Friday, 28 December 2012

A Blogger's Christmas Carol - Christmas Present

Traditionally over the last 5-6 years I have sat back and let the Father-in-law prep and cook the Christmas meal.  This year as FIL is nearly 80 and MIL is not physically able to help much with the meal I decided that it was my turn.  We usually stay overnight for a couple of nights so that we can have a few drinks (even though we only live a few miles away) and my son, daughter-in-law and grandaughter come for their meal as well as soon as they finish serving in the pub they run. We are pleased too that sister-in-law and partner are coming up from Devon for 4-5 days too. It's always better to cook for a crowd!

This year I decided to contact some of the people who had sent me products to review over the last year and feature them for my Christmas meal.

As an aperetif we sampled Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Prosecco - the one I tried at their recent blogger masterclass. A Magnum of Prosecco went down very nicely to start off the festive day!

For my starter we had a large platter of smoked salmon  courtesy of Burren, brown bread with butter and plenty of lemon and black pepper.  I love this smoked salmon with lots of freshly ground black pepper and lemons squeezed over it.

Smoked Mackerel Pate and Smoked Salmon appetiser platter
polishing off a plate of smoked salmon
We also had potted smoked mackerel pate served with thin slices of toast. The mackerel came from Fish is the Dish via Delish Fish in Aberdeen. I made the smoked mackerel pate by flaking the fish and adding a bit of creamed horseraddish, softened butter, lemon rind and a sprinkle of celery salt.  I mixed this all up and put into ramekins.  This keeps the pate fresh in the fridge for a couple of weeks or you can freeze it.

Ready to become smoked mackerel pate
MIL said she didn't really like fish (although I am sure she eats smoked salmon) so I also got a small camembert cheese and baked it for her as an alternative starter. She was  pleased and like it.

For the main meal we were treated to an organic bronze turkey from John Howe Turkeys. These turkeys are reared with passion and trust me ours was eaten with passion too! They have been producing turkeys for the Christmas table for over 30 years and offer both white and bronze and keep to the same traditional methods and values as in their very first year of production.  These turkeys live a happy life and and have a dignified death and bring a roast with fantastic flavour and tenderness to your table.

All set and ready to be carved.

There is always one who wants the leg!
I have usually put the stuffing into the main cavity of the turkey but this year I just put a lemon cut in half and two small onions in the main cavity and made the stuffing seperately.  I put about 200g of softened butter under the skin of the breast and covered the breast with streaky bacon and popped it into the oven. We went by the 35min/kg calculations and gave it about 4 hours in the oven plus time to rest.

The smell almost drove us crazy and even our little dog took to hanging around the oven in the hope he might get a treat! The turkey was as moist as you can imagine and very tasty.  I have had a few frozen supermarket turkeys over the past few years (including Thanksgivings) and they have had virtually no taste!  John Howe's turkey was succulent and had great flavour and texture.

Stuffing was made with Clonakilty black pudding, sausage meat and breadcrumbs.  I lined my stoneware muffin tin with Clonakilty streaky bacon and filled with the sausage/pudding mix. I made these the day before and reheated them in the oven prior to serving - this way they stayed crisp but didn't burn.  I shall be going into much more detail about Clonakilty black pudding in a coming blog.

individual stuffing and bacon parcels
Gammon done in the slow cooker over night with only sliced apples, sliced carrots and covered in cider brought up from Somerset just for the meal. I put the slow cooker on just before going to bed on Christmas Eve to have it ready mid morning and one more thing out of the way.

Veggies were spiced red cabbage, sprouts, roast potatoes and parsnips which I left in the capable hands of FIL as he does remarkably nice roasties. 

My recipe for the braised red cabbage is one I saw Jamie Oliver prepare on TV and tried it for Thanksgiving - it was so easy and tasty that I wanted to include it on the Christmas Day menu. Basically braise the red cabbage with bacon, onion, apples, fennel seeds and balsamic vinegar for about an hour. this becomes sticky and very delicious indeed. a very nice addition to the meal and a really vibrant colour offering.

My friend Val wanted to be mentioned on this blog post so she gave me a couple of sprout trees from her allotment. You can't beat that for freshness and they still had the leaves on the top to use in the subsequent 'bubble and squeak'. The sprouts were small and young and had a nice mild flavour and even the less likely sprout lovers said how nice they were.

The Bread Sauce was made with a packet of Knorr Gourmet Rich Bread Sauce and 300ml of semi-skimmed milk. I didn't want to leave out some small but essential favourites!

Pudding consisted of Fortnum & Mason Stir-up-Sunday Christmas Pudding Kit. The kit comes complete with everything you need even the silver charm and sixpence along with the ceramic F&M bowl, greaseproof paper and string to tie it all together - all you needed to add was the eggs, lemon juice and brandy. I was sent this and one for my daughter Caroline so we could have a family Stir-up-Sunday session with me, Caroline and her stepmother. (you can read all about this day on a previous blog post).

To go with the pudding we had Brandy Butter courtesy of Carved Angel.

I also made a trifle with a base of panetoni, cherries in liqueur topped up with some raspberry liqueur from Sainsburys, custard and whipped cream to which we whipped in Cool Swan Irish Cream Liqueur, a rich and velvety-smooth blend of double cream, chocolate, Madagascan vanilla and dark cocoa from Cote d'Ivorie.

Our cheese board was planned to be a selection of cheeses including Godminster's well known heart shaped, organic cheddar covered in their iconic burgundy coloured wax. This cheese is strong and feels like it has little bits of foil in it which indicates its strength but the consistency is creamy for a cheddar and luxury cheese spreads with cutneys on  top served on a luxury thick and hand crafted piece of elm wood made by furniture designer John A Harris.

The only thing that wasn't planned was that we would all surcumb to the dreaded cold with flu symptoms.  At least one member of the family was in bed coughing and shivering at all times over the festive days! I had taken on the job of Head Chef and the brother-in-law was my dedicated Sous Chef and between us we made sure everyone was fed and watered. Thanks Chef!!

2012 was a very interesting year for HeidiRobertsKitchenTalk and I am really looking to what 2013 has in store!!

I would like to say a big 'thank you' to all who sent me things to include in our Christmas feast and also to all of those that I worked with in 2012.  Here's looking forward to lots of interesting posts for you, dear Reader, for 2013 - hope you enjoy them!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a VERY upmarket Christmas meal! we love Clonakilty Bleack Pudding (and White Pudding) too, so I think I may nick your idea of doing the separate stuffing "muffins" with it.
    We also had the cold/flu thing in our family. It has been particularly virulent and still hasn;t gone. :(