Food cooking and eating – stories and ideas from a passionate foodie

Archive for December, 2013

Christmas dinner – the full kit and kaboodle

And here’s all the accompaniments for the turkey – enjoy!

Can Men Cook?

Yesterday’s 67 words must be a record for a Christmas Turkey recipe! But at least with those timings, you can be confident of the main attraction being OK?

I said yesterday, perhaps you would like a little more detail?  Here we go!

I think the essence (and this is true for all our recipes and ideas in my book “Can Men Cook?”) is to keep things simple.  This is even truer on this particular day, which can be a bit stressful if you let it.  As there is likely to be a crowd of revellers interrupting and drinking and waiting, for many of you, this is even more important.

(Some of the foods may not be for you at all – it will be different for each of you.  I have kept to traditional fare – and other meats or vegetarian options may be more in tune with your…

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The main event – Christmas dinner

Hi all – here’s last years Christmas Turkey post – for those about to do it for the first time!

Can Men Cook?

I had a panic text from a family friend last year, on Christmas morning.  Claire was helping her daughter to cook Christmas lunch – and they had not a single recipe book in the house with the advice on how to cook the turkey.  I managed to send them the entire recipe by text!.  If you can text a recipe, then it can’t be so difficult – can it?  Here it is, in its entirety:

“Turkey – 14lb, for serving at 1.45, cooked by 1.15, rested before carving. Start at 8.15 with bird at room temperature.  Loads of butter and strips of bacon on the breast.  First 45 minutes at 220 C or 200 C for fan oven.  Lower to 170 (160 fan).  Foil off / peeled back at 12.30.  Then lots of basting (every15 mins) to 1.15.  Usually takes longer than you think.”

67 words must be a…

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On the first day of Christmas…

OK – it’s Christmas Eve here – so the cooking begins.  All the really hard stuff – the deciding and shopping is done.  If we haven’t got it now – tough!  So, this is my first day of Christmas.

What can be done today?  Two things – the stuffing and Cranberry Sauce.

let’s start with the cranberry sauce.  I’ve used two recipes combined and a bit of my own.  Look – I know you can get branded jars of the stuff at the shops – but just read the ingredients.  You may be surprised…and realise why it always tastes so sweet?

Raw ingredients

Raw ingredients

Here they are in their uncooked state.  There is also about 3 oz. of soft brown Demerara sugar; Haf a teaspoon of dried Cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves; a quick grate of nutmeg; the zest and juice of one orange; a few drops of lemon juice.  And after cooking – I stir in a couple of dessert spoons of sweet port.

Both my old recipes say to mince the cranberries first.  I panicked – as I don’t have a mincer – (Yes, Jay – I know you have one for Christmas – not much use to me here though, is it?).  So – lets just boil it up for 5 minutes and see what happens.  After just 5 minutes simmering, and a bit of a pulping with the trusty potato masher – et voila!  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.


Mashed and cooling - ready for the port!

Mashed and cooling – ready for the port!

Add the port as it is cooling – and a lot of the alcohol will evaporate.  When cool, put into a couple of ramekins (so you can place one at each end of the long family, fully pulled out table, so no one forgets to add its gorgeousness to their plate.






Whats next?  I like to make the day as stress free as possible – so make up the stuffing for the bird on 24th.  Traditional Sage and Onion for me.  I also love Chestnut and Apple – but we have  a nut hater visiting, so keep it simple is the rule, and stick to one stuffing.

I find this easiest in the food processor – a 35-year-old Moulinex!  3 slices of bread – zizz them into crumbs.  Add a roughly chopped onion, and a couple of washed mushrooms.  Zizz again.  3 teaspoons of dried sage, salt and pepper, and three skinned outdoor bread sausages.  (Best to skin them – the skin sticks in the blades of the processor.  Zizz again.  Add 3 dessert spoons of water – to help bind it.  Zizz a last time and transfer to a dish, cover and put in the fridge.  Stuffing is designed to keep the bird moist – which is why the lubrication of the fatty sausages is so important.

OK - it looks like a cats dinner - but will be fine!

OK – it looks like a cats dinner – but will be fine!

Remember to take everything out in the morning, and hour before it is due in the oven, so it is starting at room temperature, and much easier for you to then get your timings right – and the turkey cooked.

Our house already smells of Christmas.   Good wishes to you all.

The Book Launch

It was very exciting – family and friends, mainly, but we did fill the pub!

Signing - a proper author at last!

Signing – a proper author at last!

It was all warm and cosy (as you can see), and we had a steady stream of visitors – who enjoyed the sandwiches and canapes (I confess to buying them in – having picked up the boxes of books at 12, time was of the essence!).

Loads of customers as well as close friends and family bought one or multiple copies (maybe Christmas helped as an incentive).

Some lovely quotes later:

“We read it together and chuckled a lot”

“We’ve learnt a lot more about you – a bit surprising!”

“I can really hear you saying some of these things, Uncle Phil – it reads like you sound!”

(Last one may be slightly biased, of course.)

Already having customers asking for advice after trying out a recipe – “Could I have used ordinary flour to thicken the onion gravy?” is not  a question I usually get in an e-mail…

It was great fun.  Thanks again to Bill and Anita at The Crooked Billet, Sheepridge Lane, Little Marlow, for hosting the event. 

There will be more.  In the meantime, have a great Christmas, and all good wishes for 2014.

Happy Cooking! (Can’t wait to make my Cranberry and Orange relish now – and the sage onion and chestnut stuffing will be gorgeous too.)

“Can Men Cook?” – Book Launch!

Well – it had to happen.  I have published Can Men Cook- as a real, physical turn over the pages and read while you cook sort of book!  It’s very exciting.

Being me – I am launching it in my local pub – The Crooked Billet, Sheepridge Lane, Little Marlow SL7 3SG.

Thursday 19th, 6.30 to 7.30 in the evening.  Canapes and sandwiches available – and I will sign as many books as each of you want to buy!

Me in my kitchen

Me in my kitchen

What a great last minute Christmas idea…

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