Tag Archives: Christmas cooking

Christmas cooking

It is my youngest daughter’s eighth birthday tomorrow, the party was held at the weekend and everything is ready for tomorrow. This, then, for me, means I can begin to think about Christmas. I can’t contemplate it before her birthday preparations are out of way. Thank goodness she wasn’t born closer to Christmas. What this also means is that I have been doing this blog for more than five years now. This was bought home to me when I printed off the chocolate birthday cake recipe for my mum to make for her and looked at the photo of the cake that my youngest had decorated for her Dad when she was three.

This made me think about just how many recipes I have posted on here over that time. It has become my own personal cookbook and I hope that it has the same purpose for others too.  In my planning for the holidays I started to look back on the recipes that are favourites and also found some that I really enjoyed when I made them but haven’t returned to since. It occurred to me that a round-up of the recipes I will be revisiting or would like to, but probably won’t have the time when it comes to it, would be useful for me and perhaps for a few of you too.

I do love all the cooking that comes with the Christmas holidays. The girls have two weeks off from school which means that we can have proper breakfasts, rather than a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. So we will be enjoying pancakes, waffles, pikelets or Staffordshire Oatcakes as well as the occasional Full English.

The Aga baked ham will be cooked for Christmas Eve dinner and for tucking into afterwards too. Whenever there is a ham in the house Fidget pie is made, because I love it so much. When I made Fidget pie last week, I used white wine instead of cider and reduced it to a syrup before I added the cream and it was delicious. My recipes are always evolving.

My mum makes enough mincemeat for all of us, but if you do need a recipe the one I made with pecans was really tasty. Mince pies are very popular in this house, in fact I have promised to make some today. My eldest likes them slightly burned. I like to oblige, sometimes because I have forgotten put the timer on. The curse of the Aga.  Then when we are bored of them, mincemeat bars might make an appearance or that Norfolk Scone I have promised myself.

My mum will also be cooking the turkey, but she will be doing it this way because it’s tried and tested and delicious. Mushroom and chestnut wellington makes a very good alternative to the turkey.

Stollen might make an appearance, because I make marzipan at Christmas, not for the cake (mum makes those) but because we love it. Marzipan chocolates will be the result and I should really make my ginger and marzipan cake again because that was very, very good.

Christmas pudding is my absolute favourite, but if you want something different then my Cardamom and almond steamed pudding or my Whisky and honey cheesecake go down very well. Chocolate truffles, whether chilli or cherry flavoured will be on the table at some point and I might find time to make candied peel again.

Just writing this post has lifted me into the festive spirit so I am off to make mince pies and some lemon curd ready for the pikelets and oatcakes. Be assured that whilst I make these I will be half watching a movie on one of the Christmas channels. I started doing that back in November. Don’t judge me too harshly.

Leeks in an orange sauce

I really hope the old adage “a picture tells a thousand words” is not true in this case, as this photo really does no justice to how good these leeks are. But if you know a better way of presenting these babies on a cold dark night in England then suggestions are very welcome.

The recipe is from Sophie Grigson’s Eat Your Greens and can be found here so I won’t rewrite it for you. I do, however, urge you to try it. Even if you, or someone you are feeding does not like leeks then minds will be changed after trying these.

Leeks lend themselves to sliminess I find. This is rarely a good thing when it comes to something you want to put into your mouth. But by cooking them in this orange flavoured béchamel any potential slipperiness is coated in smooth unctuousness. This is always a good thing. The orange adds a sweetness which makes these the perfect partner for any roast meat and the silky sauce provides an excellent contrast to a crunchy roast potato. Make this as a side on Christmas Day and I promise you it will be perfect (even if the photo isn’t).

 

 

Mincemeat bars

Mincemeat, like dogs, shouldn’t be just for Christmas. My mum makes mincemeat every year and some years I do too. Whenever mum passes me a jar I hurry to make mince pies and three batches have been made so far this year. Well, one morning this week I was practising my usual habit of perusing a recipe book whilst eating my early morning breakfast (everyone, pets included, knows better than to request my attention at this point in the morning) and came across Delia Smith’s Wholefood Mincemeat Slices in her Christmas book. These seemed to me a very good idea indeed. I have used butter instead of margarine, wholegrain spelt flour instead of wholemeal and added a sprinkling of flaked almonds and very delicious and moreish they are too. Delia, as always, has come up trumps.

150g butter, cubed
75g dark brown sugar
225g wholemeal spelt flour (or you could use wholemeal ordinary flour, but spelt is especially delicious)
100g rolled oats
250g mincemeat
flaked almonds

Method

You will need a 28 x18 cm shallow pan, either buttered well or lined with silicone. I use my half Aga roasting tin and line it with Aga silicone liner.

Place the butter and sugar in a large pan and heat over a medium heat until the butter is melted. Pour the flour and oats into the pan and mix well.

Spread half the mixture over the bottom of the prepared tin and press down well. Spoon over the mincemeat and spread as evenly as possible. Cover with the remaining oat mixture and press down well with the back of a spoon or your knuckles. Sprinkle over flaked almonds.

Place in a preheated over at 180°c, or the baking oven of the Aga for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. As soon as it comes out of the oven cut into twelve slices but leave it to cool completely in the tin. When completely cool remove from the tin and enjoy.

Talking about dogs not being just for Christmas, here is the new addition in our house.

We are currently fostering her from the RSPCA whilst she settles into family life, but we plan to adopt her and keep her for many, many Christmases. And, in spite of me saying everyone knows not to disturb me during early morning breakfast and recipe perusing, Maggie gets special dispensation.