It’s just about time for me to start thinking about Christmas, but with online shopping slots filling up and deadlines for meat orders looming, I thought it was probably time to publish this piece.
I’ve tried so many suppliers over recent years, and here are my all time favourites products and recipes I cook and enjoy at home over Christmas. The most pressing task is to book that online shopping slot, if required and to order your meat.
I ordered ours some time ago from Piper’s Farm, as I was on their website and saw the Christmas ordering service had opened for booking. I have booked our deliver slot for 23rd December, which works perfectly. We will have a 4-rib piece of their superb Red Ruby beef (around £80), which I can’t recommend highly enough. I’ve ordered plenty of their lovely sausages (which are also gluten free) and their sausages wrapped in bacon, too. For ham, I’d order from them, too. Their gammon joints are exceptionally good.
I’d also order a prepared turkey crown from them, or a whole turkey from Paul Kelly at Kelly Bronze.
I like homemade stuffing best, and especially a meaty stuffing, rather than a bready one. This pork apricot and chestnut stuffing is one I have made for clients who have really enjoyed it. It is best with turkey.
Roast potatoes are best, for me, made with King Edward potatoes and cooked in smoking hot goose fat or sunflower oil for a vegetarian option.
Roast beef has to be served with Yorkshire pudding, and I always use the recipe in my Hungry Student books, which is my all-time favourite.
Cranberry sauce has to be freshly made, using the recipe from my friend Jayne.
For fresh vegetables, I recommend Riverford – I’ll be ordering a huge box from them this year.
Christmas is all about rituals, I think, and there are some things I like to make and eat every year.
First up, are lobster vol au vents. Served with a glass of excellent fizz on Christmas day, instead of a starter, they are to die for. And the only time of the year I ever eat or make anything like this. The recipe I make is loosely based on this one.
I love to make my cinnamon buns, from the Hungry Student Baking Book. They are one of my all-time favourite sweet treats, and are best eaten very fresh, so I need lots of people around to share these with.
I love to make this fruit salad for a counterbalance to all the richness. Everyone adores it, too.
Christmas starts properly when I get prepped, and that includes making gingerbread biscuits and mincemeat, using my own homemade mincemeat, made with fresh cranberries. I’ll make the Christmas cake at the last minute, using my trusty recipe and we will have a trifle for pudding on Christmas day, and a lovely cheeseboard from Neal’s Yard, too. I recommend their fruit pastes, both quince and damson which pair very well with Manchego-style cheeses and the phenomenal Colton Bassett stilton. They are the dark triangles in the photo, if you’re wondering. Good biscuits and apples are all, I think, that are needed to complete the cheeseboard. Cox’s or russet apples are popular in our house. On the cheeseboard, I like a good Cheddar, Colton Bassett stilton, something like a Manchego and a whole round of Mileen’s (my all-time favourite). A top top is to buy about a week before Christmas and tell the shop assistants the cheese is for Christmas – if that’s what you’re planning – so you can ensure your cheese will be in perfect condition when you want to eat it.
I hope this gives you some ideas for you Christmas, whatever you’re up to. Most importantly, I think when planning, is to choose your favourite foods, whatever they are, so you enjoy the cooking and eating. Don’t worry about anything too challenging or overly complicated. This is the time of year to relax and enjoy and not be stressed.
I wish you all a peaceful and healthy Christmas,