- Swede Turnip and Bacon Soup with Parsley Oil
- Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Croutons
- Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup
- Curried Parsnip Soup with Parsnip Crisps
- Parsnip Crisps
- Fresh Herb Stuffing
- Traditional Potato Stuffing (for goose or duck)
- Bramley Apple Sauce
- Red Cabbage
- A Christmas Dinner on a Platter
- Tangerine Sorbet
- Pears Poached in a Saffron Syrup
My heart goes out to all who are hoping against hope that travel restrictions will be lifted so children, grandchildren and dear friends can make it home for Christmas. We’re all craving a time when we can sit round the kitchen table together and enjoy a meal and maybe a little singsong without worrying about social distancing. It truly is heart breaking…..
So let’s keep positive and try to focus on happier times. None of us can predict what’s ahead so let’s plan regardless. Pour yourself a glass of something delicious to sip on, make a soothing pot of tea. Grab a pad and write some lists, plan a week of delicious Christmas meals and treats. Then tick off what can be made ahead and frozen or pickled, so if all goes well you can spend as much precious time with the loved ones you’ve been yearning to see.
In the worst case scenario, you can enjoy some delicious comforting food after Christmas. There are so many good things that can be happily be made ahead without suffering in any way. I’ll be making lots of soups and freezing them in recycled containers. Quarter, half and one litre milk cartons work brilliantly, stack neatly in the freezer and can be defrosted quickly. I’m loving root vegetable soups at present. Swede Turnip and Bacon Soup with Parsley Oil costs just pennies to make. I’m also loving Jerusalem Artichoke soup with Avocado and Crispy Croutons, Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup……Curried Parsnip Soup is a favourite as is the combination of Parsnip and Fennel Soup.
Recipes for both Bread Stuffing and Potato Stuffing freeze perfectly and will be brilliant to stuff a chicken, pheasant, turkey, goose and duck. Apple sauce and Red Cabbage complete that meal but the pièce de résistance is this All in One Christmas Dinner on a Dish – This recipe dates back to the time when the United Hunt held its annual ball in Ballymaloe every year before Christmas. They wanted the whole works so my mother in law, Myrtle devised this delicious version which we prepared ahead and reheated. It became such a favourite that it was requested every year. It’s definitely a bit of a mission to make and you’ll need to cook the turkey and ham separately. Meanwhile make a creamy mushroom filling with lots of fresh herbs and then a creamy sauce to coat the lot.
The end result is an unctuous “Turkey and Ham Sandwich” that reheats deliciously in 10-15 minutes on the day.
You’ll need something fresh tasting to flit across the tongue after that deeply satisfying meal. Who wouldn’t love a clean and fresh tasting citrusy Tangerine Sorbet or Compote of Pears with Saffron to round off a Christmas feast.
Have a wonderful joyful Christmas counting our blessings.
Swede Turnip and Bacon Soup with Parsley Oil
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
150g (5oz) rindless streaky bacon cut in 1cm (1/2 inch) dice
110g (4oz) onions, chopped
110g (5oz) potatoes, diced
350g (12oz) swede turnips, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
900ml (1 1/2 pints) homemade chicken stock
cream or creamy milk to taste
50ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
50g (2oz) parsley, chopped
fried diced bacon
flat parsley sprigs or coarsely chopped parsley
First make the Parsley Oil.
Whizz the parsley with the olive oil until smooth and green.
Next make the soup.
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the bacon and cook on a gentle heat until crisp and golden. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
Toss the onion, potato and turnip in the oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a butter wrapper to keep in the steam, and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are fully cooked. Liquidise, taste, add a little cream or creamy milk and some extra seasoning if necessary.
Serve with a mixture of crispy bacon, tiny croutons and chopped parsley sprinkled on top
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Croutons
50g (2oz) butter
560g (1 1/4 lb) onions, peeled and chopped
1.15kg (2 1/2 lbs) Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
1.1L (2 pints) light chicken stock
600ml (1 pint) creamy milk approx.
freshly chopped parsley
crisp, golden croutons
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onions and artichokes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes approx. Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are soft. Liquidise and return to the heat. Thin to the required flavour and consistency with creamy milk, and adjust the seasoning.
Serve in soup bowls or in a soup tureen. Garnish with chopped parsley and crisp, golden croutons.
Note: This soup may need more stock depending on thickness required.
Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup
425g (15oz) celeriac, cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
110g (4oz) onions, cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
150g (5oz) potatoes, cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
40-50g (1 1/2-2oz) butter
1.1L homemade chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground pepper
100-225ml (3 1/2 – 8fl oz) creamy milk (optional)
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, skinned, toasted and chopped
a few tablespoons whipped cream
sprigs of chervil or flat parsley
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan; when it foams, add the potatoes, onions and celeriac and toss them in the butter until evenly coated. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a paper lid (to keep in the steam) and the saucepan lid, and sweat over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Discard the paper lid. Add the hot chicken stock and cook until the celeriac is soft, about 8-10 minutes. Liquidize the soup; add a little more stock or creamy milk to thin to the required consistency. Taste and correct seasoning.
To prepare the hazelnuts: Put the hazelnuts into an oven, 200°C/gas mark 6, on a baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes or until the skins loosen. Remove the skins by rubbing the nuts in the corner of a tea towel. If they are not sufficiently toasted, return them to the oven until they become golden brown. Chop and keep aside to garnish.
Serve the soup piping hot with a little blob of whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts and a sprig of chervil or flat parsley.
Curried Parsnip Soup with Parsnip Crisps
A fantastic recipe which transforms parsnip soup to a gourmet meal.
50g (2oz) butter
110g (4oz) chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
375g (13oz) parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 – 1 teaspoon curry powder
1.1L (2 pint) chicken stock or vegetable stock
150ml (5fl oz) creamy milk
crispy croutons or parsnip crisps (see below)
snipped chives or parsley
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the onion, garlic and parsnip, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss until well coated. Cover and cook on a gentle heat until soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and curry powder and gradually incorporate the hot chicken stock. Simmer with the lid on until the parsnip is fully cooked, liquidize, taste and correct the seasoning, add creamy milk to taste (the soup should not be too thick). Serve with crispy croutons and sprinkle with finely chopped chives or parsley.
Serves 6 – 8
1 large parsnip
Heat good quality oil in a deep fryer to 150°C/300°F.
Scrub and peel the parsnips. Either slice into wafer thin rounds or peel off long slivers lengthways with a swivel top peeler. Allow to dry out on kitchen paper.
Drop a few at a time into the hot oil, they colour and crisp up very quickly. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Fresh Herb Stuffing
This quantity is for a 12lb turkey or 3 chickens, pheasant or guinea fowl.
170g (6ozs) butter
350g (12oz) chopped onions
400-500g (14-16ozs) approx. soft breadcrumbs made from good bread. (check that the bread is non GM) (or approximately 1lb 4ozs of gluten-free breadcrumbs)
50g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm
salt and freshly ground pepper
Sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for 10 minutes approx., on a low heat, then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half-fill with cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end, or you may decide to do a different stuffing. Either way tuck the remaining neck flap underneath the bird and secure with the wing tip.
Traditional Potato Stuffing (for goose or duck)
25g (1 oz) butter
150g (5oz) chopped onions
150g (5oz) cooking apples e.g. Bramley Seedling, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon each thyme and lemon balm
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
300g (10oz) potatoes
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes; add the apples, herbs and orange juice. Cook covered until the apples are soft and fluffy. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked, peel, mash and add to the fruit and onion mixture. Add the orange rind and seasoning. Allow it to get quite cold before stuffing the turkey.
Bramley Apple Sauce
Make ahead and freeze in tubs to serve with Roast Duck, Goose or Pork.
1 lb (450g) cooking apples, (Bramley Seedling)
1-2 dessertspoons water
2 ozs (50g) sugar approx. depending on tartness of the apples
Peel, quarter and core the apples, cut pieces in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan, with the sugar and water, cover and put over a low heat, as soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.
Serves 8 – 10
1 lb (450g) red cabbage (Red Drummond if possible)
1 lb (450g) cooking apples (Bramley Seedling)
1 tablespoon approx. wine vinegar
4 fl ozs (120ml) water
1 level teaspoon salt
2 heaped tablespoons approx. sugar
Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Examine and clean it if necessary. Cut in quarter, remove the core and slice the cabbage finely across the grain. Put the vinegar, water, salt and sugar into a cast iron casserole or stainless steel saucepan. Add the cabbage and bring it to the boil.
Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut into quarters (no smaller). Lay them on top of the cabbage, cover and continue to cook gently until the cabbage is tender, 30-50 minutes approx. Do not overcook or the colour and flavour will be ruined. Taste for seasoning and add more sugar if necessary.
Serve in a warm serving dish.
Note: Some varieties of red cabbage are quite tough and don’t seem to soften much, even with prolonged cooking. Our favourite variety, Red Drummond, gives best results.
United Hunt Turkey
A Christmas Dinner on a Platter
1 x 12-14 lbs (5.5-6.5kg) free range turkey, preferably a bronze turkey
1 x 8-10 lbs (3.4-4.5kg) ham or loin of bacon, (unsmoked, soaked overnight in cold water if salty)
chicken or turkey stock
dry white wine
1 large sliced onion
2 sticks celery
a few peppercorns
50g (2oz) chopped parsley
2 tablespoons other fresh herbs, eg. tarragon, thyme, chives, lemon balm
3-4 egg yolks
600ml (1 pint) cream
85g (3oz) roux
Duchesse potato made with 5.5-6.5kg (12-14lb) potato, for piping around the dishes
Mushroom with fresh herbs and cream
85-100g (3-4oz) butter
1.2kg (2½lb) sliced mushrooms
180 ml (6fl.oz) cream
4 tablesp. fresh herbs, eg. parsley, thyme, chives
425g (15oz) onions, finely chopped
Roux as needed (equal quantities of melted butter and flour cooked together for 2 – 3 mins)
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 – 4 serving platters
Cover the ham with cold water, bring it slowly to the boil and discard the water, cover again with hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the ham is cooked, 2½ hours approx. (calculate 20 minutes to 450g (1lb) as a rough guide). The skin will peel off easily when the ham is cooked.
Meanwhile, season the turkey and put it into a large saucepan with about 12.5-15cm (5-6 inches) of water or chicken stock and white wine. Add 1 large sliced onion, 2 sticks of celery, 2 large carrots cut in chunks, a bouquet garni and a few black peppercorns. Bring to the boil, cover closely and simmer for 2 hours approx. either on top of the stove or in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.
While the turkey and ham are cooking, prepare the mushrooms. Melt the butter in a wide heavy bottomed saucepan. When it sizzles add the chopped onions, cover and sweat over a low heat until soft but not coloured. Meanwhile in a hot frying pan, fry off the mushrooms a few at the time in a little butter, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add them to the softened onions. Add more butter if necessary, but never too much, add the freshly chopped herbs, cream and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. Bring to the boil and thicken with enough roux to thicken lightly. Set the mushroom a la crémè aside until you are ready to assemble the dish.
When the turkey is cooked the legs will feel loose in their sockets, remove it from the casserole and de-grease the cooking liquid. Bring it to the boil and reduce by half. Add 300-450ml (10-15fl.oz) cream, I know that sounds shocking but this recipe makes 30 helpings and you are not going to eat it all yourself! Bring back to the boil and thicken to a light coating consistency with roux. Taste for seasoning.
Skin the turkey, the skin from a poached turkey is soft rather than crisp, so I don’t use it in this dish. Chop up the brown turkey meat from the legs and the white meat from the wings into smallish pieces and mix with the mushroom a la créme. Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1 dessertspoon thyme, chives and lemon balm if available.
Spread a layer of the creamy sauce on the serving dishes. Carve a nice slice of bacon or ham for each serving and place at regular intervals on top of the sauce. Spoon some of the brown meat and mushroom mixture on top. Carve the turkey breast into thin slices and place 1 slice per serving on top of the mushrooms and ham, making individual complete sandwiches.
Whisk 3-4 egg yolks with 150ml (5fl.oz) cream to make a liaison, blend well and stir this into the remainder of the cream sauce. (It should be a coating consistency.) Coat the pieces of turkey with this sauce. Cool and refrigerate. If serving on the day, pipe a generous border of Duchesse potato all around the edge of the dishes. Cool the dishes quickly, cover and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Reheat in a moderate oven 180C-190C/350-375F/regulo 4-5, for 30 minutes approx. until it is bubbling and golden on top. If necessary, flash under the grill to brown the edges of the Duchesse potato.
Garnish with generous sprigs of flat leaf resh parsley and serve.
If freezing the dishes with a potato border around the edge, freeze first and then cover tightly with strong cling film to prevent the potato from getting squashed.
However, for best results, freeze without the potato, but pipe it on just before reheating.
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) flour
Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.
900g (2lbs) unpeeled potatoes, preferably Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks
300ml (10fl ozs) creamy milk
1-2 egg yolks or 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
25-50g (1-2oz) butter
Scrub the potatoes well. Put them into a saucepan of cold water, add a generous pinch of salt, bring to the boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked, 15 minutes approx. for ‘old’ potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put on to a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked. Peel immediately by just pulling off the skins, so you have as little waste as possible, put through a ricer or mouli legume while hot. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes into the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the spade).
While the potatoes are being peeled, bring about 300ml (10fl oz//1 1/4 cups) of milk to the boil. Beat the eggs into the hot mashed potatoes, and add enough boiling creamy milk to mix to a soft light consistency suitable for piping, then beat in the butter, the amount depending on how rich you like your potatoes. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Note: If the potatoes are not peeled and mashed while hot and if the boiling milk is not added immediately, the Duchesse potato will be lumpy and gluey. If you only have egg whites they will be fine and will make a deliciously light mashed potato also.
The quantity of ice below is enough to fill 10-18 tangerine shells. Clementines, mandarins or satsumas may also be used in this recipe – Deliciously refreshing after a rich Christmas feast.
Serves 10-12, depending on whether people eat 1 or 2
175g (6oz) sugar
juice of 1/4 lemon
150ml (5fl oz) water
juice of 1/2 lemon
icing sugar (optional)
Lemon Verbena or bay leaves
First make the syrup. Heat the first three ingredients over a low heat, until they are dissolved together and clear. Bring to the boil, and boil for 2-3 minutes, Cool. Grate the zest from 10 of the tangerines, and squeeze the juice from them. Cut the remaining tangerines so that they each have a lid. Scoop out the sections with a small spoon and them press them through a nylon sieve, (alternatively, you could liquidize the pulp and then strain). You should end up with 1 1/4 pints (750ml/generous 3 cups) juice. Add the grated zest, the lemon juice and the syrup to taste. Taste and add icing sugar or extra lemon juice, if more sweetness or sharpness is required. Freeze until firm.
Chill the shells in the fridge or freezer, fill them with the frozen water ice. Replace the lids and store in the freezer. Cover with cling film if not serving on the same day. Serve on a white plate decorated with vine leaves or bay leaves.
Make the sorbet in one of the following ways.
1. Pour into the drum of an ice-cream maker or sorbetiere and freeze for 20-25 minutes. Scoop out and serve immediately or store in a covered bowl in the freezer until needed.
2. Pour the juice into a stainless steel or plastic container and put into the freezing compartment of a refrigerator. After about 4-5 hours when the sorbet is semi-frozen, remove from the freezer and whisk until smooth, then return to the freezer. Whisk again when almost frozen and fold in one stiffly-beaten egg white. Keep in the freezer until needed.
3. If you have a food processor simply freeze the sorbet completely in a stainless steel or plastic bowl, then break into large pieces and whizz up in the food processor for a few seconds. Add one slightly beaten egg white, whizz again for another few seconds, then return to the bowl and freeze again until needed.
Pears Poached in a Saffron Syrup
This delicious compote will keep for 1 ½ to 2 weeks in a covered container in your fridge. Serve icy cold….
200 g (7oz) sugar
450ml (15fl oz) water
6 whole cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon good quality saffron (the threads)
45 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 firm pears
Put the sugar, water, lightly crushed cardamom pods, saffron and lemon juice into a shallow, wide pan: we use a stainless steel sauté pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile peel the pears, half and core them. As you cut them put then into the simmering syrup cut side uppermost.
Cover with a paper lid and the lid of the pan, cook gently for 20-30 minutes, spooning the syrup over them every now and then. Carefully take the pears out and arrange them in a serving dish in a single layer, cut side downwards. Pour the syrup over the pears or reduce first (see below). Serve chilled with some of the juice.
This compote keeps for several weeks covered in the fridge.
Tip: For a most concentrated flavour the syrup may be reduced a little after the pears have been removed to a serving dish. Be careful not to cook it for too long, or the syrup will caramelize.