Christmas/Thanksgiving Gravy Stock – Make Ahead

A fun thing to do this time of year is prepare your stock for your gravy for Christmas (or even Thanksgiving). This firstly takes the task away from you closer to Christmas as you can just whip it out of your freezer, but it also lets you spread the cost of ingredients between now and Christmas. I think the most efficient way to do this is to buy a turkey or chicken for Sunday lunch (one that includes ideally the giblets and neck) and just save them and make this recipe at the same time. Once done just allow to cool and freeze.

Ingredients

Turkey/Chicken giblets/neck

1 onion sliced and halved

1 carrot, sliced lengthways

1 celery stick

1 bay leaf

6 peppercorns

1 tbsp salt

1.5 pints cold water

Method

  1. Put all in pan and boil for 30 minutes
  2. Remove the surface scum with a spoon
  3. Remove giblets and onion
  4. Boil for another 30 minutes
  5. Allow to cool then freeze

When it’s time to use the stock this is the recipe to use below:

Gravy (see Giblet stock as optional above)

Ingredients

Turkey pan with fat and burnt bits stuck to the bottom once the Turkey has been removed

2 tbsp flour

1 pint giblet stock or beef stock from a packet

Pinch of salt and pepper

Splash red wine

1 tbsp cranberry sauce

Gravy browning if you want to cheat a little

Method

  1. Pour off the majority of the fat left in the pan
  2. Add the flour and put the pan on the hob on a medium heat
  3. Using a wooden spatula scrape the bottom of the pan until all the black bits mix with flour and it starts to form a paste and the flour cooks out for a few minutes
  4. Add the red wine and cook out for another 2-3 minutes
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the thickness of gravy you like
  6. If it’s not brown enough add a little gravy browning

Stir up Sunday Shopping List: Victoria Christmas Cake and Mincemeat

Stir up Sunday is November 20th. This is the day whereby you prepare your Christmas cake and Christmas mincemeat so it can age beautifully over the weeks before Christmas so it tastes incredible on Christmas Day. It also allows you to add alcohol such as rum or brandy to the cake every week to let it soak in slowly. This year I’ve chosen to use a bottle I already had of Black forest Gâteaux flavoured rum.

In preparation I’ve included my ingredient lists so you can shop in advance.

Victorian Christmas Cake

Ingredients

Cake

175g raisins

350g glace cherries

500g currants

350g sultanas

150ml sherry or brandy or rum

2 oranges juiced and zested

250g butter softened

250g brown sugar

4 eggs beaten

1 tbsp black treacle

75g blanched almonds

75g self raising flour sifted

175 plain flour sifted

Decoration

Marzipan pack

Apricot jam or any if you are stuck

Icing pack

Any decorations you like

Christmas Mincemeat

I tend to make my mincemeat at the same time as I do my Christmas cake as the ingredients are broadly the same and you can avoid wasting items. You can add whatever else you really like such as cherries or different fruits or spices to make it really personal. Let people know if you’ve add the alcohol if you are giving them away.

Ingredients:

175g currants

175g raisins

175g sultanas

175g dried cranberries

100g mixed peel

1 small apple diced and cored

125 butter or suet

50g blanched or flaked almonds

225g brown sugar

½ tbs cinnamon

1 tbsp mixed spice

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

200 ml of brandy, rum, sherry or orange juice

Copying Disney snacks – Dolewhip (Christmas holiday kids activity)

This is a recipe I tried in the summer as we were majorly missing our Disney parks fix for the year. I did however think it would a fun one to do with kids over the Christmas break to eat/drink with a Disney movie or a vlog of one of the parks. It contains fruit at least to cut through lots of the rich Christmas food.

Ingredients:

2 cups of frozen pineapple (you can buy the tinned stuff; drain and freeze)

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon lemon or a dash

Method:

1. Allow the pineapple to defrost a little (20 minutes)

2. Blend everything together

We had some straws leftover from our last visit to really make you feel at Disney home. There are some similar ones online though (https://amzn.to/3SRMe1E).

Leftover turkey pie recipe

So. It’s Boxing Day or a day or so later abs you’ve made turkey sandwiches. Now what do you do with the rest of the leftover turkey?

I personally love a good pie. Turkey and even the leftover vegetables can be a great pie filling. You can always make short crust but I’m guessing after Christmas you want an easier time.

Ingredients:

4 potatoes (cut into cubes) – these can be leftover roast potatoes

Chunks of turkey (dark and light meat mix the best)

1 onion

1 splash olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of sage or a fresh leaf chopped

Any leftover stuffing chopped up

Any leftover Christmas vegetables cut up

1 pack frozen puff or short crust pastry

1 egg whisked or 1 tbsp milk to glaze the pastry

Method

  1. Boil potatoes for 10-20 minutes dependant on their size until they are soft (or chop up if leftovers£
  2. Fry onions in olive oil until softened
  3. Add turkey; vegetables and seasoning
  4. Add to a baking tin and cover with pastry
  5. Glaze with egg or milk
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt
  7. Bake for 25 minutes at 200 degree c
  8. Serve

Christmas leftovers – Bubble & Squeek

I’ve never tried making bubble and squeek before but as we had tonnes of leftovers from Christmas Day I figured I had to do something with the turkey and the vegetables. I imagine quite a lot of people this year sadly had too much food due to the COVID restrictions on family sizes.

Apparently the squeek comes from the veggies frying and releasing water and I definitely saw the sprouts do this.

Ingredients:

Leftover chopped up mash; veggies and even pigs in blanket and a little turkey

Egg for frying

Seasoning and a little oul

Method:

1. Simply chop it all and fry off in a pan until brown and cooked through. Season well

2. In parallel fry off an egg

3. I served with beans and it went well but I also felt it needed a texture like toast or fried bread for next time

Tip: A lot of steam comes off so open a window and next time I’m going to do in mini patties to let the steam escape and allow them to crisp up sooner

Enjoy!

Perfect roast potatoes (Nigella style)

Perfect Roast Potatoes

These roast potatoes are partially taken from a Nigella Lawson cookbook. I was used to cooking my roasties in as much fat as I could as that’s what I’d been given as a kid but I’d never coated them in semolina before. The semolina makes them crunchy and sweet but not in a sickly way. If you cook them slowly and allow them to really brown they are literally the best potatoes in the world and trust me I’ve had a lot of compliments.

As it’s Christmas tomorrow I’d recommend a one off addition of goose fat instead of cooking oil for a Christmas treat.

Ingredients

2.5kg Maris Piper potatoes

2-3 tbsps semolina

Sunflower oil; butter or goose fat (at Christmas)

Pinch of salt and pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Cut the potatoes into ⅓ pieces and boil in salted water for about 10 minutes
  3. Drain the potatoes and shake them around in the colander to make rough edges
  4. In a roasting tin and the fat and put in the oven for a few minutes before you add the potatoes. You can also heat in on the hob but be careful with hot fat as it splits
  5. Drop the potatoes into the roasting tin and sprinkle over semolina and salt/pepper
  6. Shake the potatoes around so they get covered in the fat
  7. Roast for about 40 minutes shaking the tin occasionally until they are golden brown and crunchy

Buy goose fat at https://amzn.to/3RWtWuI

Turkey brining (quick and easy)

This post is from attempt at an American thanksgiving meal and doing some researching into brining. Brining your turkey basically gives it more flavour and helps keep it moist so I figured it was worth a try. There are wet and dry brines. Nigella Lawson has an excellent recipe of soaking her turkey in a big tub with lots of lovely liquid and spices. As there’s only two of us for Christmas Day (the baby doesn’t count yet as he can’t eat it) it was a simple version.

There’s a great set of vlogs from Bon Appetit on YouTube where they make the perfect thanksgiving and this is inspired by all their hard work.

Quite simply you fry off your bird with paper towels and sprinkle liberally in a dry mix of salt (kosher/sea) and brown sugar. Leave uncovered in a cold place such as your fridge overnight. That’s it!