Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas meal ideas - Starter and Main Courses

I'm going to my boyfriends mum's house for Christmas Day, however this Sunday gone we had my family over for a full Christmas Meal, which almost didn't happen as I got struck by a nasty stomach bug; however I luckily recovered enough in time to make everything, though was very, very tired by about 5pm! Unfortunately I didn't manage to get any picture's worth publishing but I wanted to share with you the highlights, in time for your Christmas Meals in case you are still finalizing your menu!

For festive nibbles, please see my other post - Nigellas Spiced Nuts

Firstly, our starter was courtesy of Olive Magazine - Chicken Liver Parfaits, my picture did not come out well, mainly as they were nearly all eaten when I remembered! It was similar-ish to the one shown in the link but not as pretty! My ramekins also seemed a bit bigger as only filled 5...I would also allow a little extra butter for pouring as ran out towards the end. The only recipe amendment was that I added 3 tsp of Port to the mixture. They are a little messy to make, so best done in advance and infact improve with a few days rest. It was also my first real experience with offal and it took me some time to trim them, compared to 30 mins suggested on the site, a messy job but now I know! Verdict wise, me and my dad really liked these, they are smooth and taste smooth and meaty, I had served with suggested brioche but this divided us, me for, dad against! We also had alongside some lovely sweet cornish ale chutney, so maybe too sweet all-together for some... I don't actually like liver on its own, however for me these were very tasty but too much for our other guest...still class this as a winner and will definately make again.

400g chicken livers
150g butter , plus 50g for the top of the parfaits
1 garlic clove , crushed
1 shallot , chopped
1 large sprig thyme , plus sprigs to top
pinch Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp double cream
4 brioche buns, sliced and toasted, to serve (I could only find the long ones)

Trim the livers of any green bits (these will be bitter) or sinews. Heat a knob of the butter in a large frying pan and gently fry the livers with the garlic, shallot, thyme and Chinese five-spice. Fry until the livers are browned but still soft when pressed, and pink (but not raw) in the middle.

Tip the livers into a food processor. Whizz to a paste, then whizz in the remaining butter and cream. Push the mixture through a sieve - this is boring, but worth it for a really smooth texture. Season well. Divide the mixture between 6 small china or glass ramekins and smooth the surface.

Melt the final 50g butter in a pan and let the milk solids settle to the bottom. Put a sprig of thyme on top of each ramekin and pour a little butter over each. Chill to set.

To serve, bring the parfaits up to room temperature and eat with toasted brioche buns. (I took them out about 1 hour beforehand)

The main beast was a rather big Turkey Crown, being all I could get at the time before the main lot came into stock, which fed us very well, I still have leftovers in the fridge! I borrowed Jamie Oliver's suggestion from his recent TV programme and made a herb butter with dried chopped cranberries (obviously everyone else watched this as got the last packet of pricey organic ones the next morning!), butter, rosemary and thyme. I think it also was supposed to have sage and nutmeg but forgot/ omitted these, once basheed together it was pushed under the skin and then roasted. The turkey was very good and can really recommend this method!
Vegetables wise, for the carrots I also looked to the BBC Good Food website and made baby carrots with orange butter . The orange made a really tasty addition, without over-powering orange flavour, am converted to making this way as the carrots shine and taste great. They can also be made in advance and re-heated - I made in the morning, placed in serving dish then re-heated when we were ready to eat.


600g baby carrots, trimmed as desired (or smallies - mine were value ones!)
1½ tbsp butter
3 tbsp orange juice
handful parsley leaves, chopped (I used thyme as not keen on parsley)

Cook the carrots in boiling water for until tender, then drain.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan (I used the saucepan, quickly dried with paper!), add the drained carrots, then fry over a high heat for 1 min. Pour over the orange juice and cook for a further 2-3 mins, bubbling the sauce and stirring to thoroughly coat the carrots. Finally, stir in the chopped parsley* and serve.

Instead of traditional roast potatoes, I made a rosti 'cake' with bacon, also from the BBC website and was featured in Good Food December 2009. I tried to cheat and use the food processor to grate but it turned a little mushy, find someone with good arm muscles and get them to do the grating! Its relatively easy to make, even though I did slightly mis-read the recipe it survived well! This was a winner for us all. It came out very similar looking to their picture. I made in the morning, up to assembled point then cooked when ready.

1.5kg maris piper potatoes peeled
1 small onion grated
5 tbsp olive oil
5 rashers streaky bacon

Cook the bacon in a dry pan until crispy, dice up.

Boil the whole potatoes for 5 minutes, place in cold water and grate when cool enough to handle, add the oil, onion and bacon and toss together lightly.

Pre-heat oven 190o/ gas 5, place a flat baking sheet in for 5 minutes

Butter a 23cm springform tin and tip the mixture in, gently smooth over and place tin on heated tray, dot with butter and cook for 1hr 20 mins until cooked and crispy (I used foil towards end as quite browned)

Bread sauce also came from the BBC Good Food area, featuring previously in Olive Magazine. I realise a lot of my recipes are from there but am no way affiliated with them, just happen to like and trust them :)

I made this one though omittted the cloves (dad hates them!) and strained the mixture to remove the onions as well, its a very thick sauce and did dilute it further as thickened on standing. A nicely balanced sauce.

Brussel sprouts were left pretty much alone, boiled for 8 minutes then tossed with freshly sliced garlic and butter, simple and great :)

Pudding will be blogged in next couple of days!

Hope some of you may find this useful, merry cooking and merry Christmas! xx


  1. Have a great Christmas Anne! I hope you are feeling better now.

  2. Sounds fabulous Anne. Enjoy not being the cook on Christmas Day!

  3. Wonderful blog! This is my first visit - happy new year - I look forward to following your next post! Best wishes, Lucie x


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