London

Christmas: Super Simple Recipes to Impress the Relatives!

Now that Christmas is almost upon us, I’m feeling a little sad that I’m not responsible for the big feast this year. I absolutely love getting my hands dirty on Christmas Day; pushing the boat out to ensure that everyone ends up overstuffed, satiated and physically unable to eat anymore.

I’m a fan of a selection of meats, at least 2 stuffings, pigs in blankets, brussel sprouts by the bowlful, roast potatoes and parsnips, mashed sweet potato, piles of veg, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, gravy…the list goes on.

But that’s just the MAIN dish. If you like to do Christmas properly, it pretty much involves eating from the minute you wake up to the moment you fall asleep again. And probably a few food induced naps in between.

So here are a few recipes that are SO incredibly easy to prepare, but will impress your guests so much they’ll be singing your praises all day – rather than those dodgy carols that may tempt them otherwise.

Snacks

Pork Scratchings

Something that you rarely seen home-made, but are absolutely delicious and a total treat! Crispy, bad for you and terribly moreish – they’re perfect for Christmas snacking.

Pork ScratchingsIngredients

  • 500g Rare breed pork skin (belly is best)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked Paprika
  • 20g sea salt
  • 50ml grapeseed oil

Method

  • Preheat oven to 150/300/Gas Mark 2
  • Trim the excess fat from the pork skin so that it’s 1/2cm thick
  • Cut the skin into 1cm x 15cm lengths
  • Season thoroughly with the seasalt and paprika and leave to marinate for 2hrs
  • Wipe the excess marinade from the skin then dress with oil
  • Line heavy/cast iron baking tray with silicone paper
  • Spread pork skins evenly on paper with space between (and around the edge)
  • Place a second sheet of silicone paper on top of the skins, followed by a second baking tray
  • Cook for 30mins
  • Increase oven temp to 180/350/Gas Mark 4
  • Remove top baking tray and top piece of silicone paper
  • Cook pork for another 15 minutes, or until skins are puffed up and golden.
  • Remove from oven, season with additional sea salt if required…and serve

This recipe looks like loads of steps, but when you read it through, it’s actually pretty simple! It’s probably something I’d do on Christmas Eve to have with drinks…scrumptious.

 

Starter

Home Cured Gravadlax (Serves 10-12)

This technically takes ages, but each step is quick (with a long rest in between each stage!). I love it because when it’s done it’s super impressive, but actually isn’t too hard at all. Just what we love here at TLL…all of the glory with minimum effort!

Salmon GravadlaxIngredients:

  • 1 x 2kg skin on side of salmon (make sure fishmonger fully trims it for you and removes ALL bones!)
  • 50g whole white peppercorns
  • 50g dried dill (weed)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1kg sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

Method

  • Coarsely grind the peppercorns and mix them with half of the dill, all the sugar and the sea salt.
  • Put the salmon in a deep tray and cover both sides in salt mixture
  • Cover the tray and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours. Go off and do fun things
  • After 24 hours, remove the salmon and thoroughly rinse off the salt mixture in cold running water.
  • Leave to dry in a COLD place for another 48 hours. Go off and do more fun things
  • After 48 hours, place the salmon on a piece of greaseproof paper, coat both sides in the Dijon mustard and the remaining dill.
  • Pop back in a cold place for at least another 24 hours (it will keep for up to 2 weeks if wrapped in clingfilm.)
  • Finally, slice very thinly and serve with the mustard relish recipe below…

For the relish

  • 100g Dijon Mustard
  • 100g wholegrain mustard
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill (weed)
  • a splash of white wine vinegar (to taste)
  • a dribble of sunflower oil (to achieve consistency)

Method:

  • Mix all ingredients together. Simple as that!
  • (Pop in an airtight container and it will lat up to 1 month)

I love this recipe as none of the ingredients are unusual, hard to find or fiddly but the end recipe is incredibly impressive. OK, so it takes 5 days in total, but it’s a maximum of 20 minutes per day and you get your own, perfectly cured salmon at the end of it. What on earth could be better than that on Christmas Day? You’ll be the star of the show for sure. (Better start tomorrow though – we only have 6 days left!)

Cheeseboard

Spiced Roasted Walnuts

This is my absolute favourite part of any dinner, ever. I will usually forgo dessert to allow myself room for ALL OF THE CHEESE. I will admit, it’s easy to cheat with accompaniments these days, seeing as so many cheese counters provide such incredible jellies and chutneys, but when something is as simple as these walnuts, I can’t NOT include them!

WalnutsIngredients

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 20g butter
  • 200g Walnut halves
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 3 sprigs finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper

The method for this one is ridiculously simple.

  • Heat olive oil & butter in a large pan over a medium heat
  • Add walnut halves and brown sugar then toss together for a few minutes until caramelised
  • Stir in cayenne pepper and rosemary, season with salt and pepper
  • Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, then serve!

 

Desert Island DishesThese recipes are all from a gorgeous book I’ve just come across – Desert Island Dishes – which is a selection of recipes from many of the worlds most amazing chefs! There are fantastic tips in there for some truly outstanding, world class dishes…and a few simpler things too as you can tell.

Let me know your thoughts. Would you take on the Gravadlax? Or are you more of a Pork Scratchings type person? I would love love love if you tried some of these and let me know how you get on…and if you want to get the book for yourself, you can grab it here.

 

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