Category Archives: christmas recipes

Christmas Recipes…Winter Warmers…

Christmas Recipes Winter Warmers

On a cold Winters Day or just because…..These recipes will warm you right down to your toes.

Hot Chocolate.

hot-chocolate-1 

To serve 2 people:

  • 2 cups of milk.
  • 3 oz of best quality chocolate..either bittersweet or semi-sweet.
  • 1 cinnamon stick.
  • 2-star anise.
  • 2 tsp of honey or Tate and Lyle’s Golden syrup.
  • 1 tsp brown sugar.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 2 tbsp or as you like it of spiced rum or dark rum.

Let’s Cook!

Put the milk in a saucepan with the chocolate broken into pieces, cinnamon stick, honey and sugar and heat very gently until the chocolate has melted.

Add the vanilla extract and using a small hand whisk start whisking, add 1 tbsp of the rum( still whisking) stop long enough to TASTE and add more rum as required for your taste.

Still whisking, add some more sugar if required.

Take out the cinnamon stick and star anise, pour hot chocolate into 2 cappuccino cups or caffè latte cups.

If you are making this for someone who is tee-total or a kiddie omit the rum and add some marshmallows or add marshmallows anyway…Why not? Spoil yourself.

Enjoy!

In the run-up to Christmas, we all want something which is quick and easy to do and when it is cold which warms us up…

Fish Pie can be pastry topped or topped with mashed potato…or just sprinkled with some fresh breadcrumbs for a lighter pie.

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My mum always used to make it topped with potatoes sometimes she sliced them and others she boiled them… I think the slices potatoes look very pretty if you are having someone to dinner but when I am making especially if I am busy then mashed potato fits the bill nicely.

I top with mashed potatoes either sweet potatoes ( which) I love but everyone one else likes the normal mashed potato as they call it…

Ingredients:

For the filling

  • 400 ml whole milk
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500 gm thick white fish fillets, skinned…although if I can I get a pack of mixed fish pieces which includes salmon, smoked fish and other fish and it is very nice.
  • 40 gm butter
  • 40 gm plain flour
  • 150 gm frozen peas/sweetcorn
  • 200 gm large raw prawns, peeled
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

  • 800 gm medium  potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 40 gm  butter, cubed
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 100 gm mature cheddar cheese, grated/ or breadcrumbs and parmesan makes for a nice topping.

Let’s Cook

Preheat the oven to 200C /400F/ Gas 6.

To make the filling, pour the milk into a large pan and add the sliced onion and bay leaves. Season with salt and black pepper.

Place the fish fillets in the pan and bring to a very gentle simmer, cover and cook for two minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand and infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the fish and transfer to a colander over a bowl, then pour the milk into a jug.

Half fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Drain the potatoes and cover with a clean tea towel which absorbs the steam. Mash with the butter, milk and three-quarters of the grated cheese. If I have cream in the fridge and feel a bit decadent then I omit the butter and milk and mash with cream.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To finish the filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually add the infused milk, stirring constantly, and simmer over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in the peas and season with salt and black pepper.

Spread one-third of the sauce into the base of a 1.5 litre/2¾ pint ovenproof dish. Scatter half the fish fillets over the sauce, breaking them into chunky pieces as you go and discarding the onion and bay leaves.

Arrange half the prawns on top of the fish and pour over another third of the sauce. Repeat this with the remaining fish and prawns and finish with the final third of sauce on top.

Spoon the mash over the fish mixture, spreading to the edges with a palette knife. With a fork just take it across the surface and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Sometimes I also slice some tomatoes and arrange them around the side of the dish.

Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling.

Fish Pie Potato topped

Serve with some lemon slices.

Some steamed vegetables can be served if a more substantial meal is required.

N.B This is also a nice recipe and can be made in individual servings just divide the mix between 4 bowls and brown the top for about 15 minutes.

Curries are also a nice warming dish and most can be kept warm so as someone arrives home cold and chilled or just worn out it can be served almost immediately.

One of my all-time favourites is a Duck Curry, not one I make often and when I do I vow to make it more often but generally I make it when I want something a little more special.

I had Duck curry for the first time on a little island just off Phuket, Thailand it is a fiery curry offset by pineapple and tomatoes. Some add lychee as well as pineapple but we found it a little sweet for us but experiment, everyone’s taste is different….I also add some vegetables, mange tout or sugar snap peas maybe a few florets of broccoli..really whatever I have in the fridge.

Let’s Cook!

Duck Curry

Firstly cook your duck breasts, we like ours medium-rare.

Put the duck skin side down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium and cook the duck breasts for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, turn the breasts over and just sear the other side for 1 minute. Turn over so they are breast side up and put in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing the breasts thinly.

  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 10 cherry tomatoes.
  • 6-10 mange tout..or other vegetables of your choice.
  • 100 gm Thai eggplant cut into quarters. ( Pictured below)

SAM_7044

  • 1-2 tbsp red curry paste.
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves torn
  • Bunch Thai basil washed and leaves picked..
  • 2 tsp lime juice.
  • 100gm pea eggplants( Pictured to the right above)

To make sauce put a very tiny drop of oil in the pan over medium heat add your curry paste and stir to cook for 1 min, add fish sauce. Gradually add coconut milk whilst still stirring.

Bring to a slow boil and add torn lime leaves and eggplants cook for 5/6 mins and add tomatoes and pineapple, cook for a further 10 minutes then add mange tout and stir in some Thai basil leaves and lime juice.

Now taste and adjust curry paste if you want more heat. If anything else needs adjusting you can also do that now. Thai flavours are very pronounced and if you get it balanced ..very nice if not…I have had some disasters and I don’t mind admitting that…which is why I always say TASTE and Taste again.

When you are ready to serve then add sliced duck to the sauce and just warm through and serve with some Thai basil over the top and a sliced red chilli if you like.

Serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

christmas-tree merry christmas-3825102_640

I hope you have enjoyed these easy to make Winter Warmers…

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx

 

 

Smorgasbord Health – Christmas Cook From Scratch Rewind – Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cranberries, Sauce, Camembert Puffs, Apple and Cranberry Roast Pork

 

Here is a rewind of the seasonal posts from Smorgasbord Magazine where Sally shares the nutritional benefits of an ingredient and Carol Taylor(Moi) incorporates them in a delicious recipe…Today it’s the Cranberry!

Please head over to Smorgasbord to read about the health benefits of this powerful little red berry and enjoy the recipes…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/12/01/smorgasbord-health-christmas-cook-from-scratch-rewind-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-cranberries-sauce-camembert-puffs-apple-and-cranberry-roast-pork/

 

Christmas Recipes…Naga Vodka Bloody Mary…Cocktails anyone?

 


Christmas is coming only 33 sleeps…Chrismas Pudding(tick), Christmas Cake(tick)…Christmas Cocktails and drinks …they need to be tested and triple-tested (Hic)

Guess who got a bottle of Naga Vodka? A few of them might bring the New Year in with a

explosion-147931_640

In the meantime, I will give you some lovely recipes which don’t pack quite so much of a punch…As this might…

So come on own up has anyone been brave enough to try this??

Next one of my Favourites…

Limoncello:

limoncello

Ingredients:

  • I litre bottle of your favourite vodka
  • 10 Lemons
  • 5 cups of water
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar

Let’s Brew!

Well, lets cook wasn’t really appropriate …Was it???

First, wash and peel those lemons and put the peels in a glass container ( big) enough to also hold the litre of vodka.

Leave to soak for at least 10 days. then drain off the liquid and dispose of the peels.

Make a syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water, cool and add to the lemon/vodka mixture. using a clean coffee filter strain the liquid…Voila!

You now have your own homemade Limoncello…Enjoy!

This one is a lovely non-alcoholic apple-based drink.

  • 200 ml apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 mace blade
  • 2 whole cloves
  • small strip fresh ginger
  • 1 clementine with the peel very finely zested.
  •  100 gm golden castor sugar

Let’s Cook!

Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, clementine zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.

Refrigerate until required and serve in a glass with some apple slices and ice or warm with a stick of cinnamon it is also lovely drizzled over ice cream.

My favourite Tanqueray Gin no less and a tonic recipe ..you will never ever pull that metal ring and pour it over your gin again…This is sublime, the ultimate in a mixer and just what gin deserves and no I am not including the recipe for you…you will have to pop over to Chez’s blog and find it…haha…….Now you can all guess what I will be making this weekend 😉 If I can get Cinchona bark which gives the quinine flavour of tonic…..but Chez has it covered if you can’t she has given us the link to a man who can!

Who doesn’t love a glass of Irish Cream over ice??

Irish Cream:

Ingredients: Makes about 1 litre.

  • 1 2/3 cup(400 ml) Irish Whiskey
  • 1 cup double(heavy) cream
  • 1  14oz can sweetened condensed milk…
  • 3 tbsp Chocolate syrup or chocolate topping..
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.

Cooks Tips: Irish Cream or Baileys is now sold in many flavours which means you can be inventive…Below are a few ideas…You can also make a dairy-free version which is equally as good…

  1. Replace the coffee and chocolate syrup with Kahlua.
  2. Add orange extract and extra chocolate.
  3. For a dairy-free version use coconut milk to make sweetened condensed milk and then use coconut milk instead of cream.
  4. Use Drambuie instead of coffee and add some Cointreau and a spot more chocolate sauce.
  5. if you don’t have chocolate syrup, use 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder instead. I suggest whisking the cocoa powder with a tbsp of cream until smooth.
  6. Your alcohol…your choice how about Southern Comfort and Amaretto. Brandy… it was awesome! or Bourbon.

Let’s Brew!

Blend all ingredients(except) for the alcohol) together lightly as you don’t want to curdle your cream add your alcohol and then refrigerate.

Serve cold and or over Ice…or buy some pretty glass bottles add a bow and a message…Now, who wouldn’t love to receive that as a Christmas Gift?

How easy is that? plus …you can get about 4 batches from one bottle of  Irish Whiskey so by my reckoning that’s a real saving and lots of Irish Cream which we tested alongside Bailey’s and it was very close…yay……

Bloody Mary’s… just saying! One of my favourite cocktails and this Naga Vodka which my son bought me apparently the best way to drink it is in a Bloody Mary.. Shots are not advised! I am waiting until New Year’s Eve until I sample it ….Have any of you been that brave and tried Naga Vodka yet ????

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 ¼ cups of tomato juice
  • 1 ¼ cups of vodka ( or thereabouts) Hic
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 2 tsp Tabasco sauce or peri  peri sauce
  • 2 tsp Lea & Perrins sauce ( Worcestershire sauce)
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 stalks of celery with leaves.

Let’s Brew!

Combine everything together in a jug or cocktail shaker and TASTE… this is where I adjust and give it a tweak or two…I make my own tomato juice and as tomatoes vary so does the TASTE….It is a fine art and needs much testing to get this just right …Hic
Chill in the fridge until required… this recipe makes about 6 glasses.

To serve.

Add some ice to a chilled glass and fill with the Bloody Mary mix…pop in your celery stick and a slice of lime and or some olives and if you are feeling really….well… If you have some bacon to use up then crisp it up and stick a slice in with the celery… Anything goes when I am making cocktails.

I love the taste of Chai Tea so when I saw this recipe for a Chai Tea Egg Nog I thought…Yes, please!

 

How about a Winter Sangria?

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) of red wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 cup (237 ml) brandy
  • 1 cup (237 ml) pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup (237 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 pomegranate, arils removed
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick

In a large jug or serving bowl, stir together the wine, brandy, pomegranate juice, and orange juice. Add orange slices, pomegranate arils, cranberries and cinnamon stick. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Serve with ice cubes.

Enjoy!

On a cold winter’s day a mug or three of mulled wine will warm the cockles of your heart…I have many fond memories and the mug of my trip to the German Christmas Markets and my mugs of Gluewein…Just in case you missed it the recipe can be found on my Christmas Treats and Traditions post.

https://carolcooks2.com/2018/12/14/christmas-traditions-treats-and-a-little-trivia/

All of these could be given as a lovely Christmas present and everyone loves a gift which is made by your own fair hands much nicer isn’t it????

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx

Christmas Crafts…D.I.Y crackers, Advent Calendars…Sweet Mincemeat…

 

 

This is the first of my Christmas posts…Sorry but some things have to be made sooner rather than later if we are going to have the greenest most recyclable Christmas ever…

After all, there are only… 1,193 hours to #Christmas! 71,526 minutes to #Christmas! 4,291,535 seconds to #Christmas! at this moment in time… or quite simply put 50 sleeps.

This year I am going to make crackers and an advent calendar…My crackers could be a problem as no one ships here they are classed as explosives by customs…I have found a tutorial which means stripping down those champagne poppers which could work…I think I will enlist the help of my grandson and let you know or if you don’t hear from me he has blown us up…haha…

For those of you who can purchase cracker snaps through Amazon or Etsy here is a tutorial…

Fir cones…we used to collect lots as a child and then they were made into pretty table decorations, wreaths for the front door or decorations for the tree they look so pretty spray painted or sprayed with artificial snow, unfortunately, I cannot get them here but for those of you who can then…Have fun creating and please share your pictures…

Homemade advent calendars…again something which I cannot get here or get easily…One year I can last year I couldn’t so this year I am going to make my own…

This video has some great ideas and even for your pets…

I hope you find some good ideas here…If we all started to make our own recyclable decorations, it would save us money and so much unwanted plastic and paper ending up in landfill…The figures are horrendous…It also makes them so much more personal …Just think how much pleasure they will bring and how much fun you will have finding that special little gift…

Lastly, just in case you missed it and haven’t made your sweet mincemeat yet here is the recipe again…

Don’t forget… on the 21st of November…Stirup Sunday‘, so put on your apron and gather family or friends to make a Christmas pudding. It’s the day when wishes are said to come true, so get stirring! Christmas is approaching, and to us, that means one thing: Stirup Sunday.

That’s all for today I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any ideas please share ..Tomorrow it is Saturday Snippets…please join me for a touch of nostalgia…xx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a lovely weekend xx

Saturday Snippets…’Tis the Saturday before Christmas 19th December 2020…

Welcome to Saturday Snippets where I engage my whimsey and kitsch well it is that time of year…Christmas is not celebrated here and there are even fewer nods to Christmas here in the North of Thailand …I do believe Christmas is for kiddies and try to keep the magic going although this year methinks Covid has highjacked any hopes of buying anything the least bit festive …I do however have some festive parcels on the way from family and a dear friend to look forward to…x

In my kitchen:

What’s been cooking in my kitchen this week? A lovely chicken massaman curry...one-pot cooking is the way to go, my Christmas ham is brining nicely and if you haven’t started yours its not too late a loin of pork only takes between 5-6 days so you just have time, my Christmas cake has had its final drink of Brandy which means today or tomorrow I will be making Marzipan…As it is National Pear month I have pickled some pears this week there was also quite a lot of the beautiful syrup over…and not one to be wasteful I have popped it in a little jar and will use it as a glaze for when we cook pork.

Pickled Pears:

  • Orange zest and juice
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Juniper Berries lightly crushed
  • 10 cloves
  • 5cm fresh ginger sliced thinly
  • 800 fl oz cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 kg of  raw brown sugar
  • 2 kg pears peeled and quartered or cut into 8 depending on the size of the pears.

Let’s Pickle!

Put all the ingredients in a pan except for the pears, cook on a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved add the peeled and cut pear halves and cook for 15-20 minutes until they are tender.

Pears cooking in the syrup.

Remove the pears from the pan and drain, keep to one side and boil the syrup rapidly until it has reduced by about a 1/3 and is slightly thickened.

Put the pears in warm sterilised jars and add the syrup covering the pears. Seal tightly and leave for about 2 weeks and then enjoy with cheese and or your favourite meat.

N.B. Cooks Notes...I halved the recipe as it was the first time I had pickled pears it made 2 jars of pickles and I had some syrup over…the original recipe used all-spice berries which I didn’t have so I used Juniper berries…

I also made my last bread pudding of the year and added some cranberries to the mix to give it a festive pop it is really lovely those cranberries add that little pop of tartness…The last of my bananas I made into some banana muffins…and some latkes with a tropical twist... they were very nice the recipe came from a dear fellow blogger… Dolly from koolkosherkitchen…

Tropical Latkes

Please pop over to her blog ..say hello she will make you very welcome and have a look at her recipes they are all delicious and easy to follow.

Hubby also informed me that instead of wasting the banana skins he will be making some fertilizer for the garden with them…he is finding some new skills and for a man who at 74 is the proud possessor of his first electronic device…a man who won’t have a mobile phone and has never in his life used an Atm it is not bad going …

Since I have been baking my own bread I find I am not getting the leftovers which I have always kept in a bag in the freezer for when I want to make bread pudding or breadcrumbs…not sure that is a good thing neither does hubby as he is wondering why he had added a couple of pounds…eating too much bread and cakes is the culprit…x

Did you know? The Night of the Radishes” is one of the annual Christmas customs in Oaxaca, Mexico. On December 23rd, The Night of the Radishes (Noche de Los Rábanos in Spanish) is an annual event in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, dedicated to the carving of oversized radishes. The event has its origins in the colonial period when radishes were introduced by the Spanish. Oaxaca has a long wood carving tradition and farmers began carving radishes into figures as a way to attract customers’ attention at the Christmas market, which was held in the main square on December 23. In 1897, the city created the formal competition. As the city has grown, the city has had to dedicate land to the growing of the radishes as the event has become very popular attracting over 100 contestants and thousands of visitors. However, since the radishes wilt soon after cutting the works can only be displayed for a number of hours, which has led to very long lines for those wishing to see the works.

♦♦♦♦♦

Let’s have some music…A tune or two…

Silent Night is one of my all-time favourite Christmas Carol’s  The song has been recorded by many singers across many music genres… “Silent Night” has been recorded at least 733 times over the past 36 years alone.

This weeks rendition is from  Jonas Kaufmann –

Conservation Corner:

Depending on where you live in the world some of you are going to have a white Christmas…Well, FORGET FROSTED GRASS and snow-covered windowsills, in Australia it’s the Christmas beetle that heralds the start of the festive season. They are so pretty with their metallic coats.

The metallic scarabs are synonymous with summer Down Under – or at least they used to be.

Research, however, suggests that  Australia’s endemic Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus) population is on the decline.

Entomologist Dr Chris Reid, from the Australian Museum, attributes the drop in sightings to drier than usual spring weather, especially along the coast of New South Wales.

Christmas beetles in the greater Sydney region have also been victims of urban sprawl, with species disappearing from the city’s west due to much of their natural habitat being used for development.

I know people have to live in houses but urban sprawl has a lot to answer for and more care and research should be undertaken before permission to develop has been given or provision should be made to keep wildlife disruption to a minimum…Most cannot readjust.

THE  NATURAL habitat for Christmas beetles is woodland, where there are plenty of trees and rich soil. The larvae develop in the soil, and remain there as curl grubs, feeding on grass and plant roots, as well as the surface roots of eucalypts.

As fully grown adults, they mainly eat eucalyptus leaves but are known to consume the foliage of introduced species, such as the peppercorn tree.

The reason we only see these colourful insects during the festive season has nothing to do with Saint Nick aka Santa and there was you thinking it did…Ha Ha

BUT the end of spring and start of summer is when the larvae hatch out. The adults aren’t active during the winter months; they are larvae only during those months. When the adults are spotted during the Christmas month they’re at the stage of laying eggs.

This time of year is also mating season.

Christmas Beetle. 1

Image by John Vossen from Pixabay

If you are lucky enough to see them during the day on young eucalypts… they’re usually in clusters trying to mate, with the males pushing each other off the females.

They are very pretty though and Christmassy …Don’t you think?

The information about the Christmas Beetle came from Australia’s National Geographic Magazine.

Bloggers Corner:

As you know I love Christmas Carol’s and Christmas Adverts…I have only quite recently started following Clive who is posting a daily Christmas Advent Calendar…which consists of two tracks and a comic strip…While I love Christmas songs like Clive I don’t like listening to overpaid diva’s screaming them out…Clive has introduced me to artists who were mostly previously unknown to me and are well worth a listen…some tracks are quite beautiful…some very funny and some you will only wish to listen to maybe once a year…This one is a Cappella (which) I love…and it’s funny they remind me a little of the Barber Shop Boys.

Please pop over to say hello to Clive and have a listen there are so many tunes and such a variety…you are guaranteed to come away with a smile on your face…

Finally today …Christmas Adverts: Spoiler Alert you will need tissues…a box x

That’s all for this week and Saturday Snippetts next week it will be all over…

Have a great weekend …please stay safe and shop online where you can or a homemade gift are the ones which show how much you really care…Early next week I will have a few ideas of homemade gifts that can be made in your kitchen…

Stay safe and well, have fun and laugh a lot as laughter is surely the best medicine and its free…xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas dinner for one…Part One.

I know Christmas for many people for a variety of reasons and Covid…sigh… social isolating and bubbles which could mean Christmas dinner for one…

Christmas in a household of 4, for example, may mean a few compromises…especially if there is a fussy eater…then we get the TV and the music…maybe the games there is always a sore loser…

Christmas for one...means you can indulge yourself with your food choices…TV or music…your choice…there is no one to hog and eat all the best chocolates…less washing up and clearing away…you can veg out on the sofa after dinner…you can take a nap, read a book and eat chocolate, have a choice of TV channels, your choices are endless…It sounds close to heaven on earth to me…

What’s for dinner then? 

You could ask your butcher to cut you small lamb rack of 2/3 lamb cutlets and make a lovely crumb… its fairly quick to cook,

A nice piece of steak with new potatoes and a salad or a beautiful red wine sauce.

Pork fillet with a nice peppercorn sauce.

Salmon with new potatoes and asparagus.

A small turkey crown or a stuffed turkey thigh…

I did think about a nice quail, pigeon or venison but my son told me that they could be quite difficult to cook if you weren’t familiar with the cooking of them so, I discarded that thought unless of course, you are a cordon bleu chef and then it is a doddle.

If you just want traditional then here’s how…

A traditional Christmas dinner for one…

Ingredients:

  • 3 pork chipolata sausages
  • 1 small apple, cored, ½ grated, ½ cut into wedges
  • 4 walnut halves, chopped
  • 2 slices brown bread, chopped into small pieces
  • pinch of dried sage
  • 1 skinless chicken breast
  • 4 rashers streaky bacon
  • 5 Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 2 small potatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium parsnip, trimmed
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, or sunflower oil
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 250ml red wine
  • 250ml beef or chicken stock (can be made with 1/2 stock cube)

Let’s Cook Christmas Dinner:

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Squeeze the meat from one of the chipolatas into a bowl, discarding the skin. Put the grated apple in a clean tea towel and squeeze out any excess liquid, then add to the sausagemeat with the walnuts, a quarter of the bread and the sage. Season, then combine using your hands and form into a fat sausage shape.

Cut a long slit in the chicken breast lengthways on one side, being careful not to cut it in half (you should be able to open it up like a book). Stuff the chicken breast with the stuffing sausage, then wrap two of the bacon rashers around it so it’s fully enclosed, securing it with a couple of cocktail sticks.

Put the stuffed chicken breast in a large roasting tin. Wrap the remaining bacon rashers around the remaining chipolatas and add to the tin around the chicken.

Christmas lunch would be the same without our pigs in blankets although I did see a recipe the other day for ducks in duvets which I found amusing…That recipe is for another day.

Add the apple wedges, sprouts and potatoes to the roasting tin. Cut the parsnip in half lengthways and put it, cut-side down, on a chopping board. Make very thin, close cuts into the parsnip halves that go almost but not fully through just to fancy it up like a Hasselback potato it is Christmas after all…

Transfer to the roasting tin with the garlic and two of the bay leaves. Drizzle over the oil and season everything with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-45 mins, or until everything is cooked through. Brush the vegetables in the oil and meat juices once or twice near the end of the cooking time. 

Now a traditional Christmas dinner would not be the same without bread sauce…which we can make while waiting for the meat and veggies to cook.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan with the remaining bay leaf, the cloves and shallot. Heat gently for 5-6 mins, stirring occasionally, or until the shallot is starting to soften. Strain the milk into a heatproof jug, reserving the shallot and discarding the bay leaf and cloves. Return the milk to the pan with the remaining bread and cook, stirring, until you have a thick, porridge-like sauce. Add half the butter and stir until melted, then season, remove from the heat and set aside. 

That’s the bread sauce done…x

Time for a glass of wine…

Now slice the reserved shallot, then add to a frying pan with the rest of the butter. Fry until just golden, then pour in the balsamic vinegar. Continue to cook until the vinegar has reduced and is thick and sticky, then add the wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, then stir in the stock and bubble until the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened. 

Gently reheat the bread sauce. Slice half the chicken (reserving the rest for leftovers) and put on a plate with the pigs in blankets and the roast apple, sprouts, potatoes and parsnip. Drizzle over the red wine gravy and serve with the pickled red cabbage and cranberry and bread sauces on the side. 

Serve with cranberry sauce and my spiced red cabbage. This red cabbage can be made in advance it freezes well and keeps in the fridge well for at least 2/3 weeks. You can make as little or as much as you like by adjusting the recipe and it also pairs well with a roast dinner so there will some left if you are cooking for one for a few other meals.

Enjoy!

Until next time stay safe and well and have a joyous festive season…xxx