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Festive foods for the season
December 24, 2017, 3:34 pm

From the turkey to the sprouts, the mince pies to the party puddings, whatever festive feast you're throwing this Christmas, eat, drink and be merry with all our festive recipes.

Classic Christmas Pudding:


·         1 cup raisins

·         1 cup sultanas

·         1 cup self-raising flour

·         115g finely grated butter

·         1 cup breadcrumbs (from around 4 slices of bread)

·         1 cup light muscovado/brown sugar

·         1 cup mixed nuts, chopped with extra to decorate

·         1tsp ground cinnamon

·         1tsp ground mixed spice

·         1 cup milk

·         1 large egg

·         Butter (for greasing)

For the sauce:

·         85g butter

·         100g light muscovado sugar

·         200g double cream

·         1tsp vanilla essence extract


For the pudding, empty the first six cups and the nuts, if using, into a mixing bowl with the spices, then stir in the milk and egg. Once well combined, tip into a buttered 1.5 litre pudding bowl.

Cover with a double layer of buttered foil, making a pleat in the centre to allow the pudding to rise. Tie the foil securely with string, then place in a steamer or large pan containing enough gently simmering water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl. Steam, covered with a lid, for 21?2 hours. Check the water level during cooking, topping up if necessary. If you are preparing this pudding ahead, remove the foil, let it cool slightly, then wrap in cling film and then fresh foil. If you are serving it immediately, unwrap and invert onto a deep plate.

For the sauce, put everything in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring. Allow to bubble away for 2-3 minutes, still stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is pale caramel in colour and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Pour the sauce over the pudding and decorate with the whole mixed nuts.


Christmas Turkey



·         5kg Turkey

·         olive oil

·         sea salt

·         freshly ground

·         black pepper

·         1 clementine, halved

·         a few sprigs fresh rosemary

·         2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

·         2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

·         2 carrots, roughly chopped

For the stuffing:

·         olive oil

·         2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

·         sea salt

·         freshly ground black pepper

·         ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

·         a few sprigs fresh sage, leaves picked and roughly chopped

·         300 g mince meat

·         1 large handful breadcrumbs



  1. Take your turkey out of the fridge about an hour before you are ready to cook it so it comes up to room temperature before roasting. Give it a good rinse then pat it dry with some kitchen paper, making sure you soak up any water in the cavity. Drizzle the meat with a good lug of olive oil, add a few good sprinkles of salt and pepper and then rub this seasoning all over the bird, making sure you get in to all the nooks and crannies.
  2. Preheat your oven to full whack then get started on your stuffing. Pour a lug or two of olive oil into a large pan on a medium heat and fry off your chopped onion for about 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in a good pinch of salt and pepper, the ground nutmeg and your chopped sage leaves, then continue to fry and stir for another minute or two.
  3. Spoon the onion mixture into a large bowl and let it cool completely. Once cooled, add your mince and breadcrumbs and use your hands to really scrunch everything together. Once it’s mixed really well, bring the stuffing together into a ball, then cover and chill until you’re ready to stuff your turkey.
  4. Pull the skin at the neck-end back so you can see a cavity and push about half of your stuffing inside your turkey. Not too much: you don’t want to pack it so tightly it slows down the cooking. Once done, pull and fold the skin over the opening and tuck it under the bird so it looks nice.
  5. Turn the turkey around and drop a few small pieces of stuffing into the larger cavity along with your clementine halves and a few sprigs of rosemary. Place your roughly chopped veg in the bottom of a roasting pan and lay your turkey on top. Cover the turkey with tin foil then put it in the hot oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 180°C. Cook for about 35 to 40 minutes per kilo. The 5kg bird in this recipe will take about 3 to 3½ hours.
  6. Check on your turkey every 20 minutes or so and keep it from drying out by basting it with the lovely juices from the bottom of the pan. After 2½ hours, remove the foil so the skin gets golden and crispy.
  7. When the time is up, take your turkey out of the oven and stick a small sharp knife into the fattest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear and the meat pulls apart easily, it’s ready. If not, pop the turkey back in the oven to cook for a bit longer then check again. When you're confident it's cooked, rest the turkey for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours for bigger bird.


Christmas fruit cake
·         2 sticks butter
·         1 cup brown sugar
·         4 large eggs
·         1 cup orange juice
·         1/2 cup of honey
·         2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
·         2 tablespoons milk powder
·         1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         1 teaspoon mixed spices
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
·         1 tsp baking soda
1) Grease and line 5-6 mini loaf pans. Preheat the oven to150 C.
2) Sift the flour, milk powder and spices together.
3)Combine dried fruits, butter, sugar, honey, orange juice and baking soda in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer for about 5 minutes over low heat. Stir consistently. Remove the saucepan and leave to cool.
4)Combine the eggs and gently beat it using a fork. Gently stir it into the cooled cake mixture. Fold in the sifted ingredients. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour or until cooked.
Remove the cake and cover it tightly with aluminium foil. The cake is best eaten after a few days of aging.


Mince pies



For the pastry:

·         175g plain flour

·         75g butter, cut into cubes

·         25g icing sugar

·         Finely grated rind 1 orange

·         1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

·         350g mincemeat

·         1 egg, beaten, to glaze

·         Icing or caster sugar for dusting



1.       Preheat the oven to 200ºC. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar and grated orange rind into a food processor bowl and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour in the beaten egg and pulse the blade until the dough starts to form a ball. Knead lightly by hand on a floured board.

  1. Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and cut out
    18 rounds using a 7.5cm fluted cutter. Use these to line 18 holes of two 12-hole bun tins. Spoon a generously heaped teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry case.
  2. Re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut out 18 stars using a 4.5-5cm star cutter. Put a star on top of the mincemeat, and brush the pastry with a little beaten egg.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Allow to cool slightly and dust with icing sugar or caster sugar before serving.


Gingerbread people


·         175g brown sugar

·         85g golden syrup

·         100g butter

·         350g plain flour, including some for dusting

·         1tsp sodium bicarbonate

·         1tsp ground ginger

·         1tsp ground cinnamon

·         1 egg, beaten

·         Ready-made sugar icing (decorative)

·         Chocolate buttons or small sweets (decorative)



1. Melt the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan, then bubble for 1-2 mins. Leave to cool for about 10 mins.

2. Tip the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl.  Add the warm syrup mixture and the egg, stir everything together, then gently knead in the bowl until smooth and streak-free. The dough will firm up once cooled. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins.

3. Remove the dough from the fridge, leave at room temperature until softened. Heat oven to 200C and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

4. Roll out the dough to the thickness of a coin, then cut out gingerbread people with a cutter. Re-roll the excess dough and keep cutting until it’s all used up.

5.  Lift the biscuits onto the trays and bake for 10-12 mins, swapping the trays over halfway through cooking. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Use the icing to decorate the biscuits as you wish, and stick on sweets for buttons. Leave to dry for 1-2 hrs. Will keep for up to three days in an airtight container.




·         Flavourless oil (for greasing)

·         300g nuts, toasted and chopped

·         50g candied peel, finely chopped

·         250g dried fruit (such as dates or apricots), chopped

·         50g plain flour

·         2tsp spices (ideally, a mix cinnamon and cardamom)

·         125g honey

·         150g golden caster sugar

·         Icing sugar to dust


1)  Heat oven to 150C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin with edible rice paper or baking parchment. Tip the nuts, candied peel and dried fruit into a bowl. Sift over the flour and spices, and mix together.

2) Heat the honey and sugar in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bubble for 3-4 mins until the sugar has melted. Pour the hot liquid over the fruit and nuts, then mix. Scrape the mixture into the tin and use the back of a wet metal spoon to flatten it. Bake for 35-40 mins until the surface is still soft but not sticky – it will firm up as it cools.

3)  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove using a palette knife to release any sticky edges. If using baking parchment, peel it off and discard it. Cool completely on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar, rubbing the sugar gently into the surface. Cut into wedges to serve. Will keep wrapped in baking parchment in an airtight tin for one month.



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