Tag Archives: christmas

Turkey Rissoles

As far as quick fixes for leftovers go, this one is up there with the sandwich and the student pasta supper. For flavour though it is superior to both. You can pretty much sling whatever you have left in the fridge from Christmas lunch (though I wouldn’t recommend potatoes) and go from there. This is just what we happened to have left last night and really was completely delicious, munched with the remaining creamed corn (recipe below), salad and chutney (or cranberry sauce).

Serves plenty

A bowl of leftover turkey

A bowl of leftover stuffing (which contained breadcrumbs – otherwise add breadcrumbs to the mix)

Sausage meat

2 chillies

2 eggs


A beaten egg


Oil for frying

Sling the turkey, stuffing, sausage meat, chillies and 2 eggs into a food processor. Season and blend until fully mixed (but not too pasty). Form into balls.

Put the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls. Season the flour with salt, pepper and cayenne, and roll the balls in the flour (shaking off any excess), then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. It’s a right messy job but completely worth it.

Now pour 4 inches of oil into a large saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. After 10 minutes check that it’s hot enough by dropping in a little bread. It should sizzle immediately. Fry the rissoles, a few at a time for 3 minutes on each side, then remove and drain on kitchen towel and keep warm.

Scalloped corn

This recipe came from my American grandma, and we have eaten it for Christmas every year for as long as I can remember. It is an indulgent delight. Would be delicious with ham or chicken too. Or even on its own as a TV supper.

1 can sweetcorn

1/2 cup of milk

2 tablespoons flour

2 eggs (slightly beaten)

salt and pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup melted butter

At this point it gets a little more vague, so this is how Mum does it:

Make a roux with the butter and flour then slowly add the milk to make a white sauce. Mix this with the other ingredients (keeping back a little of the ‘shredded’ cheddar) and tip into a baking dish. Mum often adds a little cayenne pepper too. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake at 170C for an hour until set.


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A White Christmas

This Christmas I challenged the readers of this blog to help me to rejuvenate what had become an all too methodical Christmas lunch. I wanted to eat something that went beyond our traditional and stale festive binge – nothing wildly different or controversial (I would never have been forgiven), but just enough to reinvigorate the day. There were some wonderful suggestions, from all over the world. Natasha’s fried carp with knedliky (Czech dumplings) sounded delicious but would have undoubtedly ended in a riot had it been served in favour of turkey. Alex, a Jewish friend, suggested latkas, potato pancakes eaten at Chanukah. Again, I was – I am – pathetic, and just didn’t dare produce these.

Some more conventional suggestions were embraced. However, after much deliberating I decided that, ambitious as I wanted to be with Christmas lunch, I didn’t really fancy the stress that would have undoubtedly been induced by attempting myriad dishes on Christmas morning. Doing turkey ‘n trimmings for 18 is stressful enough, so instead I dotted the various recipes around the festive period (there may still be time for more). They were all a complete delight. So thank you, everybody, for your truly inspirational input – you helped to make this Christmas much more fun.

Lambswool – with thanks to Nibbles for their suggestion


This is a medieval beverage, swilled no doubt by the gallon on high days and winter holidays. I tried it with ale, feeling that with cider (a more common variation) that it would just be like mulled cider. In truth it is probably nicer that way but it was still warming, aromatic and festive.

Makes 2 litres

6 Cox’s apples

25g butter

4 bottles good ale – Black Sheep or Landlord – otherwise good cider. White Lightning is excellent.

8 tablespoons brown sugar

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

Peel, core and quarter the apples. In a large cauldron, melt the butter over a fire that is not  newly ablaze, and yet has not lost all of its fervour, and add the apples and spices. Gently nurdle those golden orbs until lightly bronzed like the sultry curves of a Moorish maiden, then add the ale and the sugar. Stir well and heat until just below the point at which the bubbles breaketh the surface. Leave for the length of the second act of the Bard’s Twelfth Night and serve in warm goblets ye rapscallion ye.


Hot chocolate with chilli – with thanks to Ms. Alex

This is just the thing to drink on a cold winter morning. Chocolate and chilli are terrific bed partners – the chilli helping the chocolate to coat the throat with a deep warmth that trickles down all the way to your toes. Fight any resistance to this idea and give it a go. It’s fab.

Makes 6 mugs

200g good quality chocolate (70%)

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped and seeds discarded

100ml water

1l whole milk

4 tsp sugar

250ml double cream

A little extra chocolate for dusting

Break the chocolate into bits and melt over a low heat along with the water and chilli. Meanwhile warm the milk almost to boiling point. Once the chocolate has melted whisk in the milk and add the sugar. Heat for another couple of minutes while you whisk the double cream until softly whipped. Pour the hot chocolate into warm mugs, top with cream and a little grated chocolate.

Brussels sprouts with black pudding – with thanks to The Student Gourmet

Prepare the sprouts by discarding any grotty outer leaves, trimming the bottoms and cutting in half. Add to a pan of boiling salted water and boil for three minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water for 2 minutes. You can do this well ahead (I did it on Christmas Eve this year and the sprouts were as green and fresh as ever).

Heat some butter or goose fat in a large pan and add some chopped up black pudding. Fry until crisp, stirring occasionally, then add the sprouts and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve.

Chestnut soup with chorizo and saffron cream – with  further thanks to the mysterious ‘Nibbles’

This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Moro cookbook.

Serves 6

200g whole Chorizo, cut into cubes

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 dried red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

400-500g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 tin tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock

2ooml double cream

a pinch of saffron

Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the chorizo until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil.

Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until lightly caramelised and soft.

Next add the chopped rosemary, chilli and cumin and stir for a minute or so, before adding the chestnuts, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the cream and saffron together until the threads have dissolved. Set aside and blend the soup until smooth.

Whisk the saffron cream over a medium heat until it is a little lighter, then serve the soup with a few chunks of chorizo and some of the cream.


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Christmas Poached Pears

I have cooked these for clients three times in the last month, and each time they have been a knockout. Just about as Christmassy as it gets without entering the lairs of stodge and flatulence, and incredibly easy.

Serves 6

300ml Port (LBV or Tawny)
700ml water
500g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
A stick of cinnamon
A few cardamom pods
Small handful of star anise
3 cloves
6 pears
Creme fraiche

Put the port, water, sugar, lemon juice and spices into a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and put over a medium heat.

Peel the pears, trimming their bases so they sit flat on a plate. Plop into the saucepan, bring to a simmer and cover. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the pears and reduce the syrup by 1/3. Serve hot or cold with creme fraiche.

Otherwise you can put them in sterilised jars and give them out as (probably, by now, late) Christmas presents. They’ll keep for a couple of weeks in a refrigerator, and are delicious with blue cheese.

It’s not too late to participate in the Christmas Challenge – votes close at midnight tonight.

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Christmas Canapes

There are only so many bowls of Doritos and dip that you can eat in a month. Don’t get me wrong, I love those processed, cheese-dusted, crunchy beauties (give me Doritos over Kettle Chips any day of the week), but sometimes you just want something a little more refined. That’s not to say fussy, or time-consuming, or expensive. But a little elegance at Christmas is sometimes necessary.

On Saturday I found myself doing canapes for 60 and, with the aid of two super-capable helpers (always a little awkward-making when your sous-chef is more experienced than you), cranked out close to 700 canapes and mince pies with no fuss whatsoever. You could quite happily do a couple of these (along with some mulled cider, perchance), without any stress.

Christmas Koftas

The idea of these was that they look like mini Christmas puds. If you hadn’t spotted that already.

Makes around 30

500g minced lamb

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon harissa

1 tablespoon ras el hanout

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 egg

Olive oil

100ml Greek yoghurt

A handful chopped mint

Juice of half a lemon


Barberries (available in Persian stores – otherwise pomegranates will work)

Make the kofta mix (can be done ahead) by putting the lamb mince, harissa, spices, onion and egg in a bowl along with a good slug of olive oil and some pepper. Mix thoroughly by hand, and set aside until ready to cook.

The mint yoghurt can also be done ahead. Finely chop the mint and add to the yoghurt with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Refrigerate until needed.

An hour before cooking, soak the barberries in boiling water for 45 minutes, then drain and press out any excess moisture.

Set the grill to 240C (you could fry the koftas but with guests you may not want to have a smoky, smelly kitchen). Form the koftas into small balls, season with salt and pop under the grill for 8 minutes.

Rest for 1 minute then garnish with a drop of mint yoghurt, a sprig of coriander and a couple of barberries.

Chicory with gorgonzola, cranberries, walnuts and truffle oil

Makes 30

2-3 heads of chicory (3 to be safe)

200g Gorgonzola, roughly chopped

A handful of dried cranberries, roughly chopped

A handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

Truffle oil

Wash and dry the chicory, and break apart carefully, saving the larger leaves for a salad (they will probably be too big for canapes). Trim the bottoms of the longer leaves and arrange on a plate. Add a few bits of Gorgonzola, cranberries and chopped walnut. You can do all this ahead, then just drizzle with a little truffle oil before serving.

Chicken liver parfait on crostini with pomegranate

Makes plenty (the parfait will keep and be of much use over Christmas)

1.2kg of chicken livers, washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped

450g unsalted butter

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

100ml brandy

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, finely chopped

Pomegranate seeds

A French stick style baguette (as thin as possible)

Melt 250g of the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. When completely melted, add the garlic and thyme leaves and gently poach in the butter until the garlic is starting to colour at the edges. Add the chicken livers, season with salt and pepper, and continue to poach for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn up the heat to high and add the brandy. Carefully set fire to the pan with a match and burn off the alcohol (don’t be alarmed by the longevity of the fire – it will die eventually (just keep tea towels, children and pets away)).

Once the flames have died down blend the livers in a food processor or with a hand blender. Failing these you can make a coarser pate by beating the livers with a wooden spoon.

Transfer to a bowl or posh parfait jar and leave to cool. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter until the milk solids separate to the bottom. Pour the clarified butter onto the parfait and leave in the fridge to set. Will keep for a week.

When you’re ready to devour this heart-stopping concoction, slice the baguette and pop under the grill for a couple of minutes. Slather on a teaspoon of parfait (or quenelle if feeling poncy) and garnish with pomegranate seeds.


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A warming and nostalgic escape from this perpetual rain. With a southern-tinged playlist to boot.

Serves 4-6

750g beef mince

250g pork mince

2 finely chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, crushed

75g breadcrumbs

1 egg

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

1 teaspoon paprika, or thereabouts

A few shakes of tabasco

2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves

Salt and pepper

*     *     *     *     *    *    *    *    *    *     *     *     *     *    *    *    *    *

Preheat the oven to 180C and boil the kettle.

Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly with your hands. If you are feeling particularly pernickety, fry a little of the mixture and taste for seasoning. Otherwise trust your instincts, ignore all the salt naysayers, and season the hell out of the mix.

Push your mixture into an oiled loaf tin, and place that tin into a small roasting dish. Pour some boiling water into the roasting dish to reach about half way up the side of the loaf tin and pop in the oven. Bake for an hour and a half.

Remove and leave to rest for 15 minutes before turning out (beware of the juices that will have pooled in the bottom of the tin) and serving. Good with baked spud and sprouts with fried chorizo.

Meatloaf-making mega mix

Thanks to Dan of Essex Eating fame for introducing me to Louis Prima – what a tune.

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What do you like to cook to? Send me your favourite cooking tunes and I’ll fire them into the next playlist.



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