My Perfect Christmas dinner – sides

My perfect Christmas Dinner – sides

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides. A perfect Christmas roast turkey dinner isn’t a perfect Christmas dinner for me without the stuffing, gravy, roast potatoes, and the rest of the sides. Honey roast parsnips, buttered carrots and today’s recipes braised red cabbage, Brussel sprouts and of course cranberry sauce.

My perfect Christmas dinner -Braised Red Cabbage

Braised red cabbage is a beautifully versatile accompaniment to a host of winter dishes pies, casseroles and stews, seasonal roasts such as venison and game birds. You can adjust / experiment with the recipe and adapt it to suit whatever you are serving it with.

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides – Braised Red Cabbage
You can experiment and add a large grated cooking apple to your recipe and braise in cider, replace the redcurrent jelly for cranberry sauce or add a small handfully of raisins to the pan at the start of cooking.

Stir Fry Brussel Sprouts

We all love Brussel sprouts and I am sure you will too if you follow this simple recipe.
If you bought your sprouts are on the stalk, twist each one off. Remove any discoloured or damaged leaves. Next, trim the base and cut an larger ones in half. Wash and drain.

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides – Brussel Sprouts

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the Brussel sprouts. Remove after five minutes and plunge into cold, iced water. This stops the brussels over cooking. Drain thoroughly. To serve heat two heaped tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan with a splash of olive oil. Toss the brussels in the pan over a medium-high heat for three to four minutes until thoroughly heated but still a little crunchy. Season well, top with a few toasted flaked almonds and serve.

My perfect Christmas dinner – cranberry sauce

My perfect Christmas Dinner – Sides – Cranberry Sauce

This is my go to recipe for a delicious homemade Cranberry sauce. It may seem quite a lot but it goes just as well a roast chicken or in a cold turkey sandwich.

I promise you will never go back to cranberry sauce from a shop again once you have tried this.

Linzer Biscuits – Traditional Christmas Baking

Mixed Jam Linzer biscuits
Assorted Linzer Biscuits

What are Linzer Biscuits?

A Linzertorte is a tart made using a rich buttery sable pastry. Popular at Christmas the pastry is flavoured with almond, cinnamon and lemon zest. Traditionally the pastry case is then filled with blackcurrant jam and topped with a lattice pastry top. The first recipe for Linzertorte dates back to Austrian in 1653. Linzer biscuits are made with the same sable pastry which is cut into rounds and baked.

The top biscuit often has a small cut out which allows the jam or fruit preserve to be seen when two biscuits are sandwiched together with jam in between. The finished biscuits are dusted with icing sugar. While the traditional cut out is circular, all sorts of shapes, such as hearts and stars, are also popular. The biscuit is popular across America and Europe and is also named as Empire or Belgium biscuits in the United Kingdom.

Empire Biscuits

What is Sable Pastry?

Sable pastry is a rich butter type of sweet pastry similar to classic shortbread. The recipe for shortbread, however, does not contain eggs. Sable pastry or including the version in the recipe below is perfect for Christmas biscuits which can be decorated with Royal icing and hung on your Christmas tree.

Christmas Biscuits.jpg

Start your Christmas Culinary Countdown on Stir up Sunday

Stir up Sunday

Stir up Sunday? Christmas Culinary Countdown? What is that I hear you cry? Well this Sunday is thirty days before Christmas and a week before Advent. Advent, yes the thing with the calendar! Stir up Sunday is a Victorian tradition where the family gathered together to make the Christmas pudding or plum duff. The tradition is believed to originated from families listening to the collect for the day from the Book of Common Prayer for this particular day;

 ‘ Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. ’

Advent is observed in Christian churches as a time of waiting and preparing for the Nativity.  Advent is derived from the Latin for “coming”. So your pudding is bound in the Christian Christmas tradition. And you thought Advent was all about a calendar with little doors and chocolate. So this special time would seem good enough for me to be the perfect start posting my Christmas recipes.

A Christmas Countdown

I am going to post lots of recipes in the run up to Christmas. A collection of classic dishes and a few unexpected twists in case you don’t like Turkey, so that you will be able to cook up a cracker of a Christmas. In this post you will find lots of ideas for home baking this festive season.

Get your Christmas Bake On

Lets look at a couple of the iconic Christmas recipes the Christmas pudding and the fruit cake. Now you don’t have to be scared or be a baker capable of winning the Great British Bake Off to make a great Christmas pudding or cake. As you will see it is really about preparation and making in advance.

Just click on the dish name for the recipe.

Aunty Mary’s Christmas Pudding

“This recipe is from one of my culinary inspirations my Aunty Mary, a brilliant cook, it really is the best I’ve ever encountered with lots of dried fruits, citrus peel and good soaking in some good beer, and now I work for a brewery how the circle has turned. We used to spend most of the day sorting through the dried raisins and sultanas to make sure there were no small stones in the bags, then they would be left overnight in stout.”

Christmas fruit cake

“For those of you who like to be organised now is an ideal time to start to prepare your Classic Fruit Cake for the festive season and start preparing your Christmas pudding and your mincemeat. This is my go-to recipe for fruitcake, rich and flavoursome enough for a christening or wedding cake or our family Christmas Cake, it is a sufficiently sturdy bake to carry the weight of marzipan and icing and can be used in tiers.”

Sable pastry Christmas cookies
Sable pastry Christmas biscuits

Christmas Biscuits

“My Christmas biscuits or cookies are a definite family favourite. They are great if you want to make something with your children to decorate the Christmas tree. But don’t worry they are very tasty too.”

Mixed Jam Linzer biscuits
Assorted Linzer Biscuits

Linzer Biscuits

Linzer biscuits are made with sable pastry which is cut into rounds and baked. The top biscuit often has a small cut out which allows the jam or fruit preserve to be seen when two biscuits are sandwiched together with jam in between. The finished biscuits are dusted with icing sugar


Biscotti

“Biscotti or cantucci ( most commonly used in Tuscany ) are delicious twice-baked Italian biscuits. They are usually made with almonds. Traditionally they are served with a sweet Italian dessert wine called Vin Santo. You might also find them on the side of a cappuccino or latte. To be honest I’m very happy dipping them in nothing more than a mug of tea. We always make several batches at home, in December, as they are a wonderful handmade small gift at Christmas time.”

Sweet pastry mince pies

Homemade Buttery Mince Pies

“Mince pies are a peculiarly British individual pie now eaten across the English speaking world. They are traditionally served over the Christmas period. Although in America they are more likely to be made in large tart cases and eaten at Thanksgiving. It is thought the name is derived from mince meat and preserved fruit pies first bought back during the crusades. These would have been quite heavily spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. “

Classic Christmas Cake

My Classic Fruit Cake Recipe – Crumbs it’s that time of year again!

For those of you who like to be organised now is an ideal time to start to prepare your Classic Fruit Cake for the festive season and start preparing your Christmas pudding, and your mincemeat. This is my go-to recipe for fruitcake, rich and flavoursome enough for a christening or wedding cake or our family Christmas Cake, it is a sufficiently sturdy bake to carry the weight of marzipan and icing and can be used in tiers.

Classic Christmas Cake
Classic rich Fruit Cake

It is a real favourite and we bake at least one a month, it is a great match for a nice crumbly cheese like Wensleydale or Caerphilly. I haven’t specified the dried fruit you can use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, apricots, cranberries, prunes or figs and you can omit the nuts if you prefer and add an extra eighty grams of flour. I use raisins, sultanas, lots of cherries and dried mixed peel.

Christmas Cake.jpg

Classic Fruit Cake

750 gr Mixed Dried Fruit

200 gr Self Raising Flour

250 gr soft Unsalted Butter

250 gr light Brown Sugar

100 gr Ground Almonds

75 gr Flaked Almonds

5 large free-range Eggs

1 tablespoon Black Treacle

1 teaspoon Ground Ginger

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

A generous pinch of Ground Cloves

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Almond extract

100 ml Brandy, Whisky or Bourbon

Zest and juice of 1 Orange

Zest and juice of 1 Lemon

Buttered, lined, deep twenty-centimeter cake tin

Put the dried fruit, zest and juice and alcohol into a large bowl and leave for twenty-four hours stirring occasionally.

Heat oven to 150C / 300 F / Gas Mark 2. Put a damp cloth onto the work surface and place your largest mixing bowl on top. Add the softened butter, sugar, treacle and almond essence and cream together. Crack the eggs one by one into a small bowl to check they are fresh, then combine and whisk together. Sift the flour, spices and baking powder into another bowl.

Add the egg mix in batches and beat into the butter and sugar mix. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour with each batch to prevent the mix from splitting. When all of the egg is mixed in add the remaining flour and spice mix and fold together until thoroughly combined. Add the soaked fruits and flaked almonds and gently stir together. Tip the cake mix into your prepared cake tin, and tap on the work surface to knock out any pockets of air. Place in the centre of the oven bake for an hour, cover the top with two layers of baking paper and turn the oven down to 140C / 275 F / Gas Mark 1 and cook for around two and a half to three more hours or until a wooden skewer inserted in the cakes centre comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool. To feed your cake poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over tablespoons of your chosen alcohol, wrap in fresh baking paper and tin foil and place in a biscuit tin or plastic tub. Feed the cake with two tablespoons of alcohol every fortnight, until you marzipan it before icing.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk   Nuts   Eggs Sulphites in the dried fruit

Please see the Allergens Page

Crispy oven roast Potatoes

Christmas Dinner -Potatoes

Whatever roast Turkey, Ham or Beef you have chosen for your Christmas Dinner you will need some potatoes to help mop up the delicious gravy and I am going to give you three recipes. The first is guaranteed to give you a plate full of Perfect Roasties to serve up on the table. The second is for luxurious butter and stock braised Fondant Potatoes, packed full of flavour, and the final recipe is for my new favourite that doesn’t even need peeling and are really, really, crisp. You need a fluffy, floury potato such as a King Edward or Desiree for the first two recipes and Charlottes are perfect for the third.

Crispy oven roast Potatoes
Classic roast potatoes

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Some people will consider it a tragedy to put anything on a roast potato to make it crispier, but I have tried both flour and cornmeal and you do get an extra crunchy texture. The greatest heresy is however what you cook the potatoes in. I am from the North of England and only Beef Dripping will suffice, the chef’s choice is Duck or Goose fat. There is a sensible reason for both of these choices, the high temperature both of these fats can reach without burning helps achieve an excellent crisp potato. You can, however, achieve perfectly satisfactory results with a quality vegetable oil.

1 kg Potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered if very large

2 tablespoons Flour or fine Cornmeal ( entirely optional )

6 -8 tablespoons Beef Dripping or Duck Fat

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Heat your oven to 220 C / 425 F / Gas Mark 6-7. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and to the boil. Cook for five minutes, then remove from the heat. Drain the potatoes well, then return to the pan and shake in order to rough up the edges a little. Sprinkle with some salt and freshly ground pepper and the flour or cornmeal if you or adding it. Place the dripping or duck fat in a large roasting tray and heat in the oven until it is hot ( about five minutes ).

Remove the tray from the oven and very carefully add the potatoes, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure they are totally covered with the fat. Roast the potatoes for fifty to sixty minutes then give them a stir and cook for around another fifty to twenty minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour

Please see the Allergens Page

Butter and Stock Fondant Potatoes
Delicious braised potatoes flavoured with butter, thyme in garlic

Fabulous Fondants

Fondants are often cooked totally in butter and are very indulgent, this recipe uses a mixture of butter and stock to give the finished potatoes a lot of flavour. This recipe is flavoured with garlic and thyme but you can use fresh rosemary, sage and bay leaves.

4 medium sized Potatoes, peeled and cut into barrel shapes

150 gr Salted Butter

100 ml quality Chicken or Vegetable Stock

2 Garlic cloves, peeled, slightly crushed

2-3 sprigs fresh Thyme

A grate of fresh Nutmeg

Sea Salt flakes and freshly ground Black Pepper

Heat your oven to 220 C / 425 F / Gas Mark 6-7. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter is starting to foam, add the potatoes and fry on one side until deep golden-brown, then turn and cook on the next side. Continue until the potato is golden-brown on each side, do not be tempted to move the potato whilst it is browning as it may stick.

Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the stock, then add the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. The fat will spit, and splutter so make sure your arms are covered when you do this. Generously season and place in the oven. Cook for around thirty-five to forty minutes or until the potato is soft when pierced with a skewer or small sharp knife. Carefully transfer to serving bowl or plate.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Milk

Please see the Allergens Page

Crushed crispy baby potatoes
Crispy crushed baby potatoes flavoured with garlic.

Crunchy Crushed Spuds

This recipe is flavoured with garlic and thyme, but you can use fresh rosemary, sage and bay leaves.

2kg New Potatoes

A good Slug of Olive Oil ( around 4 tablespoons )

A large knob of Butter

6 Garlic cloves, unpeeled and bruised

A small sprig of Thyme

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F / Gas Mark 6. Place the potatoes in a pan of salted water, and bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes until just tender. Remove from the heat and drain. Heat the oil and butter in a roasting tin in the oven until the butter has melted and it is starting to bubble in the meantime lightly crush the potatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a fork. Carefully remove the tray from the oven and add the potatoes, garlic, and thyme and turn in the hot oil and butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and plenty of black pepper and roast for twenty minutes until golden and crusty, then turn the potatoes and roast for a further twenty minutes. When the potatoes are crisp remove with a slotted spoon, drain and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Milk

Please see the Allergens Page

The Online Cookery School Christmas Design 2017
www.theonlinecookeryschool.wordpress.com

Christmas Dinner – Chilled Salmon, Dill, and Cucumber Soup

So, it is coming up to Christmas Day, your planning your festive feast, and you want to have a great, relaxed and stress-free day as possible. Over the next few days I’m going to do my best to help with some top tips, recipes to cover all the essentials and some menu suggestions and I’m thinking of soup, not a thick heart-warming, winter wonder, but something light, delicate and chilled as you need to leave room for all the Turkey, trimmings and the Christmas Pudding. This recipe can be made the day before, keep in the fridge overnight and served straight from the fridge. How is that for easy?

Chilled Salmon Soup

You have probably tried Gazpacho the rich, Spanish blend of tomato, day-old bread and good olive oil or Vichyssoise the classic cold combination of leeks, potatoes, chicken stock and cream, but my recipe today is Chilled Salmon, Dill, and Cucumber Soup. This is a lovely starter for a relaxed festive party or a fabulous light lunch, particularly with a nice glass of chilled Riesling or a crisp, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

If you fancy something different why not try my recipe for creamy Cauliflower Veloute with Cauliflower Pakora and Curry Oil which again can be made a day ahead and reheated or if soup is perhaps a little too filling why not make some delicious Chicken Liver Parfait finished with Brandy and some light crisp Melba Toast.

 Chilled Salmon, Cucumber, and Dill Soup serves 4

Around 400 gr Salmon Fillet, skinned, boned and cut into 3 centimeter cubes

( ask your fishmonger to remove any of the dark flesh from underneath the fillet )

2 large English Cucumbers, peeled

1 bunch of Spring Onions, washed and trimmed, cut into 3 centimeter slices

750 ml quality Fish Stock

150 ml Double Cream

50 ml Pernod or Vermouth

100 gr Butter

60 gr Plain Flour

A good pinch of English Mustard Powder

Juice and zest of 1 Lemon

A handful of fresh Dill

Sea Salt and fresh ground White Pepper

Remove the seeds from the cucumbers and reserve until later, then cut the cucumbers into half centimeter dice. Heat half of the butter in a medium-sized, frying pan and quickly sauté for two minutes. Lightly season and pour on the Pernod and remove from the heat and leave to chill. In a medium-sized pan bring the fish stock to a gentle simmer and remove from the heat. Heat the remaining half of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the spring onions. Cook for five minutes without colouring then add the flour, cook out the flour for two minutes, over a gentle heat, stirring continuously to prevent sticking and browning. Add the hot stock, stirring all the time and bring up to the boil. Turn the heat down and add the salmon pieces, lemon zest, and cucumber seeds. Simmer over the lowest possible heat for fifteen minutes regularly stirring to prevent the soup sticking. Add the cream and cook for two or three more minutes.

When the salmon is poached in the soup base remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice then using a hand blender or food processor blitz the soup. Pass the soup through a very fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the cucumbers and Pernod. Finely chop the dill and add to the soup. Check the seasoning, remembering when chilled the seasoning will be less prominent. Cover and thoroughly chill. Serve in bowls garnished with a little more freshly chopped dill and some smoked salmon pate on toast.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Raw Fish  Milk  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

The Online Cookery School Christmas Design 2017
www.theonlinecookeryschool.wordpress.com