I hope that you are enjoying the pre-Christmas festivities. Another strange year almost under our belts and I think we are all up for some good food, company, and cheer. We deserve it.
It’s been busy over the last few months and a lot of you will already be aware that I have (at long last) co-written my first cookery book: “12 Menus of Christmas”. A lifelong ambition comes true. I have written it with my lovely friend and 50% of Foodies Across the Pond, Lisa Siegal. Here is the link to Lisa’s website if you would like to know more about what she does and to find some amazing recipes!
No easy task but so enjoyable. Copies are still available on Myrtle’s website or hop to Amazon. A wonderful gift for any foodie or Christmas lover! Find the links below.
Containing a lovely balance of recipes, all tasty of course! We have tried to put ourselves into the book so that you get a little of what we are about. Let me know if you think this worked.
The Myrtle’s Kitchen shelves are almost bare. The seasonings have flown out for hampers and stocking fillers and the preserves. Well, let us just say that I never make enough, but better too little than having any left.
Social media has generated a couple of requests for Christmas ideas from recent posts on social media and I hope that I have answered some of the questions that I have received and below are some of my favourite recipes.
My best piece of advice is “Less is More”.
Why do we decide that at Christmas, we must introduce a 20 a day regime, with every vegetable know on the table. I am not sure how people can even cook so many for one sitting, and oh the washing up. I am a true advocate for writing down all your family favourite vegetables and then reducing the list to three or four really great favourites.
For years I would go to the trouble of making bread sauce, because I love it so much, but I was the only one. I always had so much going to waste. Now if I really cannot do without it, I will buy a good quality helping for one = more time to enjoy Christmas!
Always served, from Delia Smith Christmas, are Parmesan Baked Parsnips. A great favourite, my Mum adored these. I’m not sure that when she first tasted them, she had even had parmesan before, but it was love at first serving.
Delia’s says in her recipe that they can be made 24 hours in advance and reheated (much like roast potatoes). I have never tried this but I’m up for anything that makes life easier!
If these are being served for a vegetarian diet, make sure that you use vegetarian parmesan.
Begin by combining the flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
Peel the parsnips using a potato peeler. Then halve and quarter them lengthways and cut each length in half across, so that you end up with smallish chunks. Cut out any tough woody centres. Now pop the parsnips in a saucepan, pour in enough boiling water just to cover them and add salt. Put on a lid, bring them to the boil and boil for 3 minutes. Meanwhile have a large kitchen tray ready. Then, as soon as they are ready, drain them in a colander and, whilst they are still steaming, drop a few at a time (with the aid of some kitchen tongs) into the flour and parmesan mixture, shaking the bowl and moving them around so that they get a good even coating. As they are coated transfer them to the tray. Make sure you do them all fairly swiftly as the flour mixture will only coat them whilst they are still steamy! When they’re all coated they are ready to cook or store in the fridge or freeze.
Any leftover flour and Parmesan can be kept (sifted) in the fridge or freezer for another time. What is important is to have plenty in order to coat the parsnips quickly.
To bake them, place a large solid roasting tin in the oven to pre-heat and in it put enough oil just to cover the base and a knob of butter for flavour. Then, when the oven is ready, remove the tin and place it over direct heat (turned fairly low) and, again using tongs, place the parsnips quickly side by side in the tin. Tilt it and baste all the parsnips with hot fat, place the tin in the oven and bake them for 20 minutes, then turn them over, drain off any surplus fat (a bulb baster is good for this) and continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until they are crisp and golden.
Jane’s Cranberry Preserve
Every year since I started Myrtles I have made for Christmas markets, my cranberry preserve. I think that it is even better than a sauce as it last so much longer. This year I have failed miserably, so here is my recipe for you. Happy Christmas!
1 kilo granulated sugar
Grated and juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
45 ml / 3 tablespoons Port
Sterilise jars and lids.
In a heavy based saucepan heat the cranberries and water, until the cranberries are soft and popping. (if the mix is too dry because the water is evaporating, add a little more water).
Add the orange juice and grated rind. Stir in the sugar until completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil until setting point is reached.
Remove from the heat.
Add the port. Last year I used an “Elderflower Port” and that worked really well.
Stir the mix. It will bubble up when you add the alcohol.
Pot into sterilised jars while still hot, seal and Label.
I have been asked for ideas for a Vegetarian / vegan Christmas. There are masses of side dishes in the book …..
Here is a recipe which features in the Menu, A Vegetarian Feast, in our book “12 Menus of Christmas”
One of my absolute favourite things to cook for a dinner party is a Beef Wellington, but I always feel guilty about giving a poor substitution for friends who are vegetarians. Serving this vegetarian Wellington alongside always goes down well and usually guests have a piece of each!
If you would like your Wellington to be perfect for a vegan appetite, substitute the egg wash for a vegan milk, (coconut, soya, almond) and make sure that your pre made pastry is suitable.
200g / 8oz selection of mushrooms, finely sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoon rapeseed oil
200g / 8 oz cashew nuts
100g / 4oz white bread
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or thyme
2 tablespoon of good quality soy sauce
1 teaspoon marmite
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
1 savoy cabbage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g / 10oz pack puff pastry
Egg to glaze
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep saucepan and when warm add the chopped onion. Fry until soft and translucent and then add your medley of mushrooms and the garlic. Reduce the heat a little and cook out the mushrooms until soft (about 10 mins). Remove from the heat and set aside.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Take about 5 leaves from the savoy cabbage and blanch for a couple of minutes to soften in the boiling water. Transfer to ice cold water to refresh and to keep the crisp green colour. Set aside.
Put the cashews and breadcrumbs into a food processor and blitz to a fine crumb
In a bowl, bring together the crumb mix the, mushroom mix, tarragon, marmite, soya sauce, pinch of sugar and lemon juice, season. Combine well.
Lay your pastry out on a floured surface. Remove the cabbage leaves from the water and pat dry, place them down the centre of the pastry. Carefully place the mushroom mix down the centre of the cabbage leaves. Wrap the leaves around the mushrooms neatly.
Preheat your oven to 200’c / 400’f /Gas mark 6
Now for the fancy stuff.
With a sharp knife cut the pastry at a 24 ‘angle move your knife down 1 cm down the pastry and cut again and continue until you have a fringe effect. Repeat on the other side of the pastry.
Now brush the edges of the fringe with a little water and begin the lattice. Fold in the ends of the pastry to encase the end of the wellington, then alternate the cut fringe strips over the top of the cabbage leaves. The wet edges should secure them into place. Decorate with any trimmings that you may have and then brush with your chosen glaze.
Very carefully transfer it to a baking tray with a piece of parchment on it.
Cook for 50 – 60 mins until golden brown, crisp, and flaky.
I hope that you use and enjoy some of these recipes, I’d love to see some photos if you do make any.
Have a wonderful and special day and I wish you all the very best for a healthy 2022!