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November/December cookery book club - getting ready for Christmas!

(71 Posts)
HuevosRancheros Sun 15-Nov-15 08:20:14

The regular book club has lapsed a bit recently, we are all busy, and I'm guessing we're only going to be busier as we head towards Christmas.

So here is an idea to avoid any new book purchases wink grin and start planning for Christmas - will you join me?

Two options, please join in whichever you fancy smile

1. Felicity Cloake's "How to cook the perfect..." series, from the guardian, but all available online


2. Digging out your tried and tested Christmas books and sharing your favourite recipes. Or try something new and report back smile

Today I'm going to do Felicity's rice pudding.

In the next couple of weeks I plan on trying her cinnamon buns, to see if they are as good/better than my go-tos for Christmas morning.

And in December I'm going to make her red cabbage (freeze for Christmas) and her Yule log

Everyone welcome, please join in smile

HuevosRancheros Sun 15-Nov-15 08:23:22

Felicity Cloake page here

HuevosRancheros Sun 15-Nov-15 09:32:18

I'm making FC's Christmas cake next weekend. Made it last year and it was very good.

A bit late for bonfire night, but her cinder toffee is very good.

As is her toad in the hole.

I looked her up for a salted caramel sauce, but ended up making nigella's (which was one of the ones she reviewed) as she conceded that it was pretty perfect as it was.

She has a general Christmas dinner article here for anyone wanting to try something new.

I'll go now, as I'm clearly talking to myself right now grin

mrspremise Sun 15-Nov-15 10:49:09

I've given up making a Christmas cake as sadly I seem to be the only one who eats it.

Ill be making a big jar of cranberry sauce as soon as the fresh cranberries appear though, abd im roasting and freezing chestnuts whenever we have the fire going...

HuevosRancheros Sun 15-Nov-15 11:54:57

mrsp this year I'm making my usual cake in a rectangular tin. I'll cut one end off to make a square - this will be decorated (children happy), DH can have the (max) two pieces he eats each year, and I won't be left with a load of yummy cake, tempting me to eat it.
I'm going to ice the remainder for dh's 98 year-old gran, think she'll like it, it'll only be small, but festive smile

When does the cranberry season start? I'm going to make my own sauce this year smile

ScienceRocks Sun 15-Nov-15 15:23:24

Marks place. I was Christmas meal planning just this week so I will be back with some thoughts in a bit...

Macaronipony Sun 15-Nov-15 20:18:38

Oh I like the FC blog. Have done:
The chocolate cake (nice, a tea time cake rather than a pudding, I don't think it needs the chocolate chips but it is very chocolatey)
The Glamorgan sausages (lovely, I did make a few tweaks which I may have written down...somewhere!)
The pulled pork (without liquid smoke; recipe quite heavy on salt and sugar so I try to reduce this as much as possible)
The carrot cake (ages ago but I kept the recipe so it must have been good)

Am trying omelette Arnold Bennett this week so will have a look at her version.

Pantah630 Sun 15-Nov-15 20:31:49

No Christmas Cake here either, we do like Christmas pudding but I can't muster any enthusiasm to make one yet or for Christmas itself. If I do will use James Martins Granny's recipe, it's very nice and lovely and moist.

saltedcaramelhotchoc Sun 15-Nov-15 22:12:35

I'm here! I've even got the book a Perfect Host, and will root it out again.

It being nearly the festive season, I will inevitably be also making Nigella's gingerbread muffins, and I need to get making the cake.

Tram10 Mon 16-Nov-15 08:37:55

Ooooh, thanks for the introduction to Felicity Cloake, going to try a few of her recipes.

Higge Mon 16-Nov-15 10:30:22

We've decided on an Indian themed Christmas dinner this year, the Roast chicken from Made in India and the Ferrari potatoes. I'll make Brussel sprouts thoran pilau rice, green beans and some kind of wet curry....for pudding we'll leave the Indian theme and are considering a steamed orange pudding or Bakewell Tart.

I make 3 sweet things every year - chosen by the other members of the family - salted caramel fudge, rocky road and smartie cookies - i think dd is dropping the request for smartie cookies this year. In the past I've made marshmallows and candied orange peel dipped in chocolate.

babyconverse Mon 16-Nov-15 11:40:48

Joining as I need the inspiration! Will be my first Christmas cooking for my little family (dh and newborn) so need to start thinking about what I'm planning to do so watching with interest.

Cookingongas Mon 16-Nov-15 18:18:01

I'll join. I'm always in cook book club but I'm just not ready to face up to Christmas yet ( odd as I'm usually a poncer)

Perhaps lurking here will lift me from my fug

ScienceRocks Mon 16-Nov-15 20:34:08

I'm hosting Christmas this year for me, dh, our two DDs and Mil and fil, so we will be having one of those stuffed turkey joints with roast potatoes, parsnips, braised red cabbage with Apple, sprouts with chestnuts and bacon and chestnut stuffing. All Nigella. Not sure about breakfast yet - mil has requested Spanish pastries! Not sure about pudding yet either.

I'm also hosting a do just before Christmas for a big group of friends. There are various dietary requirements (including vegans) so I'm doing build your own burgers. I'll make bread rolls, red cabbage, pulled turkey, home cured pork, chilli jam, and potato and sweet potato wedges. Need some ideas for vegan burgers please and a vegan friendly stuffing as everything I can find has bacon and/or egg in it!

For pudding that evening, I'm thinking of a pavlova plus nigella's prosecco pomegranate jelly. Does anyone have any views on whether the latter will work with vegegel? Oh, and the starter will be nigella's chestnut soup.

HuevosRancheros Mon 16-Nov-15 21:33:46

Science for vegan burgers, have a look at A Girl Called Jack's blog. Her kidney bean and carrot ones are fab, really simple and really tasty. You might want to fiddle around with the spices to make it go with your sides - maybe omit the cumin and use some of the spices you have in the meat?

Or you could do a falafel- based burger?

Or a nut roast based burger? Use a base of cooked chesnuts, add chopped nuts of your choice, sauteed onions and mushrooms, seasoning, maybe some oats?

Never used veggie gelatine subs, but I would advise a trial run (or two!), as I've heard they don't always behave as expected.

Vegan stuffing - onion sweated in olive oil, add chopped sage and breadcrumbs, then enough veg stock to make a sticky mess, shape into balls smile

Higge Mon 16-Nov-15 21:48:36

I've tried to make vegan jelly and failed every time...I think you could manage it if you were more scientific and very consistent with it.

ScienceRocks Tue 17-Nov-15 07:53:50

Thanks for the vegan burger and stuffing recommendations. Looks like the jelly is a no go, so I think I'll do a winter pudding (much like a summer pudding but with ginger, cinnamon and cloves and plums and apples rather than berries) instead.

Anyone else got any dos coming up?

HeadDreamer Tue 17-Nov-15 09:49:47

Marking my place.

I've failed to not buy books so far. I've got Russell Norman's Spuntino earlier this month. Looked at Nopi at waterstones, and took a photo for two of the recipes. (Paprika potato wedges and black rice with mango and coconut cream). There are some nice recipes, but all require too many steps for how I cook now.

It'll be me, DH, 2 DDs and MIL for christmas. I haven't decided what to do for christmas yet. We won't be doing anything traditional as MIL will be the only one who want it. Most likely chinese or indian. Some sweetish chicken main dish, like sweet and sour or Made in India's Mum's chicken. Pasta or mashed potatoes (they are DDs favourite carbs).

ScienceRocks, do you know pavlova is tradition in NZ as a christmas pudding? I've always wanted to do one, but I don't know if it's possible without a stand mixer?

I always make mince pies and breakfast muffins from domestic goddess. Maybe I'll make my own mincemeat this year. How far ahead do you have to make them? How long do they keep?

JamNan Tue 17-Nov-15 10:11:02

Fresh cranberries sighted in Tesco yesterday and now residing in my freezer.

VeryPunny Tue 17-Nov-15 10:26:35

Aldi had cranberries yesterday - I've shoved some in my freezer.

Can I put out another rec for The Food Lab? Excellent book with pages and pages on the science behind cooking turkey (and everything else) -firmly debunks brining as well as covering a turkey in bacon for improved moisture. Well worth it - some of the chapters are also available on the Serious Eats blog. Now is a good time to talk turkey as they have loads about it for Thanksgiving.

Will have PIL over for CHristmas so beginning to sketch out meal plans - not above getting food from M&S as I much prefer playing with kids on Christmas morning rather than slaving over a hot stove. Will do a ham for Christmas Eve, a trifle and some profiteroles for over the Christmas period as well - that's cooking I can do earlier and take my time over to enjoy! Although I'm doing a porchetta from this month's Good Food magazine which I may do again on Christmas Even if it goes down well.

Breakfast will be cinnamon buns (Huevos - Serious Eats has a perfect cinnamon bun recipe - wonder how it compares to FC?)/bacon rolls/ eggs Benedict. Will do my usual gingerbread snowflake biscuits for nibbling on.

Need to get some red cabbage for the freezer as well.

HuevosRancheros Tue 17-Nov-15 11:10:33

Macaroni I've never made glamorgan suasages before, think I will give FC's a go smile

saltedcaramel I've never made Nigella's gingerbread muffins before, though I do have the recipe stored in Paprika, so I must have intended to at some point! I love the flavour of her sticky gingerbread, but find the texture a bit lacking - not sticky like the name suggests, more akin to a bath sponge sad So maybe I'll try the muffins this year.

Higge your Indian themed lunch sounds lovely smile

Come on Cooking get into the Christmas spirit, or there'll be enforced Michael Bublé wink

Science my mum always used to make a summer pudding for Christmas day, as everyone was always too full for christmas pud - we had that on boxing day. But your winter pidding sounds lovely. I have stewed plums in the freezer and bramleys still on the tree, think I might make one, thank you smile. Does the fruit all go a bit mushy, seeing as it's cooked as opposed to raw in a summer pudding?

HeadDreamer I make Delia's mincemeat. It is fine to use straight away but will keep til the following year if you don't use it all up.
I looked at NOPI in waterstones yesterday, only flicked through but wasn't tempted, too meat-heavy for me. But I didn't see those recipes, they sound really nice....aargh!

I need to go to the greengrocers today, so will see if they have cranberries in. The FC red cabbage recipe has cranberry sauce in it iirc, so I need to make cranberry sauce before I can make the red cabbage (which I plan on making this week and freezing) - assume I can freeze cranberry sauce once it's made?

I usually make the Smitten Kitchen cinnamon buns, not really sure why I'm trying a new version as they are so very good smile

Higge Tue 17-Nov-15 13:02:02

I'll have a look at the Smitten Kitten Cinnamon buns Huevos they'd make a nice change from Pannetone. Spotted a recipe for a Cranberry steamed pud with white choc sauce and we just happen to have some frozen cranberries...I'll make it this weekend. Other cranberries and going into a Red wine and beef pie tonight which I'm going to serve with some James Whelan Dripping roasties or chips, I hope it's a good as they say!
I'm buying dh some bits and pieces for cocktail making - the man needs nothing but he is very fond of a bit of drinks alchemy. I have ordered him the Gentleman's guide to Cocktails but I'd like to make it a bit more personal and get him or make some interesting bits. Any ideas? Has anyone tried a Pickle back? Shot of whiskey chased by a shot of homemade pickle juice?

ScienceRocks Tue 17-Nov-15 13:43:04

I love cocktails (making and drinking), but have never come across anything like that Higge! I was planning a pitcher of poinsettias for my pre-Christmas do, but that's not in the same league!

HeadDreamer, no I didn't know that pavlova was a traditional NZ Christmas thing, I just thought it would be easy to do ahead of time and a bit lighter after burgers! I have a stand mixer now but have made them in the past with a handheld electric whisk with no problems.

Huevos I accidentally made winter pudding instead of summer earlier this year when I defrosted the wrong fruit from the freezer. It worked really well with the syrup soaking into the bread, and I leave my apples with a bit of a crunch anyway, so it wasn't too sloppy.

Punny cinnamon buns is a great idea for Christmas day breakfast. I made Nigella's gingerbread muffins once and found them a bit dry...

ScienceRocks Tue 17-Nov-15 13:43:57

Huevos I have frozen homemade cranberry sauce in the past. Didn't have any problems.

VeryPunny Tue 17-Nov-15 15:24:45

The other advantage of cinnamon buns is that you can do everything on Christmas Eve and just lob them in the oven (altho' I am asking Santa for a cast iron Le Creuset roasting thing which would be just perfect to make them in....). The Waitrose Food magazine had a maple and pecan version last month as well.

Don't suppose anyone has a good cheese straw recipe? They are a bit of a Christmas must have chez Punny and my MIL has thrown out her decades-old recipe!!

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