Gastronomically Terrific

January 1, 2015

Redder-than-red cranberry sauce

Filed under: Christmas, freezer, main — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 4:45 pm

Cranberry sauce mixtureAnother recipe I made in advance and froze in preparation for Christmas Day. It’s a Nigella Christmas recipe, and incredibly simple.

You put cranberries, caster sugar, cherry brandy and water in a pan, then simmer it all together until the cranberries pop. It takes minutes to do, smells lovely and makes you feel virtuous because you haven’t just gone out and bought a jar of cranberry sauce. The hardest thing about the whole affair is finding fresh cranberries in the shop in the first place.

It was easy to get ready on Christmas Day too – I just removed it from the freezer a couple of days in advance and left it to defrost at room temperature. Five minutes before dinner was ready, I reheated it on the hob and gave it a stir to remove any lumpy bits.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 119

Christmas dinner extras

DSC07611Including:

1) Brussel sprouts with(out) buttered chestnuts

It’s Christmas, so you need brussel sprouts. But brussel sprouts are quite dull. Thankfully, there are ways to make them a bit more interesting. I had intended to add chopped-up chestnuts, but when I went to use them they had grown a nice layer of mold. I figured it was better to throw them away and just add the flavouring to the sprouts. It’s a really easy recipe – basically you just boil the sprouts for a few minutes, then fry them in butter, salt and pepper and nutmeg. It worked well, and the lack of chestnuts really just meant that, well, there were no chestnuts!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Daily Cookbook, pg. 311

2) Bacon-wrapped chipolatas

These aren’t complicated, and I’ve made them before. They’re so simple, in fact, that I don’t even need a recipe to make them. Just some chipolatas (in this case, some mini ones and some longer ones), some streaky bacon and a bit of time to wrap the bacon around the sausages.

I made these back in November and froze them ready for Christmas Day. This makes basically no difference to how they taste, and on Christmas Day they were still a favourite. The last few tasted good on our Boxing Day Christmas pizzas too!

Who made it: Anna

December 31, 2014

Aubergine five-nut roast

Filed under: Christmas, freezer, main, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:14 pm

When the rest of us were eating our Christmas turkey, this was my hubby’s alternative. I actually made it about a month in advance, at the end of November, and just reheated it on Christmas Day – if nothing else, it saved on oven space!

The recipe itself isn’t too complex, but there are a lot of ingredients – so there’s a lot of grating, zesting and chopping to do before everything goes in the tin. Basically, you mix together nuts, cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, lemon juice and zest, onion, celery and garlic, then wrap it all in aubergine strips. It is then baked in the oven for about an hour.

Nobody except Dan actually ate this on Christmas Day (there was tasty meat on offer, after all), but I did try some a few days later when we were eating up the last of the Christmas dinner left-overs – and it tasted alright. Not like bacon-wrapped chipolatas or turkey tastes, but pretty good if you’re a vegetarian.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 93-94

December 30, 2014

Spiced and superjuicy roast turkey

The last (and first) time I cooked the Christmas Day dinner was back in 2012. Then, I used Nigella’s Christmas turkey recipe. It turned out OK (there was nothing wrong with it), but Christmas itself was a bit of a sad affair – everybody in the house was ill for various reasons, I had a 4-month old baby, and needless to say, ended up eating my Christmas dinner cold.

This year, feeling that life had calmed down a little, I offered to do the hosting at Christmas again – hoping that things would run a little more smoothly. I decided that, to make life easy, I would cook a nice simple turkey that didn’t require being put in brine. Then my brother said “that turkey you did last time was really nice… can we have it again…?”

Turns out, flattery will get you everywhere. So, umm, yes, apparently. I defrosted the turkey in the fridge 5 days before Christmas, then on the 23rd I put the brine together and placed the turkey in it, before finding a very cold spot (in a locked outdoor shed) to let it soak up all the flavour. The brine contained a myriad of spices and flavouring, including orange, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seed, fennel seed, nutmeg, garlic, onion… basically anything with a vague hint of Christmas flavouring that you can think of. This was a great job for a 2-year old as well; he loved tipping all the measured out ingredients into the bucket of water. Although he was less keen to touch the turkey itself!

On Christmas Day morning, I stuffed the turkey with my sage and onion stuffing, and then basted it with a mixture of melted butter and maple syrup. It took 2 1/2 hours to cook; the first 30 mins or so at 180C, and the next two hours at 160C. That meant it got taken out of the oven at midday, an hour before the rest of our dinner was ready. This worked out well, as it meant that there was space in the oven for everything else, and the meat got to rest, but was kept nice and warm, with a layer of tin foil over the top of it.

The end result was pretty good, and I was fairly pleased with myself for getting the timings and the flavourings right. Definitely more of a success than my 2012 effort!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 115-117

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