In the past I have made homemade food hampers for Christmas gifts, but it’s been a bit tough this year what with looking after my little baby – who prefers my attention to be on him rather than the stove. I have managed to make a couple of bits and pieces though (I cannot resist) including a Christmas cake and mincemeat for my own mince pies.
I have an ulterior motive with making these particular festive treats: I cannot stand candied peel, and most shop-bought cakes and mince pies are full of the stuff. If a bit gets in my mouth then I am like a child, wanting to spit it out! This is the first year I have made my own mincemeat, and I basically googled several recipes and cherry picked the bits I liked best (and what suited my store cupboard).
I ended up with a mixture of sultanas, vegetarian suet, sugar and rum, plus orange zest, rum and spices. I think you can make your mincemeat months in advance, but as a bit of a last minute decision, my one has only had a few days to mature. Still, it’s homemade, so that has to count for something, right?! My pastry is a simple sweet shortcrust with some lemon peel added to the mix.
So for our big day tomorrow, we have our usual breakfast of eggs benedict, as requested by Andrew (the ham is currently boiling).
For Christmas dinner (usually eaten at around 4pm) we have turkey with all the trimmings for our main course. I am trying to brine the turkey for the first time – here it is, as I write (yes, he is taking a swim in Ioan’s old bath bucket!).
All the trimmings are: roast potatoes and pigs in blankets obviously (and loads of them – you can never have too many); creamed leeks (because the dinner isn’t already rich enough, right?!); sage and onion stuffing (Paxo is our preferred option to homemade – sometimes the childhood favourites are the best); and parsnips, carrots and peas. Oh and GRAVY of course.
Andrew (once again) has requested a prawn cocktail, which I will posh up with some smoked salmon. We rarely manage a pudding (all those pigs in blankets), but I will be poaching some pears in red wine, to have with some sweetened mascarpone cheese. Then there’s the Christmas cake and mince pies! Oh, and cheese and biscuits too.
What that means, of course, is that there will be plenty of leftovers to munch on over the coming days. And as you can see, there’s enough in our fridge to keep us going too …