As a child, just as it is now and probably has been for several generations, the days before Christmas were always busy, collecting greenery to decorate the house, finding the tree, buying and wrapping presents, writing cards, standing in endless lines at the Post Office and of course special Christmas cooking. Our mother seemed to spend endless hours in the kitchen, often making yet more mince pies which seemed to disappear as friends and family unexpectedly appeared to drop off cards and presents. I can remember when I was finally allowed to help and feeling very grown up tasked with making a chocolate Yule log, mince pies and sausage rolls, so began my life long love of cooking!
Christmas Mince Pies
I have already made a start on this year’s Christmas cooking as I have made my mincemeat, recipes have come and gone but the one I love best is Delia Smith’s. I have to admit I don’t follow it exactly, substituting suet with grated butter and only using half the amount of sugar, it’s so easy and keeps for months! Delia Smith’s Christmas Mincemeat
For the pastry I use my godmother’s trusted recipe, one given to her years ago by her mother, a sweet, dear lady who I always knew as ‘Nanny Doggett’.
‘Nanny Doggett’s Pastry’
Mince pies freeze really well and heat up quickly from frozen! I just dust them with icing sugar, (powdered sugar) add some greenery and they always seem to vanish!
Sausage rolls are another easy Christmas treat (although not just for Christmas!) and always a favourite with the guys, most of whom seem to inhale all pastry items! Again I rely on Delia, although I have to admit I buy my puff pastry!
Delia Smith’s Sausage Roll recipe
Christmas Pudding is a very English tradition, often referred to as ‘Figgy Pudding’. It is the easiest thing to make as everything is just tumbled into a bowl. The stirring is very important and a time to make a wish. The wishing certainly works as I remember one year getting something incredibly special with a scrunched up face and rosebud lips, 9 months later!!
The other great thing about Christmas pudding is that it keeps really well so I always make a few and freeze them, in the basins they’ve been made in. Hence this year I don’t actually have one to make!
On Christmas Day, after all the labour of a magnificent lunch, it is a wonderful desert, as apart from gentle steaming, there is no last minute work involved. Popped in its basin into a pan of gently bubbling water, it hisses and sizzles until ready to be serve. Turned upside down and donned with a sprig of holly, it should then be splashed with a generous pour of brandy and immediately light, quite a spectacle! I serve it with creme fraiche or brandy butter (I use icing sugar/ powdered sugar) and sometimes a white sauce, the rum being optional! It’s very rich, so everyone only needs a little which means there’s plenty left for the next day! As a child, our Christmas puddings were always served stuffed with foil wrapped sixpences, put there by the ‘Christmas fairies for luck’, it made it quite magical!
What Christmas recipes might you have to share, I’d love to know?!