The 'Original' Creative Crafting Magazine written by Crafters, for Crafters

Creative Crafting magazine began in August/September 2009, when a group of crafting friends on the Creative Connections network decided that it would be a good idea to raise awareness of the crafting community. From this point they started work and the first issue of Creative Crafting was published in October 2009 and are still publishing today.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas Lunch; make it easy on yourself

Published in Issue 20, December 2012
Written by Gill from Personal Space Interiors

Christmas Lunch; make it easy on yourself

Being in charge of Christmas lunch can be daunting. Whether it’s your first time cooking for the family or you’re a past master, there’s always a whole lot going on and expectations, not least your own, are invariably high. I love to cook, but I know my passion isn’t shared by everyone. So to help you along, here is my guide to making Christmas lunch enjoyable to make and to eat for everyone.

First things first – get organised.
 Have a clear out – check your cupboards and freezer. Get organised and begin to use up what you have frozen so you’ll have room to store your festive foods.
 Plan ahead –Grab a coffee, and take an hour out of your day. Work out how often you will be cooking for visitors during the Christmas week, and how many people you’re cooking for on the big day. Do this at the beginning of December, if you can before all the rushing around starts. This gives you plenty of time to plan what to make and what you can do in advance to be prepared.
 Shopping lists – I love lists, perhaps a little too much, but now is the time when lists come into their own. You don’t want to have to go last minute food shopping; we all know what a nightmare that can be. Write yourself proper shopping lists well in advance and pin them up in your kitchen. You can then add to your lists as and when you need to.
Stock up on sundries – make sure you have plenty of tin foil, cling film, baking parchment, plastic containers and freezer bags. Disposable foil baking trays also make life a whole lot easier. Just think of all the washing up saved.

Christmas lunch top tips:
Don’t bother with a starter. Have drinks and some little savoury nibbles instead. Starters are just too much work, with far too much clearing up and besides, everyone’s just waiting for the main attraction anyway.
Serve two meats for the main course. I think turkey looks great but doesn’t have the best flavour and needs a little help. Goose is rich and benefits from something savoury to compliment. And it means your options for follow on recipes are much more varied, interesting and tasty.
Give goose a go. If you feel like pushing the boat out, give goose a go. It’s really easy to cook, tastes heavenly and you’ll get the best fat for your roast potatoes too.
 If you’re making Christmas lunch just for two, have Guinea Fowl. It’s just the right size, it feels a little special and above all it’s delicious! Just follow the same prep as for the turkey and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Don’t stuff the turkey. I think it cooks better and stays moist when it isn’t stuffed as there’s less cooking time. I find the stuffing from inside the bird isn’t good to eat anyway; it doesn’t look very appetising and it can be quite greasy so I always cook my stuffing separately.
Serve a wide variety of vegetables. That way you can make sure everyone likes at least one thing and for those who don’t eat meat there’s still plenty to eat (make sure you use vegetable oil for roasting). 

Sprouts do not take 5 hours to cook. Make your sprouts sing by giving them the respect they deserve; if you don’t overcook them, they won’t smell and they’ll taste great. And if you can, buy them on the stem – kids are fascinated. 
Self-service . Put the turkey and trimmings on a serving platter, the vegetables in serving dishes and let everyone help themselves while someone carves the turkey – the food will stay hotter that way and it’s more fun and less work for you. Make sure all plates and serving dishes are piping hot to keep everything nice and warm. 
Make lots of gravy and keep some warm in case anyone wants extra, which they invariably will!
And finally, ban everyone from the kitchen until you need them! May sound harsh, but it’s better than having people get under your feet when you’re busy.

The night before - do as much of the prep as you can. You can chill out with a glass of wine, take your time and still have everything sorted in a couple of hours. It’ll save you so much time and stress the next day. And when there are visitors to see and presents to open, you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day.
 First, cook the ham. You can get everything else done while the ham is cooking.
 Get the turkey or goose out of the fridge, remove the plastic coverings and giblets, dry with kitchen paper, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and leave somewhere cool overnight.
 Make the giblet stock for the gravy.
 Make the stuffing and roll into balls or place in a loaf tin ready to bake.
 Prepare the pigs in blankets and place in a foil tray ready to bake.
 Make the cranberry sauce, place in a serving dish, leave to cool and cover with cling film.
 Peel and chop the vegetables (except the potatoes and celeriac) ready to cook, pop them into freezer bags and store in the fridge.
 Remove the butter from the fridge. Room temperature butter will be much easier to deal with.
 And finally, if you can, set the table ready for dinner.

Family Christmas lunch menu for 8

Roast turkey / roast goose and mustard glazed ham served with:
Chestnut, bacon and mushroom stuffing; pigs in blankets and turkey gravy

Vegetarian option – roasted red onion, pepper and goats cheese tart served with:
Cranberry stuffed apples; figs in blankets; Cheddar, sage and onion croquettes; and rich vegetable gravy

Side dishes:
Roast potatoes and parsnips; sprouts with bacon and chestnuts; carrots with orange and thyme; celeriac puree; and broccoli and green beans with almonds and parsley
Cranberry, orange and port sauce; bread sauce

I’ll leave the desert or pudding choices entirely up to you. If you’re buying a Christmas pudding, try to get one that can be heated in the microwave. It’ll taste just as good and be so much easier.
Here’s my time plan. This is based on lunch for 8 to be served at 2.00pm.


Mustard glazed ham

Ingredients – ham joint, onion halved with skin on, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, whole black peppercorns, treacle, and mustard powder

 Place the ham in a large deep stock pot with an onion, a stick of celery, a carrot, 2 bay leaves, some thyme sprigs and a few peppercorns.
 Cover with water and put on a lid. Bring to the boil and simmer until cooked through and tender (around 2 hours for a large ham joint).
 Remove the ham from the pan and place on a baking tray double lined with strong tin foil.
 Remove the skin and most of the fat from the ham. Score the fat in a diamond pattern, sprinkle with 2 tbsp mustard powder and smear with 2 tbsp black treacle.
 Bake in a very hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and wrap loosely in the foil.

Roast turkey 

Ingredients: turkey, unsmoked streaky bacon, butter, fresh sage, fresh thyme, bay leaves, and 2 lemons

 Place a long sheet of tin foil in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place another sheet of foil across from this one to form a large cross. Place a roasting rack on top.
 Loosen the skin from the turkey breast with your fingertips and smear the butter between the skin and the breast meat. Place a few sage leaves under the skin. Place bay leaves, sprigs of thyme and two halved lemons inside the cavity. Smear the outside of the turkey with butter and cover the breast and legs with crisscrossed streaky bacon rashers.
 Place the turkey on the rack. Bring the edges of foil together and fold over to form a loose fitting cover and put in the oven at 190oC.
 Cook as per the recommended timings depending on size. Baste the turkey every hour. Remove the foil, and take off the bacon for the last 30 mins cooking time. When ready, remove from the oven, cover loosely again with foil and leave to rest. A large turkey can happily sit for 2 hours and stay hot if properly covered.

Roast goose 

Ingredients: goose, butter, thyme, rosemary, 2 onions quartered, 2 apples quartered

 Place a long sheet of tin foil in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place another sheet of foil across from this one to form a large cross. Place a roasting rack on top.
 Prick the skin all over the goose using a skewer. Place sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and the onions and apples inside the cavity. Smear the outside of the goose with butter and cover the legs with foil.
 Place the goose on the rack. Bring the edges of foil together and fold over to form a loose fitting cover and put in the oven at 190oC.
 Cook as per the recommended timings depending on size. Turn the goose over every hour and carefully drain off and reserve the excess fat. Remove the foil for the last 30 mins cooking time. When ready, remove from the oven, cover loosely again with foil and leave to rest. A large goose can happily sit for 2 hours and stay hot if properly covered.

Chestnut, bacon and mushroom stuffing
Ingredients: 20g dried porcini mushrooms, 400g good quality sausage meat, 100g chestnut mushrooms, 100g cooked chestnuts, 100gunsmoked streaky bacon, 4 shallots, 2 garlic cloves,100g fresh breadcrumbs, fresh sage, fresh thyme, ground mace, salt and pepper

 Chop the bacon, chestnuts and mushrooms and finely chop the shallots and garlic
 Cover the porcini mushrooms with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Then drain and chop finely.
 Sauté the chopped bacon, mushrooms and shallots until golden. Add the garlic and soften for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool completely.
 Place the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, chopped chestnuts and thyme and sage in a large mixing bowl. Season very well with salt and pepper, and add a pinch of mace. Mix thoroughly.
 Add the porcini, bacon, mushrooms and shallots and mix well.
 Place in a foil lined loaf tin, or shape into balls and place on a foil tray / baking sheet.
 Bake for 30 minutes (balls), 50 minutes (loaf). Check the stuffing is piping hot throughout.

Pigs in Blankets 

Ingredients: chipolata sausages, unsmoked streaky bacon

 Place the streaky bacon in a single layer between two sheets of cling film. Using a rolling pin, roll the bacon lengthways to stretch the rashers. Cut the rashers in half if you are using mini chipolatas.
 Wrap the bacon around the sausage and place on a baking / foil tray with the bacon edge tucked under.
 Bake for 30 minutes.

Roast potatoes and parsnips 

Ingredients: 2kg floury potatoes(I like Roosters or Desiree), 500g parsnips, goose fat or vegetable oil

 Put the goose fat or vegetable oil on a foil / baking tray and preheat in the oven.
 Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks.
 Peel the parsnips, cut in half lengthways and then cut each half in two.
 Parboil the potatoes for 5 minutes in well salted water. Drain, and give the pan a good shake to rough up the edges.
 Place the potatoes in the hot fat, turn to coat and bake for 15 minutes.
 Add the parsnips to the tray, turn everything to coat and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts 

Ingredients: 500g sprouts, 100g unsmoked streaky bacon, 100g cooked chestnuts, butter, sherry, fresh parsley, pepper
 Parboil the trimmed sprouts for 5 minutes and drain.
 Sauté the chopped bacon and chestnuts until golden.
 Add the spouts with a splash of sherry, a knob of butter and some chopped parsley and cook for 2 minutes.

Celeriac puree 

Ingredients: I celeriac , 2 floury potatoes, whole milk, bay leaf, crème fraiche, butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper

 Peel the celeriac and cut into 2cm cubes.
 Place the cubed celeriac in a saucepan and cover with warmed milk. Leave for an hour. Drain off the milk.
 Return the celeriac to a clean saucepan along with a bay leaf. Peel and quarter the potatoes, add to the pan and water to just cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender.
 Drain and either press through a potato ricer or whizz with a stick blender. Add 2 tbsp of crème fraiche, a knob of butter and season with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Carrots with orange and thyme 

Ingredients: 500g carrots (purple, yellow, orange if you can get them), juice of half an orange, butter, fresh thyme

 Steam or boil the carrots until tender. Drain and return to the saucepan.
 Add a knob of butter, orange juice and some fresh thyme leaves.
 Pop the lid on and simmer for 2 minutes. Give the pan a gentle shake to make sure all the carrots are coated in the citrus butter.

Broccoli and green beans with almonds and parsley
Ingredients: 1 head of broccoli, 200g green beans, 50gflaked almonds, lemon juice, fresh parsley

 Toast the almonds in a dry pan until golden
 Steam the broccoli and beans until just tender, drain and place in a warmed serving dish
 Sprinkle with the toasted almonds, a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh chopped parsley

Cranberry, orange and port sauce 

Ingredients: 200g fresh or frozen cranberries, zest of an orange and juice of half an orange, 50g light soft brown sugar, 50ml port
Place all of the ingredients in a small heavy based saucepan.
 Simmer gently until the cranberries begin to burst and reduce to a syrupy consistency.
 Carefully taste the sauce and add extra sugar if needed, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves.

Bread Sauce 
Ingredients: 400ml whole milk, 1 onion, 6 cloves, bay leaf, whole black peppercorns, 100g fresh breadcrumbs, 15g butter, 1 tbsp crème fraiche, mace, nutmeg, salt and pepper

 First infuse the milk; simmer gently in a saucepan with a peeled onion studded with cloves, a bay leaf and peppercorns. Set aside to cool, then remove the onion and seasonings.
 Pour the infused milk into a clean saucepan and add the breadcrumbs, a pinch of mace and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
 Simmer gently until the sauce thickens.
 Whisk in a knob of butter, a tbsp of crème fraiche and season well.

Turkey gravy

Ingredients: turkey giblets, an onion, a stick of celery, a carrot, 2 bay leaves, fresh thyme, whole black peppercorns, 150ml white wine, 1 tbsp plain flour, half a chicken stock cube, 1tbsp redcurrant jelly.

 Place the giblets in a large sauce pan with the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for at least an hour. Strain into a jug.
 Skim off the fat from the turkey roasting tray, leaving around 2 tbsps in the tray.
 Place over a medium heat and whisk in the flour and stock cube to form a paste.
 Whisk in the wine to loosen the paste and gradually whisk in the stock.
 Whisk in the redcurrant jelly and stir over the heat until the gravy thickens. Let it simmer for 5 minutes then add more stock as required.

Roasted red onion, pepper and goats cheese tarts
Ingredients: 500g block or sheet all butter puff pastry, 500g red onions, 2 roasted red peppers(from a jar), 2 goats cheese logs, butter, olive oil, fresh thyme, 1tbsp light soft brown sugar, 100ml port , and black pepper.

 Peel the onions, halve and slice finely. Place in a pan with a little olive oil, a knob of butter and the sugar. Cover and leave to soften over a low heat for around 10 minutes. Add the port and continue to simmer until reduced to a marmalade consistency. Leave to cool.
 Open out the peppers and cut out rounds using a 10cm cutter and cut the goats cheese logs into 2cm slices.
 Roll out the pastry to 5mm thickness .Cut into rounds using a 15cm cutter and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Save the pastry scraps for the figs in blankets.
 Put a generous spoonful of the red onion marmalade on each pastry round and spread evenly leaving a 1cm gap around the pastry edge.
 Place a pepper round on top of the onion marmalade, and add a slice of goats cheese
 Sprinkle with some fresh thyme leaves, season with black pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.
 Bake in a 200oC oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden brown

Cranberry stuffed apples 

Ingredients: 1kg braeburn apples, 100g dried cranberries, zest and juice of half an orange, 2 pieces of preserved stem ginger finely chopped plus 1 tbsp of the syrup, pinch of ground ginger, pinch of cinnamon

 Place all of the ingredients except the apples in a saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer until the cranberries plump up and the liquid is almost evaporated.
 Core the apples and run a knife around the “equator” of the apple to split the skin.
 Place in a foil lined baking dish and stuff each apple with the cranberry mixture.
 Bake for around 30 minutes until the apples are soft.

Figs in blankets

Ingredients: puff pastry scraps, fresh figs, maple syrup, small piece of stilton, walnuts

 Roll out the puff pastry to 5mm thickness and cut into 2cm strips
 Cut a deep cross into the top of each fig and squeeze the base to open up the fig.
 Place the opened figs on a foil lined tray and wrap a pastry strip around each fig.
 Put a cube of stilton and a walnut into the top of each fig and drizzle with maple syrup.
 Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Cheddar, sage and onion croquettes
Ingredients: 400g mashed potato, 100g grated strong cheddar cheese, 1 onion finely chopped, knob of butter, 2 tbsp fresh chopped sage, salt and pepper, 2 tbsp seasoned plain flour, I beaten egg, 50g breadcrumbs,2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan, 2tbsp olive oil

 Fry the onion in the butter until golden and place in a mixing bowl.
 Add the mashed potato, cheese and 1 tbsp sage. Season well and mix thoroughly.
 In a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan, olive oil and 1 tbsp sage.
 Shape potato mix into chunky sausages around 10cm long. Coat each sausage in seasoned flour, then beaten egg and finally the breadcrumb mix.
 Put the croquettes on foil lined baking tray and pop in the fridge for 30 mins to firm up.
 Bake for 30 mins until golden brown and crisp.

Rich vegetable gravy
Ingredients: I onion finely sliced, knob of butter, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp plain flour, vegetable stock, sherry, redcurrant jelly

 Fry the onion in the butter and oil in a covered pan until golden brown. Whizz the onion with a stick blender to a puree.
 Place the pan back over a medium heat and whisk in the flour to form a paste.
 Whisk in a splash of sherry to loosen the paste and gradually whisk in the stock.
 Whisk in the redcurrant jelly and stir over the heat until the gravy thickens. Let it simmer for 5 minutes then add more stock as required.

I hope you enjoy my recipes. Why not follow my blog for other festive foodie treats

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