Merry Christmas

Christmas Countdown 22 Recipes for a Merry Christmas

If you have been. Thank you for reading. This concludes the 22 recipe Christmas Countdown. All thats left for me to say is “I hope you have found these recipes useful & you have enjoyed, reading these blogs.

Click the photos below to take you to the individual recipes. OR the blue link below will take you to all the recipes, mentioned below in the drop down menu of Christmas Countdown.

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HEALTHY & HAPPY NEW YEAR

Christmas Get Aheads

Time saving Christmas Tips.

Christmas Countdown. The big day is nearly here. Could you be interested in any time saving tips, on the run up to that festive feast. No. Of course not, you are not worried, or panicked, no doubt you are sitting down, with your feet up watching your favourite Christmas movie. Or, maybe you are tearing your hair out, bitting those finger nails & wondering how you are going to cope? Have a read, you might find something to assist you.

Lots of things can be prepared, ahead of the big day, saving you time & allowing you to demonstrate just how good a hostess you are:

  1. Laying the festive table, the day before is alway a good idea. Delegate the task to someone else and check that all is in order, with nothing forgotten. Make sure you have enough glasses for all those festive drinks. Don’t stress if they are mis-matched. No one will notice, as long as they have a drink.
  2. Peel the spuds & par boil them. place in a bowl, & toss in whichever hot oil you are using, on the day.
  3. If you are serving mash, invest in a potato ricer. No only can you have your own, cheap, cauliflower, brocolli or carrot rice. It saves time trying to mash those lumps out. Start a new trend, to impress your guests. Place the rice potato in a serving dish, & hand butter or oil seperately. (will satisfy all dietry requirements!)
  1. Of course, if you have chosen a cold starter, this can be prepared the day before. Was salad veg ready & wrap in kitchen towels & store in the fridge.
  2. Slice carrots & celery sticks into chunky strips. Plave in a casserole or roasting tin. Sprinle with chopped parsley & pop in the oven to cook. Drain, reserving the stock for the gravy. & serve. (Any root veg can be cooked in the same way)
  3. Make your gravy the day before, thicker than usual. when the Turkey is cooked pour some of the juices from the roasting tin, into the made gravy to add more flavour & thin it down. If lumpy, pass it through a sieve.
  4. If you need a quick extra pud. Keep a shop bought pastry case to hand. Spread mincemeat over the base & arrange apple slices on top. Grate over some marzipan & bake. Sprinkle with icing sugar & serve.

Hope you find some of this useful. Just remember, delegation is the key. This is after all, just another roast dinner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Above all. ENJOY. It is your Christmas too.

Glace fruits, nuts, vegan Christmas Cake

Vegetarians Look away

Recipe Sweet Potato & Pork

Christmas Countdown. We all need a quick warming meal, in the run up to Christmas. this recipe for Sweet Potato & Pork fits the bill. All you need is a roasting tin, some veg and your pork, which has been placed in a quick, cheats marinade for a few hours. Throw it all in the oven & forget about it, while you wrap those presents. In 45mins to 1hr, depending on the thickness of your meat, you have a delicious, one pot pork dish ready for the family. If you want to add another veg, serve on some lightly steamed, kale or Cornish spring greens. Yum.

Veggies Look away NOW

Spicy Pork & Sweet Potato Bake.  

Serves 4. Equipment: Large Roasting Tin. Oven temp 200c 400F Gas 6. G/F D/F

For the cheats Marinade:

4 Tbspns Sweet Chilli Chutney.

2 Tbspns Runny Honey

2 Tbspns Light Soy Sauce

5 cm Fresh Ginger, grated.

2. Cloves garlic Crushed

2 Tbspns Red Wine Vinegar

Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl, spread over the meat, turning occassionally.

1 kg Belly Pork Slices, or 4 Pork Chops.

4 Sweet Potatoes, Quartered, unpeeled.

2 Large red onions, peeled & quartered.

1/2 kg Carrots, cut into large chunks.

METHOD:

Place the chunky veg, in a single layer, in a large roasting tin.

Place in a preheated oven & cook for 45mins -1hr, depending on the thickness of the meat.

(If you do not like your meat as crispy as in the photo, move the tray down a shelf, 15mins before the end of the cooking time.

Serve with freshly steamed veg.

If you have any particular recipe requirements or questions, please leave a comment below & I will answer tomorrow.

Until then. Have a great evening.

Veg & Leftovers

Vegetarian Recipes

Afternoon foodies from a gloomy, wet, Wiltshire. Veg & leftovers are the topic for day 16 of Christmas Countdown. From a warming Cauliflower dish with a twist, to what to do with those leftovers.

We are all familiar with cauliflower cheese, but have you thought about using different cheeses & turning it into a soup? Below you will find my, lighter,  adaptation of that classic french soup Creme Dubarry. (Creme of Cauliflower Soup). Experiment away with different cheeses, use up those leftover bits of mousetrap from the Christmas Cheese board & if cauliflower is not your thing, substitue it for broccoli.

Cauliflower & Blue Cheese Soup.

Serves 4. Time taken 45mins.         G/F. Vegetarian.  Allergens: Milk. Nuts.

Ingredients:

Large Cauliflower, broken into florets.

Large potato, peeled & chopped into chunks.

2 Bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed

600ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock

175g Blue Cheese, crumbled

150ml Milk

White pepper & a little grated nutmeg 

200g Walnuts, Toasted & chopped.

METHOD:

In a large saucepan, place the cauliflower, potato, stock, bayleaves & garlic. Bring to the boil & simmer for 30mins, until tender.

Take off the heat, remove the bay leaves & using a stick blender, blend until smooth.

Add the crumbled cheese & stir over a low heat, until the cheese has melted.

Season with pepper & grated nutmeg

If you prefer a thinner, soup add the milk.

Serve, sprinkled with the toasted, chopped walnuts.

Thats the left over cheese & some nuts dealt with.

You will find another vegetarian recipe using cauliflower in a previous blog:  Cauliflower & Canellonni Burgers

Veg, burgers, beans, cheese, healthy eating,
Veggie Burgers

Left overs

If you have left over roast potatoes & bacon wrapped sausages, make yourself a breakfast fritatta.

Slice the left over potatoes & fry over a medium heat until golden, add the bacon & sausages & fry for a few minutes longer.  Turn up the heat.

Preheat the grill on high.

Beat together, 6 large eggs with seasoning & quickly pour over the potatoes, bacon & sausages in the pan. Lifting the edges, to let the egg run under the veg & set.   While the top is still slightly runny. Sprinke with some more of that leftover cheese & place under the grill, until the cheese is melted. Serve with those soft leftover tomatoes.

leftovers, fritatta, roast potatoes, cheese, pigs in blankets
Left overs. Breakfast Frittata

Thats all for today foodies.  Any comments or requests will be answered tomorrow. Enjoy your evening.

Turkey thigh bake

Turkey Thigh Recipe

Day 15 of Christmas Countdown. Its that time of year, when everyone is talking Turkey, but do you want to be eating it for days?  As well as being an ecconomical dish to serve, at this time of year, you can also make variations, by changing the vegetables & spices. Turkey thighs can be bought quite cheaply at this time of the year, from you local butcher http://W J Beaven Quality Butchers    Your butcher will be selling the turkey breasts to local resaurants & will then bone & roll the thighs for sale in his shop. These are a far better buy £2.99 per kilo, (last week) than if you buy the Turkey drumsticks which you see in the large Supermakets, they are roughly the same price per kilo, but you are paying for a large amount of bone & gristle. If  you are a family of 2 or 3 this Christmas & don’t want to be eating Turkey until New Years Eve this could also be an cheap & time saving solution.

Of course, you don’t have to use a turkey thigh for this recipe, just as you can change the veg & spices, you can also use chicken thighs. But. You do have to adjust the cooking times *See note in recipe below.

RECIPE Serves 4. G/F D/F Lowfodmap. Prep time 30mins Cooking Time 1.5 hrs. Oven temp 350f 180c Gas Mk 4

  1. Boned & Rolled Turkey thigh joint ( approx 2.5k )
  2. 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Unpeeled, & scrubbed, chopped into large chunks.
  3. 2. Red Onions, Peeled, Quartered & seperated.
  4. 4. Medium Carrots,  Unpeeled & scrubbed. Cut into large chunks.
  5. 4 Large sticks of celery. Cut into 5cm lengths.
  6. 1/2 medium Swede, Peeled & cut into large chunks.
  7. 4 Tbspns Cranberry Sauce.
  8. 2 Tbspns Rapeseed Oil
  9. Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, & Parsley Chopped
  10. 2 Tbspns Cider Vinegar.
  11. Seasoning.

METHOD

Preheat the oven, to the above temperature.  At the same time place the rapeseed oil in a large roasting tin in the oven. When the oven has reached the right temp. Remove the tray & place the turkey thigh in the oil, turning to coat.

Returm to oven & roast for 1/2hr. Remove the turkey thigh & add all the chopped veg, to the roasting tray. 

Add 2tbspns of Cranberry Sauce & toss with the juices & oil in the pan.

Coat the Turkey thigh with the remaining Cranberry sauce & place on top of the veg, together with the herbs & seasoning. Sprinkle over the Cider vingar. Return to the oven & roast for a futher hour, until the turkey is cooked through. ( Juices run clear when pierced with a knife).

Leave the turkey to rest for 15mins & carve into slices. Place on top of the veg & juices from the tin & serve with a green veg of choice.

turkey,chicken,christmas cooking,food,recipe, one pot cooking
Ready to serve.

*If using chicken thighs or breasts, place the poultry on top of the chopped veg & roast for 1hr (until cooked through). There is no need to roast the meat first, this only applies if you are using a larger joint of poultry.

*Use, courgettes, peppers & aubergine chunks & replace the Cranberry Sauce with pesto. Top with Chicken Thighs. Cook & serve with Pasta & grated Parmesan Cheese.

Well, there we have it. I hope I have given you the inspiration to ring the changes & think of your own combinations. There are many to be had. Enjoy.

chicken thighs,pasta partners,cook italian,cooking from scratch,fresh foods
The Italian touch.

A little knowledge

Cookery Tips & recipes

Day 14 of the Christmas Countdown. Do hope you are all enjoying the daily recipes & hopefully trying them out. All have been tried & tested in various households, during my 40 years as a cook.

Today I am going to give you a recipe & a few food tips, which you may find useful. Also a couple of excellent suppliers which I can highly recommend.

The little cheese biscuits in the photo are so easy to make, they really melt in the mouth & are great for those Christmas drinks parties. You can sandwich them with cream cheese, either on its own, or with the addition of chopped herbs, garlic or some chopped ham & mustard. They can also be used as the base for a canape. Pipe pate, creamed cheese etc  on top & decorate with smoked salmon, caviar, chopped sundried tomatoes. The choice is yours.

To make the biscuits, mix together, equal amounts of butter (real, not a spread) grated cheese, & plain flour together. Season & chill in the fridge for 30mins. When ready to use, roll out & bake at 200c 400f Gas 6 for 7-10mins. DO WATCH THEM AS THEY BURN QUITE EASILY.  Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes, before removing to a cooling rack.

The raw dough will keep in the fridge for 1 week. Store cooked biscuits in an air tight container for 1 week.

Whilst on the subject of cheese, you will be needing some Chutneys or pickles to go with it. You can do no better that POT OF WHAT 

Delicious home made tracklements from the Cotswolds

This lovely company, home makes the most delicious, Jams, Marmalades, Chutneys & Pickles, with many of their fruits & veg, being grown by themselves. Their Hot Chilli Jam is to die for. Add a couple of tablespoons to a casserole to give it some extra Omph! or spice up a salad by using it as a base for a chilli dressing. Its usefulness has no limits.

Gin, pink gin, botanic, tipples, party time,

To go with the Canapes (Alcohol) GIN 

Wicked Wolf Gin is a small batch, handcrafted Gin, made in Devon on Exmoor. It’s light pepper notes, layers of citrus with juniper & corriander, make it, to me, a Queen of Gins. Try it with a slice of orange & a sprig of fresh Rosemary.  The perfect libation, at any time of the year.

sharon fruit, recipes, persimmon, healthy eating

Persimmon a delicious, versitile fruit

Also know a Sharon Fruit, these fruits originate from Japan & are pentiful at this time of the year. The fruit is high in antioxidants & is brimful of fibre & nutrients. There is no need to peel, as like all fruit, most of the nutrients lurk, just under the skin, which also provides more fibre. If you like a baked apple, try baking this filled with dried cranberries & pistachio nuts, for a low calorie, winter dessert. Served with yoghurt, of course. It is also delicious gated into a salad with chopped celery & walnuts. Serve with a blue cheese dressing. YUM.

Have a browse of the websites I have given you the links for & give them a try.  

Thats all for today. Be with you all again tomorrow, for day 15 of Christmas Countdown.

Top those pies with veg

Vegetable topped pie recipes

Day six, of twenty two daily recipes, posted in this, my Christmas Countdown. Don’t forget, if you would like to see any particular recipe or need some advise on your festive cookery, just leave a comment at the bottom of the post & I will be happy to help.

Today, we are talking pies. Not pastry pies, but vegetable topped pies, a cunning  way of getting extra veg into the kids & also a little bit healthier for us all.   You can use a variety of different veg to top your pies & a lot of different fillings, to go under that veggie thatch. See my variations at the bottom of the recipe.

The pie in the photo, (find the recipe below) is topped with an equal mix of white potatoes & celeriac. The sauce is made with the addition of a couple of tablespoons of Pernod, which enhances the flavour of both the fish & celariac, although you can omit the alcohol if you wish. 

potatoes, celariac, sweetcorn, fish, pies
Part of you 5 a day

Haddock & Veggie topped Pie

Time: 40mins + cooking.  Equipment: Oven proof baking dish, 2 saucepans, frying pan. Allergens: Fish, Milk

INGREDIENTS:

225g Smoked Haddock, or fish of your choice

500ml Milk

 2 Stalks Celery, 1 Carrot chopped.

Parsley + 2 Bay leaves

4 Hard boiled eggs, peeled & halved.

150g Frozen sweetcorn or mixed veg.

40ml Olive oil, for the sauce

2 Tbspns Plain Flour.

450g White Potatoes. Peeled & chopped into chunks

400g Celariac, Peeled a chopped into chunks

40ml Olive oil for the topping

Seasoning.

METHOD

Place the potatoes & celariac into a large saucepan, cover with water & salt, bring to the boil & simmer until tender. (About 20mins)

Place the skinned fish in a large frying pan, add the carrot, celery, parsley & bay leaves. Pour over the milk. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 5mins. Add the frozen veg & let stand while you are making the sauce.

In a medium saucepan, place the olive oil & flour, over a medium heat, stir until the mixture binds together & bubbles, lightly, do not brown.

Remove pan from the heat & strain the milk from the fish, into the pan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the seasoning & Pernod.

Flake the fish into a oven proof baking dish, add the veg & eggs.  Pour the sauce over the top.

Drain the potatoes & celariac, place back on heat, to briefly dry. 

Add remaining olive oil & sesonings & mash well, until smooth

Pile on top of the fish & sauce & make a decorative pattern with a fork.

Place in a preheated oven 180c 350f Gas 4 & bake for 20-30mins until golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Cooking up a feast.

Although not as rich & creamy as butter, olive oil is far better healthy option. Generally speaking, any root vegetables can be used mashed, for the topping, either on their own or mixed with potato.

Variations: Try a mix of potato & beetroot, mashed with a tablespoon of creamed horseradish. Replace the fish with cooked smoked mackerel. Omit the eggs & sweetcorn, replacing with 2 Tbspns Capers.

Cheats way.  Omit the haddock & use 1 tin of Tuna Fish, mixed with 1 can Cambells Condensed Tomato Soup & 2 Tbspns pitted Black Olives. Top with potato & grated parmesan.

If you have been. Thank you for reading.

Until tomorrow.