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Christmas pork, apricot and fig stuffing for turkey, duck, goose or chicken. This stuffing has a wonderful flavour, sweet with the dried fruit and spiced with nutmeg and mace. but is very easy to make.
Beef fillet stuffed with porcini mushroom duxelles: it's a keto Wellington or filet de boeuf sans croûte. Beef tenderloin opened up like an envelope, spread with mushroom filling and roasted beautifully pink.
Bigos, traditional Polish dish a.k.a. hunters’ stew, is a long-cooked, hearty pot of sauerkraut and assorted meats. Best after three days of cooking!
Caribbean Christmas black cake with rum soaked fruit and burnt sugar flavour. It is the Jamaican or Trinidad cousin of British Christmas cake and it stands tall in comparison!
Simple brine for juicy festive turkey, advice on roasting times and a recipe for the best gravy - that's all I want for Christmas.
Crispy roasted brussels sprouts and blanched sprout tops with almonds. They need to be salted and peppered about twice as much as an amount you think sensible.
Brussels sprouts cooked with fennel and caraway seeds and coated in crushed walnuts, parmesan and breadcrumbs. For a vegetarian option of course leave out the bacon. The fennel and caraway seeds add flavour.
Yule log, or buche de Noel made with chocolate sponge and chocolate whipped cream filling. This is DEFINITELY the best dessert on Christmas day. It rides onto the table when everyone is in deep gluttonous stupor after third helpings of turkey and just one more last spoonful of stuffing, and suddenly they perk up mumbling ‘this is a bit of all right’ and ‘I might have room for the thinnest slice more’.
Butter Stollen, German Christmas bread, at its most indulgent. Two kinds of Stollen in one recipe: packed with fruit and almonds, and swirled with smooth nut filling.
Homemade candied mixed orange and lemon peel is so gorgeous you might want to nibble on it instead of putting it into a fruitcake. So make twice as much!
Pork, chestnut and mushroom stuffing for turkey or goose, perfect Christmas trimming. But don't stuff the bird - cook the stuffing separately to ensure both cook evenly.
Traditional recipe for chocolate covered lebkuchen or gingerbreads. Chocolate coated and with jam filling, they are soft and indulgent. And the fun of dipping cookies in melted chocolate is the spirit of Christmas!
A different take on a Christmas pudding, with carrots and dates, baked instead of steamed. A cross between a carrot and date cake, a lighter sticky toffee pudding, baked not steamed, sauce still served – this is the one to try.
Christmas Stollen with homemade marzipan. Stollen tastes absolutely divine when still warm from the oven but it keeps very well. The German Christmas bread symbolised baby Jesus swaddled in clothing
Dutch gingerbread biscuits, speculaasbrokken, thick and chunky. They are the easiest Christmas cookies, baked in a large slab decorated with almonds.
Cinnamon twist star bread, a variation on the kanelbullar, Swedish cinnamon buns, theme. A giant kanelbulle twisted into a star bread shape, with cinnamon, apple and chocolate fillings.
Cranberry and walnut bread made with fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped walnuts and orange juice and zest, it has intense flavour, gorgeous cranberry tang and crunchy sugar topping.
Thick and flavoursome cranberry butter is like cranberry sauce on steroids and it can be used as jam, jelly or confiture too. There's no dairy in fruit butters!
Sticky cranberry gingerbread cake with molasses and maple syrup. Easy to make, sweet, spicy and tart, it's just perfect for the festive season.
Cranberry ketchup is a sweet, sour and salty condiment with a festive tang, excellent with roast meats instead of the usual cranberry sauce. Tomato ketchup is what springs to mind these days but it wasn’t always so - fish as above, mushroom in 18th century and even walnuts here and there.
Simple and easy cranberry sauce to serve with your turkey. It can be made well ahead of time as it stores well in the fridge. If you prefer it a little tarter, reduce the amount of sugar.
Dabo - traditional Ethiopian honey and milk bread. To make the Ethiopian yemarina yewotet dabo, which means honey and milk bread, beat the honey with the egg, salt and spices.
Old fashioned molasses cake? Think again – this one has fresh grated ginger added for the zing, and you don’t even need an electric mixer to make it.
Fruity, nut free mince pies made from scratch: the best shortcrust pastry and delicious fruit filling. I never used to like mince pies until I made them at home. The fact is that all shop-bought pies, even the posh, fancy, Hestonised and overpriced numbers taste mainly of too much orange peel and too much booze. As much as I’m the last person to complain about too much booze, I like to keep it separate from cakes. And orange peel is usually nasty, unless you make it yourself (I don’t) or spend quite a bit more money than even Waitrose Cook’s Ingredients charge.
Christmas fruit cake - lighter in colour and in taste but still rich and full of raisins, berries, apricots, figs and almonds. It keeps very well but needn’t be made weeks ahead of Christmas – tastes best when it had been standing for a couple of days.
Galette des rois, an elegant treat for the night of Epiphany, or any other time during the twelve days of Christmas. There are some lovely traditions associated with the galette: a ‘fève’ is hidden inside the cake - a tiny china figurine or an almond - and the lucky person to find it (and not choke on it) is crowned a king or queen for the carnival.
Ginger cake with candied ginger pieces, jam filling and maple syrup icing. I always thought ‘gingerbread’ referred only to cookies until I saw the cranberry gingerbread cake in NYTimes Cooking.
Thin and super-crunchy, spicy and melting, old fashioned ginger snaps are a snap to make! Grab that jar of stem ginger from the back of the cupboard and put the syrup to good use.
Gingerbread biscotti spiced with Christmas flavour, crunchy and dunkable, with mixed nuts and cinnamon sugar coating. Honey and spice and a festive spirit twice cooked!
Green bean casserole is so good when homemade and cooked from scratch! Creamy mushroom sauce is easy to make, while blanching then drying fresh green beans stops them from being soggy.
Joululimppu, Finnish Christmas bread with rye flour, buttermilk, aniseed flavours and treacle – quite an unusual and wonderful Christmas bake. It means just that: ‘Christmas bread’.
Julekake (pronounced yoo-le-kar-ka) is a traditional Norwegian Christmas bread, with Sukat (candied citrus peel) and raisins. Julekake is flavoured with cardamom and it’s best toasted, served with gjetost (brown cheese).
Festive Krantz cake with chocolate and walnut filling - quite unusual. No idea what its name means and no, it’s not the same as Kranz – creamy ‘crown’ cake. I found my recipe in ‘Baking with Passion’ by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington.
Lebkuchen - soft, honeyed cookies, similar to gingerbreads. Lebkuchen are of German provenance, invented by Franciscan monks in the 13th century.
Lemon posset, the easiest and the loveliest dessert, served with crunchy biscuits. Posset in medieval times was a spiced, rich milky-wine concoction, served probably more often as a remedy than a dessert. They did mix their drinks in the olden days didn’t they?
Marzipan truffles, chocolate covered balls of homemade marzipan, and the chocolate is also homemade! Vegan, easy and utterly delicious.
My recipe for mince pies has the best shortcrust pastry and the nicest mincemeat filling - easy to make too. They go back to the times of crusades and the Middle Eastern approach to sweet and savoury, mixing meat with spices, fruit and nuts.
Mini cranberry pies, shortcrust pastry made from scratch filled with cranberry butter instead of mincemeat. Mince pies? Make mine a cranberry this Christmas!
Mini pavlovas, homemade meringue nests with whipped cream and fruit toppings: passion fruit, pomegranate and raspberry. Simple and gorgeous, individual meringues are easier to bake than a big pavlova.
Mohnstollen is a stollen log with poppy seeds, traditionally baked in Germany, Poland (makowiec) and Austria for Christmas. Brioche-like Stollen dough is filled with sweet and spiced poppy seeds and rolled into a log.
Orange and spice muffins with candied citrus peel. These smell lovely while they’re baking – orange-and-spice, Christmas-just-around-the-corner aroma.
Tartlets with ricotta and almond filling, topped with candied orange slices. I can’t honestly say which filling is nicer – the bonus about the ricotta one I guess that you can stick the leftovers into a buttered and floured ramekin and bake for a mini cheesecake.
Pandoro, Italian festive 'golden bread', the sweet buttery panettone's rival. Come on, Italians - just have both. I’m having both this year, although my pandoro is baked in a panettone tin - and my recipe is a somewhat hacked version of an Italian one.
Panettone - classic Italian Christmas sweet bread. Yes – it’s doable. A word of warning though: it’s a fickle, capricious beast in the truly Italian style, la donna è mobile and so is panettone.
Panpepato, Italian classic Christmas dessert from the province of Siena, is the ancient version of panforte di Siena, Italian biscuits packed with fruit and nuts. Panpepato is spicy, peppery and very chocolatey.
Old fashioned Yorkshire parkin is a sticky, glorious cake full of ginger and spice, treacle and golden syrup, thoroughly traditional for the Bonfire Night.
Turnips roasted with thyme, rosemary and parmesan. They get a new line of life with this recipe, zinged with a dash of parmesan and thoroughly cooked through. Now I’m a hater of overcooked veg, but those babies, they need to be tender.
Parsnip and orange cake with cinnamon and raisins. Very similar to carrot cake though not quite as moist, it’s good enough to bake at Christmas instead of the fruit cake.
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