Give yourself the Gift of a Stress Free Christmas – the Food Edit. How to spend more time with your family and less time in the kitchen on Christmas Day.
Christmas for me is all about enjoying time together as a family, so if I can do as much planning for our Christmas festivities, the better. As a busy mum, running a business, managing the swim taxi service including National Swim Championships just days before Christmas, it’s important to me that I don’t have a mountain of “foodie jobs” to do in the kitchen on Christmas Day itself.
Having spent a fabulous day with Chef Ben Palmer, a quarter finalist in BBC TV’s MasterChef: The Professionals in 2011, at Glazebrook House several years ago, I learned some wonderful tips, while enjoying a delicious Christmas meal and a glorious day with friends. A memory I will treasure and which totally changed how I prepare for not only the festivities but also my day to day food organisation.
“Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.”Dr Seuss
We all have little things that appear, meaning Christmas isn’t far away. For me, Mary Berry’s book, Christmas Collection full of ideas for entertaining your family and friends throughout the Winter and festive season and complete with timings. It’s a much loved book and well used!
I can wholeheartedly recommend. With timings including a cooking itinerary, Mary has everything covered!
Festive Mulled Wine
The most delicious mulled wine, a recipe by Ben Palmer.
Perfect if you’ve been outside in the cold or not!
2 oranges * I lemon * 1 lime * 200g caster sugar * 6 whole cloves * 2 cardamon pods * 1 cinnamon stick * 3 fresh bay leaves *10-12 gratings of whole nutmeg * I vanilla pod (halved lengthways) * 2 star anise * 2 bottles red wine
Peel large sections of peel from your fruit.
Every family has a little tradition on Christmas Day don’t they? If we are at home, we love to walk on the beach (after popping the turkey in the oven of course!) We prefer to have canapés with a glass of fizz in front of the fire opening presents, rather than a starter. Then a little later, we sit down for our roast turkey and all the trimmings.
Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut offers a bright fruitiness, a seductive palate and an elegant maturity, revealing aromas of pear, citrus and brioche.
Villa Maria: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Sourced from vineyards across the Marlborough region, this intense Sauvignon Blanc is alive with a myriad of flavours dominated by gooseberry, passionfruit, fresh citrus and herbaceous aromas.
A sensational choice for your winter dinner party or special occasion, the ‘Catena Alta’ Historic Rows malbec 2017 from the legendary Catena label is our best malbec for 2021. has gorgeous, rich, blueberry and cassis flavours, a hint of spice and a long, satisfying, plummy finish: a level of sophistication and elegance that is often only found in wines twice the price. A great wine for a winter dinner party.
Look After Your Guests Who Are Driving or Who Don’t Drink.
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The Rose Blush Sparkling Kombucha is delicately balanced with rose extract, for a grown-up taste without the alcohol. Hand-crafted using natural ingredients, with all the same health benefits and live cultures that help you maintain a happy and healthy gut.
No.1 Living Brewery – Citrus Hops is refreshingly light, with a subtle earthiness of bitter hops blended with a citrus burst of lemon, our Citrus Hops is completely alcohol-free! Delicious sipped straight from the bottle, or served over ice with a twist of lemon or orange.
I feel so much better welcoming guests when I know we can have all angles covered and our guests will be able to enjoy If you’d like to try No I Living Drinks, which incidentally is founded by Jonny Wilkinson, former England Rugby legend, you’ll be able to receive a 15% discount when you use the code “womanonamission15” at the checkout. You won’t regret it.
“My secret to Christmas this year, as it is every year, is my to-do list. I’m always in charge if preparing the lunch – I like to think of it as simply a big roast dinner”Mary berry
Christmas Day Preparation.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I prep as much as possible including writing a menu plan, a shopping list for fresh products and equally what I can organise in advance that don’t have any time restraints. The week before the big day, I potter, (ha in-between swimming taxi and other life events, much like everyone else!) doing little jobs in the kitchen, whilst I’m preparing every day meals, so that Christmas Day is kept stress free and smooth!
Crunchy Roast Potatoes
Like Mary Berry, I’ve always thought of Christmas lunch as if I’m planning a roast – the pressure is immediately removed!
Whenever I prepare a Sunday roast, I always peel double the amount of potatoes required and use this method With my roast potatoes, so I always have some in the freezer. Christmas is no exception!
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how to cook roast potatoes, however I’m sharing how I save time and to help you have a stress free Christmas Day so here goes!
Golden Crunchy Thyme Parsnips Recipe from Love to Cook by Mary Berry
- 4 large parsnips (about 500g), peeled and cut into 5cm strips
- 3tbsp of sunflower oil
- 25g of semolina
- 1tbsp of paprika
- 1tbsp of chopped fresh thyme
(At this point, I do exactly as I do with the potatoes, pop in the freezer until the big day.)
Love them or loathe them, they have to feature don’t they?!
These should be cooked at the very last minute but can be prepared a day ahead and kept in a freezer bag in the fridge.
Cook in boiling water for 5-6 minutes, and season with salt and pepper and a dash of butter.
If you’d like to go for a little more glamour, stir fry sliced sprouts with bacon lardons, and or chestnuts.
Honey Roasted Carrots
A great side dish to any roast, or with Christmas dinner, these thyme-speckled honey roasted carrots are cooked to enhance their natural sweetness. This recipe from Justine at the Good Food Guide is simple yet full of flavour.
1 kg/2lb 4oz small carrots such as Chantenay or baby carrots
2 tbsps olive
3 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3–4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper.
“Christmas is about sharing our homes with the people who matter to us the most. And a little planning goes a long way in making every room sparkle, cosset and glow.
From the thoughtful touches to the most memorable moments, we’re all set to help you make your home a place of celebration, comfort and joy this season.”Neptune
Lemon and Cranberry Possets
This is an absolutely delicious desert at any time, but is special for Christmas too. Light and super easy to make. Make in advance to serve on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
1 1/2 pints double cream
9oz caster sugar
Juice of 3 lemons
handful of cranberries
A firm Mary Berry favourite in our house for any celebrations and especially at Christmas. This is perfectly light dessert and a lovely alternative to the Christmas Pudding.
It’s very easy to make, can be made 24 hours ahead or can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
175g (6oz) plain chocolate
175g (6oz) caster sugar
6 eggs, separated.
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted.
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
(If you’re planning to freeze, omit the final icing sugar until you’re ready to serve.)
“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.”Edna ferber
“Christmas is a together-y sort of holiday.”Winnie the pooh
Remember the most important thing about this time of year is spending time with your loved ones and not stressing about the gravy! Be kind to yourself! Have a glass of something special, relax and enjoy your day.
Let me know in the comments what your best preparation for Christmas is and what you might try from this Blog.
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