Here's how some of our favourite regional celebrities are spending Christmas – Gippsland Times


Maggie Beer at home at her cottage in the Barossa Valley. PHOTO supplied

Maggie Beer at home at her cottage in the Barossa Valley. PHOTO supplied

Gorgi, Simon, Molly-Rose and puppy. PHOTO supplied.

Gorgi, Simon, Molly-Rose and puppy. PHOTO supplied.

Gorgi Coghlan is a panelist on Network Ten’s The Project, and well known as co-host of The Circle on Channel Ten. She and businessman husband Simon Coghlan own a farm just outside Ballarat where they will spend Christmas with their soon-to-be four-year-old and extended family.

Gorgi Coghlan is planning a pitch, and picture perfect Christmas, with her husband Simon for their extended family this year. The couple who married in 2009 will host Christmas day with a “one in all in” lunch for both sides of the family for the first time. Gorgi explains this will be great for their daughter Molly-Rose who turns four on December 30 and is the only grandchild, so far, for both sides of the family.

While they will fully cater the event themselves, Gorgi is still looking forward to being able to get-up, open presents with her family and then spend the morning in pajamas before the guests arrive.

The couple have planned an impressive menu for 16 and will serve seafood starters of fresh oysters, prawns and crayfish. Following this will be some classic mains and dessert.

“We will glaze the ham ourselves with poached pears on the side as well as doing traditional turkey and roast pork with crackling,” Gorgi said.

Smashed potatoes cooked with duck fat will accompany the meat mains as well as a lovely pea and bean dish.

An array of desserts will include chef Adrian Richardson’s Caramelised Pear Cake and a trifle.

“My Mum will make a traditional plum pudding with coins in it and we will have Stephanie Alexander’s pavlova with fresh berries.”

All of this will most likely be washed down with a couple of her favourite tipple, champagne.

“For celebrations champagne is my favourite drink and it evokes such beautiful memories for me.”

But food won’t be the only attraction at these festivities as Gorgi looks to introduce some new Christmas traditions for the family.

She will be encouraging her guests in a carol singalong which is bound to include some of her best-loved songs such as O Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night.

“I came from a musical family and have great memories of singing carols all night on Christmas day. Music is such an important part of Christmas to me and a great way of bringing people together,” she said.

Gorgi says at Christmas her heart goes out to people who have recently suffered loss and makes a point of taking time to appreciate the good things she has in life.

It is also a time to support some of her favourite charities such as local organisation Eureka Mums, and finding what she can do for others less fortunate.

“We are so lucky and have so much in our lives we must match that by giving back,” she said.

Family, friends and food complete the triangle. PHOTO FDC.

Family, friends and food complete the triangle. PHOTO FDC.

Geoff Jansz was one of Australia’s first celebrity chefs with notable TV roles on Nine Network’s What’s Cooking, Burke’s Backyard and daytime cooking program Fresh with the Australian Women’s Weekly. He has regularly contributed to Australian Gourmet Traveller and written three books.

This Christmas day there will be a taste of Morocco at Geoff Jansz’s family farm. The well-loved celebrity chef has just returned from a trip to the Northern African food melting pot, but more of that later.

Geoff will spend Christmas Day with his immediate family at their eleven-and-a-half acre farm in Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands. The family includes wife Angela, daughters Natasha 25 and Olivia 23 and  sons Harry 20 and Jonny 11.

A wonderful tradition the family has observed for more than two decades at the farm is to bring in a potted pine tree into the house to decorate at Christmas. This tree is later replanted in the grounds to continue to grow.

“Over the years we have planted around 21 trees that are huge now. This gives us a sense of being established here so we continue to observe the tradition,” Geoff said.

Christmas morning in the Jansz household is a time to enjoy an indulgent late breakfast with some favourite family dishes. His kids have told him these recipes, special to their tribe, are off limits to the public.

“I do ricotta pancakes with lemon and sugar, chilli eggs and tomatoes that are braised with salami in a red wine reduction which are very flavoursome on sourdough bread.”

Angela’s parents join the family for a late lunch bringing their Scottish heritage to the meal.

“We will have turkey, ham and other poultry, perhaps spatchcock, as well as a traditional Christmas pudding made by Angela’s mother Christine,” Geoff said.

To change things up a little this year he is looking to introduce some of the techniques he discovered in Morocco for some vegetable dishes, with a view to impress his vegan daughter.

“Natasha Has been vegan for three years which has led to me extending my repertoire and pushed me, sending me in directions I wouldn’t have gone in food wise,” he said.

One of the dishes he will be making is a traditional Moroccan carrot salad.

“I’ll put that in front of Natasha and get her reaction.”

Geoff says it is the cooking techniques that really interest him when looking at the food of other cultures and this carrot dish stood out in that regard.

New techniques dress carrots up for the Christmas Day table. PHOTO Geoff Jansz.

New techniques dress carrots up for the Christmas Day table. PHOTO Geoff Jansz.

1. peel carrots and cut circular slices

2. place in water with salt and garlic and bring to simmer

when cooked leave to cool in water

3. when cooled take the carrots and add garlic, parsley, honey and extra virgin olive oil and place back in water they were simmered in

4. to serve carrots can be drained or left in the liquid and served with a slotted spoon

The Christmas celebrations don’t end there in the Jansz household with Boxing Day reserved for Geoff’s extended family.

Usually one of the four Jansz brothers host the event and everybody brings along a dish to share. This year Geoff will take his clan to brother Russell’s home for the large family lunch.

Maggie will host her usual Christmas for her immediate family again this year. PHOTO supplied.

Maggie will host her usual Christmas for her immediate family again this year. PHOTO supplied.

National treasure, celebrity cook, food author, restaurateur and food manufacturer, Maggie Beer, hosts her family every year for Christmas at her cottage property in the Barossa Valley.

Somewhat unsurprisingly Christmas for Maggie Beer embodies the combination of food and family.

Usually Maggie welcomes her two daughters, their partners and five, soon-to-be six, grandchildren to her picturesque rural home.

Serving a seasonal spread at room temperature, Maggie would not describe her family fare as traditional.

“There’s nothing hot, just salads and things served at room temperature. Well it’s my traditional Christmas and it works with our climate,” Maggie said.

A Beer family tradition, and an Australian treat, is to start the meal with yabbies. Maggie leaves her family to peel their own tasty crustaceans as they sit leisurely in the shade of her willow and wisteria trees.

As far as the main course goes poultry is the star with a goose from the farm and one of daughter Saskia’s chooks which is cooked in the morning.

A ham glazed in pickled figs is always on the menu and this year, for her vegetarian granddaughter, she will be making zucchini flowers stuffed with bocconcini cheese and fresh herbs.

“Every year I do a beautiful salad with avocado, rocket, red paw paw, fresh mint and mango,” Maggie said.

“In the morning I par-cook potatoes which later get cooked in goose fat.”

As far as desert goes Maggie says it’s a bit boring really as she makes the same thing each year.

“There is a traditional plum pudding which sometimes we don’t eat until boxing day.”

Maggie's Sparkling Ruby Cabernet jelly filled with fresh raspberries. PHOTO supplied.

Maggie’s Sparkling Ruby Cabernet jelly filled with fresh raspberries. PHOTO supplied.

But the family highlight every Christmas is Maggie’s huge jelly which she makes with her Sparkling Ruby Cabernet, fills with fresh raspberries and serves with cream.

To burn off all the excesses the family will spend the day swimming in the pool or playing a game of cricket on the front lawn.

Rick Stein has fond memories of Christmases past. PHOTO supplied.

Rick Stein has fond memories of Christmases past. PHOTO supplied.

Honorary Australian, English chef, restaurateur and television presenter, Rick Stein is currently the head chef and co-owner of Rick Stein at Bannisters at Mollymook, New South Wales.

As a master fish cook Rick does manage to get a little in each festive season making Christmas Eve traditionally fish-filled.

“On Christmas Eve, it’s gotta be fish, it’s gotta be turbot and it’s gotta be hollandaise sauce.  My son Charlie is bringing down a couple of magnums of Macon to go with it this Christmas, “ Rick said.

For Christmas Day lunch he keeps it largely traditional curbing his usual culinary tendencies to create some Christmas favourites.

“I cook roast goose, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, sprouts and I always finish with what I call a melange of vegetables: carrots cut into batons, peas, green beans and broad beans, cooked and tossed in butter and tarragon,” Rick said.

A little smoked salmon is the only fish on the menu which Rick serves as an entree on authentically made soda bread given to him by Irish friend Frank Headerman from County Cork.

“For pudding I always go for our traditional Christmas pudding or plum pudding as they call it in Australia, with a homemade custard flavoured with Armagnac,” he said.

To drink Rick loves nothing more than a couple of glasses of Barossa Shiraz to wash it all down with having started the tradition back in the 80’s.

“In the mid-80’s we had Christmas at Bay View on Pittwater, NSW.  My host’s son, Ed Ifould, produced a glass of red and said “whaddaya think of this?”  It seems quite full bodied I said. It was indeed full bodied, but just a little bit more than that – a Grange 1965.  So I can’t always make it Grange but I always open a bottle or two of Barossa Shiraz on Christmas Day.”

Rick Stein cooking up a storm. PHOTO supplied.

Rick Stein cooking up a storm. PHOTO supplied.

Along with good wine Rick believes good company can lead to a memorable Christmas and fondly recalls one in 2005 just after his divorce when his two sons, Charlie and Jack came to stay at his cottage, along with his sister, brother-in-law and their two daughters, Rosie and Molly.

“Filled with Christmas cheer I invited a Virgin Airways pilot, Rick Hill, an Australian, and his wife Debbie and another Aussie, Greg Minter, who was working for us at the time, and had nowhere else to go.  “It thus became known as the waifs and strays Christmas and was so special because actually Christmas in the bosom of your family can be a tad on the claustrophobic side, you need a good mix for a great Christmas and that one was great,” he said.


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