This time William’s helping us to get ready for Christmas, with some new takes on the traditional Christmas veg.
I know, I know, Christmas comes earlier every year. I’m sure the supermarkets bring out their crackers, puddings and mince pies shortly after Easter. Fight it or go with the flow, Christmas really is just around the corner now, so a little preparation won’t do anyone any harm. It is probably the most important meal of the year for a lot of people, so getting it spot on is imperative, as is making the entire experience easy and enjoyable for everyone.
It may sound silly, but when you are preparing your Christmas dinner, writing a plan down is very useful and will help prevent all manner of culinary catastrophes. I must admit, I was rather shocked last year when lunch appeared on the table at the right time, with all the necessary bits (alcohol does not a cohesive cook make…), but it was purely based on the idea that everything had a time and a place that were all detailed. Some might view this as a little up-tight, that their natural flow will surely rue the day; I think there are
too many things to remember, so just write it down. It will take so much stress and worry out of your hands – no more remembering exactly when the turkey went in, or how long you’ve got to make the bread sauce; a regimented battle plan is what you need! Then, even if you manage a full bottle at your champagne breakfast, you will be able to cook with confidence, avoid disaster and wow your guests with your impeccable timing. Unless you’ve fallen asleep.
I thought in the run-up to Christmas I’d give you some yummy recipes for the day itself, starting with a couple of delicious vegetable side-dishes. Look out for a great vegetarian dish (I promise, no nut loaf) and some other lovely bits in the coming weeks.
Brussels Sprouts with bacon, almonds and citrus crumbs
750g Brussels Sprouts
100g bacon or pancetta, diced – cubetti would be fine
75g flaked almonds
2 slices day old bread, without crusts
a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
2 shallots, finely chopped, or half an onion
zest of a lemon and an orange
Tail the sprouts and blanch in boiling water for 8 or 9 minutes. While they are
cooking, warm a pan over a medium heat; toast the almonds until a light golden colour.
Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and when foaming add the
bacon or pancetta. Fry until crispy with a little bit of bite left to it. Remove from
the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
Whizz the bread in a food processor until there are no large lumps left. Fry the crumbs
in the bacon fat with the herbs and shallots; if you are using rosemary, chop it finely.
Add the lemon and orange zest, taking care not to grate either fruit to the bitter pith.
Drain your sprouts, pop them in a serving dish and scatter over the bacon, almonds and breadcrumbs. Delicious, crunchy, savoury sprouts.
Roast carrots with orange, ginger and cumin
500g carrots, peeled and cut into batons
75ml orange juice
1 tbs cumin seeds
1cm piece of ginger
In a dry pan, fry the cumin seeds for a couple of minutes until they release their
aroma. In a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin until it becomes a
fairly fine powder. Mix this into the orange juice, and then grate in the ginger using
a very fine grater. Pour this mixture over the carrots and roast for about 45 minutes
to an hour at 180 (or whatever temperature your oven is set to to cook your turkey,
potatoes, sausages, bacon rolls, stuffing, parsnips, etc, etc…!)
Copyright William Leigh