Thursday, 1 December 2016

December 2013: simple Christmas recipes


No turkeys were harmed for this!

No lecture this month - just a few christmas main course recipes. They should be cheaper than certainly a free range turkey, easier (I'm not sure - have never done one), and may be preferable to you for various other reasons.
Why not do something different this year? And I'm not just talking about the food ....
Personally I like to keep the christmas food as simple as possible. I have tested all the recipes printed out below. There are also websites to browse for those with special food needs.
When planning a meat dish, make sure your butcher will be able to supply what you need. Not all of this is standard stuff.
And if for you or your family, Christmas = Turkey: there are enough Sundays or otherwise in December for a bit of experimentation.

V = vegan or vegetarian

And PS: "How can I prevent gout?"-

Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter radish, endive, winter purslane.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. Judging by the shooting going on outside, pheasant can't be that expensive! For (Christmas) game recipes, see
Fish: coley, megrim, clams, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.

Shallots are traditionally planted on the shortest day. You can still plant garlic. They like sun, and woodash.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken) for protection, and so as to get them out more easily.
Give brassica's some attention before the worst of the weather. Firm soil around the stems, mulch with rotted manure and support with canes if necessary. Pick off yellowing leaves.
As ground becomes vacant, dig it over and spread manure. Leave roughly dug in large clumps and the worms will break them up. Freezing and thawing of water in the soil will cause it to break up finely, so becoming easier to handle in the spring.


4x175g coley fillets, 2 limes, 200g breadcrumbs, 50g butter, salt, pepper, 1 tblsp olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grate lime zest. Fry crumbs and zest in the butter for 2-3 mins, stirring until pale golden. Put fish in a shallow dish. Season and squeeze over a little lime juice. Drizzle with the oil. Pat crumb mixture on top and bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked. Garnish with lime wedges.

4 lamb neck fillets, 1 small squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 12 wedges; 1 crushed garlic clove, ¼ tsp ground mace (or nutmeg), cayenne pepper/chilli flakes, 2tbsp oil, 15g butter, salt, pepper.
For the lamb marinade: 2 crushed garlic cloves, rosemary, 2tbsp dry white wine, 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
For the dressing: 1 very finely chopped bay leaf, thyme, 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 chopped shallots, 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley, grated zest of 1 lemon, 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil.

Mix ingredients for the marinade. Spoon over the fillets, cover and refrigerate for 2 hrs or overnight.
Mix ingredients for the dressing.Preheat oven to 250°C. Toss squash wedges with seasoning, garlic, mace, cayenne, oil. Arrange into a roasting tin in one layer, dot with butter. Cook for 15 mins, reduce temperature to 190°C, turn over and cook for 10-15 more mins. They should have nice golden brown bits and be soft on the inside.
Season lamb and fry really on very high heat for 5-15 mins on each side, depending on how you want it. Transfer to a warm plate to rest for 5 mins. Place some pieces of squash on each plate. Slice fillets nice and thick. Place half on and half off the squash. Put a tblsp of dressing on top. Serve immediately with seasonal veg and roast potatoes.

4 pigeons, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp plain flour, 4 tbsp dry white wine, 250ml stock/water, 200g shallots, 50g plain/dark chocolate.
Finely chop garlic. Wash pigeons, dry and rub with salt and pepper, inside and out. Brown pigeons in oil before removing from pan. Fry garlic in remaining oil. Stir flour into oil, fry briefly, add wine and stock. Simmer for 5 mins, stirring constantly. Put pigeons into sauce, cover and cook for 1 hr on a low heat. Chop shallots finely and add after 40 mins. Pre-heat oven to 120°C. Arrange pigeons on a serving dish and keep hot in oven. Grate chocolate and add to sauce, stirring continuously over a low heat until melted. Do not let the sauce boil again. Season generously and serve with pigeons. Goes well with roast potatoes and parsnips.
This sauce can also be used with venison. Thank you, Chris! 

Needed: pumpkin/squash of the desired size. Or several small ones. You have to adjust the oven time to the size of the pumpkin: the times below are for a buttercup squash of just over a kilogram.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut top off pumpkin, clean out seeds and strings, put 2 tblsp of water in, oil the cut edges of pumpkin and lid, and bake both for about 40 mins, or till it's soft.
In the meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. I made two versions: I preferred (I), hubby (II). Take your pick, or mix and match: you can leave or add anything you like.
(I) 100g cooked barley (or rice, millet etc), 1 chopped apple, 1 onion, 25g chopped celery, 15g chopped hazelnuts, 1 tblsp raisins, chilli pepper, 1tsp paprika powder, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, sage, 1/2 tsp soy, chopped parsley. 
Sauté the onion; after a few mins add apple, celery, raisins and spices, fry till the apple is soft. Mix in the rest and season.
(II) 100g cooked grain see above, 50g chopped carrot, 40g (goat's) cheese, 50g cooked white beans, onion, mushrooms, crushed fennel seeds, seasoning, chopped almonds. 
Part-cook the carrot, drain and then saute with onion, mushrooms and fennel. Mix with the rest of the ingredients, season.
When you can prick the pumpkin meat with a fork, drain any leftover water from it and stuff, tightly, with ingredients of your choice. Put lid on. Lower oven to 180°C, and cook for about 20-30 mins, longer if the stuffing was cold. When you use cheese, take the lid off for the last bit so it gets brown and bubbly.
If you have too much stuffing, place the extra in a greased dish, cover, and put in the oven as well.

900g coley (aka pollack, pollock, coalfish, saithe, colin) - or any white fish fillets cut into 5cm chunks, 300ml dry cider, 1 (cooking) apple, cored and sliced into rings, 1 chopped onion, 2 tsp anchovy essence or paste, 50g lightly seasoned flour, 65g butter, 1 tblsp lemon juice, chopped parsley.
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Coat fish in 25g flour. Melt 25g butter and cook the onion gently for 5 mins, until soft. Add fish and cook for 3 more mins or until lightly browned. Remove both to a buttered oven dish.
For the sauce, put 25g butter in a smallish pan, add the remaining flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the while. Gradually add cider, anchovy and lemon. When it boils, simmer for 2-3 mins, still stirring, until smooth. Pour over the fish, bake for 20 mins.
Meanwhile, fry the apple in the remaining butter for 1-2 mins. Put on top of the fish. Garnish with parsley.

4x150g lamb leg steaks, 25g butter, 1-2 tsp flour, 300 ml lamb/beef stock, 2 tblsp drained capers, 1 tblsp vinegar from the capers.
Fry steaks gently for 10-15 mins, turning occasionally, until browned both sides. Transfer to warmed dish. Stir, to loosen any sediment at bottom of pan: stir in flour and cook for 1-2 mins. Gradually add stock, stirring all the time. Cook until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Add capers and vinegar and simmer for 1-2 mins. Return lamb steaks to pan and simmer for 5 mins or until the lamb is cooked to your liking. Serve hot.

60g cooked barley (or rice), 600g sliced mushrooms, 12 fresh/frozen cranberries, pinch turmeric, zest of 1 lemon, 1 chopped onion, 50g butter, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp chopped tarragon, 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs, salt, pepper.
Pastry: 250g ready-rolled puff pastry, 1 beaten egg, 1 tsp sesame seeds. (Vegetarian gravy to serve).
Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine grain, turmeric and zest. Heat butter, add onion and mushroom, fry till soft. Stir in grain mix, herbs, chopped cranberries and hard-boiled eggs, season.
Cut 40cm x 20cm rectangle from the pastry. Spoon filling down the centre, bring sides together and seal. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 mins, or until golden-brown. Serve with gravy if you like.

GARLIC BEEF (from Good Food)
600g trimmed beef skirt, 1 tbsp black peppercorn, 6 garlic cloves, 4 tbsp red wine vinegar.

Crush peppercorns and garlic with a pinch of salt, stir in vinegar. In a non-metallic dish, rub beef all over with this paste. Leave in fridge for a few hrs, no longer. Rub the marinade off the meat, season with a little more salt. Make griddle or dry frying pan very hot. Cook until charred on each side – about 5 mins on each side for rare. If the cut is very thick, roast in a hot oven for 5 mins after searing. Put on a chopping board, rest for 5 mins before carving.
The size can vary from 300g to 800g so adjust your cooking times accordingly – smaller pieces will cook just on the griddle but thicker pieces may need to be roasted for a few minutes, once seared. As a steak, skirt is best served rare to medium-rare or it becomes tough. Also good for braising. 

NUT ROAST for 6-8 V 
30g butter, 2 finely chopped sticks of celery, 1 finely chopped onion, 360ml hot water, 1 tsp marmite/vecon, 550g ground nuts (cashews, almonds, brazils, peanuts), 2 tblsp flour, 4 tsp fresh herbs (if using dried 1 tsp), 160g bread crumbs, salt, pepper.
This nut roast is delicious. The slightly boring looks will improve if, after turning out, you put holly on top or something like that.
Melt butter, cook celery and onion in it for a few mins. Mix marmite/vecon into hot water and add to onion-celery mix. Stir flour into the nuts, then mix in herbs, crumbs, salt and pepper. Grease a loaf tin. Place mix in tin and press. Bake in oven for 40 mins at 180ºC, turn out and slice. Nice served with all the trimmings.
Variations:- you can substitute wine or milk for the water-and-yeast extract. A layer of sliced mushrooms and garlic is nice. Or fill with sage and onion stuffing.

And if you need to really count the pennies, see Jack Monroe's recipes in the Guardian: a (Finnish inspired) dinner for under £2.50 a head.  

Here are some websites for those who are on special diets:  
Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Peanut/meat free:
Vegan glutenfree:
Multiple food allergies:
Vegan, egg free, dairy free:

And here are some side dish recipes and a pudding one: I haven't tried these, but they sounded nice and not too complicated:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pecans
Cider-Roasted Vegetables
Sprout tops with browned butter and hazelnuts
Christmas Panna Cotta: