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.
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.
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.
Christmas can be quite heavy – this is a much lighter alternative which has about an eighth of the fat of a normal pie.
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…
I love Christmas dinner. The combination of turkey, stuffing, fluffy roast potatoes, pigs in blanket, proper thick gravy, veg. It’s magic.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!