Thursday 26 November 2009

Christmas served

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!


Christmas Eve:
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)

Xmas lunch:
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
Roast potatoes
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

Xmas night:
Cheese & crackers

Boxing day:
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

Xmas morning:
Eggs benedict with either salmon or ham, champagne & orange juice (get husband to make and use bought hollandaise sauce)

Xmas lunch:
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
Buttered carrots
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.

Xmas eve:
Ye olde homemade mince pies again in the afternoon
Vodka metropolitans
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)

Xmas morning
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)
Xmas lunch:
Turkey with lemon/sage butter (prepared on 24th)
Roast potatoes
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)

Xmas night:
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.


Someonesmrs said...

I'm still gasping at the thought of a "menu" for Christmas... Lawks. I too have a little black Christmas book, though mine is red. But it mostly has present details so I don't duplicate (I have been known to buy someone the same book 2 years running...) My only tips for Christmas are to do as much in advance as you can. My dh is the family "on the day" cook but I do all the prep and bung it in the freezer - pigs in blankets, sprouts (buy them in Oct/Nov when they are new and tiny otherwise they are the size of cabbages by Christmas and taste of school dinners, whereas tight and tiny and bright green they are fab, even the children love them) - I'd even do the spuds if dh didn't think it was a pre-faff too far (I think it's Delia's recipe - prep and freeze and you can put them straight from freezer into the goose fat.) Brandy butter (not cream or sauce, cos you need crunch) - but you have to have double cream as well.

What I love about it is the "have to" things - we "have to have" force meat balls (again made in advance) which are a northern thing which I have quite taken to from dh's family otherwise "Christmas is ruined!"


Nicola said...

OMG I am so impressed! And now...hungry. Might even have to have the midnight munchies.

If you are seriously looking for waifs and strays to give you an excuse to even cook half of this stuff, please count me and 2 boys IN!

Home Office Mum said...

Someonesmrs - I will try with the early sprouts - perhaps they'll taste less like stinky socks then, Thanks for that tip

Nicola - I possibly should check with my husband whether he'd like a house full of strangers to Christmas dinner but to me, eating turkey is just not a family of 4 job. It takes masses!

katyboo1 said...

You are so good. I am super impressed, and I may just abandon the entire family and come to your house to be a waif and stray! We always have rare roast beef rolled in peppercorns and mustard with fluffy roast potatoes, home made yorkshires and lots of veg. The rest of the day consists mostly of meals made out of bits of selection boxes.

Sam said...

Hmmm sounds delish! I only keep a list of the kids wishes for christmas and what I've got them so far and any other ideas I have. As for food, we usually have a roast chicken with all the regular veg, followed by a triffle (my family's tradition), xmas pud and brandy sauce (hubbys family tradition), for the rest of the meals I just wing it as per normal! But this year we've agreed to slog down to london to have lunch with the in-laws, so no cooking for me, hooray:-)

nappy valley girl said...

Wow. You are seriously organised. There is not very much planning in our household other than the turkey meal itself (and I am lucky in that The Doctor normally deals with that). We usually have (Italian-deli-bought) panettone for all the breakfasts, and smoked salmon and champagne on Christmas Eve., other than that it is all off-the-cuff stuff. This year I may have to be more organised, though, as my sister is coming to stay with her kids, so thank you for the tips!

Jacqui Paterson said...

I'm exceptionally envious. I'm definitely a 'eat to live', rather than a 'live to eat' person, but really wish my culinary skills were more advanced. Ooh, actually you might be able to help with my latest blog post!! I've had a lovely box of organic veggies delivered, but have no idea what to do with the leeks. I've never cooked them in my life (we don't really eat much of them in NZ, where I'm originally from). Any suggestions gratefully received!

Home Office Mum said...

Katy - I reckon we could be exploring the beef option this year. Just a small little joint

Sam - enjoy your off duty Christmas. Just think - you won't have to come up with ideas for he leftovers either

Nappy VAlley - good luck with it. I found living in the US weird as you just do the big turkey for thanksgiving and then Christmas rolls around and you don't really fancy turkey again. A ham perhaps?

Jacqui - I'll head on over to yours with some leek ideas, although not sure I am a leek expert

angelsandurchinsblog said...

I said it at a&u, and anyone who hsa read this post can only agree - you are definitely the culinary Mother Christmas! It all looks completely yum.