Make The Most Of Christmas Eve — 1966-style!

Christmas Eve

Elizabeth Craig was the domestic goddess of her time. She edited the Cookery pages in the “Friend” for many years until her death in 1980, at the age of ninety-seven.

Her columns in the Sixties and Seventies were often aimed at busy working women with young families to feed.

Mindful of the lack of time — as well as tight budgets — she was not afraid to use shortcuts such as frozen pastry, tinned fruit and vegetables, and packet soups in the recipes she offered to readers.

In our many trips to the Archives department, researching our Souvenir Special Edition and our “150th Years Of Christmas Cookery” book, we found many gems in Elizabeth’s columns, including this one from 1966.

Here’s how to ensure Christmas planning remains on track, while still looking after hubby on Christmas Eve. (No comment!)


Christmas Eve

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

It’s Such A Busy Time!

If you want Christmas Day to be the peaceful day it should be, you must plan things carefully, and as much as possible in advance. Make a list of what you still have to buy and shop as early as you can.

The following suggestions are mainly for Christmas Eve. With gifts to arrange, the bird to stuff and so on, there is not much time for normal meals, so I am giving you two “specials” for high tea [Christmas Vol-au-Vent, pictured, with recipe below, and Savoury Pancakes].

If your husband wants something more substantial in the evening, open a tin of ham or tongue and let him boil an egg or two to go with it, so that you are free to finish your preparations. If that is not sufficient, make some of his favourite soup, using either a tin or a packet, and then slip out to the kitchen and get busy.

  1. If serving citrus fruit juice or grapefruit for breakfast on Christmas Day, strain off thejuice the night before into glasses, or prepare and sugar the grapefruit. Chill overnight.
  2. Remove rinds from bacon required for any meals during the day.
  3. Arrange a basket of fruit for the table centre and decorate it with mandarins wrapped in gilt or silver paper and sprigs of holly and mistletoe.
  4. Scald and peel ¼ lb Jordan almonds and fry lightly in butter until starting to colour. Drain on absorbent paper. Mix with equal quantitites of dessert raisins and serve on a plate.
  5. Arrange glace fruits on another plaste to correspond. These plates can be set at each end of the table centre.
  6. Crumble enough bread for the bread sauce and make a hard sauce for the Christmas pudding.

Christmas Vol-au-Vent

  • 1 ¼ lb flaky or puff pastry
  • 12 oz diced cooked bacon
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • Butter
  • 2 oz flour
  • 1 pint milk
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Roll thawed-out puff pastry or home-made flaky pastry fairly thinly. Cut into an oval shape approximately 10 in by 5 in. Carefully fold the pastry trimmings and roll them out again. Cut another oval the same size out of the pastry.
  2. Place one on a baking sheet and cut an inch band off the other. Place band round the edge of the first portion, which is to form the base, brushing it below with a little egg to make it adhere. Arrange on another baking sheet. Allow to stand for about an hour, to avoid shrinkage when cooking.
  3. Brush the top surfaces with beaten egg. Bake on the middle shelf of a hot oven (450 deg. F., Regulo 7 to 8) for about 15 minutes, until well risen and golden brown.
  4. Cut the mushrooms in slices. Fry in a little hot melted butter, for two or three minutes. Make white sauce with 2 oz butter, 2 oz flour and a pint of milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add mushrooms and bacon to the white sauce, then pile into the hot pastry case, and rest the lid on top. Reheat if wanted hot. Accompany with salad if served cold. For 4 or 5 persons.

For some more delicious, and up-to-date- recipes, click here.

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!