So, today is the day where everyone organised in the kitchen will do doubt be already making a start on tomorrows Christmas feast. We're actually going up to our local pub for lunch later today before heading home to start preparation. My parents will be stunning our turkey crown (it seems silly having a whole bird with just the three of us) with our usual sausage stuffing, and I'll be prepping for Christmas breakfast. I was not too happy having to make waffle batter to go with our bacon and maple syrup on Christmas morning after opening our stockings last year, so I'm going to experiment with an overnight yeasted number for 2014.
Once we're all prepped supper will be ham sandwiches (for those of us that are not still too full from lunch!) from our festive ham I cooked in cherry coke on Monday. The recipe comes from one of my favourite cookbooks I seem to have repossessed from my mother: Nigella Lawson's Feast. I read it cover to cover one year just before Christmas, and while it has some fantastic recipes for the rest of the year (you have the Halloween section to thank for inspiring my Pea & Mozzarella Soup) it is the book I turn to for festive eating.
I love that the recipes are so easy, simple and adaptable; they help you create something impressive that is almost completely stress free at this time of year. I know Nigella does do a Christmas book, but I like that Feast has a fantastic Christmas (and Thanksgiving) section that is perfect for this time of year, but then the rest of the book is something you can use all year around. If you get any book or Amazon vouchers tomorrow, this is one to consider for sure. Once January hits I have my eye on Nigella's Blakean Fish Pie (I'm down for anything with a good literary reference!), Vodka Marinated Steak, Broad Bean Bruschetta and Honey Cake.
One of my Christmas go-to's from the Christmas section, is Nigella's 'Redder Than Red Cranberry Sauce'. I'm the only one in the family who likes cranberry sauce with my turkey. It never really featured on our Christmas table when I was growing up, but I developed a taste for it with my end of term turkey dinners at boarding school, so brought the idea home with me. As there is only me, I felt a jar was a little excessive, so I worked on making my own in smaller quantities. After a few failure years with too runny or too sour sauce I settled on this one, halved (it still serves 4-6 people generously, but rather than halving it again, I like it for my turkey sandwiches. I see-saw between turkey/ cranberry/ stuffing and turkey/ sriracha sandwiches) and spiked with cherry brandy to add a little bit more flavour and richness.
So, if you're in the kitchen today prepping for tomorrow, and you're still not quite sure what recipes you want to go for with that bag of cranberries you have stashed in the fridge, I urge you to try this one. It is stupidly easy. If you've got an old bottle of cherry brandy knocking about the liquor cabinet, brilliant. If not, Using regular brandy would not the the end of the world, either.
- 170g (6 oz) Fresh Cranberries
- 100g (3.5 oz) Golden Caster Sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp Cherry Brandy
- 40ml (8 tsp) Water
This recipe really is as easy as throwing everything in a small saucepan and letting it gently simmer away over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes or so while you get on with something else, like preparing the stuffing or thinking ahead with your Christmas breakfast treats. The cranberries will split and pop beautifully, and the liquid will simmer away a little. You want to take the pan off the heat when all the cranberries have burst and look sauce like, but it is a bit runnier than you'd like your sauce; the natural pectin in the cranberries mean that it will thicken and set a bit as it cools. Cover and stash in the fridge for tomorrow, but remember to take it out to come to room temperature one you start the vegetables in the morning.
I hope you all have a lovely day tomorrow, full of food, friends and family. I'll no doubt spend my afternoon curled up in front of the fire, full of food and champagne, with my head in one of my new cookbooks. I can already spy a few book shaped parcels under the tree with my name on! I'll see you all on Boxing Day with one of my favourite family recipes for a some nibbles to go with your drinks as we start looking forward to New Years Eve!