I really enjoy writing this round-up post – traditionally my last one before Christmas. I probably say more or less the same thing every year (don’t panic! It’s just a big roast dinner), but as usual, remember that it’s your Christmas too. Grab a few willing helpers to make some Christmas cookies, or whip up some of my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate and have a little prep-party on Christmas Eve (it’s amazing how much you can get done the night before). Need a little inspiration? Read on for my top tips and recipes for Christmas dinner and beyond: fresh ideas, old favourites and more!
Recently, an enormous box arrived at English Towers with a lovely note from the folks at Kenwood: ‘we know you love cooking, so would you like this beautiful Kenwood Chef Elite?’ Seriously generous, right? But I didn’t rush to open it, because, well, I’ve got a mixer already that I’ve had for ages and love, and on the box it looks all complicated and new-fangled, not homely and quirky like mine. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, though, and because everyone kept complaining that there was a huge box on the kitchen floor, I opened it up and popped it onto the kitchen counter. Well. Cue choirs of angels singing and all that jazz, because this thing is beautiful. Seriously, I sent a pic to Mr E and he replied ‘erm, wow. It really goes in our kitchen’. To give it a thorough test, though, and make sure it has brains as well as beauty, I attempted some Christmas crumble muffins with my sleek and shiny new baby. Here’s how I got on:
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you. We’re a huge fan of chilled, filled pastas. They’re absolutely great to have tucked away in the fridge, so convenient for last-minute meals and feeding unexpected guests (or hungry post-pub revellers). They’re so simple and quick to prepare (they take less than three minutes to cook) and are such a great way to feed the family this Christmas – completely stress free and absolutely delicious. It’s authentic Italian pasta – the ultimate quick and simple comfort food, and this whole dish takes literally minutes to prepare. I’ve teamed a pack of Giovanni Rana Simply Italian Creamy Mozzarella & Smoked Pancetta Ravioli with a tasty sage butter, some pan fried shredded sprouts and some crisp, smoked pancetta.
This is my fourth Lean on Turkey challenge, supporting our fabulous British turkey farmers and showing you just how versatile turkey is. In the last three recipes, I’ve told you that turkey’s not just for Christmas,but FINALLY I can tell you that it’s for Christmas too!
This time the chaps have challenged me to create a recipe with leftovers, and it just HAD to be the Boxing Day Pie. It’s a tradition in our house to bake a MASSIVE leftover pie on Boxing Day. If you’ve got stuffing leftover, pop it in too, it tastes delicious. Served with a stir fry of leftover veggies, it’s a feast as good as the one on Christmas Day. Here’s how to do it:
You will need:
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 large white onion
Lots of leftover turkey (a good couple of double handfuls, shredded, depending on how large your pie dish is)
Leftover ham: this can be from a roast ham, or just any ham you have lying around
Any leftover stuffing
Small tub of double cream
About 200-300ml chicken stock (cube is fine, or use watered down leftover gravy)
Herbs: I wanted to use tarragon, but apparently there’s a ‘shortage’ (?), so I opted for thyme out of the garden
Shortcrust pastry (bought or home made)
For the pastry
So firstly, if you’d like to make your own pastry, you’ll need:
200g cold butter
400g plain flour
Cut the cold butter into cubes, and add it to the flour. Add in the salt, and then rub in the butter gently with just your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Keep everything as cool as you can, including your hands. Add the egg, and a couple of tablespoons of cold water, just enough to bring it together. It’s less messy initially so use a knife to just stir it around until it starts to form clumps, then, with your hands, bring it together into a dough. Don’t knead it, remember, just treat it very gently. Now just wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to rest while you make the filling.
For the pie
So gently fry the onion in the oil until translucent and add in the shredded turkey and leftover ham (snipped into little pieces, or chopped), season well (not too much salt – the ham’s salty) and then add a generous splosh of cream. Pour in the stock and leave to bubble away and reduce a little (you don’t want too much ‘juice’ in the pie as it will make the pastry soggy). Add in the fresh herbs and allow to cool while you roll out the pastry.
This is a good time to preheat the oven to 180/gas 4.
In our house, it’s absolutely obligatory that the pie has a bottom, the boys insist upon it, but if you want, you can omit the bottom and just cover the top with pastry. So flour your work surface AND your rolling pin really well. Divide your pastry into two pieces: one about 2/3 for the base and the other 1/3 for the top.
Roll the larger piece out to about 5-6mm thick, moving the pastry around in 1/4 turns as you roll until you’ve got a rough circle. This will prevent the pastry from sticking to the work surface. Roll the pastry up around the rolling pin, then unroll it over your pie dish. Push it down gently, and use little extra bits to fill any holes or cracks.
Now spoon in your cooled filling. Don’t put hot filling into the pie as it will begin to melt the butter and you’ll get the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’!
Now do the same thing with the final third of pastry. Unroll it over your filling and crimp the edges with your fingers, or a fork so that they’re sealed together.
If you’re feeling arty, make some letters, then transfer to the eggy wash department (I use a stray child) for a brush with beaten egg or milk and pop in the oven for about half an hour.
And that’s it. Hopefully it will become a tradition in your house too!
There’s really no pricing with this as most of it is home made or leftover, but it’s definitely cost effective, and delicious.
For more information on the Lean on Turkey campaign, head to leanonturkey.co.uk
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