With balancing a full time job, undertaking a project at work, preparing a house for 8 guests and some re-decorating – christmas preparation and shopping was both, exciting and a little stressful at times!
My evenings leading up to Christmas were very booked up: I started my Christmas presents shopping 7 days before Christmas, my sister and I did a 3 hour food shop 3 days before Christmas and 2 days before, I purchased some last minute dining-ware and my wonderful family arrived – my aunty, uncle, cousins and their new cockapoo, Benji. My parents cooked a beautiful Indian feast – chilli paneer, garlic naan, lamb curry, roast chicken with Indian spices, raita and tomato & onion salad. I caught up with my family over dinner before it was straight back into prep mode! My cousins and I created our own Christmas decorations and planned our Christmas menu whilst guzzling down some mulled wine!
I got home from work late on Christmas eve, as soon as I got home, I poured myself a glass of mulled wine, finished off the christmas decorations, wrapped presents and prepared for my favourite day of the year!
The christmas tree went up on the 6th of December. It took my dad, my neighbour and I, 5 hours to get our tree to stand up straight! This 9 ft beauty weighed an absolute tonne and no matter how tight he screwed the base, it just wouldn’t stand up straight! Our neighbours decided to give us some bricks, each weighing about 20kg – I wrapped them up in wrapping paper and used them to help balance the tree out – they worked a treat!
Inspired by pinterest, my cousins and I spent Christmas eve drinking mulled wine and making decorations!
The Christmas Table
The Christmas Menu
Preparing Christmas dinner was a collaborative effort – my sister, my cousins and I teamed up to prepare the feast and my other cousin (a mummy of 3!) emptied and filled the dishwasher about 5 times, helped prevent the kitchen looking like a complete bomb-site and also helped with some of the prep. Whilst we were drinking, cooking and watching Christmas movies, the rest of the family were playing board games, chilling and drinking in the living room!
- Cheese board (baked camembert with cranberry sauce, blue cheese, double Glouster cheese with chive, cheddar with caramelised onion, Wensleydale with cranberries and Apple-smoked cheese served with red grapes
- Oregano puff sticks, crusty bread, oat cakes and a selection of M&S crackers
- Homemade black olive tapenade, Ploughmans chutney, pear chutney and caramelised onion chutney
- Tesco antipasti selection: cured meats, olives and sun-dried tomatoes
- Salmon canapés
- Ham joint slow cooked in coca-cola
- Christmas Turkey
- Pigs in blankets
- Garlic butter and Christmas herby potatoes
- Goose fat potatoes
- Parmesan parsnips
- Christmas red cabbage
- Sugar glazed carrots
- Lemon and mustard asparagus
- Brussel spouts and chestnuts
- 3 gravies: Turkey gravy, Caramelised onion gravy and Pork gravy
Desert and Drinks
- Jamie Oliver’s rummy lemonade
- Mulled wine
- Heston hidden orange Christmas pudding (Waitrose)
- Profiteroles (Iceland)
- Mince pies
- Brandy cream
- Baileys cream
- Double cream
All of the Christmas ingredients were purchased from Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Lidl, Iceland and Waitrose! Around 2pm, we started off our day with our lunch nibbles and by 7pm, the big meal was being demolished!
Gammon slow cooked in coca-cola inspired by Nigella
- 2 kilograms mild-cure gammon joint
- 2L coca-cola
- 1 white onion
- 2 tablespoons of treacle
- Demerara sugar
- Wholegrain mustard
- To get rid of the excess salt from the meat, the gammon was added to a pot of cold water, brought to the boil and then the excess water was drained (if you don’t have a salty piece there is no need to do this – just skip to the next step!)
- The gammon was placed in a deep pot with a white onion (chopped in half), 2 litres of coca-cola and simmered for 2 1/2 hours on a low heat.
- Once it was cooked, the skin was removed leaving a thin layer of fat which was then scored with a sharp knife into large diamond shapes. Using her hands, my sister then covered , the bark-budded skin with a thin layer of treacle (roughly a 2 teaspoons) along with some demerara sugar and wholegrain mustard, blitzed it in the oven for 10 minutes at 220 degrees and let it rest before serving.
- The cola and ham juices were then mixed with with some flour to make a gravy to serve with the gammon.
Christmas turkey and turkey gravy
- Turkey crown
- 1/2 a tub of Salted butter
- Fresh garlic (pureed and bulbs with skin)
- Salt and pepper
- Red wine to taste
- Butter was mixed with pureed garlic, chopped rosemary, sage thyme and black pepper.
- Between the skin and the turkey meat, a spoon was pushed in between the skin and meat to separate them and stuffed with the butter paste and smothered around. The skin was then held together with cocktail sticks and the rest of the butter was used to cover the turkey
- The bacon was then layered on top of the butter layer.
- A few rosemary sticks, two clementines cut in half were then stuff it up the turkey’s bottom and placed on an oven rack so that the juices could drip. The turkey was placed in the oven for 3.5h at 180 degrees alongside 4-5 bulbs of garlic.
- After 1 hour, the turkey juices were spooned over the turkey (basted) and this was repeated every it every 20-30 minutes to let it go golden
- A fork was stuck in the turkey to see if it was cooked, as soon as the juices ran clear – it was cooked!
- The turkey was removed from the oven and left to stand for a few minutes.
- The gravy: The juices were collected, the bacon was removed and were both crushed into a paste.
- This paste was then sieved into a saucepan, red wine was added along with a little bit of flour to thicken it up and ta da, you have your gravy!
Garlic and herby potatoes
- New potatoes with skin
- Salted butter
- Red Onion
Butter was mixed with rosemary, thyme, sage and garlic and coated some boiled new potatoes. These coated potatoes were then chucked these into an oven tray alongside a red onion (quartered) and 2-3 garlic bulbs and roasted for 45 minutes. The tray was shook every 5-6 minutes to ensure every side of the potatoes was coated in the garlicly and herby goodness!
- Rapeseed oil
- Plain flour
- Garlic bulbs with skin left on
- Salt and pepper
- The oven tray was coated in a thin layer of rapeseed oil (~1mm depth), 1 part grated parmesan to 4 parts plain flour was mixed and the par-boiled parsnips were coated in this mixed and placed in the tray with oil.
- Herbs, garlic bulbs salt and pepper were sprinkled over the parsnips and were given a good shake before they were placed in the over for 45 minutes at 200 degrees. I checked on the parsnips every 5-10 minutes and gave them a good shake to ensure that all sides of the parsnips were cooked in a crispy parmesan coating!
Christmas red cabbage
- 1kg of Red cabbage (depending on how much you want to make!)
- Salted butter
- Balsamic vinegar (few splashed)
- Red wine (large glass)
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
- 1 red onion (sliced)
- Juice of 1-2 clementines
- 1 pink lady apple (sliced)
- Star anise
- After melting a knob of butter in a deep pan, red onions with fennel seed were fried before adding in chopped up red cabbage and sliced apple.
- These ingredients were mixed for a couple of minutes before a small glass of red wine of red wine and few splashes of balsamic vinegar were added.
- This was left to simmer for 5-6 minutes in order to allow the cabbage to slowly welt and soften. The juice of 1 clementine, some cinnamon sticks and star anise were then added.
- I let this simmer for 2-2.5 h, checking up on it every 10 minutes to ensure the cabbage was welting, soaking up the spices and juices – I added a dash of wine/balsamic here and there whilst tasting throughout!
Sugar glazed carrots
- Sliced baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of demerara sugar
- 1 cm of water
- In a large saucepan, the baby carrots were placed in 1cm of water, sugar and olive oil.
- The carrots were sautéd the water mixture until they caramelised (this took about 15 minutes)
- As the water evaporated, the carrots caramelised. These were carefully cooked until charred!
Brussel sprouts and chestnuts: After par-boiling brussel sprouts they were stir-fried with sesame oil, soy sauce and chopped up chestnuts!
Goose-fat fried potatoes: Parboiled peeled potatoes were shallow fried in goose fat until the turned brown and crispy
Lemon and mustard asparagus: Asparagus tips were marinated in wholegrain mustard, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper and baked in the oven for 25 minutes/until cooked with a crunch!
Pigs in blankets: a mixture of apple-smoked and caramelised onion chipalatas were wrapped in streaky bacon and oven’d for 25 minutes/until cooked and crispy!
Caramelised onion gravy: We cheated and bought Tesco’s finest caramelised onion gravy (it was delicious!!)
- The juice of 6 lemon
- 2L Copella cloudy apple juice
- 2 L water
- 4-5 Cinnamon sticks
- Dark rum
- Add sliced ginger to 2L of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Jamie suggests that if you really love ginger and want a fiery kick, make it the day before, let the ginger go cold in the water and leave overnight to infuse.
- Squeeze 6 fresh lemons through a sieve into the water, add cloudy apple juice and bring to the boil.
- Then add some honey to taste and cinnamon sticks. To serve, add a shot of rum to a heatproof glass or mug, then top with the hot lemonade!
- 4 bottles of red wine
- Bart mull wining spice teabags (from waitrose)
- 4-8 tablespoons of demerara sugar
- 1-2 sliced clementines
- Cinnamon sticks
- I poured 4 bottles of merlot red wine into a pot, added the wining spice teabags (1 per bottle) , 4-8 tablespoons of demerera sugar (depending on how sweet we wanted it), added sliced clementines, cinnamon sticks and simmered for 15 minutes.
- Once all the mulled wine flavours had infused, I served with orange garnish!
Anyway, that’s my Christmas day fun, recipes and decorations in a nutshell! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, filled with lots of love, food and mulled wine! Benji enjoyed his mulled wine too! Wishing you all the happiest new year wherever you are! xxx