January 2, 2014 by Dewi
Hello again, everyone, and happy new year! It’s the start of 2014 and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be embarking on the next 12 months of food blogging. I thought that a good way to kick off the new year would be with a brief post looking back at the food I enjoyed cooking over the festive period.
I’m afraid there aren’t any recipes included here to accompany these photos, because they’re safely tucked away ready to be published in the build up to next Christmas, when they become relevant again. I’m sure nobody minds; I mean, who would cook turkey, sprouts and cranberries at any other time of year, anyway?
Christmas 2013 was only the second time I’ve cooked the big meal. The year before, I got my eye in, so to speak, so this year I was determined to cook a fantastic meal which everyone would enjoy, whilst keeping the stress levels to a minimum. Preparation was the key here – I prepared as much of the meal as I could in advance, so on the big day itself I wasn’t chained to the hob and could enjoy myself.
The gravy, for example, was made nearly a week ahead of time using Jamie Oliver’s genius get-ahead method. I cooked the sprouts on Christmas eve (with lovely smokey pancetta, butter and chestnuts) and prepped the other veg in advance too. The dessert – a clementine cheesecake with a gingersnap biscuit base – was made a couple of days ahead of time and left in the fridge to set and become lusciously soft and creamy. The meat was all prepped on Christmas eve; we had a turkey crown with the legs removed and de-boned. Butter with rosemary and sage was rubbed beneath the skin of the bird whilst the legs were stuffed and rolled into ballotines before roasting. On Christmas day itself only minimum effort was required on my part, and I was able to relax, have a drink, and chill out with my family knowing that the meal was largely taken care of.
It wasn’t just the christmas dinner I made this year, either. My brother and sister had asked me not to buy gifts for them, but just for their children. I still, however, wanted to give them something on the day. Rather than buying them any old gifts from the shops, I thought it would be far more meaningful (and enjoyable, on my part!) to make them something. Being Christmas – the season of indulgence – I opted for rich chocolate truffles. They were so simple to make – just warm cream mixed with some butter and a pinch of salt poured over shattered dark chocolate to melt, then popped in the fridge to set before being rolled into balls and topped with whatever you want! I used four different toppings to cover mine: grated white chocolate, melted white chocolate, melted dark chocolate and icing sugar. I put them in little gift boxes with some Crimbo-themed tissue paper and hey presto, a great little homemade present.
Enjoy the pictures below and as mentioned above, next christmas I will share all the recipes and my guide for being prepared well beforehand meaning you can relax, free of stress, on Christmas day! I’ll sign off by wishing you all a happy new year and I hope everyone enjoys a prosperous 2014! All the best.