Although Christmas is still a while away, is will soon be here and we have a few tips which might reduce the impending stress of the weeks to come.
Rich Fruity Christmas Cake
The last week of October and the first week of November are marked on the calendar as the time to make the Christmas cake. In our house the size of the cake is always a subject of great debate, as if it is too small it will be eaten before the New Year but if it’s too big it will easily last us until February! As Christmas is a time to indulge in all things nice, and a good slice of Christmas cake is a Christmas essential. To produce a rich fruity Christmas cake it needs to be fed once a week with a generous spoonful of brandy. This is crucial and must be maintained until it is time to cover it with marzipan and decorated with icing.
For many years now, we have found that red cabbage tastes much better after it has been reheated after a previous meal. Therefore, this makes it ideal for preparing weeks before Christmas. Cooking the red cabbage along with apples and vinegar will still produce lovely component to the dinner but leaving it in the fridge a few days afterwards or freezing it will produce a slightly sweeter taste as the acid has time to dissipate.
Gravy can be one of the more problematic components of a Christmas dinner as it needs constant care and attention when you’re trying to dish everything up to put on the table, and there it is in the background quietly boiling over a making a disastrous mess! But there is a solution to this; make it in advance. If you make a thicker than usual gravy weeks before and freeze it, you can then on the day add some vegetable water and the all-important turkey juices to it and no one would be any the wiser to your little trick.
Pickles and Chutneys
While celebrating the Christmas period, whether you are at festive parties or slumping around at home, you are more than likely to encounter a chutney or two. Yes, you could go out and buy it but there is no greater joy in making it yourself. During the autumn months, blackberries are bursting out of the countryside hedges, waiting to be picked. Once picked they can made into various combinations of different chutneys which can be matured in time for Christmas the same year. Pickles and chutneys are the perfect accompaniment all through the year and especially Christmas for cheese and biscuits. Pairing Popti Buttermilk and Oat Crackers with a sharp tangy chutney is the perfect winter combination as it combines the autumn flavours with festive winter weather.
Traditionally you should wait until the first frost to pick sloes, however, these days there is no reason why you can’t pick them once they’re ripe and then freeze them to mimic the frost. All you need is a 1 litre bottle of gin, 450g sloe berries and 225g caster sugar are you’re all set to make a sweet syrupy Christmas tipple for the cold winter mornings. Over 2 months the gins fights to permeate through the skin and into the fruity flesh of the sloe.