It’s that time of year again when our thoughts turn to cooking Christmas dinner for the family.
From turkey to sprouts, prawns to mince pies, here are some festive recipes to try this Christmas. Eat, drink, and be merry!
My wife and I were looking for a different starter for the festive family meal this year. This smoked salmon and roasted beetroot salad recipe from Sainsbury’s took our fancy. We added some orange segments to give a bit of citrus zing. Smoked Salmon and Roasted Beetroot Salad with Horseradish Dressing A festive starter combining smoky and fresh flavours For the Salad750 g Raw beetroot (peeled and cut into wedges)2 cloves Garlic (skin on)3-4 sprigs Thyme1 tbsp Olive oil140 g Rocket250 g Smoked salmon (flaked into large pieces)2 Oranges (large, peeled and cut into wedges)Freshly ground black pepperFor the Dressing75 ml Crème Fraîche (light, if preferred)2 tbsp Horseradish sauce½ tbsp White wine vinegar½ Lemon (juiced) Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.Put the beetroot in the centre of a large piece of foil with the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Drizzle over the oil and season with the black pepper.Seal the foil into a parcel and place on a roasting tray. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until soft. Squeeze the garlic from their skins and toss with the beetroot. Leave to cool completely.Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.Carefully toss the rocket with the beetroot and smoked salmon and divide onto serving plates. Drizzle the dressing over each plate to serve. If you have a chef’s blowtorch, singeing the orange segments provides a slight toasted flavour. Credits: Sainsbury’s
Golden honey roasted parsnips are a traditional accompaniment for roast turkey. Add some festive lift with some parmesan and chilli for a twist on a classic. Honey roasted parsnips Roasted parsnips with a honey glaze 500 g Parsnips1 tbsp Plain flour1 tbsp Honey2 tbsp Sunflower oil2 tbsp ButterThyme sprigsSea saltFreshly ground black pepperOptional1 tsp Dried chilli flakesParmesan (finely grated) Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/ gas mark 5.Top and tail the parsnips, cutting any larger ones in half lengthways.Put in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and parboil for 5 mins.Drain well and allow to steam dry for a few minutes.Pick the thyme leaves. Toss the parsnips with the thyme, honey, a pinch of sea salt and some black pepper. Add the flour plus the parmesan and/or chilli flakes if using and again toss well to coat.Put in a roasting tin with the oil and butter, and roast for 40 mins, turning halfway, until golden. Inspired by recipes from: Jamie OliverBBC Good Food
Let’s face it, the small miniature cabbages we call sprouts are the cause of many a festive menu dilemma. Fortunately, this recipe saves us from past traumas with pan-fried sprouts complemented with chorizo and toasted almonds. The classic sprout of my youth, large, green, overcooked and smelling vaguely of rotten eggs with a consistency of mush is enough to bring tears to the eyes of any child forced to eat one. Tried and tested on my family for years, the humble sprout is now enjoyed, even by the grandchildren! Sprouts with chorizo and almonds Finely sliced sprouts with chopped chorizo and toasted almonds 500 g Brussels sprouts (halved and finely sliced)75 g Chorizo sausage (chopped)50 g Flaked almonds2 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)1 tbsp Toasted sesame oil2 tbsp Rape seed oilSea saltFreshly ground black pepper Add 1 tbsp of the rapeseed oil to a frying or saute pan and add the chopped chorizo. Fry gently to release the oils until it starts to crisp up. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside.Add the flaked almonds to the flavoured oil and fry gently until they are coloured. Remove the almonds with a slotted spoon and set aside with the chorizo.Add the sliced sprouts to the flavoured oil and fry over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until they start to soften, about 5 mins. Sprinkle with a little salt and drizzle over some additional rapeseed oil during cooking as it gets absorbed.When the sprouts start to brown at the edges, drizzle over the toasted sesame oil continuing to stir regularly for a further 5 mins.Return the cooked almonds and chorizo to the pan and mix well.Season with salt and pepper to taste. Side DishBritishalmonds, chorizo, sprouts
Perfect golden crispy roast potatoes with a crunchy shell and soft fluffy insides. No roast dinner is complete without decent roast potatoes. When we have the family round for Sunday lunch, for instance, or a festive event there are never any leftovers. Clean plates all around. For anyone wanting seconds, a couple of the roasted gems, with a splash of gravy rounds off the main course. Which Potato Using the right variety of potato makes a huge difference. In December the best varieties for your Christmas dinner roasties are Maris Piper or Rooster. For more info on choosing the best variety for your golden crispy roast potatoes look here. Oil or Fat? Having chosen your perfect potato, should you roast them in olive oil, duck or goose fat, or beef dripping? Well, the answer to that question is both a matter of flavour and the temperature of the oven. Firstly flavour. Any animal fats such as duck or goose will flavour the potatoes. Most oils will also infuse their unique flavour, except for neutral oils like rapeseed. It’s really a matter of personal taste.Secondly, but most importantly is the oven temperature or more specifically smoke point. All oils and fats have a temperature at which they burn. If your oil burns then so will the potatoes. Expensive oils like extra virgin olive oil with their subtle flavours are best for dipping or drizzling, not cooking. Smoke Points 🔥 If the temperature of your oven is above the smoke point of the oil or fat then it will burn. Duck and goose fats have a low smoke point so best used when roasting at 180-190℃ or below. Coincidentally, the ideal range for chicken and turkey. For 200℃ or above, a high smoke point oil like rapeseed gives really crispy potatoes, but no flavouring, as it is neutral. Table of Smoke Points Roasting Smoke PointDuck Fat375℉/190℃Goose Fat375℉/190℃Olive Oil410℉/210℃Extra Virgin Olive Oil320℉/160℃Rapeseed Oil420℉/220℃Sunflower Oil450℉/235℃Vegetable Oil400℉/200℃Sesame Oil410℉/210℃Ghee480℉/250℃Butter350℉/175℃ Golden Nutty BrittleCornflake Chicken StripsMashed PotatoHoney roasted parsnipsCatch It and Cook It – Conger Eel Golden roast potatoes Crispy golden roasted potatoes with soft fluffy insides. 1.2 kg Potatoes (Maris Piper)7 tbsp Olive oil1 tsp Sea saltFreshly ground black pepper6 sprigs Fresh thyme6 sprigs Rosemary6 cloves Garlic (unpeeled) Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4.Peel the potatoes and chop into 5cm pieces. Rinse well to remove the starch.Place in a pan and cover with cold salted (5g of salt per litre) water. Bring to a simmer without boiling hard and simmer gently for 12 minutes until cooked through and crumbling at the edges. Stir the pan gently a few times while cooking.Drain the potatoes in a colander, lay them in a single layer on a tray and allow to steam dry. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the olive oil into a roasting tin. Sprinkle on a large pinch of sea salt. Arrange the potatoes in the tin in a single layer.Lay the garlic cloves on a board and bash gently with the flat of a knife, just enough to split the clove. Tuck the cloves in between the potatoes. Trickle over another 4 tbsps of olive oil and another pinch of salt.Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.Take the tin out and turn the potatoes. Baste them with the oil in the tin adding more if needed. If any of the garlic cloves are blackened, remove them. Return to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes.10 minutes before the end tuck in the sprigs of rosemary and thyme.Remove from the roasting tin and serve with a sprinkling of black pepper and fresh thyme. Side DishBritishpotatoes, roast Nicky Corbishley – Kitchen SanctuaryHeston Bluementhal
Christmas gravy is a must for any festive roast. Our gravy is a long-standing family tradition and Christmas dinner would not be the same without it. It probably seems a lot of effort for some gravy, but a great gravy lifts any roast dinner. Make the stock ahead of time, we all have enough to do on Christmas Day and save some of the stress. Christmas gravy for turkey An indulgent gravy to accompany your Christmas turkey 1 Duck carcass (uncooked)6 Tomatoes (quartered)2 Carrots (medium, sliced)2 Onions (large, cut into wedges)2 Celery (sticks, chopped)Mixed herbsSea salt On Christmas Eve or before:Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C.Dismember the duck carcass and chop into 2.5cm pieces making sure all the bones are split. This releases the natural gelatine.Put the chopped carcass into a roasting tray with the quartered tomatoes and onion.Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Roasting produces a darker stock.Put the roasted carcass and vegetables into a large pan with the celery, carrots and herbs. Cover with cold salted water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 2 hours.Strain the resulting stock into a smaller pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half.Allow to cool a little, and pour into a suitable container, such as a pyrex bowl. Once at room temperature place into the fridge and leave overnight.Remove from the fridge, you will now have a gel style stock with a fat layer on top. Carefully remove the fat layer, this is great for the roasties.Keep in the fridge or freeze for later use.On the day:Melt 50g of butter over a low heat in a suitable size pan. Add 50g plain flour and heat gently stirring continuously to make a roux. Once it looks smooth and glassy turn up the heat and very gradually add the stock, a little at first, stirring or whisking constantly.Allow to simmer gently to cook out the flour, stirring regularly.When you take your turkey out of the oven, transfer to the carving tray, and pour the juices from the roasting tray into the gravy. Stir well, and bring to a simmer. Do not allow the gravy to boil.If it remains thicker than you would like, thin with chicken stock.Serve and enjoy. I like to buy a duck, remove the breasts and legs which I freeze, and then use the carcass for stock. Alternatively, after having roast chicken, freeze the carcass or two, and when ready chop into pieces and without roasting the bones again use to make the stock. Main Course, Side DishBritish
Mary Berry’s roast turkey crown with orange and thyme. One way to make cooking turkey at Christmas less stressful is to not cook a whole bird. Whole turkeys can be difficult to store and can take a long time to cook. They are easy to overcook or undercook as different parts of the turkey take different lengths of time to cook. Also, cooking a whole turkey can result in lots of waste, as many people prefer the white breast meat to the brown leg and thigh meat. Instead, choose to cook a turkey crown. Breast meat for everyone, easy to cook, no stuffing, and you don’t have to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to get it in the oven. Christmas GravyDuck Breast with Orange SauceRoast Pork with CracklingGolden Crispy Roast PotatoesRhubarb and Apple Sauce Easy Roast Turkey Crown Mary Berry's roast turkey crown with orange and thyme 2.2 kg turkey crown2 tsp thyme leaves (chopped)50 g butter (softened)2 small oranges (one thinly sliced, one cut in half)1-2 tbsp vegetable oil Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6.Loosen the skin on the turkey crown by pushing your fingers (or rubber spatula) between the skin and the meat, moving it around to get to the tricky places and taking care not to tear the skin.Mix the thyme leaves with the softened butter until well combined, then smear the mixture underneath the skin of the bird. Arrange the orange slices in two neat rows under the skin, on top of the herb butter.Place one of the orange halves under the skin at the neck end of the bird, and any orange trimmings in the neck cavity.Transfer the turkey crown to a small roasting tray. Rub all over with the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for about 1½-2 hours, or until the juices run clear when the turkey is pierced in the thickest part with a skewer and no traces of pink remain. During cooking, check the turkey every 30 minutes, baste occasionally and cover with aluminium foil if it is browning too quickly.About 15 minutes before the end of cooking, squeeze the juice from the remaining half-orange over the turkey. Return the turkey to the oven, uncovered, to allow the skin to crisp up.Transfer the turkey crown to a serving platter and set aside to rest, covered in foil, for 30 minutes. Reserve the meat juices left in the roasting tray. Main CourseBritish Mary Berryeasypeasiefoodie.com
This celebration bread from Great British Bake Off’s Kimberley Wilson is perfect party food just made for sharing. Festive filled brioche with baked camembert A festive bread with individually filled buns and a melting cheese middle 4 Eggs (large)20 ml Milk350 g Strong white bread flour7 g Sachet fast-action dried yeast30 g Caster sugar5 g Salt½ tsp Mixed spice200 g Unsalted butter (cubed and softened)1 Egg (beaten with a pinch of salt)Poppy seeds250 g Whole camembert (in a wooden stapled carton)2-3 Thyme sprigsFor the fillings:1 Garlic bulb1 tbsp Sun dried tomato paste½ tbsp Cranberry sauce1 tbsp Mushroom pâtéFor the decoration:30 g Cranberrys (fresh)Rosemary springs or bay leaves The day before:Whisk together the eggs and milk in a jug. Put the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spice in the bowl of a kitchen mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir to combine.On a medium setting, slowly pour in the egg mixture in a steady stream, continuing to stir until incorporated into a very soft, wet dough. Add the butter and increase the speed, kneading for 8-10 minutes. The dough will be ready when it clings around the dough hook. At this stage it will look more like a thick cake batter than bread dough. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Line a baking sheet with foil. Remove any loose outer skins from the garlic bulbs. With a sharp knife, cut off the stem and uppermost part of the cloves. Place on the foil, drizzle over a little olive oil and season. Bring up the edges of the foil and seal to form a fairly tight parcel. Bake in the top of the oven for 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave the parcel sealed until the garlic is cool enough to handle. Remove the cloves by either squeezing the bulb upwards from the base or by teasing them out with a toothpick. Mash the garlic with a fork. Wrap well (to avoid the garlic smell transferring to other foods) and refrigerate.On the day:Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Remove the cheese from its wooden carton and put the cheese back in the fridge until later. Put the carton in the centre of the lined tray.Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into 5 large equal-sized pieces – it can help to roll the dough into an even sausage shape and mark with a knife first to get equal pieces.Take one piece and divide into 5 again. One at a time, roll each of these 5 pieces gently into a ball, flour your index finger and make a small, deep indent in the middle. Fill with half a teaspoon of the roasted garlic, pinching the dough over the top to seal and placing the sealed side down onto the floured surface. Cup your hand over the bun and rotate a little to get an even shape. Repeat until you have filled all 5.Repeat making the dough balls using the 3 remaining fillings and leaving 1 set plain.Arrange the buns around the wooden carton, you’ll need 10 for the inner ring and 15 for the outer ring. Leave around 0.5cm between each bun, giving them room to rise. Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Remove any plastic wrapping or stickers from the cheese. With a small knife, make an incision in the top rim and remove the top layer of rind. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and place in the carton, cut side up. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and scatter with poppy seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Slide onto a serving platter. Decorate with the herbs and fresh cranberries. Serve the extra cheese alongside if using. You can use different fillings for the dough balls to suit your tastes. Apparently, Nutella works well! Side DishFrenchbrioche, camembert, sharing Credits: BBC Good Food
Immortalised in ‘The Christmas Song’ by Nat King Cole, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …” they are part of Christmas tradition. Visiting Trafalgar Square in London to see the Christmas tree is a family tradition going back to my own childhood. Donated annually from the people of Norway to the British people, the tree is given as a thank you for aid provided during the second world war. The smell of roasting chestnuts, originally over an open brazier, now gas fired is irresistable. Roasting chestnuts in a special pan over an open fire Sweet chestnuts (Castanea sativa) were introduced to the UK by the Romans 2000 years ago. Native to, and widely consumed, across Southern Europe since ancient times (its origins are in ancient Greece), the sweet chestnut has been a staple food (especially in Italy) for millennia. FACT: There are 52 sweet chestnuts dating back to the mid-1600s in London’s Greenwich Park. They were planted in avenues by André le Nôtre for King Charles II. The largest has a girth of 7.26m. You can however, quite easily recreate these nutty treats at home. Roasted Sweet Chestnuts Make a batch of roast chestnuts for a festive Christmas treat to share with guests. 16 chestnuts Put each chestnut flat-side down on a chopping board. Hold the chestnut carefully and, using a sharp knife, cut a long slit or a cross in the top. Make sure you cut through the shell but not the nut inside. The shell is tough and flexible like a skin rather than rock hard like other nut shells, so a small kitchen knife works well.Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.Tip the nuts onto a baking sheet or into a roasting tin and arrange them cut-side up. Roast for . The cuts should open up and the shell will start to peel back.Leave the nuts in the tin to cool down to warm – they will be very hot inside. Put a board on top of the tin while they cool to trap the steam and make them easier to peel. Serve as they are for people to peel, or peel them yourself to use in a recipe.If you peel them, you may want to remove the inner, slightly fluffy, membrane as well. If the membrane is difficult to get off (it shouldn’t be if you steam them as they cool), you can soak the nuts in boiling water for a minute to loosen. Drain and peel. SnackBritish Credits: bbcgoodfood.com
Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is the traditional way to welcome the New Year in Spain. The grapes are considered lucky las doce uvas de la suerte (“the 12 lucky grapes”). They are eaten one at a time with each of the twelve chimes of midnight. Clock face on Big Ben Spaniards listen to the bells on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. UK New Years Eve celebrations centre around the bells of Big Ben above the Houses of Parliament in London. Buying Red Underwear for New Years Eve Each grape represents one of the twelve months to follow and the superstitious Spanish believe that you need to wear a piece of red underwear given to you by someone else while eating them to guarantee good luck. Along with the underwear you need to have swallowed all twelve grapes by the final toll of the bell. Various strategies are suggested to make the grape swallowing easier and quicker: Get small green seedless grapesTry not to laugh (not easy)Concentrate on the bongs, you have about 2 seconds for each grapeGet hold of some authentic Spanish tinned seedless peeled grapes.Line up the grapes and pop them in, in tune with the bongsHalve the grapes beforehand (good for children) By the way, stuffing them all in your mouth at once or starting before the first bong is cheating and you may suffer the consequences. Tins 0f 12 Seedless Peeled Grapes If you can down the grapes while under the influence of alcohol, without descending into fits of giggles, and without gagging while all the time wearing the requisite red undergarment then you deserve the good luck they will bring.