Christmas made easy with Yvette Van Boven

Christmas cooking can be overwhelming, but in her new book, Home Made Christmas, Yvette Van Boven shows us how to make it easier with her make ahead recipes, giving us time to enjoy the day.


When you have one or more vegetarian dinner guests, you don’t have to make dishes especially for them; instead pick a recipe like this that allows you to prepare the meat or fish separately.

(Serves 4)


  • 3 leeks, rinsed and sliced
  • ¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (250ml) white wine
  • 2 cups (500ml) vegetable stock
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (200ml) crème fraîche


  • 7 tablespoons (100ml) mild olive oil
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 8 large sea scallops
  • ¼ cup (60ml) clarified butter


  • 3 tablespoons crème fraiche

How to Prepare

1. Sauté the leeks in the oil until they’re soft, then add the garlic, onion, potatoes, curry powder, and nutmeg and sauté everything briefly. Season with salt and pepper and douse with the wine. Cook over high heat until the wine is reduced, then pour in the stock.

2. Allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes. Puree until smooth in a blender or with a hand blender. Stir in the crème fraîche. Set aside.

3. Make the parsley oil: Put the oil and parsley in the cleaned blender and process for 1 minute, or until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and season with salt and pepper.

How to make

1. Score the scallops lightly in a diagonal crosshatch pattern.

2. Heat the clarified butter in a skillet, add the scallops, and cook on both sides until golden brown and just about cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, reheat the soup in another pan and season with salt and/or pepper, if you wish.

4. Pour a shallow layer of soup into four deep plates. Make a swirl with a small spoonful of crème fraîche. Place two scallops on top and drizzle with some parsley oil.


The roast needs to be cooked in the oven for more than 3 hours, so plan accordingly. The result will be quite something, though. Yes, it’s very fatty meat, but that’s what makes this so delicious. This dish is impossible to ruin; if you leave it in the oven for 30 minutes too long it won’t matter.

Serve with something fresh-zesty. I like it with horseradish mustard. Such a substantial roulade serves a crowd, and whatever you have left over (if you manage to not finish all of it) will still be delicious the day after.

(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 pork belly (at least 4½ pounds/2 kg), without rind
  • Salt and Sichuan or black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the roasting pan


  • 5 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus some extra
  • 3 tablespoons Sichuan or black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1¾ ounces/50g), coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch thyme, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • Seeds from 6 to 8 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar
  • 6 small cloves garlic, minced
  • About ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (80g) hazelnuts, briefly toasted in a skillet, coarsely chopped


  • Kitchen twine: cut 8 (12inch/ 30cm) pieces

How to prepare

1. Place the meat on a cutting board, skin side facing up. Use a sharp knife to score the fat, making shallow cuts spaced about ⅓ inch (8 mm) apart. Turn the pork belly over. Sprinkle with salt and some Sichuan peppercorn.

2. Combine all ingredients for the filling and spread it out over the meat. Tightly roll up the meat and carefully tie it together using the pieces of kitchen twine you have ready. Start in the middle, then tie up the ends, then tie twine in the spaces between.

3. Rub the outside of your roulade with salt and Sichuan peppercorn as well. Refrigerate until ready to roast. You can do this a day early so the meat will marinate even better.

How to make

1. Remove the meat from the fridge at least an hour in advance, allowing it to reach room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

3. Grease a roasting pan with some oil and put in the roulade. Roast for 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 300°F (150°C), and thoroughly cover the roulade with aluminum foil. Cook for another 2½ hours. Remove the foil and baste the meat with the liquid from the roasting pan. Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, until the crust has nicely browned.

4. Remove the porchetta from the roasting pan and let rest on a carving board for 15 minutes. Sometimes it’s pretty stuck so you may have to carefully pry it loose from the pan. Cut into thin slices. Eat warm or cold.


(Serves 8)


  • 5 egg whites
  • 1  tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1  tablespoon vinegar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1  cup (125g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3  cup (150g) firmly packed dark brown sugar


  • 1½  pounds (700g) small pears such as St. Remys or Gieser Wildemans
  • ½  cup (100g) raw cane sugar
  • 1 (750ml) bottle moscato d’Asti or
    another light dessert wine
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon of pink peppercorns (optional, you don’t have to scour the land to find some)


  • ½  cup (125ml) heavy cream,
  • 1¼  cups (300ml) sour cream
  • A splash of coffee liqueur or brandy
  • 3¼ ounces (90g) dark chocolate, melted in a double boiler (optional)
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Make the pavlova

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a squeaky-clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding the cornstarch, vinegar, and salt.

3. Mix the sugars together. Once the egg whites form stiff peaks, add the sugar one spoonful at a time, beating constantly and waiting to add the next spoonful until the previous one has been completely absorbed. Continue beating the egg white mixture until stiff and shiny.

4. Scoop onto the parchment paper–lined baking sheet with a spatula, forming a large circle. Be generous, and shape beautiful curls around the edges with the back of a spoon.

5. Bake the pavlova for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 210°F
(100°C) and bake for 1 hour longer. Turn off the oven and let the pavlova dry inside the oven for at least 2 hours.

Make the poached pears

Peel the pears, leaving the stems. Place them upright in a large saucepan and add all the other ingredients. If needed, add water so they are well submerged. Cover with parchment paper cut to size and let simmer for about 1 hour, or until they are tender through and through. Using a slotted spoon, gently remove them from their cooking liquid and let cool. Over high heat, boil the cooking liquid until reduced to a syrup. Strain through a sieve and let cool.

To assemble fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. You can stir in a splash of liqueur, if you’d like. Fill the pavlova with the cream mixture. Arrange the pears on top, and perhaps drizzle some lines of melted chocolate across or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve the reduced wine syrup on the side.


Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven (Abrams, £26.99)

Photography by Oof Verschure.

Find more delicious recipes from Around Town magazines: Recipes