Archive for the 'Christmas' Category

Christmas Sausage & Chestnut Stuffing

This is my new Christmas stuffing recipe, which I adapted from a recipe in GoodFood magazine. Mix sausage meat, herbs, breadcrumbs and chopped chestnuts, then form into patties. Wrap the patties in bacon and roast alongside your spuds. I like this method because the turkey/chicken does not take as long to cook, resulting in moister meat.


  • 200g good-quality sausage meat
  • 100g white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 50g chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 apple
  • salt & pepper
  • 8 slices streaky bacon
  • 8 sage leaves


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the sausagemeat, breadcrumbs, apple, herbs, chestnuts and egg.
  2. Remove the core and skin from the apple and grate into the mixing bowl.
  3. Season with black pepper and a little salt (remember that your sausagemeat will already be well seasoned). Mix well with your hands.
  4. Form into 8 patties and wrap each patty with a slice of streaky bacon, tucking a sage leaf under the bacon.
  5. Place on a baking sheet (or alongside your roast potatoes) and roast at 180°C for 45 minutes.

Serves 8.

Braised Red Cabbage

I couldn’t have Christmas dinner without red cabbage. This one tastes just right with a little port and a hint of cinnamon. It also freezes very well, so you can make a large batch and portion into freezer bags. Just defrost and microwave on Christmas day for a tasty side dish.

This would also go well with some roast duck or a good steak, with maybe some pomme dauphinoise on the side.

Finely sliced 1 large red cabbage (about 1kg) and add to a large saucepan. Add 2 finely sliced red onions. Now add 150ml port, 150ml water, the juice and zest of 1 orange, 1 cinnamon stick and  2 star anise. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave on a gentle simmer for 1 hour.

Serves 8.

    Cranberry Sauce

    This makes a subtly spicy cranberry sauce, with a little added port for some festive cheer. I made a couple of batches of this last week which are sitting happily in the freezer, waiting for the big day. Vastly superior to the ready-made version.

    Put 500g fresh cranberries in a small saucepan along with 100g golden caster sugar, 100ml water, 100ml port, zest of 1 orange, 2 cloves and 1 star anise. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened. Cool and serve.

    Serves 6.

    Christmas Poor Man’s Cake

    Christmas Poor Man's Cake

    In a rare moment of kitchen experimentation, I came up with this Christmas version of an old family recipe, Poor Man’s Cake. It’s got lots of Christmassy flavours like orange zest and warm spice. If you’re not into Christmas cake or pudding, give this a try.


    • 450g self-raising flour
    • 225g caster sugar
    • 225g butter
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ tsp mixed spice
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
    • 2 cardamom pods
    • zest 1 small orange
    • 125g sultanas
    • 125g raisins
    • 50g dried cranberries
    • 3 tbsp brandy (or dark rum)
    • 2 free-range eggs
    • 240ml whole milk
    • 3 tbsp demerera sugar


    1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl along with the salt and ground spices. Rub butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Now add the caster sugar and orange zest.
    2. Slit open the cardamom pods and grind the black seeds using a mortar and pestle and add to the mixing bowl.
    3. Toss the dried fruit in a little flour (this stops the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the baking tin) and add to the mixing bowl.
    4. Beat the eggs into the milk and rum, then mix well with the dry ingredients.
    5. Pour (this is quite a wet batter) into a greased 8″ (20cm) square tin and sprinkle the top liberally with the demerera sugar. Bake at 160°C (140°C fan) for 2 hours.
    6. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before removing. It’s best eaten on the day you bake it, but it will keep very well in an airtight box for 2-3 days. It also freezes quite well; just wrap in greaseproof paper and foil.

    Makes 20-25 portions.

    Chai – Masala Tea

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, the majority of Indians did not know how to make a cup of tea and were reluctant to drink one. Now that India is both the world’s major producer and consumer of tea, this seems incredible. It confounds the myth that the British acquired their love of tea from their Indian subjects. In fact, it was the British who introduced tea to the Indians. Although they barely changed the way Indians eat, the British radically altered what they eat and drink.  While the introduction of a wide variety of European and American vegetables to India was an inadvertent by-product of British rule, the conversion of the population to tea-drinking was the result of what must have been the first major marketing campaign in India. The British-owned Indian Tea Association set itself the task of first creating a new habit among the Indian population, and then spreading it across the entire subcontinent.

    Extract from “Curry – A Biography” by Lizzie Collingham.

    If like me, you tend to “over-indulge” when you eat Indian food, chai is a great option for dessert when you’re too full, but you still want to satisfy that sweet tooth. The fragrant spices are infused in boiling water and milk before the tea is steeped. Chai is also believed to be great for tummy upsets and generally aiding digestion.

    Even if you’re not accustomed to taking sugar in your tea, don’t skip on the sweetening. You need it to bring out the warmth and flavour of the spices.


    • 350ml water
    • 100 ml milk
    • 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
    • 5 black peppercorns
    • 3 cloves
    • ½ tsp fennel seeds
    • piece of cinnamon stick (about 5cm)
    • slice of ginger root (about 2cm thick)
    • 1 tsp tea leaves (black tea)
    • 1-2 tsp sugar


    1. Heat the water, milk, ginger and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and leave simmer gently for 15 minutes.
    2. Take off the heat and add the tea leaves. Leave to stand for 3 minutes before straining into a mug and sweetening to taste with a little sugar. A teaspoon or two should do it.

    Serves 1.