Christmas Time

Christmas is obviously about far more than just food, but its also a great excuse to really go for it in a culinary sense. I spent a healthy chunk of the holidays in the kitchen and this is what I got up to.

Fudge
I made Christmas hampers for lots of my family – over the course of the year I’ve saved some jam and other preserves and packaged them up with a bottle of my beer. I wanted to add something fresh to it so I whipped up a batch of fudge. Fudge can mean everything from crumbly and hard to soft and chewy. I went down the softer end of the spectrum with a lovely American recipe.
20130101-162936.jpg

20130107-215853.jpg

Mince Tart
I made a couple of batches of mincemeat, it’s very easy and tastes much nicer than shop bought. This was a large lattice pie that I threw together one afternoon for dessert.
20130101-163103.jpg

Filo Pies
Christmas can be quite heavy – this is a much lighter alternative which has about an eighth of the fat of a normal pie.
20130101-163204.jpg

Shortcrust Pies
I’ve tried a couple of pastry recipes this year – including one where you sous vide the egg yolks. This version, by Paul Hollywood, is by far my favourite – crunchy, crisp and rich. It uses scary quantities of butter though…
20130101-163421.jpg

Christmas Dinner
I love Christmas dinner. The combination of turkey, stuffing, fluffy roast potatoes, pigs in blanket, proper thick gravy, veg. It’s magic.
20130101-163502.jpg

Over the years we’ve tried a few different methods of cooking the turkey, this one (tented upside down, browned right side up just at the end) seems to work great.
20130101-163531.jpg
For the gravy I used a double-stock base. This is simply using chicken stock as the liquid for the turkey stock and it works really well. You get a much more intense flavour which really suits the meat.
20130101-163616.jpg

Crayfish and Mango Salad
Recently we’ve taken to doing starters, given what follows on it needs to be something very simple and refreshing. This is a lovely light citrusy dish I’ve done before, even better when served with some nice bubbly!
20130101-163707.jpg

Mulled Wine
You can put lots of things inside mulled wine, but I think a combination of port, brandy and ginger wine adds the most. Using a sugar syrup base also allows you to get everything out of the spices before adding most of the liquid – preserving its flavour.
20130101-163747.jpg

Christmas Cake
While a mainstay of Christmas, the cake can be heavy and dry. I usesd Peggy Porschens recipe luxury fruit cake recipe – it gives a very moist, light result.

20130101-163910.jpg

Cheese Board
Cheese is one of the best bits of Christmas. I picked up my selection from Neal’s Yard the week before Christmas (top tip: order in advance so you don’t have to queue and they’ll pick cheeses which will be ripe whenever you need them.

20130101-163825.jpg
I went for:
Montgomery Cheddar – You have to have cheddar and this is one of the best.
Stichelton – Stilton is another staple and this is a gorgeous example, while not from the right area it has a delicious moistness similar to a Roquefort.
Dorstone – A goats cheese is a must and this ash coated beauty is just perfect. Rich, creamy, acidic, smokey. Heaven.
Tunworth – Camembert is a great cheese, how can you make it better? Make it British. Top quality British milk results in a superb soft cows cheese.
Stinking Bishop – My favourite cheese. It’s name is well deserved, the perry washed rind is
incredibly strong. The entire fridge will smell for weeks. But the flavour is amazing: smooth, creamy and rich.

All served with some delicious homemade onion marmalade. Yum!

2 thoughts on “Christmas Time

  1. Does Peggy recommend washing the cherries? I think M Berry does which should make them much less cloying – have you tried it before?

    • She doesn’t mention washing the cherries, so neither do I. (The recipe is just scaled up from the one I posted!) I’d be worried about losing all that delicious cherry syrup. They also seem to absorb lots of whisky cutting down (deliciously) on the stickiness!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s