christmas dinner 2011

December 23, 2011

It’s Christmas in two days! I’ve been drunk with festive spirit this year, just enjoying the fact that we’re home, there’s a sparkly tree in our living room, and I have ten whole days of not-working to lounge, cook, read, and stuff myself silly.

What will you be eating this Christmas? Are you in charge of making, or just eating? Dan and I are planning dinner with family here and then we’re zooming down to Iowa City for another Christmas celebration and dinner there. I’m really excited.


Here’s some of what we’re planning on making…

The Turkey
Turkey is as much of a given at Christmas for me as roast potatoes are. We’ll likely do something simple, a la Mark Bittman, and just rub lots of lovely salt all over our bird and maybe tuck some garlic and fresh herbs around it before roasting. Crispy, crackly skin is what it’s all about.

Roast Potatoes
You now know this about me. We’ll be roasting them in duck fat, just like this.

Brussels Sprouts
We’ll be following a method that fabulous local restaurant Cafe Levain has used (Dan worked there for a very brief stint) and blanching Brussels before sauteing them with shallots, garlic and chives, until they’re all gorgeous and caramelised.

Cauliflower Cheese
Cor, blimey. That is what I will be saying as I unbutton my jeans and help myself to thirds of this dish. My sister made a cracking cauliflower cheese at Christmas a few years ago and it’s been burying its way into my brain ever since. Must make.

I like Nigel Slater’s method. Also, this is an American’s funny take on the quintessentially British dish. For a healthier, more fresh cauliflower idea, this looks stunning.

Dan will also be making a Lima bean dish that I don’t yet have the recipe for but am very intrigued by! Doesn’t it sound like a different, rather brill addition to a typical Christmas spread?


If you’re still looking for last minute inspiration, how about this beef wellington (holy photos) instead of turkey? For an amazing stuffing substitute this savoury bread pudding with mushrooms and parmesan is gorgeous. I’ve been eyeing Nigella’s festive couscous which sounds ever so appealing at the moment.

Baked carrot and parsnip oven “fries” are a must. Sweet, crunchy, ace. Posh mac & cheese would make a decadent side dish in place of cauliflower cheese. I think I just clogged an artery looking at it…

Looking for a unique sweet? What about this vegan, gluten-free and sugar-fre cranberry pear tart, or if you’re feeling ambitious maple walnut trifle. And there’s always chocolate rum balls :)

What about you? What will you be having? Merry Christmas!

Photo credits:
Christmas spread from Bon Appetit
Brussels Sprouts from Not Without Salt
Nigella’s Festive Couscous from Three Many Cooks
Maple Walnut Trifle from Lottie + Doof

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Randalle December 23, 2011 at 9:51 am

I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but haven’t commented – I just want to say how much I enjoy it, especially the British recipes! I’m not British myself, but I lived in England for a few years, and developed a soft spot for the food :).

My family members are picky eaters, so our Christmas menu is pretty standard (a ham, mac and cheese, green vegetable of some sort, various cakes), but my favorite part is the sweet potato casserole – a base of mashed sweet potatoes with plenty of cream and butter, topped with a mixture of brown sugar and pecans, and baked till the topping is golden brown and caramelized. So good!


Angharad December 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Thanks for commenting, Randalle! It’s always so nice when people first comment – or comment at all – it reminds me that I’m not just talking to myself!
Your Christmas menu sounds lovely. I love having ham – my favourite roast in fact! And that sweet potato casserole, wow! Such an American thing right there. Cream, butter, sugar, wow. Love it.


Karla December 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

We are having a classic English Christmas dinner, that I was first inspired to make years ago to comfort my homesick English husband.
Roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips, cranberry bread and lots of good red wine!
Christmas pudding and brandy butter to finish. This year, I’ve put out the challenge to pair an interesting, dark, rich local beer with the pudding. . . maybe crazy, but maybe it will work out!


Angharad December 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Karla, it sounds absolutely amazing! I’ve never had roast beef/yorkshire puds for Christmas but I love the idea of it (and had them for Sunday roasts ALL the time growing up). Have you ever done beef wellington? A friend of mine, who also has a British husband is doing that this year – sounds phenomenal!


Karla December 31, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Hi Angharad –
Happy new year! Christmas dinner went well, and the brandy butter recipe from Nigel was a hit. Thanks for the recommendation! I have done Beef Wellingtons, or a least a variation of them. I have a recipe from Fine Cooking from ages ago for individual wellies that you make ahead, freeze and bake when needed. Fabulous for dinner parties when you want a great main without spending all night in the kitchen. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

snowrose December 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf? Okay, I’m a convert to the Nigel Slater’s Cauliflower Cheese!


Angharad December 23, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Right?! That’s what I thought. I’ll let you know how it goes! Merry Christmas!


Gary Mortensen December 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Your Christmas meal looks like it will be superb – I envy all who will partake !


Angharad January 2, 2012 at 12:01 am

Individual beef wellies! Genius! I’d love to try that sometime. Good tip for the make-ahead option, too. p.s. glad the brandy butter worked out!


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