Tag: christmas

turkey and moooose pie

Well, not really, but …

We went to my daughter’s house for Christmas, and it was lovely. But the downside of being away is you get no leftovers; thankfully, she offered us the turkey carcass to take home, and so we did, despite her protestations that there would be no meat left on it. As soon as we got home, I lobbed it in the big slow cooker with some water, and left it alone for about six hours.

The next morning, I surveyed the vegetable drawers. They contained sundry carrots, three courgettes on the edge of disaster, two fairly dried up leeks, four sweet potatoes in need of eating, and a rather soft swede.

I small-diced the courgettes (half of one of which I had to throw away – how I hate that), the leeks, and half the carrots, and put them in the medium slow cooker with a little olive oil to cook down. Then I peeled and larger-diced the rest of the carrots, the swede and the sweet potatoes, and put them in a big pot to cook for root mash later.

Then I turned to the turkey carcass – readers, there was loads of meat on it, so I picked it clean like a vulture. Then I foraged in the freezer for some puff pastry (yes, ready made – who makes puff pastry?).

Took a pack of bacon lardons from the fridge and set them to cook off slowly in their own fat. When they were crispy, I added about a tablespoon of flour and cooked it in, a good splash of white wine from a bottle that was going over a bit in the fridge, and then some milk, until I had a nice creamy constituency. Added some chopped garden herbs, most of the turkey meat. and enough of the slow cooked veg to make the mixture fill a pie dish. Then Pete obligingly dealt with the pastry side of stuff (he’s much better than me at the rolling out side of things), and made these charming pastry moosen with a cutter that friends brought us back from Norway.

We ate it with the root mash, and sprouts – there was enough of everything to repeat the performance the next day, which was fine by us.

The rest of the veg went into the soup pot, with the remaining turkey meat, the stock and some barley.

Not bad for “no meat”, eh?

And here’s a picture of my  Christmas cake, just because. As I said a few weeks ago, I made it in a ring mould, and covered it the weekend before Christmas with orange slices caramelised in water, sugar and a hefty glug of Cointreau. Rude not to, really. One of the eight or nine smaller cakes went in the middle, and I added fresh holly on Christmas Eve.


christmas cakes 2013

christmas cakes and chocolate dinosaurs


Please excuse the chocolate dinosaur cakes. They were an experiment which clearly needs more work. No wonder the bloody creatures are extinct.

fruit for the Christmas cakesI actually got round to doing my Christmas cakes reasonably early (for me) this year. And inspired by my friend Jane’s most excellent, if sporadic, food blog, I have done them slightly differently. I always use this recipe from Nigel Slater, but I’m really quite cavalier about what dried fruits I bung in – it just depends on what’s in the cupboard.

The recipe calls for 1kg of fruit, so I did a quick inventory; I had a 500g bag of Waitrose luxury dried fruit mix, about  100g of dried cranberries, and a few rather elderly figs. So I wandered over to Aldi to see what they had, and came back with this 300g of dried fruit for £1.69. And it was all cut into little pieces, so I only had to chop the figs. Hurray.

I put all the fruit into a mixing bowl, added about 3 tablespoons of cooking brandy, stirred it around, and left it overnight with a plate over it, issuing dire warnings to Pete not to lift the lid unless he needed his sinuses cleared.

Now, I make a Christmas cake because I feel I should, but we don’t actually like it all that much (I know, I know). And I never ice or marzipan it, because it would just be too sweet for us (which is why the photograph on the recipe is just dusted with icing sugar). And then we have this enormous hunk of cake that we struggle to eat. But Jane’s recipe gave me an idea. I thought I’d make a ring cake in a savarin mould, and some individual ones in my spiffy mini sandwich tin from Lakeland.



On Sunday morning, I found the fruit looking deliciously plumptious, and the brandy all absorbed, so I dug out the tins ready for greasing before making the recipe. And – how utterly bizarre – I didn’t have a plain savarin ring. Fluted, yes. Plain, no. And I didn’t think fluted was going to work. I phoned Lakeland in Beverley, yes they had one in stock, yes they’d put it aside for me (they really are a great company to deal with). And off we bimbled, taking in an Americano at Café Nero on the way.  And some Cake Release as well, for the bloody dinosaur moulds.

I digress.

Cakes were made – one savarin ring, ten individual ones. They’re now wrapped in foil, awaiting drip feeding with brandy (except the one we ate, because you have to *try* them, don’t you), I’m seriously considering making some candied orange slices to decorate them with – could work, don’t you think?

Note to self: for this mix, at 160 fan, this recipe needed about 45 minutes for the ring, and about 35 for the individuals.

p.s. That’s the first time I’ve actually used that mini sandwich tin, but now I’ve tried it, I can see all sorts of uses for it.

christmas pig

Attentive readers will remember that we always have a goose for Christmas. But they’re getting more and more expensive, and there’s not much eating on ’em, so this year we thought we’d have a change. We had a big piece of pork, which I did in a Scandinavian stylee, after I’d seen a recipe in the Times (sorry, it’s paywalled, so I can’t link).

Basically, you take the skin off a shoulder of pork so it’s in one piece (or, alternatively, you get your butcher to do it – T L Norman on Princes Ave, Hull are fab, and always do any prep I want). Then score the meat, and rub in a mix of cardamom pods, chilli, star anise, lemon zest. Stick the skin back on the top, into an oven at 190C. Our pig was 2.5kgs, so it got 2.5 hours, and I did put a piece of foil over it for the first hour.

‘Twas utterly splendid, and was served with roasted potatoes and parsnips, spiced red cabbage and apple, brussels sprouts, apple and calvados sauce, and a creamy gravy. The flavour in the meat was fabulous – it permeated right through and I will most certainly be doing it again.

I don’t know how much it cost – my Christmas meat bill was £38, to include a dozen eggs, 8 thick rashers of back bacon, and three tubes of sausagemeat, but however much, it was a damn sight less than a goose, which cost us the thick end of £70 last year.

It fed three greedy people on 25th, two greedy people on Boxing Day, and another two slightly less greedy people the day after that. Then we were going away for a bit so we put the remains in the freezer. It came out again this week, fed us with roast veg on Sunday, and the last of it has gone into marinade with sesame oil, cornflour and shoyu for a stir fry tonight.

festive fare, and the remnants …

They weren't joking!

We did the usual stuff for Christmas food that we usually do … a goose with red cabbage and sprouts on the day, a slow cooked gammon for snacks, a cake. But somehow, this year, we have heaps of stuff left, so we’ll be eating leftovers for a while!

After 13 years with small, rubbish gas cookers, I am now the proud possessor of a Neff built-in full size oven. So, inevitably, the goose was too long to fit in, and Pete had to take a hacksaw to its legs. I roasted them off separately, and they’ve gone in the freezer for later use. There is still a bowlful of cold goose meat left, which will be stirfried or possibly en-pied, the remains of the cabbage went in the freezer and was part of our New Year’s Eve dinner party. More on that story later.

So, left in the fridge is:

  • one bowl of goose bits
  • about 1/3 pack of smoked salmon (will probably go for a quick pasta lunch)
  • about half a dozen small sausages, which are only there because I didn’t see them until this afternoon – we are addicted to small sausages
  • one box of Marks and Spencer mini pies, from their party food range, and some mozzarella and  basil twists, ditto. These will do for weekday lunches; in fact, we had some M&S vol-au-vents for lunch today
  • 1/4 of the gammon (half is already in the freezer)
  • 2 boxes of cranberries

The 1.5 litres of goose stock was dumped into the slow cooker this morning with a pack of green split peas, and a venison bone, to make soup. Sadly, I did this too late for today’s lunch, but it will be lovely for tomorrow.

In the freezer is also a small lump of venison (reasons to follow), and a huge piece of pork shoulder, which Pete bought in error instead of gammon, never mind about all the other stuff. I doubt we need to buy anything but milk and veg for a month!

beef in ginger and orange

How to turn 500g of stewing beef into six portions? Add 100g of bacon bits, a stack of butter (lima) beans, and a load of veg, thus.

I used shallots in this – if you’re going to do this, they are much easier to peel if you soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes, and you get lovely shallotty water to add either to your casserole, or to your soup pot (the latter for me yesterday).

Cooked off the bacon bits, put them in the slow cooker. Browned the beef in batches, added them too. Fried off the whole shallots until they were caramelising a bit, the into the pan went four chopped carrots, half a courgette and some garlic. They were lobbed into the slow cooker, and then the pan was deglazed with …

Horror! No Stones Ginger Wine! And only 9 in the morning, so offy not open, and I bet the local mini Sainsburys wouldn’t have it, and besides – it was pouring with rain. I improvised.

Deglazed the pan with about 3/4 pint of fiery ginger beer. Added a slosh of brandy for good measure, and the zest and juice of an orange. Added a teaspoon of grain mustard and some season. Brought to the boil, bung in the slow cooker, switched it on.  Went back and added the beans (which had been soaked and boiled the day before), and some herbs from the garden.* Waited for six hours while the smell drove us crazy.

We are having some for tonight’s supper, with dumplings, and the rest will go into the freezer.

* Somewhere – no idea where – I found some reuseable cloth bouquet garni bags, which are dead handy for such occasions, because you don’t have to bother stripping the leaves from woody herbs, or finding the bay leaves afterwards. But do remember to fish it out before someone accidentally tries to eat it.

I also made the Christmas cake yesterday – 1 kg of random assorted dried fruits and a load of Cointreau. I always base it on this Nigel Slater recipe.  What with that, the stew, and the soda bread, the kitchen was an olfactory no-go area yesterday!

Christmas Eve …

I have walnut and raisin bread rising.  I have stuffed the goose with a mix of sausagemeat, cranberries, apricots soaked in Cointreau, crumbled black pudding, a mixture of white and soda bread crumbs.  I have made stuffing balls with herbs from the garden, and more breadcrumbs.

I have rubbed fivespice powder into the goose’s skin, and Pete is currently trimming his legs (the goose’s, that is!) with a hacksaw so that I can fit it in the oven.  Mr Goose will be basted with the aforementioned Cointreau, and some honey.

I have cooked a gammon in ginger beer, cloves, cinnamon and satsumas.  I have made a huge fruit cake laced with bourbon.  I have pigs in blankets, and red cabbage in the freezer. I still have to do do the potatoes, sprouts and parsnips, and make brandy butter, but we’re on target.  Tomorrow’s plan is to go for a walk on the North Sea coast once Johnny Goose is en-ovened, to work up an appetite.  And there will be smoked salmon and blinis for Xmas Day high tea.

*And* I have industrial quantities of Maltesers.  Well, it is Christmas.

I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!

christmas cake

wreathRather belatedly, I made our christmas cake last night; I’d normally have done it in November, but what with the move and all …

I use a variation on a tried and tested Nigel Slater recipe, and here it is:

Prepare a 20cm deep cake pan – grease well, line with a double thickness of greaseproof paper, with the sides lined to above the top by a couple of inches.

Amass 1kg of dried fruit – I used figs, prunes, apricots, dates, raisins and sultanas, as that was what was in the baking box, and cut it into small pieces.  This is tedious, but I didn’t bother so much last year, and it wasn’t as nice.

Cream 250g butter and 250g brown sugar together – I used about half and half dark muscovado and demerara.  Beat until it’s light and fluffy, or as light and fluffy as it can be with muscovado in it ..

Add three eggs one by one – don’t worry, it will curdle, probably.

Add 65g of ground almonds, and 100g of shelled hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons of alcohol (recipe says brandy, but I generally use whiskey, and this year I used good bourbon!), zest and juice of an orange, half a teaspoon of baking powder, and 250g of plain flour.  And the fruit.

My mixer always gives up at this point and I have to fold it all together by hand.

Put it in the tin, cook for one hour at gas mark 3, then 1.5 hours at gas 2 – don’t open the oven to prod it until the end.  Leave to cool in the tin, then wrap tightly in foil, and feed it with more alcohol every few days.

We eat as is, as we don’t much like icing.  Merry Christmas!

things to do with cold goose

Not that there is much leftover goose in my experience – fifty five quid for the bird, which fed three hungry folk on Christmas Day.  We had the other breast for lunch on Friday, with the leftover red cabbage, and a baked spud, and very nice it was too.

Yesterday, Pete stripped off the remaining meat, and there was more than we had expected.  We ate half for lunch, stir fried with some spring onion, a green pepper, mushrooms and some tired coriander leaves, served with noodles.

The rest will go into a risotto.

Brunch today will be the remaining stuffing, fried up, with mushroom, fried potato and a fried egg.

festive fayre

My idea of a good Christmas, food wise, is to cook up a load of stuff before, cook a nice Christmas dinner, then do nothing much for a week 🙂  This year was no exception.

I did a gammon in ginger beer and christmas spices (star anise, cinnamon and cloves), glazed with orange juice and maple syrup.  I did a pork and spinach terrine, Nigel Slater’s christmas cake, I made cranberry and chilli chutney, I made sausage rolls for tea last night.

On The Day itself, we had roast goose, stuffed with sausagemeat, herbs from the garden, chopped shallot, nutmeg and breadcrumbs from the heel of the old loaf.  It was accompanied by red cabbage with apple, roast potatoes and parsnips, sprouts with pancetta and almonds, and glazed apples with Calvados.  Pudding followed, after a slight hiatus when I discovered that I had no brandy butter!  I’ve always bought this before, but forgot this year, and will never buy it again as it is an absolute doddle to make, even if I did use Armagnac rather than brandy!

cranberry, apple and chilli chutney

cranberries for chutneyA friend of mine blogged yesterday that she was making cranberry chutney. “That’s a nice idea”, I thought; I’ve actually never made chutney before, so I asked her for the recipe, and bought some cranberries today. And got Pete to fetch down my preserving pan from the top of the cupboard.

Of course, me being me, I decided to add three apples that were going soft. Here’s what I did.

Put two punnets of cranberries (which came to 14.25oz) and three dessert apples, peeled/cored/sliced (which came to 9.25oz) into the preserving pan. This neatly came to 23.5oz, which was as near as dammit 1.5 times the cranberries in Maureen’s recipe, so I had something to go by.

Added 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, juice and zest of 1.5 oranges (because I’d used half to glaze the gammon earlier), 21 fl oz of red wine, and 6oz castor sugar. And then I wondered whether a red chilli might jazz it up, so I cut one up very finely, and hurled it in.

Brought it to the boil, and then simmered it for about 1 hour 10 minutes, by which time it was going gloop in a satisfactory minute. I decanted it into a bowl to cool down, because I wanted to wash the pan and get it put away.

I sterlised four glass jars in the oven, and then transferred the chutney when it was cool enough. The chilli gives it a real kick, and it’s utterly gorgeous.