Here are our top five ways of bringing some extra sparkle to your Christmas dinner. While traditions are great, sometimes we keep on eating the same things just for the sake of it. Here are a couple of ways to make some subtle tweaks to your festive feast to help make the day even more memorable…except for #2, this will not help to make things more memorable…
1. Let’s start with Breakfast
There’s a variety of breakfasts being enjoyed on the 25th of December, breakfast traditions are loose and the only non-negotiable element seems to be a chilled glass of bucks fizz.
Here’s one of our favourite sweet brunch dishes that will fill the house with the smell of Christmas and help you start the day sweetly before indulging in a savoury selection of treats over the course of the day featuring the most important roast of the year.
Cranberry and Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter
You will need:
For the cinnamon butter:
- 85g butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp sugar
For the pancakes:
- 300g self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 280ml buttermilk
- 4 tbsp milk
- 85g butter (melted)
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 50g dried cranberries
For the cinnamon butter, mix the butter, cinnamon and sugar together, put into a small ramekin and cover with cling film. Put in the fridge to chill.
For the pancakes, start by putting the oven on really low so you can keep the pancakes warm while you’re cooking them.
Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and whisk gently in, then gradually add the buttermilk, the milk and the melted butter.
When the mixture is smooth, add the grated apples and the cranberries.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add some more butter to grease it.
Pour in a ladle-full of batter for each pancake (you may need to do them one at a time if your pan isn’t big enough).
Cook for 2-3 mins on each side and then keep them warm in the oven.
Serve with your cinnamon butter and extra berries or slices of apple on the side!
2. A special cocktail:
Sparkle up your pre-dinner cocktails with a dash of Disaronno. Mix Disaronno, orange juice, Prosecco, strips of orange zest and plenty of ice together in a large jug. Serve your Amaretto Fizz in champagne flutes with another strip of orange zest in each.
For 10 cocktails, you will need:
- 400ml Disaronno
- 600ml orange juice
- 2 75cl bottles Prosecco
- orange zest strips
3. An unusual starter:
For a simple but seasonal starter to get the festivities going, swap your smoked salmon or prawn cocktail for a warming soup featuring a mistakenly underrated vegetable. The Jerusalem Artichoke, while Christmassy in name, tastes incredible in pureed form along with equally seasonal leeks and a spot of garlic and cream. While easy to prepare, it tastes sophisticated and is sure to impress guests.
With inspiration from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s version, here’s our method for a creative soup starter –
You will need:
- 50g butter (unsalted)
- 1 kg Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 350g leeks, ends trimmed, washed and finely sliced
- 100g potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1.5L chicken stock (or vegetable)
- 100ml double cream
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a large, lidded, heavy based pan over a low heat.
Add the artichokes, leeks, potatoes, onions and garlic to the pan and gently sweat them for 15-20mins.
Meanwhile, make your stock.
When the vegetables are soft, add the stock and gently bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and let simmer over a medium-low heat for 25-30mins.
This is done when the artichokes can be easily mashed with your wooden spoon/spatula.
Leave the soup to cool down a bit.
Then liquidise the soup until smooth and return to the original pan.
Warm it up over a medium-low heat and then pour most of the cream in.
Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of the last bit of cream and a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!
4. A Christmassy condiment:
Bread sauce seems to get left off most shopping lists. Apparently less than a quarter of us will have this traditional sauce as an accompaniment to our Christmas dinner. But here’s a way to jazz it up and make it a bit more interesting to secure it’s rightful place on the dining table.
You will need:
- 80g butter
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 600ml whole milk
- 6 cloves
- 140g white bread (after cutting off crusts)
- 140ml double cream
Heat a lidded pan over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the onions and the bay leaves.
Let them fry for 10 mins until soft, but not coloured.
Add the milk and the cloves and let it simmer, now uncovered, for 30 mins, stirring every so often.
Pour this into a sieve over a food processor (or mixing bowl) to catch the cloves and the bay leaves and then discard them.
Add two thirds of the bread to the mixture and blitz until smooth.
To serve, pour the cream back into your pan, add the sauce and stir well.
Add a little milk to loosen it if it’s a bit too thick, and serve it warm!
5. A top idea for leftovers:
Instead of a turkey sandwich that is essentially your Christmas dinner on a slice of bread, try something slightly different that’s still easy and delicious – a Cuban style ham and turkey sandwich!
You will need:
- olive oil
- butter, for spreading
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp wholegrain or American mustard
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- bread Rolls/paninis, sliced lengthwise or normal sliced bread(For the filling)
- leftover turkey and ham (or roast pork!)
- cheese, sliced
- dill pickles, sliced thinly (or cornichons)
- anything else you want to put in, like rocket, cucumber, roasted red peppers etc.
Brush melted butter the outside of your bread slices and then place them, buttered side down, on a board.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsps olive oil with 1tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tsp of mustard and a crushed clove of garlic.
Drizzle this over the inside of the bread, spreading it out evenly, then top with slices of ham, turkey, cheese and slices of pickle (or cornichons).
Put the sandwich together and press down to flatten. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, put the sandwich in the pan and then top with a sheet of baking parchment. Weigh it down with another heavy pan and maybe some cans for extra weight. Let it toast for 3 mins on each side until golden brown, and the cheese has melted. Get involved!
So there we have it – 5 simple twists you can make on Christmas Day. Whether you try one or all five – we hope you have a lovely, traditional Christmas while still being able to discover something new and delicious!