Today we are focused on food. In any home during the festive season the kitchen comes alive with activity and delicious smells of homemade food, little hands baking and the flour that seems to get everywhere.
Whether you’re a sprout lover or not where would a Christmas dinner be without them? Turkey, Goose, Beef or even Fish may be the main choice to grace the centre of the dining room table, surrounded by piles of roast potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire Puddings and of course the classic pig in a blanket.
It is hard to define a ‘right’ way of cooking this magnificent feast but here at Propertywide we thought we would share with you a few of our all-time favourites from morning breakfast to the evening buffet on Christmas day.
The Perfect Turkey
• 1 free-range turkey weighing 4kg/8lb 11oz
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 175g/6oz unsalted or lightly salted butter
For the bread sauce
• 450ml/15fl oz full-cream milk
• 1 small onion
• 4 cloves
• 75-100g (2½ to 3½ oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
• freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• 40g/1½oz butter or 2 tbsp double cream
• cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Check that you have not left the plastic bag of giblets lurking inside the bird. Put the turkey in a large, deep roasting tin. Season generously all over with salt and pepper and massage the seasoning into the skin.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Fold the muslin in four and lower it into the melted butter, pushing it in so that it soaks up virtually all the butter.
3. Lift out the butter-soaked muslin and lay it over the turkey, making sure that it completely covers the breast and upper thighs.
4. Pour about 300ml/½ pint water into the roasting tin and slide it into the oven. Cook for approximately 3 hours 20 minutes, basting the bird approximately every 30 minutes with the pan juices.
5. Test that the turkey is properly cooked in just the same way as you would a chicken. Pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear then the turkey is done. If they are pink, slide it straight back into the oven for a further 15 minutes before testing again and continue to do this until they do run clear.
6. Once it’s done, transfer the turkey to a large serving dish, discard the muslin and leave in a warm place to rest for at least half an hour. Cover with foil to stop the meat going cold.
7. While the turkey is cooking, make the bread sauce. Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan. Stick the four cloves into the onion, add to the milk and bring very, very slowly up to the boil, so that the milk has plenty of time to absorb the flavours of the onion and the cloves.
8. Remove the onion and cloves and stir enough breadcrumbs into the milk to give a thick sauce. Season to taste with nutmeg and salt. Stir in the butter or cream, adjust the seasoning, then spoon into a warm serving bowl, sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and place on the table. If making in advance, leave to cool, then cover with cling film and store in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat thoroughly before serving. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper just before serving.
Spice up the sprouts!
• 900g/2lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
• 20g/¾oz butter
• 4 tsp sunflower oil
• 150g/5oz bacon lardons (or rindless back bacon, cut into short fat strips)
• 20g/¾oz flaked almonds
• 400ml/14fl oz double cream
• 2½ tsp lemon juice
• 5½ tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
• 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Place the sprouts into a saucepan of simmering salted water and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost, but not quite, cooked. Drain thoroughly, allow to cool slightly, then cut in half.
3. Place the butter and oil into a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and almonds and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned.
4. Add the sprouts and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
5. Add the cream and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil for 2-4 minutes, until the cream has reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and spoon into an ovenproof gratin dish.
7. Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the sprout mixture.
8. Place into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and the cream visibly boiling.
9. Remove from the oven and serve in the gratin dish (when the dish has cooled slightly).
A Classic Christmas Cake
• 175g/6oz raisins
• 350g/12oz natural glacé cherries, halved, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
• 500g/1lb 2oz currants
• 350g/12oz sultanas
• 150ml/¼pt brandy or sherry, plus extra for feeding
• 2 oranges, zest only
• 250g/9oz butter, softened
• 250g/9oz light muscovado sugar
• 4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
• 1 tbsp black treacle
• 75g/3oz blanched almonds, chopped
• 250g/9oz plain flour
• 1½ tsp mixed spice
For the covering
• about 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed and sieved
• icing sugar
• 675g/1lb 8oz marzipan
For the royal icing
• 3 free-range eggs, whites only
• 675g/1½lb icing sugar, sifted
• 3 tsp lemon juice
• 1½ tsp glycerine
Of course there are lots more recipes to be found on www.bbc.co.uk to give you inspiration or to enhance the recipes you already follow that make your Christmas special and unique to you.
We hope you enjoy these!