Ah, Christmas – the time to eat, drink and be merry. However, if you’re hosting, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year can also be one of the most stressful. We all know that food plays such a key role during the festive season. And we all want to get everything right when we entertain family and friends. The key to success – as with most things in life – is forward planning. Whether you prefer to stick with the Christmas classics, or experiment with new ideas, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover national trainer Jo’s favourite Christmas cooking ideas. There’s something for every big day of the holidays, from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day.
Fish pie is a fabulous, fail-safe choice for Christmas Eve. Rick Stein’s version from Penguin’s The Happy Foodie combines cod, smoked haddock, parsley and a fluffy potato topping – delicious!
I won’t pretend that fish pie is one of the fastest Christmas cooking ideas. But I promise it’s worth the effort. It’s also a great excuse to escape to the kitchen while someone else takes responsibility for any last-minute wrapping.
This fish pie is a complete meal in itself, so you can simply serve it with a glass of your favourite wine.
Top tip: Your sauce and fish need to chill in the fridge for an hour before baking, so make sure you start cooking early and allocate enough time.
Unsurprisingly, the traditional turkey dinner takes pride of place in my round-up of Christmas cooking ideas. There’s simply nothing quite like it. But it’s often the most daunting meal of the year – especially for inexperienced cooks. Thankfully, there’s really no need to worry as there are no complex ‘chefy’ processes.
If it helps, think of Christmas Dinner as a fancy roast. As with any meal like this, the key to success is timing. I recommend Jamie Oliver’s recipe which incorporates turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and pork & onion stuffing. It really is a step-by-step guide to the perfect Christmas feast.
In the ‘old days’, Christmas represented lean pickings – often quite literally – for vegetarians. Thankfully, times have changed, and there’s no shortage of delicious Christmas cooking ideas for vegetarians and vegans.
Olive magazine’s cauliflower Wellington recipe (courtesy of Bubala restaurant) is the perfect meat-free Christmas Day showstopper. This dish is packed full of nutritious, tasty vegetables, including mushrooms, cauliflower and cabbage. The addition of Baharat, saffron and chestnuts really elevates it into something quite special. But because it uses ready-made puff pastry, it’s much less difficult to prepare than you might think.
Top tip: Make sure you fry the mushrooms and chestnuts until all the moisture has evaporated. This mixture should be very dry, to avoid any unwanted sogginess later on.
I always look forward to Boxing Day. The main event is done and dusted, and everything seems a little more casual and relaxed. For many people, Boxing Day is synonymous with glazed ham and a buffet. So, my favourite Christmas cooking ideas include this Sainsbury’s Magazine recipe for maple and honey roast ham.
Joints like this look really impressive and they are so easy to cook. If you’re not hosting Christmas Dinner, you could even make it a day ahead. You simply boil the ham on the hob, with cinnamon, bay leaves, onion and cloves. Then you whisk up the glaze, brush it over your joint, and roast.
Top tip: Check regularly to make sure the glaze doesn’t burn. And don’t forget to strain off and keep the liquid after boiling your ham – it’s fabulous for soups!
If Christmas is all about family, New Year’s Eve is often a time we spend with our friends. If you’re hosting a NYE gathering this year, there are lots of Christmas cooking ideas that can be adapted. Check out delicious. magazine’s complete New Year’s Eve menu.
The main attraction is a stunning, succulent roast shoulder of lamb. Cooked with cumin, coriander, wine and orange juice, it’s melt-in-the-mouth tender. Serve with cranberry pilaf for an extra-festive spin. To serve 6-8 people, you’ll need a 2kg lamb shoulder joint (on the bone).
Our 90cm Single Electric Oven in Gunmetal has an extensive cavity, which has been designed to accommodate big meals, such as large joints of meat. Roasting time is about four-and-a-half hours, but the ‘hands-on’ work takes just 30 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to get on with other things. The accompanying rice is cooked on the hob, on a very low heat.
Many people associate a new year with diets and deprivation. But I’m not one of them! Healthy eating is important, of course. But I like to welcome the start of January with quality comfort food that nourishes the spirit as well as the body. This Porchetta recipe, from BBC Good Food, is one of my favourite Christmas cooking ideas that works just as well outside the festive season.
Porchetta is a classic Italian dish featuring rolled pork belly. This version is stuffed with a delicious herby/fruit filling, and incorporates a crisp, crunchy crackling. Full disclosure: this dish does require time and patience
With eight hours’ chilling time, I recommend our CAFF46GM fridge-freezer. This appliance features a multi-air flow design to ensure an even temperature, so your meat will be stored perfectly. If you enjoy slow cooking and spending time in your kitchen, this recipe is the perfect antidote to the craziness of Christmas. Bon appétit!
Top tip: This isn’t fast food, so plan ahead! This dish requires over three hours cooking, plus at least eight hours chilling, one hour standing and 30 minutes resting.
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