Festive treats from The Cook and the Curator archive

Jelly-filled oranges. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

If you’re after some last minute inspiration for your festive tables here are a few of our favourite entertaining and edible gift ideas from our recipe archives and Eat your history book.

We wish you a peaceful, restful and enjoyable festive break and look forward to a food-filled year ahead.

Click on the underlined titles to take you to each recipe page.

Jelly filled oranges

A whimsical treat for a hot summers day and a fun activity for the kids over the holidays. Rise to the challenge of multiple layering, colour by colour or make life simple by filling each oranges with a different colour and shuffle them up on the plate.

Jelly-filled oranges. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Christmas rum balls

A nod to our rum-fueled convict heritage, rum balls are always handy to serve after a meal or package up for gifts. Substitute with brandy or hazelnut liqueur if preferred.

Christmas rum balls. Photo © Jacqui Newling

Cheese Darlings

Perfect to serve with drinks or as a pre-dinner appetiser these savoury biscuits have the added benefit of being gluten free. Bundle them up in cellophane for a friendly gift.

‘Cheese darlings’ from Mrs Maclurcan’s Cookery Book, 1905. Photo © Jacqui Newling

Devilled bones

A welcome alternative to the ubiquitous and sticky-sweet honey-soy chicken, ‘devils’ have been popular since the seventeenth century with the combination of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder and cayenne. You can amp up the heat with more chilli.

‘Devilled bones’ a la Alexis Soyer, c1850. Photo James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Orange muscatel salad

A delicious, simple and cooling accompaniment for the Christmas turkey.

Orange muscatel salad, from Emma Rouse’s Mrs Beeton’s book of household management, 1863 Rouse Hill House & Farm collection. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Raspberry vinegar ‘shrub’

The original ‘pink lemonade’, raspberry vinegar cordial makes a great fruit punch or shrub base.

Mrs Maclurcan’s wholesome summer barley water

Simple to make with a taste of yesteryear, this citrus barley water is perfect summertime refresher.

Raspberry vinegar ‘shrub’ and other summer refreshers. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Fragrant peach jam

With an abundance of peaches in season, jam is a delicious way to extend the taste of summer. For more savoury palates, peaches also make a delicious chutney to serve with ham.

Summer blushed peaches. Photo © Scott Hill for Sydney Living Museums

 Christmas plum pudding and Mrs Beeton’s wicked plum pudding sauce

It’s not too late to boil up a traditional pudding – historical evidence tells us it was common to make the pudding on Christmas Day itself.

Mrs Beeton’s Christmas plum pudding and sauce. Photo © James Horan for Sydney Living Museums

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and we look forward to being back in the New Year!