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Christmas with the celebrity chefs

Do you need a little guidance in the kitchen this Christmas? Here are some handy tips from 17 of the top chefs…

Rachel Allen
‘When it comes to stuffing the turkey, I simply combine onion, breadcrumbs, herbs and some lemon zest with butter. For duck, orange zest works well, and apple with goose. The fruity flavours really complement and cut through the richness of the meat.’
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Tamasin Day-Lewis
‘Don’t sugar cranberries in the pot; they get tough. Instead, sugar them to taste when they have popped – orange juice instead of water – works wonderfully.’
Want more? Supper For A Song by Tamasin Day-Lewis (£20, Quadrille).

Delia Smith
‘My mince pie ice cream sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? My friend, the chef Neil Nugent, gave me the recipe and it really is a revelation – so easy, and it’s interesting when people eat it and say, "yes, it does taste like mince pies".’
Want more? Delia’s Happy Christmas by Delia Smith (£25, Ebury Press).

The Hairy Bikers
‘Our top three tips for Christmas are: 1) Dust roast potatoes in semolina prior to roasting in goose fat – it makes them super-crispy. 2) Make your own mincemeat – it’s easy and tastes wonderful. 3) Buy good free-range turkey.’
Want more? The Hairy Bikers’ 12 Days of Christmas (£20, Weidenfeld & Nicolson).

Nigella Lawson
‘My gingerbread tree decorations are my way of saying Christmas has arrived. Bake the biscuits (with a good shaking of ground black pepper to stop the children eating them all) and cut into beautiful shapes. Stars, crescent moons, men, stockings, wreaths; whatever takes your fancy. Remember to make a small hole in the top before baking so you can thread a ribbon through and hang them from your tree.’
Want more? Nigella Christmas (£25, Chatto & Windus).

Gary Rhodes
‘Make sure you get all of your food shopping done well before Christmas Eve, and prepare in advance as much as you can including the vegetables, potatoes and all the extras. This way, you have little to do on the big day apart from put the bird in the oven.’
Want more? Visit his website, to read about his latest news, including his public appearances, find out where his restaurants are and to view a list of all his cookbooks.

Antony Worrall Thompson
‘For perfect roast potatoes use a floury variety like King Edward, cut them lengthways and boil them for 10 minutes. Drain and dry them slightly over a dry heat in a colander. Toss them vigorously in a bit of seasoned flour so that the edges start to break up a bit. Put them flat-side down in about half an inch of dripping and baste the round side. Cook for 40 minutes at about 220ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7 and turn once. Then cook them dry for another 20 minutes. This should give you a wonderfully crispy outside and a fluffy middle.’
Want more? Visit Antony’s website, for recipes.

James Martin
‘Prepare vegetables on Christmas Eve by putting them in boiling water to blanch but take them out while they’re still crunchy. Refresh immediately under running ice-cold water to prevent them overcooking and drain. Store them on a tray in the fridge overnight. On Christmas Day put them in boiling water for 30 seconds or up to one minute depending on taste, drain and add a knob of butter.’
Want more? Catch him on Saturday Kitchen, Saturdays on BBC1 at 10am.

Anjum Anand
‘I like to spice up family favourites. Add a bit of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg powder to your eggnog and sweeten with jaggery. Flavour your turkey with a paste of ginger, garlic, lemon juice, garam masala, cumin powder, seasoning and some oil or butter. Spread it well all over the turkey, getting under the skin when you can so the flavours can really get into the meat. Place on a bed of sliced onions and cook as normal – the resulting stock will be delicious.’
Want more? Her new book, I Love Curry (£16, Quadrille) is out now.

Jamie Oliver
‘Make sure you buy the best welfare bird you can afford. It makes such a difference. And don’t forget to let the bird rest after you’ve cooked it and before carving. This lets all the juices get back into the meat and gives you a far better tasting turkey.’
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Angela Hartnett
‘I like anolini, which isn’t really Christmassy in terms of an English Christmas, but it’s an Italian Christmas speciality. It is little pasta balls like little dumplings stuffed with veal and beef and you serve them in a broth. We always have them on Christmas Day.’
Want more? Cucina by Angela Hartnett (£25, Ebury Press) is an Italian-inspired food treat.

Tom Aikens
‘Part of the problem with Christmas lunch is the space issue – so roast the carrots and parsnips in frying pans on the stove instead of in the oven. Also, the chipolatas, bacon rolls, stuffing balls can all be pre-cooked before the meal and placed onto a single tray for reheating later.’
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Gordon Ramsay
‘I love the magic of Christmas. We usually have a large gathering and I get everyone to join in with the cooking. The traditional turkey is always popular, but I prefer the other courses to be less predictable. My starter of Parma ham and fig crostini is a must-try.’

Jean Christophe Novelli
‘For succulent meat, place cranberry sauce or mincemeat under the turkey’s skin. Also, treat the turkey like two joints. Boil the turkey legs separately. Another fun thing to do is to use the cheese course as a quiz as it’s a nice, indirect way to inform people of their provenance. Coming from a French family, we eat cheese before the dessert. Give about 90 minutes from the time you serve the cheese, to allow your palette to adjust.’
Want more? Visit for recipe ideas and info on his cookery school.

Marco Pierre White
‘Go for frozen Brussels sprouts. What do they say about a sprout? It needs a good frost. And there’s no frost better than a freezer. I have always used frozen ones and have never had a complaint. The thing is, if I buy so-called ‘fresh’ sprouts, how do I know they’re fresh? I’ve got no idea when they were picked – it could have been a week ago. But I know frozen sprouts have been picked and frozen within a few hours. They are fresher than what is described as ‘fresh’.’
Want more? Marco Made Easy by Marco Pierre White (£20, Weidenfeld & Nicolson).

Raymond Blanc
‘There are many possible variations when making stuffing. Add your favourite herbs, some pistachios or the diced turkey heart. Rolling your stuffing in tin foil is a good technique to ensure thorough cooking and to make attractive slices of stuffing. Or you could bake it in an ovenproof baking dish or terrine mould.’
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