Angels & Urchins had a post the other day asking for people's Christmas tips. Mine was to be organised and I referred to my little black Christmas book, which contains my meal plans for the last few Christmases. I know that makes me sound terribly anal and perhaps something of a Christmas geek (possibly a complete saddo), but it's become my little tradition.
Every year I browse through my numerous recipe books and seasonal magazines to find recipes that tickle my fancy. Then I piece them together so that they all work in unison - after all, anyone can plan a Christmas meal, but planning a rolling feast that works from Christmas Eve through to the tail end of Boxing Day is another thing altogether. AND critically, many of the recipes need to be things you can prepare in advance so that you appear to be a culinary goddess who still has time to bake gingerbread angels with the children for the tree, while never breaking a sweat.
This year, however, it appears that it's just going to be us for Christmas and it just doesn't seem worth going to this much effort for my 'got to watch my figure' husband and my two 'but I don't like it' children. So given that I won't get to do my annual plan-athon (unless a bunch of waifs and strays would like to come have Christmas with us - you're more than welcome!), I thought I'd share my menus from the last few years in case you are looking for ideas.
I haven't posted the recipes. The majority come from Nigella's Christmas book which I cannot recommend highly enough, however, several come from magazines with the odd smattering of Gary Rhodes' Keeping it Simple. I've tried to indicate which things I made in advance to help with the timings of things. One doesn't want to be flushed or even, dare I say it, sweaty on Christmas day.
Having typed these out, I realise that we basically have pretty much the same stuff year after year for Christmas, with the odd tweak, but it's Christmas Eve that is different. Happy reading, have fun cooking and an even better time eating!
Lamb shanks with garlic and cranberry jus, creamed potatoes and peas (made on the 23rd -potatoes for mash peeled and ready to boil)
Pannettone bread and butter pudding (made morning of 24th)
Xmas morning breakfast:
Poached eggs with parsnip hash browns, bacon and oven roasted tomatoes on the vine (top tip - make the parsnip hash browns in advance and freeze them)
Canapes (this year made by Sainsburys)
Turkey (forgot how I did it this year but I always go for a whole turkey, never just the crown)
Gingerbread stuffing (you'll see this one a lot)
Braised red cabbage with beetroot and apples (made morning of 24th)
Sausages wrapped in bacon
Green veg mix (we don't do sprouts) - broccoli, leeks, courgette and peas
Cranberry sauce with dried figs in port (made on 23rd)
Christmas pudding and brandy cream
Cheese & crackers
Cranberry muffins and coffee for breakfast
Lunch - at a pub
Dinner - cold turkey, salad and general smorgasboard of leftovers
Christmas Eve (and afternoon):
'Homemade' mince pies with brandy butter (made day before). I call these home made because I actually 'compose' them - but they're made using ready to roll puff pasty and ready made minced meat. Just roll, spoon in, seal the edges, eggwash, pop in oven and eat. SO much better than bought!
Canapes (once again bought)
Hungarian goulash, braised rice, crusty bread and salad of greens with thinly sliced red onions (made day before)
Pear & cranberry crisp with vanilla ice cream
Eggs benedict with either salmon or ham, champagne & orange juice (get husband to make and use bought hollandaise sauce)
Nigella's super juicy spiced turkey (that you soak in a bucket overnight). Prepare morning of 24th. I left ours in the garage covered with foil. It was cold enough.
Nigella's all spice gravy
Nigella's Gingerbread stuffing (it's a goodie - you'll notice it from last year and indeed the year to come)
Cranberry sauce (very dull -same as the year before with port and figs. It's good though)
Chippolatas wrapped in bacon
Roast potatoes (add semolina to them once par cooked for extra crunchiness)
Maple roasted parsnips
Green beans, peas and pine nuts
Christmas pudding with brandy sauce (not made by me)
I appear to have lost what we did for Boxing Day this year but I think it was a honey glazed ham - we had many people with us.
Ye olde homemade mince pies again in the afternoon
G&Ts with rosemary swizzle sticks (I can highly recommend rosemary swizzle sticks. Just get springs of fresh rosemary and use as a stirrer. They look pretty, festive and the rosemary adds a lovely fragrance)
Spiced nuts (made on 23rd)
Lamb & date tagine with red onion and pomegranate salad, cous cous and green salad with pine nuts and harissa dressing (the tagine comes from Nigella's Xmas book again and it is AWESOME) Made on 23rd - the tagine
Cranberry orange and almond pudding with custard (made on 24th)
Continental breakfast of mango, blueberry and pomegranate salad with natural yogurt, granola; salmon, ham, cheese, breads and bucks fizz
Champagne and nibbles (I never seem to make the canapes - I always want to but it's the place I always save myself time)
Turkey with lemon/sage butter (prepared on 24th)
Maple glazed parsnips
Turkey gravy (stock made on 24th)
Red cabbage with apple and pomegranate juice (made on 23rd)
Lemon and tarragon carrots
Green beans, baby leeks and asparagus medley
Gingerbread stuffing (because Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it) Made on 23rd
Boozy cranberry sauce (made on 23rd)
Apple and calvados pudding (bought)
Cheese board with crackers
Boxing day breakfast
Boiled eggs and soldiers
Boxing day lunch/supper
Baked applewood smoked gammon, left over turkey cold, left over red cabbage, green salad with pomegranate seeds
So that's three Christmases condensed into one. This year we might just go to MacDonalds. Sigh.
Please share your Christmas menus with me so that I can live vicariously through you.