzac, Villeroy & Boch and Cristina Re. There’s also a fabulous pastel Kate Spade New York cocktail mixing set, to help whip up a refreshing gin punch (with a Christmas twist) to toast to the season with. The whole thing comes in at under 60 minutes, to guarantee a delicious, relaxed meal with as little fanfare — and as much festive joy — as possible.
Explore her expert tips and essentials below, then watch along to see for yourself how easily it all comes together.
The perfect platter
A delicious grazing platter will be an instant crowd-pleaser
First up, style a grazing plate with cheese, charcuterie and chocolate. Jessica’s golden rule? “There are no rules… your platter is whatever you make it.” She recommends taking cheese out of the fridge an hour beforehand so that it’s at room temperature for best flavour. Add your meats, then sweet fruits such as strawberries to balance out savoury elements. “It’s about making everything look beautiful and abundant,” she says. Jessica also adds David Jones Salted Pretzels and David Jones Ruby Chocolate. After all, “No one’s going to say no to chocolate.”
White Coupe Dinner Set
VILLEROY & BOCH
It’s My Moment Plate in Honey
Origin Round Platter
“When you pull together something big like a festive feast, it’s better to focus on one element,” says Jessica. Her pièce de résistance for Christmas cooking? A whole baked snapper, which she calls, “a modern take on the traditional festive dish.” Assemble it in a baking dish around 30 minutes before you need everything to be ready, then pop it in the oven as you prepare the rest. Check out Jessica’s recipe — with plenty of lemon, olives, garlic, thyme and oregano — over at At Home With DJs.
A whole baked fish makes for a surprisingly simple main course
Dallas Cutlery Set in Matte Gold
Volute Candleholder in Miel
Volute Candles in Sable
Leah Bartholomew Crackers Box Set
Sumptuous sides and salads
Statement table décor makes a festive spread pop
For fuss-free sides and salads, Jessica opted for potatoes, salads and pre-prepared cooked tiger prawns — which she says are “quintessentially summer in Australia” — all from David Jones Food stores. They’re thoughtfully prepared to save you time, and taste delicious. Her top tip? Serve seafood such as tiger prawns on a bed of ice to keep them super chilled.
CouCou Jug in Pink
Estelle Crystal Coupe
KATE SPADE NEW YORK
Nolita Cocktail Set
Festive and fruity fizz
“I don’t think a Christmas is complete without Champagne,” says Jessica, who likes to serve hers in a celebratory coupe. When it comes to cocktails, “I like to have drinks ready to go so that people can pour them themselves.” Her solution? A festive punch, which she likens to “a mix between a G&T and a moscow mule,” using Four Pillars Christmas Gin along with beautiful fresh fruit and herbs.
Swap traditional flutes for coupes to serve bubbly
Jessica’s Christmas Gin punch recipe
Prep time 10 mins
Makes 4-6 glasses
As well as being refreshing and delicious, by serving Jessica’s fruity festive punch in a beautiful pink Maison Balzac carafe, guests can serve themselves — freeing you up to mingle. Jessica opts for the limited edition Christmas Gin from award-winning Australian distillery Four Pillars, which, as an added bonus “smells a little like a Christmas pudding.”
1 bottle of Four Pillars Christmas Gin
200ml bottle of Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic Water
200ml bottle of Fever Tree Ginger Beer
Sliced fruit (Jess used orange, lemon, lime, strawberries, raspberries· and blueberries)
1. Fill pitcher with plenty of ice·
2. Add 3-4 30ml shots of Four Pillars Christmas Gin·
3. Add Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic Water
4. Add Fever Tree Ginger Beer·
5. Add in fruits and mint and stir