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.

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.


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.

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.

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…

Christmas Dinner
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!

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.

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.


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.

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!

Back in Britain

After the gorgeous weather of California, the depressing drizzle of London came as a bit of a shock. The only solution? Food.


A spin-off of the fantastically popular MEATliquor, MEATmarket is situated in the heart of Covent Garden, overlooking the market. It’s a great place to sit and people watch while chowing down on a variety of gourmet burgers, fries and milkshakes. Their ‘dead hippy burger’ combines two beef patties with a delicious creamy sauce. The burger was almost too juicy, being a real challenge to eat – there’s kitchen roll on each table for a reason! The chips were excellent and very reminiscent of ‘In’n’out burger’ in the US. The milkshake was wonderfully decadent – I like them thick enough that the straw doesn’t fall over and you can’t spill it easily.


MEATmarket on Urbanspoon


Inspired by their excellent cookbook, I decided to attempt one of Momofuku’s signature dishes: pork buns. Their take on the chinese/japanese/korean classic of ‘char siu bao’ combines a soft clamshell bun, pickled cucumber, slow braised pork belly, spring onions, hoisin sauce and sriracha.

Making the buns from scratch is time consuming, but relatively easy, it’s a pretty straightforward white bread mix that’s then steamed. The pork needs to be home cured overnight and then cooked for hooours. The actual assembly time is very short, making a great dinner party starter.

The end results were far better than I expected, the buns were soft and fluffy, the pork was sweet, porky and had a lovely crunch at the edges. The pickled cucumbers were really nice, cutting through the sweet hoi sin sauce. The sriracha is rocket fuel – use with caution.