Thank you to everyone who made such lovely comments on my vegetarian Christmas menu it was a menu of dishes I cook at home but apart from devising a menu for home, I don’t publish a menu as a general rule.
This week’s menu is a mix of the traditional with a couple of other dishes thrown in…I always like to make at least one new dish every Christmas some I never make again as they were ok…Just not that memorable…You know what I mean, don’t you…?
As far back as I can remember Prawn Cocktail has been a must-have for our Christmas starter…..One year I fancied a change and we had a fantastic fresh seafood platter with Oysters, Langoustines everything you could think of and some Thai dips made by the daughter in Law…The only way to…eat Oysters.
But we also had to have Prawn Cocktail….I think I would get lynched if I didn’t make it and the sauce has evolved over the years. This is one of our family traditions a topic which Norah was talking about on her blog today…How as we enjoy another Christmas we trot out the traditions some of which are passed down through the generations like the prawn cocktail…my mother used to make it and now I do and my children, of course, the recipe has evolved we also make new traditions as our children grow up and our families evolve…
I now add horseradish for that extra bite. Some add Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce but we like it with just horseradish and I use Salad cream instead of mayonnaise. Sometimes I mix the two it just depends on how I feel on the day. But as with anything it is personal taste so play with the sauce and find how you like it best.
• 500gm of Cooked Prawns, peeled.
• 4 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
• 5 tbsp Salad Cream or mayonnaise or a mixture of both.
• 2-4 tsp hot Horseradish Sauce.
• Salt and freshly ground Pepper.
• 3 tsp Lime Juice.
• Shredded Iceberg lettuce
Tomatoes sliced, Paprika pepper, Extra prawns …I leave the tails on these.
Mix tomato ketchup, salad cream together. Add horseradish sauce, lime juice, salt and black pepper.
At this stage, I taste and adjust the seasoning and add more of whatever I need to…. generally horseradish.
Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
To serve: Put some shredded lettuce in individual serving dishes with cucumber if using. Put a generous serving of the cocktail sauce on top. Sprinkle with Paprika. Garnish the dish with Prawns, A slice of lemon and tomatoes if using.
Crab, Coconut, Chilli and Coriander Soup.
I use fresh crab for this soup as it is readily available and picked here but you could use tinned crab.
• 500 gm crab meat
• 4 cups of crab or fish stock
• 1 large tomato chopped and peeled
• 1 cup of coconut milk
• 1 onion finely chopped
• 1 celery stick chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic crushed
• 1 fresh red chilli, chopped and seeded ( if req) I don’t
• 2 tbsp of olive oil
• Juice of 1 lime
• Salt to taste
• 3 tbsp of freshly chopped coriander
• Lime wedges and hot chilli oil to serve.
Heat the oil in a pan over low heat. Stir in the onions and celery and saute for about 5 mins until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and the chilli stir to combine well and cook for a further 2 mins.
Add the tomato and half of the coriander and turn up the heat and cook stirring for 3 minutes then add the stock. Bring to a soft rolling boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the crab and the coconut milk and simmer for a further 5 mins.
The soup should be thick but not too thick so add some water if required.
Stir in the lime juice and remaining coriander and season as required with salt.
Serve in hot bowls with the chilli oil and lime wedges on the side.
• 160 gm of cooked beetroot.
• 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp of double cream
For Fried Capers:
• 10 capers
• Oil to fry about 3 tbsp.
For the crispbread:
• 2 very thin slices of stale bread
• 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Make the crispbreads by cutting the bread into squares allow 3 to 4 squares per person.
Heat the grill on its highest setting and put the bread on a tray and drizzle with the oil. Grill on each side for 1-2 mins until crisp and golden being careful not to burn (like I did)
To make the tartare, finely chop half the beetroot and blitz the other half with the olive oil to make a rough paste, and then combine with the chopped beetroot and cream and season to taste.
Rinse the capers and pat dry then heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat add the capers and fry for 30 seconds until they have started to open up then drain on kitchen paper.
To serve: Place a 6-8cm ring on a plate and put in some beetroot mix then remove the ring.
Garnish with capers and the crispbread.
Pigs in Blankets. – Christmas dinner would not be complete without them, would it?
• 8 thin slices smoked bacon
• 16 chipolata sausages
• I tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tbsp clear honey.
Mix honey, thyme and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl, add sausages and make sure they are coated in the mix. Cut bacon down the middle longways. Wrap bacon around sausages.
To freeze now put in a container and separate the layers with greaseproof then remove from the freezer on Christmas morning and cook as below
Put sausages on a baking sheet well spaced apart.
Cook on 180 for about 30 minutes until nicely browned and bacon is crispy.
Crispy Roast Potatoes.
I always parboil my potatoes and give them a good shake before putting them into a hot pan with some duck fat and roast…Basting and turning every 30 minutes until nice and golden.
To jazz your roasties up a little add some herb butter, garlic and or rosemary sprigs.
Christmas dinner would not be the same without a bowl of Brussel sprouts and there are many ways you can cook these lovely little cabbages and even people who don’t like sprouts …Love them!
My spicy pan-fried Brussels come very close or top depending on whether you are bacon or a chilli fan…
I love just plain little Brussels lightly steamed or boiled with my Christmas dinner. Sautéed with bacon they are to die for…
This recipe serves 4 people.
• 1lb of Brussel sprouts trimmed and halved
• 1 tbsp of olive oil
• 1-2 garlic cloves
• 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
• 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
• 6 shallots peeled and quartered
• Chilli flakes and chopped fresh chives to garnish.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and shallots and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the shallots just start to turn golden.
Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and add the sprouts. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes over medium heat then reduce the heat and cover the pan, cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until the sprouts are almost tender.
Sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar and let it cook just for a few seconds. Season the sprouts to taste with salt and cracked black pepper.
Garnish with chilli flakes and chopped chives.
A beautiful side dish with your Christmas dinner.
Broccoli with red chilli and anchovies.
• 300 gm tender stem broccoli, trimmed and cut lengthways
• 3 tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 Onion finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic crushed
• 2 anchovy fillets drained and finely chopped
• 1 red chilli finely chopped
• Juice of half a lime
• Parmesan shavings
Blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes in boiling water and then drain. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is golden brown.
Add the garlic, anchovies and red chilli and cook for 1 minute.
Add the blanched broccoli and fry for 2-3 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
Squeeze over the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper and toss together.
Top with parmesan shavings
Bacon, Chestnut and Cranberry Christmas Stuffing.
• 450g sausage meat
• 2 rashers unsmoked back bacon, cut into strips
• 100g dried cranberries
• 50ml ruby port
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 50g butter
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 140g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 140g peeled, cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
• 1 medium egg, beaten
Soak the cranberries in the port for an hour.
Fry the onion and bacon gently in the butter, until the onion is tender and the bacon is cooked.
Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.
Cool slightly, and then mix with all the remaining ingredients, including the cranberries and port, adding enough egg to bind I find it easiest to use my hands so get those hands in and mix thoroughly.
Next, I do a little tester; in fact, I generally do that with all my stuffing as it is the only way to tell if the seasoning is correct. Fry a knob of stuffing in a little butter, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
This stuffing can be baked in a dish or rolled into balls that will be crisp on the outside and moist inside.
Bake in a greased dish at 190C/gas 5/fan 170C for about 40 minutes, until browned and, in the case of sausage meat stuffing, cooked right through.
Alternatively, roll into balls that are about 4cm in diameter. Roast the stuffing balls in hot fat (they can be tucked around the turkey or done in a roasting tin of their own) for 30-40 minutes, until crisp and nicely browned on the outside.
• 3 cups or 12oz of cranberries.
• The juice of 2 large Oranges.
• A cup of sugar.
• 1 stick of cinnamon.
Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan, bring to the boil and turn down so it is still a rolling boil and cook for 10 mins if ( using) frozen berries or 20 minutes if using fresh cranberries as they will take a bit longer to pop.
Allow mixture to cool and put in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Freeze the breadcrumbs ready to use (I always) keep a bag of frozen breadcrumbs in the freezer. The sauce can be made the day before and reheated on the day… I have been surprised living here that many people have not heard of bread sauce my mum always made it at Christmas we couldn’t have turkey without bread sauce…
About half loaf of good quality stale white bread either broken into smallish pieces or can blitz into breadcrumbs if you like a smoother sauce.
• I brown Onion peeled and studded with cloves.
• 2 bay leaves.
• Salt & Pepper.
• About half-pint of milk.
Pour milk into a saucepan and add the clove-studded onion. Slowly bring to boil and turn down and let gently simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
When cool remove Onion and bay leaves. This can be reheated to serve or made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. It is quite a thick consistency so if too thin add some more bread if too thick some more milk.
If it was down to me and there were only two of us for Christmas Dinner then I would have something like this lovely quail with Juniper Sauce.
Juniper Berry Sauce:
• 1 banana shallot peeled and finely chopped.
• 8 juniper berries very lightly crushed.
• 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped.
• 1/2 tsp sugar
• 200 ml white burgundy or a dry white wine.
• 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 40 gm butter
• 25 gm flour
• 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves.
• 3oo ml venison stock
• 100 ml double cream
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Put the shallot, garlic, sugar, white wine vinegar, juniper berries, white wine and the fresh thyme in a pan and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes this needs to reduce to about 2 tbsp.
In another pan melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Strain your wine reduction through a fine sieve and still whisking…we don’t want a lumpy sauce now do we? Add the wine reduction….keep whisking!
Pick out the juniper berries from the strained mix in your sieve and add to the sauce. Keep whisking and add the stock slowly ….to the sauce a ladle at a time. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon.
Finally, pour in the cream and bring to a very slow simmer. Remove from the heat and season. The sauce can be used immediately or reheated when it is needed.
This is a beautiful sauce over when poured over a luscious piece of beautifully cooked venison or my favourite quail… if you have guests for dinner or just for the two of you for that special occasion.
Christmas Dinner would not be complete without a little bit of Christmas Pudding and I love to see the Christmas Pudding flaming as we pour over the brandy it looks so nice.
For those of you who don’t like Christmas pudding or want a lighter dessert this lovely crème caramel fits the bill perfectly.
For the caramel
• 160g/6oz sugar
• unsalted butter for greasing the ramekins
For the custard
• 4 free-range eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 25g/1oz caster sugar
• 600ml/1 pint full-fat milk
• pouring cream, to serve ( optional)
Pre-heat oven 150C/300F/Gas 2.
Warm the ramekins in the oven, so they are warm when the caramel is poured in.
First, make the caramel. Pour the sugar and six tablespoons of water into a clean stainless steel pan.
Dissolve the sugar slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon over low heat.
When there are no sugar granules left, stop stirring and boil until the sugar turns a dark copper colour.
Remove immediately from the heat to ensure the caramel does not burn. Quickly pour the caramel into the warmed ramekins.
Set aside to cool and become hard. (Do not put in the fridge because the sugar will absorb moisture and go soft and tacky).
Once hard, butter the sides of the ramekins above the level of the caramel.
For the custard
Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract and caster sugar together in a bowl until well mixed.
Pour the milk into a saucepan, gently heat over low heat until you can still just dip your finger in for a moment, then strain the milk through a fine sieve onto the egg mixture in the bowl.
Whisk together until smooth, and then pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins.
Stand the ramekins in a roasting tin and fill the tin half-way with boiling water from a kettle.
Cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the custard has set.
Do not overcook the custard – check around the edges of the dishes, to make sure no bubbles are appearing.
Take the crème caramels out of the oven, remove the ramekins from the tray and set on a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge overnight so that the caramel is absorbed into the custard.
To serve, loosen the sides of the custard by tipping the ramekin and loosen with a small palette knife around the edges. Place a serving dish on top of the ramekin and turn upside down. Serve with pouring cream or decorate with some fruit…
I hope you find something to like about this menu and that one of these dishes will be your new addition to your Christmas menu xxx