Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for food. There are always plenty of treats to look forward to and loads of delicious smells too. Nothing beats coming home to a fresh batch of mince pies fresh from the oven, cinnamon and sweet, warm pastry wafting your way.
We have just put our tree up with the help of Nat King Cole and mugs of mulled wine and have also been munching our way through about five clementines each every day, the season is definitely upon us. A few things on my ‘must eat’ list (apart from warm mice pies and mulled wine) is Stollen- another thing I love to eat warm, with a gooey and squidgy centre of marzipan and lots of icing sugar and chopped nuts on the top. Sprouts- I love them, it annoys me that there is a lot of haters out there. A Starbucks Eggnog Latte- it has become a tradition that Hayley and I always have one and send each other a picture. Christmas cake, a slice eaten with some cheese, especially Stilton, is particularly good. I used help my Mum out with the Christmas cake, stirring the cake mix (and making a wish of course) and decorating it with little figurines, dragging cocktail sticks through the royal icing to make it look like snow tracks.
The Christmas dinner seems to have become a yearly contest of whose looks the best- social media is stuffed with photos of everyone’s lunches, smothered in gravy. When I was first going out with James, we would message each other photos our plates piled high, competing with who had the winning combination. The best bit though and my most favourite thing is the leftovers sandwiches the next day. I put a bit of everything in there, sprouts, parsnips, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, carrots, stuffing and everything else. James and I also add in ‘the moist maker’ as a nod to Ross from Friends- a third layer of bread soaked in gravy- yum.
James’ Dad for about the last 4 years has taken it upon himself to provide the Christmas Day pudding. His family are not keen on Christmas pudding so Jon whips up something different each year and it is always a highlight. So far we have had the booziest oranges soaked in whisky known to man and the strongest coffee granita in history. But pay him his due, his Yule log and lemon sorbet were both delicious. James’ mum says she evacuates the kitchen on Christmas Eve to allow Jon to get his cooking done. She often re-calls the tale of when she found him sitting in the middle of the kitchen, coat on, peeling oranges into a bowl for over an hour. I am intrigued to see what this year will bring.
If you are after an alternative to Christmas pudding too, I was impressed with a pudding I made last year- Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding, taken from Sophie Dahl’s From Season to Season book. I love panetonne anyway, buttery rich and full of sweet and zesty fruits and this pudding combined with the spices and apple makes it really special.
Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding
600ml of single cream
450ml of milk
3 large eggs
1 vanilla pod/bean
150g of caster sugar
Butter, for spreading
1 apple, peeled and finely diced
A pinch of nutmeg
50g of soft brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas 5.
- Whisk together the cream, milk and eggs. Slice the vanilla pod/bean in half and scrape the seeds into the egg and cream mixture. Add the caster/superfine sugar and whisk some more.
- Slice the panettone into thick slices and butter each slice. Arrange the buttered panettone slices in an ovenproof dish. Scatter with the apple and sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.
- Pour over the cream mixture and make sure the panettone is evenly soaked. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar.
- Place in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and crispy. Serve with brandy cream.