Category Archives: Christmas

Beef Wellington

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients

  • 450-500g fillet of beef
  • English mustard
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 1 fresh spring of rosemary
  • 4-6 slices of parma ham
  • Puff pastry (I buy pre-rolled but if not you’ll need to roll it out to about A4 size)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Put a frying pan on a high heat and once hot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Sear the meat in the pan – about a minute on each side and then quickly do the ends.
  • Place the meat on a chopping board/plate and brush it all over with English mustard.
  • Add the mushrooms, garlic, breadcrumbs (if using), salt and pepper to a blender and whizz up until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  • Get a dry frying pan on a medium heat and tip the mushroom mixture in. The idea here is to cook out all of the moisture so this might take a little while.
  • Once completely dry, leave the mixture to one side until it has cooled down.
  • In the mean time, lay out some cling film and lay your parma ham along it, making sure they overlap each other
  • Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham, leaving about half an inch at the top and bottom of where you’ll roll it.
  • Place the beef on top.
  • Use the clingfilm to help roll the beef in the ham and wrap it up in the clingfilm like a sausage. Put it in the fridge to set.
  • Roll out more clingfilm and place your pastry on top. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.
  • Get the beef from the fridge and place it on the pastry. Again use the clingfilm to wrap the beef in the pastry. Trim the pastry so that you have just enough to go round the beef without overlapping.
  • Tuck the pastry at both ends and wrap up like a sausage in the clingfilm. Leave this in the fridge for 5-10mins to set.
  • Unwrap the package and place on a baking tray. Brush with beaten egg yolk and use the back of a knife to slice patterns in the top of the pastry (don’t go through it!). You could also use the spare pastry to make shapes on top.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and then cook in the oven for 35-40mins until the pastry is golden brown.
  • Cut into 1cm slices and serve πŸ™‚

Ultimate Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1x 1.6kg whole chicken – adjust your cooking time for different weights. Β The general rule is 20mins per 450g (1lb) plus 10-15mins on top.
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 small whole bulb of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1x lemon
  • 1 bunch of mixed herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage

Method

  • Remove your chicken from the fridge around 30mins before cooking to bring it up to room temperature
  • Preheat your oven to 240C/220C Fan/Gas 9
  • Wash and roughly chop the onions, carrots and celery – you don’t need to peel any of them
  • Break the garlic bulb up into cloves and leave them unpeeled
  • Pile all of the vegetables into a baking tray with some of the herbs and drizzle with olive oil
  • Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub with salt and pepper
  • Place the chicken on top of the vegetables
  • Prick some holes in the lemon with a sharp knife (this will release the flavour) and place inside the chicken with the rest of the herbs
  • Put the tray in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6
  • Cook for the allotted time, which is 1hr 20mins for our chicken
  • At this point, you can get on with your vegetables such as my perfect roast potatoes and whatever else you fancy.
  • Take the chicken out of the oven when it’s done, cover it with foil and a tea towel, and leave it for at least 15mins to rest.
  • When you’re ready, carve the chicken and serve πŸ™‚

Salted Caramel Shortbread Slices

Ingredients

For the shortbread

  • 175g/6oz unsalted butter
  • 75g/2.5oz golden caster sugar
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod OR 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g/8oz plain flour

For the caramel

  • 200g/7oz unsalted butter
  • 1x 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 4tbsp golden syrup
  • 1tsp sea salt

For the topping

  • 100-150g milk chocolate

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4
  • Grease and line a 20cm square tin
  • Rub the butter, sugar, vanilla and flour together to form a rough dough – don’t worry if it doesn’t all come together, it should be crumbly
  • Press the dough into the tin evenly and prick it all over with a fork
  • Bake the dough for 5 mins then turn the oven down to 150C/Gas Mark 2 and bake for another 35 mins.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and let the base cool in the tin
  • Now you can make the caramel. Add all of the ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to the boil for 10mins. I’d recommend stirring for the whole time even before it starts boiling.
  • After 10mins, the mixture should be golden and now you can pour it over the biscuit base. Use a spoon to level it all out.
  • Put your tin in the fridge to cool the caramel until it’s cool and slightly hardened.
  • For the topping, add the chocolate to a bowl and melt it over a sauce pan of simmering water.
  • Once melted, pour the chocolate over the caramel and level it out.
  • Return to the fridge to let it set.
  • Cut into as many or as few pieces as you like πŸ™‚

Mince Pies

Ingredients

  • 140g/5oz cold butter, diced
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 50g/2oz ground almonds
  • 50g/2oz golden caster sugar
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-2 tsp cold water
  • 280g/10oz good quality mincemeat
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  • Rub the butter into the flour and add the almonds, caster sugar, orange rind and salt until the mixture is a bit crumbly.
  • Combine mixture with the egg yolk and 1-2 teaspoons of water until it forms soft dough, then put it into a plastic bag and chill for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2-3mm(0.1in) and cut out about 18 rounds measuring 7.5cm(3in) with a pastry cutter.
  • Place in lightly greased patty tins and spoon the mincemeat evenly into the pies.
  • Re-roll the leftover pastry and cut out round lids, stars or other festive shapes to fit on top of the mincemeat.
  • Lightly brush the pastry tops with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden.
  • Remove from oven and leave for a few minutes before removing from tins and cooling on a wire rack.
  • Dust with icing sugar.

Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of pork sausage meat
  • 1 large onion (or two small)
  • 2 apples (braeburn or gala)
  • Dry sage
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Peel and roughly chop the onion and apple.
  • Put these in a mixer with the meat.
  • Sprinkle with a good helping of pepper and sage.
  • Mix until a smooth paste
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper or foil
  • Use spoons to create stuffing balls and cook on 200 for 25-30mins

Apple Sauce

Chef’s Tip: You could also use a masher to smooth out lumps in your sauce.

Ingredients

  • 450g chopped cooking apples
  • 25g caster sugar
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • 2fl.oz. water
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Teaspoon of butter (maybe a little more)

Method

  • Chop the apples and put in a saucepan with all the ingredients
  • Cook on a medium heat for 15mins.
  • Then whisk to desired consistency – the more you whisk, the smoother the sauce.

 

Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 200g sugar
  • 250ml water
  • 300g pack of fresh cranberries

Method

  • Bring water and sugar to a gentle boil.
  • Add cranberries and simmer for 10mins.
  • Add a dash of orange zest or orange juice/cinnamon.
  • Remove from heat and cool.

Yorkshire Puddings

Makes:Β 8-10 yorkshires

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • Milk (see below for amount)
  • 100g/4oz plain flour OR wholemeal flour
  • Β½ teaspoon of salt
  • Enough oil for 3mm in each tin hole (just over half a tbsp usually works for me)
  • Cupcake baking trays

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan
  • Pour 3mm of oil into each cupcake hole. Heat the oil in the oven.
  • Crack eggs into jug and make the mixture up to 300ml with milk
  • Add the salt and flour and whisk until there are no lumps
  • Fill cupcake holes 2/3 of the way and cook for 20-25mins
  • DO NOT OPEN OVEN IN FIRST 10 MINS!

Shortbread

Makes: 20-24 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 125g (4oz) butter
  • 55g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 180g (6oz) plain flour

Method

  • Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth
  • Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste
  • If it doesn’t come together smoothly, add a little water or milk to help bind it
  • Roll out the pastry to 1cm thick and cut into the shapes you want
  • Place on baking paper on a baking tray, make holes with a fork if you want and sprinkle with caster sugar
  • Bake for 15-20mins or until the biscuits are pale golden-brown

Vanilla Fudge

This recipe is huge and makes about 77 squares, so I usually just do a half batch.

Intro

You need to use your own instinct as to how long to cook the fudge. It can range from 10-20 minutes. Just make sure you have a bowl of cold water nearby. Drop small amounts of the molten fudge into the water and if it sets (known as soft ball stage) it’s ready. Or you can use a sugar thermometer, which will indicate ‘soft-ball stage’.

Ingredients

  • 250g soft butter
  • 1x 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 175ml milk
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 800g golden caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • Fill a small bowl or jug with ice cold water and put near the stove. Grease a tin of approx. 30 x 20cm / 12 x 8 inch or 25cm / 10 inch square, or use a throwaway foil tin.
  • Put all the ingredients, apart from the vanilla, into a large, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  • Boil for 12-20 minutes, still stirring all the time, until the mixture is golden and, when a bit is dropped into the water, it turns solid but still squidgy, i.e., till soft-ball stage (see intro). How long this takes depends on how ferociously it bubbles as well as on the properties and dimensions of the pan. This is hot work!
  • When the fudge is at soft-ball stage, very carefully remove the pan from the stove and stir in the vanilla.
  • Preferably using an electric whisk beat for about five minutes, by which time the fudge will have thickened to the texture of stiff peanut butter – this is quite steamy and strenuous.
  • Pour and push into the prepared tin. Smooth the top as well as you can.
  • Put in the fridge to cool, but don’t keep it there for more than 2 hours, or it will set too hard, then remove and using a sharp knife, cut into squares.