“The perfect little flourish to really delight your guests – amazing blackcurrant marshmallows to serve with coffee as an after-dinner petit fours. The colour is so striking, the texture is the very definition of ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ and then the flavour – wow! I promise your guests will love you for these pink morsels of magic. Have fun making and eating!”
Makes approx. 30
100g blackcurrant jam (no added sugar)
16 gelatine sheets
Vegetable oil, for greasing
400g granulated white sugar
200g liquid glucose
A few drops of violet gel food colouring
For the coating
150g caster sugar
6g tube freeze-dried raspberries
A few drops of violet gel food colouring
You will need
A 20cm x 30cm x 3cm tin
A sugar thermometer
An electric whisk or stand mixer
- Put the jam in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Fill a saucepan with 180ml of water and place the gelatine sheets in it, pushing them down into the water until fully covered. Leave to soften for 10 mins.
- Line a 20cm x 30cm x 3cm tin with cling film and brush with oil. Put the pan with the water and gelatine over a low heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a separate pan, combine the sugar, 125g glucose and 3 tbsp water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and heat until the mixture reaches 112°C on the thermometer. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Quickly add the remaining glucose to the bowl and begin whisking on a low speed.
- Add the cooled gelatine and its liquid, the jam and the food colouring. Increase the speed to medium and whisk until thickened. Continue to whisk, turning the speed up to high, for a further 10-12 mins or until the mixture is thick and marshmallow-like in consistency.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and cover with cling film. Leave to set at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.
- To make the coating, put the sugar and freeze-dried raspberries in a food processor and blitz until the raspberries have broken down to a fine powder and are well incorporated with the sugar. With the motor still running, add the food colouring, adding a drop at a time until you reach your desired shade.
- Pour the sugar into a shallow dish. Remove the marshmallow from the tin and transfer to a chopping board. Cut the marshmallow into cubes and then toss one by one in the coloured sugar until well coated.
Turkey. I always cook the turkey on a bed of bones. Cut off the back of the turkey and the wings, place them in the tray, and put the turkey on top. Baste the turkey with butter or goose fat and a little salt, and pop it in the oven. The bones make a real difference to both the turkey and its gravy juices.
Spuds. For the ever-elusive perfect roast potato, simply boil them for about 5 minutes and place in a hot tray with butter or goose fat. Coat the potatoes in the fat, place them bottom down, and stick them in the oven at around 200°C for half an hour. Never, ever, move the potatoes – just leave them to cook.
Sprouts. I always buy frozen. Ignore food snobs – they don’t lose any flavour or nutrients. Frozen sprouts are already cooked, so all you need to do is fry them with some butter – and chestnuts if you like – and serve up.
Feeding the 5,000. The secret to the perfect Christmas lunch is keeping it simple and applying a strategy. Don’t give yourself too much to do on the day – it is Christmas after all, so enjoy it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a packet.
Phil Currie, head chef at The Greyhound Inn, Letcombe Regis
“If by the time Christmas Day finally arrives, you are tired of the sight of another Christmas pudding or just want to try something a bit different whilst still enjoying the flavours of Christmas, then try this rich and decadent recipe for a warm chocolate mousse with mulled wine fruits and nut brittle. Best of all it can be made ahead of time, only takes 9 minutes to bake and is also gluten free.”
250g dark chocolate, 66-70% cocoa, chopped
50g butter, unsalted
1 pinch sea salt
4 free-range eggs, separated at room temperature
75g whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
25g caster sugar
- Place the chocolate, butter and sea salt in a heat-proof bowl and place over a pan of just simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are emulsified, keep warm.
- While the chocolate is melting place the cream and vanilla in a clean pan and heat gently until hot, remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
- When the chocolate and cream mixtures are ready, in a clean bowl whisk the egg whites with the sugar until soft peaks form – be careful not to over-whip.
- At this stage you are ready to make the mousse. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture and gently stir with a spatula until just combined, now add the warm cream (excluding the vanilla pods) in stages until just combined. Now add the whipped whites in stages until just combined. Divide the mixture between your oven proof serving dishes, approximately 100g per person (remember it’s rich). Refrigerate until ready to serve – can be made up to two days before.
Mulled Wine Fruits
100g dried fruits, such as figs, apricots, prunes and raisins
25g mixed candied peel, chopped
½ cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 5 juniper berries, 2 cardamom
1 bay leaf
100ml homemade or shop-bought mulled wine
50ml orange juice
25ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
- Cut the figs, apricots and prunes to the same size as the raisins.
- Place the spices on a tray and bake for 8 minutes at 160°C, remove from the oven and lightly crush. Add to the mulled wine and orange juice with the bay leaf and heat to a simmer, remove from the heat and cover, rest for 10 minutes.
- Strain the wine through a fine sieve and heat to just below a simmer. Then add the dried fruits and mixed peel, remove from the heat and cover. Allow to cool to room temperature, then stir in the brandy and Pedro Ximénez sherry, decant the mixture to a jar and refrigerate. Make a week before or longer – the longer the better to allow the flavours to mingle.
80g caster sugar
50g hazelnuts whole, skinned
50g walnut halves
½ tsp salt
6g unsalted butter
½ tsp baking soda, sieved
- Place the sugar, honey and water in a clean heavy-based pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches 115°C on a sugar thermometer. Add the nuts and stir continually until the mixture reaches 155°C. Remove from the heat then add the salt, butter and baking soda and gently stir until combined. Immediately pour the mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper, allow to cool.
- When cold, gently roll over the brittle with a rolling pin to break it up, store in an airtight container until ready to use. This can be made in advance and even stored in the freezer.
- When ready to serve remove the mousses from the fridge, place in an oven pre-heated to 100°C for 9 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 1 minute. While resting, gently warm the fruits, carefully spoon them sparsely over the top of the mousse, followed by the nut brittle. Serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream.
James Graham, head chef, The Pointer at Brill
Getting ahead. Professional kitchens are often, bizarrely, less stressful than cooking at home. Not because we have loads of staff, but because we use a few organisational tricks to get ahead. Make the 23rd your busy cooking day so you can spend more time with the family on the 25th.
Vegetables. You can blanch and refresh your green vegetables in iced water, drain and refrigerate till Christmas Day. They’re then easily reheated in a pan of boiling water or the microwave. Roast potatoes can also be parboiled and then allowed to cool which will let the steam evaporate giving you better, crisper potatoes on the day.
Turkey. On Christmas Eve make sure you get your turkey (or whatever your bird of choice) out of the fridge and somewhere cool, so you don’t cook from fridge cold. This will help it cook in less time and retain moisture. When you come to cook your bird, don’t crowd the tray. Place your bird on some halved peeled onions and pour as much apple juice as you can in the tray – this will help give you a wonderful, sweet, meaty gravy.
Liam Simpson-Trotman, Co-proprietor, Orwells, Shiplake
Changing it up. Instead of going for the usual fare, why not go back 50, 60, 70 years and try a bit of goose. If people are having turkey, don't cook it as a whole bird. Whip off the legs, cook them separately. Maybe ask your butcher to debone the legs out so you can stuff them and then roast them separately, just because the breast and the legs cook at different times. There's nothing worse at Christmas than getting a dry bit of meat of the breast and then an undercooked leg.”
Sprouts. First, chop and dry toast any leftover nuts you have in a hot pan. Take nuts out and set aside. Halve your leftover sprouts and panfry with vegetable oil in the same pan until golden. Add some Ras el hanout spice mix and cook for a further few minutes before adding butter and water and cooking for another minute. Finally crumble in some blue cheese, let it melt down and top with the reserved nuts.
Christmas Pudding. Either use leftover apple sauce or cook up some apples with a bit of sugar and then crumble some of your leftover Christmas pudding into them. With some pre-rolled shop-bought puff pastry, cut out a disc using a small plate as a template. Place the Christmas pudding mix into the centre and fold over – a little like a Cornish pasty. Crimp and glaze with an egg wash. Bake until golden brown and serve with your leftover brandy sauce.
Vietnamese Turkey Broth (Pho)
“This broth is based on a Vietnamese soup called a Pho. It is normally made with beef, but here I have chosen to use the leftover turkey carcass and meat from Christmas Day. A good Pho is measured by the amount of flavour in the broth, it should be clean but intense at the same time. This is a cracking little recipe that is both satisfying and light at the same time.”
3-4 ltr chicken stock or water
1 cinnamon stick 7cm
1tsp fennel seeds
2tbsp crushed coriander seeds
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
10cm root ginger, unpeeled, cut into 4 slices
2 onions, each cut into 4 slices
½ bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped
½ bunch mint
175g bean sprouts
6 spring onions, finely sliced
40g fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tbsp palm sugar
400g rice noodles
1-2 limes, juiced
1 tbsp sesame oil
Preheat the oven to 220°C
- Pick all the meat off the turkey carcass and place to one side.
- Chop the bones up into small pieces and place in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes until a deep golden brown.
- Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion slices and cook till a deep golden brown, almost black.
- Place the onions, ginger, garlic, chilli, spices and chicken carcass pieces into a large saucepan and add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours on a very low heat, skimming occasionally.
- Soak the rice noodles in cold water for 30 minutes. Place a pan of water on the stove to boil.
- Add the noodles and cook for only 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Strain off the stock.
- Place in a new saucepan and add the fish sauce, sugar, juice of 1 lime the turkey meat. Bring to a simmer.
- Place the noodles in the serving bowls.
- Add the mint, coriander, bean sprouts, spring onions and sesame oil to the broth, cook for 1 minute and lift some of the garnish out onto the noodles.
- Finish by ladling the broth over the noodles and garnish.