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Antony’s Ultimate Guide to Christmas

Antony’s ultimate guide to Christmas

Prepare a fantastic menu this Christmas with a little help from AWT

Creamy scrambled eggs with roasted field mushrooms and crispy bacon
Serves 4

  • 8 large field mushrooms, thick stalks removed
  • ½tsp chopped fresh soft thyme leaves
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 12 rindless rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 6 eggs
  • 3tbsp double cream
  • ½tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbsp snipped fresh chives
  • 50g butter
  • 4 slices multi-grain bread
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh long chives, to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4. Place the field mushrooms in a shallow roasting tin and sprinkle over the thyme. Season and drizzle over the olive oil. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes, basting from time to time with their juices.

Arrange the bacon on a rack in a separate roasting tin and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden. The bacon will crisp up when you remove it from the oven.

After about 15 minutes, whisk together the eggs, cream, mustard, chives and seasoning in a bowl. Heat half the butter in a non-stick frying pan until foaming. Add the egg mixture and whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes until just set but still soft. Remove from the heat as they will continue to cook.

At the last minute, toast the bread, then remove the roasted field mushrooms and bacon from the oven. Spread each piece of toast with the remaining butter and then cut into triangles. Arrange two of the toasted bread triangles on each warmed plate and top each one with a roasted mushroom, spooning over the juices. Spoon the creamy scrambled eggs on top and finish with the crispy bacon. Garnish with the chives.


Gravadlax with ouzo
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 x 450g fillets of salmon
  • 2tbsp ouzo
  • 2tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 8tbsp Maldon sea salt
  • 4tbsp caster sugar
  • 2tbsp fennel seeds
  • 85g crushed white peppercorns
  • 6tbsp fennel herb, or dill, chopped

Make a seasoning paste by combining the ouzo, lemon juice, sea salt, caster sugar, fennel seeds, white peppercorns and fennel herb in a bowl.

Spread the paste over the fish fillets, place the fillets on top of each other like a sandwich, and spread the remainder over the top.

Wrap in clingfilm and weigh the salmon down, place in the refrigerator. Turn the fish every 12 hours for 48 hours.

Unwrap the fish, wipe away the paste, and slice the fish thinly at an angle. Dribble with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.


Caribbean Christmas pudding
Makes 2 x 1.3kg puddings to serve up to 12

FOR THE FRUIT MIX

  • Juice and grated rind of 2 oranges
  • Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 350g pitted prunes, diced
  • 115g dried mango, diced
  • 175g dried pineapple, diced
  • 225g candied peel, diced
  • 225g sultanas
  • 280g whole glacé cherries, halved
  • 115g flaked almonds
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 55g toasted macadamias, chopped
  • 55g stem ginger, diced
  • 280g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 225g dark soft brown sugar
  • 300ml barley wine
  • 6tbsp dark rum
  • 6tbsp Malibu
  • 3tbsp walnut oil

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 225g wholemeal bread crumbs
  • 115g self-raising flour
  • ½tsp each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, allspice and cardamom
  • 175g cold unsalted butter, grated

MIXING MEDIUM

  • 2tbsp clear honey
  • 2tbsp lime marmalade
  • 6 large free-range eggs

Combine the fruit mix and leave overnight. Combine dry ingredients and fold into the fruit mix. Beat the mixing medium ingredients until fluffy and fold into the other ingredients. Butter 2 pudding basins and cover the bottoms with buttered greaseproof rounds. Cut out and butter double rounds of greaseproof paper 8cm larger than the tops of the basins. Divide the mixture between the basins. Smooth over the tops, making a small indentation in the middle.

Cover with the greaseproof rounds and wrap the complete basin in foil. Stand the basins on a rack in a large saucepan ¾ full of boiling water. Cover tightly and steam for three periods of 2 hours. Allow to cool between each period and top up with extra boiling water often during each cooking period. Allow to cool then store in a cool, dark place. On Christmas Day steam for a further 2½ hours.


Apple and berry mince pies
Makes 6-10 depending on size of moulds

FOR THE FILLING

  • 100g apple purée
  • 200g dried berries (blueberries, cherries, bing, goji, cranberries etc)
  • ½tsp cinnamon

FOR THE PASTRY

  • 1 packet ready rolled puff pastry, cut into bases and tops
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 115g golden caster sugar

Mix the filling ingredients together to create the ‘mincemeat’ alternative. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7. Line a small non-stick tart tin with the pastry. Place a spoonful of ‘mincemeat’ into each one, being careful not to over fill, or the mixture will bubble out of the pastry.

Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg white. Carefully place the pastry lids over the top, pinching the two edges together. Make a small cross with a knife in the centre of each pie. Brush the top of the pie with egg white, sprinkle over a little caster sugar. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Until risen and golden.
Remove from the oven, allow to sit in the tart tin for a minute or so and then remove the pies on to a wire rack.

Antony’s tip: If you want a more adult mince pie then add a slash of cognac to the ‘mincemeat’. I prefer my mince pies to be made from puff pastry.


Cranberry Cumberland sauce
Serves 6

  • 450g fresh cranberries
  • 300ml ruby port
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 125ml fresh orange juice
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 1tsp dry mustard
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 85g sultanas
  • 55g flaked almonds
  • 1tbsp grated orange rind
  • 1tsp grated lemon rind
  • Salt

Combine the fresh cranberries, ruby port, caster sugar and orange juice in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Cook until the berries burst, stirring from time time, for about 8-10 minutes.

Combine the cornflour, dry mustard, lemon juices and spices with a little water to make a paste. Stir into the berry mix. Add the sultanas, almonds, orange and lemon rind.

Simmer over a medium heat until thickened, about five minutes should do it, and chill. The sauce can be made up to one week in advance.


Roasted winter vegetables
Serves 6

  • 225g carrots, peeled, cut into thick 15cm chunks
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed with a pinch of salt
  • 1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 225g parsnips, peeled, cut into thick 15cm chunks
  • 225g potatoes, peeled, cut into thick 15cm chunks
  • 225g butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 15cm chunks
  • Maldon sea salt and ground black pepper

Blanch the carrots for a few minutes, refresh in cold water to retain their colour and to stop the cooking process. Pour the olive oil into a large bowl add the mashed garlic, chilli and thyme leaves.

Add all the vegetables to the oil mixture and toss well. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Place in a preheated 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5 oven and roast for 40 minutes until golden brown.


Cheat’s homemade parsley, thyme and bacon stuffing
Makes Enough for one large turkey

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 115g smoked bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery finely sliced
  • 1 packet of parley and thyme stuffing
  • 55g melted butter
  • 2tsp grated lemon rind

For the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Next add the onions and celery and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring the pan. Take off the heat and set to one side.
Make the parsley and thyme stuffing following the instructions on the packet and add the melted butter and lemon rind to it. then add the bacon mixture to the bowl and mix well.


Roast turkey
Serves 6-10

  • 115g ricotta or cream cheese
  • 115g softened unsalted butter
  • 1tbsp snipped chives
  • 1tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1tsp chopped chervil
  • ½tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼tsp sea salt
  • 6.4kg fresh turkey, room temperature
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Extra butter for greasing foil

Combine the ricotta and butter with the herbs, salt and pepper. Gently ease the skin sway from the flesh at both ends of the turkey by carefully inserting your fingers between skin and flesh. Push the butter mixture under the skin easing it over the whole bird.

Place the lemon, onion, garlic and herbs in the cavity of the turkey. Lay a sheet of foil under a roasting tray lengthways leaving enough at each end to wrap over the turkey, lightly butter the foil. Repeat this exercise with another sheet, this time across the roasting tray. Lightly butter once again. Place the turkey breast side up in the centre of the roasting tray. Wrap the turkey completely in foil.

Place in a preheated 230ºC/450ºF/Gas mark 8 oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6 and cook for a further 3 hours. For the last 20-30 minutes fold back the foil to allow the turkey to brown. Check with a metal skewer or meat thermometer to see if the turkey is cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for the juices to settle and to ease carving.


First Published in At Home with Antony Worrall Thompson, December 2008

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