This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!
Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!
You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!
We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!
In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!
Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.
However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.
A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.
2 hours before: Roast In
45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)
30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in
25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.
Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.
Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:
If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!
These mini breakfast bites were one of the first things I invented for myself in 3rd year food tech! They are now a staple tradition in our household and I couldn’t imagine Christmas without them!
24 slices of white bread (2 meduim sliced loaves)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
24 quails eggs
12 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta
24 tiny button mushrooms (or 6 small mushrooms cut into quarters)
Heat the oven to gas mark 7.
Get out 2x 12 hole bun tins, I prefer the rounded ones but the straighter ones work just fine.
Use a large round cookie cutter, checking that it is slightly bigger than the bun tins you are using, to cut out a large round from the centre of each slice of bread. (leftover crusts can be used to make bread sauce, or breadcrumbs to freeze for later use)
Brush both sides of each round of bread and gently press into the bun tins.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until just turning crisp and golden.
Take out the tins (being careful coz it’s hot!) and crack a quails egg carefully into each one. (I use a sharp knife to pierce the shells)
Return to the oven for ~5 minutes until the eggs are just setting.
Prepare your bacon/pancetta rolls by slicing each rasher in half then rolling up.
Take the tins out of the oven again and add your bacon rolls and mushrooms.
Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the bacon is cooked through.
Serve immediately while hot and make sure you get some too because these will disappear fast!
A quick and simple supper recipe today! This Chicken, Leek and Rosemary Tagliatelli recipe uses a white wine reduction to make a super simple sauce that is super luxurious! Sometimes you need to give yourself a little indulgent treat but this is a little bit lighter than my usual cream based sauces.
The freshness of the leeks and the depth of the rosemary pair beautifully with the bacon and chicken to make a perfect Friday supper for two!
1 large chicken breast, sliced
125g bacon lardons
1 medium leek, rinsed and sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
200ml white wine
tagliatelle to serve
Prep your water for pasta, mine usually takes 4-5mins but check the packet for cooking instructions and proceed accordingly.
Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan and add the bacon lardons cook for a minute or two, stirring occasionally.
Add the sliced chicken breast and cook until just turning all white.
Add the leek and cook until just softening.
Add the rosemary and the wine and simmer on a medium heat until the wine is reduced to a thick sauce coating the bottom of the pan and the leek is completely soft and the chicken cooked through.
Ah, Quiche! The poor quiche has a bit of a bad rep simple because it has a bit of a funny sounding name! But we should not mock the quiche for it is delicious! Throughout the summer months I will frequently have one in the fridge just waiting to be grabbed for causal lunches, a picnic, a light supper. It’s a very versatile dish and once you have the basics down you can whip one up in no time!
This little quiche is an asparabacon quiche. Asparabacon is one of the finest flavour combinations so adding it to a quiche seemed like a brilliantly obvious step!
I’m not going to lie though, I think I’ve had it with pastry! I CAN make pastry, sure. It’s not that hard… but I hate it. It’s just one of those fiddly jobs that I just don’t really enjoy. I think that these days you can get some good ready made pastry at a decent price in any supermarket so I may just throw the towel in and go for an easy life! We shall see!
There’s an entire bundle of asparagus in this small quiche, which is a lot, yes, but ASPARAGUS! Fresh, British Asparagus too! If you want to dial back the asparagus that’s cool, but why not indulge yourself a bit?
Serves 4 / Makes 1x 8″ quiche
150g plain flour
25g trex (or just 75g butter)
1-2 tbsp cold water
6 large eggs
200 ml milk
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 bungle asparagus spears, trimmed of the woody end
125g smoked bacon lardons
25g grated cheese
– Put the flour, butter and trex in a mixing bowl and rub together with your hands until it forms a breadcrumb consistency.
– Add the water a little at a time mixing until it comes together into a dough.
– Shape into a flat round, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 5.
– Roll out the pastry on a floured worksurface into a rough circle. It should be about the thickness of a £1 coin and large enough to cover an 8″ sandwich tin with a little overhang.
– Gently pick the dough up using the rolling pin and drape it gently into the 8″ sandwich tin, lightly press down into the edges and smooth up the sides and over the lip making sure there are no trapped air bubbles.
– Cover the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans.
– Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and gently remove the foil and baking beans. If it won’t release evenly put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.
– Bake uncovered for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is just cooked and has lost that sickly pale look!
-Prepare your filling: Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a jug.
– Scatter the bacon and asparagus evenly over the pastry shell.
– Pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell. If you’ve got it right and there are no holes this is where your filling should stay. If you’ve got it wrong, well, that why it’s on a baking tray!
– Scatter the grated cheese on top.
– Pop it back into the oven (if it’s leaking get it back in as quickly as you can so that egg seals the hole!)
– Bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes until the egg is set in the centre and the top is a golden brown.
– Leave to cool completely before running a sharp knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the pastry.
– Place the bottom on a sturdy bowl smaller than the tin and press down evenly to unmould it.
– Run a sharp knife between the pastry and the tin base to separate it.
– Serve and enjoy!
First up in new ways to use your Homemade Cottage Cheese we have this nice light and zesty pasta sauce. Chicken and bacon combine with lemon zest, peas and broad beans to give a dish that is light yet satisfyingly hearty, the perfect balance for this time of year!
1 chicken breast, diced
125g smoked bacon lardons
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen broad beans
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 cup of cottage cheese (approximately half my yield, this will vary!)
4 tbsp creme fraiche
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups spinach
150g wholewheat pasta
1 ball mozzarella
– Heat a small splash of oil in a large frying pan.
– Add the chicken breast and bacon lardons and cook until the chicken is browning and the bacon crispy.
– Add the peas, beans and garlic and cook until totally defrosted.
– Add the cottage cheese, the creme fraiche and the lemon.
– Season to taste with salt and pepper.
– Cook on a low heat until the cheese has melted to give a smooth sauce.
– Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. For the last minute throw in the spinach.
– Drain and divide between two bowls.
– Scatter with mozzarella and top with sauce.
Pâté is one of my favourite foods. Liver Pâté is awesome, but liver is not! I love that something so gross can become something so delicious! It makes an excellent starter or a delicious light lunch, and gets some much needed iron into my diet!
I have made these in preparation for Christmas entertaining and also, for personal indulgence! Making the mini ones make such an easy starter option. They can be frozen and defrosted the day before you have guests, which makes them a brilliant make ahead option. The recipe itself is so so easy, no faffy cooking and water bathing, you use the microwave to cook this, making it the quickest, easiest Pâté ever! You can make it the day before or even the morning of your event leaving you to focus on other things, like having fun!
I have to admit that making pate is pretty gross… like, really gross, from a visual perspective! But you don’t need to touch anything, it’s all bunged in the microwave and out of sight for the really gross bits, but fair warning for the squeamish amongst us!
Makes ~ 4 ramekins (I did 2 small terrines and 5 little pots for starters)
30g dried porcini mushrooms
125g smoked bacon lardons
225g chicken livers (Defrosted)
100g butter (can use salted or unsalted, just be cautious on adding extra salt if using salted)
1 clove garlic, crushed (I use garlic puree, about 1 tsp)
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp marsala wine
1 tsp herbes de provence
1/2 tsp pepper
~100g salted butter (If you are making lots of smaller portions then you may need more butter, if you are making one large dish then you may need less.)
sage leaves to decorate
– Put the dried porcini in a small bowl and just cover with boiling water. Set aside.
– Put the bacon in a medium sized microwavable bowl.
– Microwave on full for 1 minute.
– Add the livers, the butter and the garlic.
– Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.
– Drain off the mushrooms and add to the bowl, give everything a good stir.
– Microwave for a further 2 1/2 minutes.
– Add the cream, marsala, herbes, pepper and salt.
– Using a stick blender (or decanting into a food processor) blend everything together, I like to leave it a little coarse but you can puree until utterly smooth if you prefer.
– Pour into your chosen serving dishes.
– Melt the salted butter and pour over the pate.
– Press a fresh sage leaf into the butter to decorate.
– Leave to cool until the butter is completely set, then refrigerate until needed. You can also wrap and freeze it at this point.
People keep asking me how on earth I make an Egg McMuffin at home and seem really surprised that I do it… I thought it was a pretty obvious one but, just to put the mystery to rest, here is my super simple DIY Egg McMuffin Recipe!
1 english muffin
3 rashers streaky bacon / 1 Frozen Lorne sausage (Iceland) / 2 regular sausages skin removed and mashed into one patty (BACON IS EASIER AND QUICKER!)
1 cheese single
ketchup (they really should put this in an Egg McMuffin!)
– Heat a dribble of oil in a small blini/egg pan on a low heat.
– Heat a small frying pan on a low heat.
– Slice your muffin in half and pop in the toaster. Not too high!
– Crack your egg into the blini/egg pan.
– Place your bacon in the frying pan. (Or sausage but the sausage wants to cook for longer so adjust your timings accordingly and get it going before you fetch the muffin!)
– When the white is just set, flip your egg. The longer you leave it now the more solid your yolk will be. Runny yolk is delicious but messy!
– Place the first half of the muffin on a plate, add ketchup.
– Add bacon.
– Add fried egg.
– Add cheese single.
– Add more ketchup. (What? I like ketchup!)
– Top with the remaining half of your toasted muffin.
– PLACE A BOWL OVER THE TOP AND LEAVE IT FOR 2-5 MINUTES. This is the important part. You know how your muffin gets all wrapped up and is nice and soft when you eat it? This is why!
Yesterday I was shopping on the market and saw bunches of asparagus. Not an unusual occurence, I admit. However, I knew that we were having a bbq that evening and suddenly I wanted nothing more than fresh grilled asparagus and asparabacon.
Now, the grilled asparagus has just been all over the place, as it should be because it’s delicious! But asparabacon was something I used to eat in izakaya all over Japan and I love it! I’ve only ever made it as part of a Japanese meal before but it transfers beautifully to the bbq. It even works as finger food!
Hardly a recipe but here goes:
1 bunch asparagus
– Snap the tough ends off the asparagus.
– Drizzle/spray with olive oil.
– Cook on bbq until just browned.
1 bunch asparagus
~6 slices bacon
– Slice the bacon in half along the center giving thin, long strips.
– Snap the tough ends off the asparagus.
– Wrap the bacon round the asparagus in spirals.
– Grill until the bacon is cooked and just starting to brown.
Now this isn’t so much a recipe as a collection of foods but even though I have been cooking and eating the Full English for many years this was the first time I felt I had managed to get everything just perfect! The most challenging part of the whole thing for me has always been the fried egg. I’m too impatient. Today I finally cracked it! I have to admit that I didn’t actually cook the fried bread this time, I left it in my mother’s capable hands. Hers is always much better than mine in any event!
Per person allow:
1 slice of white bread
2 rashers of bacon
1 salad tomato, halved if using
1/4 large tin baked beans
1 large portobello mushroom
-Sausages go in first. I grill then under a fairly high heat.
-The fried bread wants to go on next. Cut your bread into triangles then pass one side under the cold tap. Put into a frying pan of fairly hot oil (about 3tbsp) then turn down a bit and leave til the first side is a golden brown. Then flip over and brown the other side.
-When the sausages are brown on one side turn them over and add your bacon to the grill pan with them and turn down the heat to medium. If grilling tomatoes as well put them in here as well skin side up then turn later.
-Put the baked beans in a microwavable bowl with a knob of butter and cover with clingfilm. Microwave on full power for 2 1/2 minutes.
-Heat a few tbsp oil in another frying pan to fairly hot then turn down to low. Crack the egg into a small bowl or saucer. Slide it from the bowl into the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the white is set. Spoon the hot oil over the top of the yolk until it reaches the way you like it.
– Brush or spray your portobello mushrooms with oil and then microwave for 2 minutes and test, microwave in 1 minute blocks until cooked. (Ours took 4 minutes.)
– If necessary give the beans another minute in the microwave to get them piping hot again.
– Everything is ready when the sausages are nicely browned all over and cooked through, the eggs are set, the bacon is soft with crispy edges, the mushroom is tender, the bread is a light golden brown and the beans are hot!
– Plate up and eat!
This “recipe” of course is open to as much variation as you want to give it. Don’t like something? Leave it out. Like your eggs scrambled? Scramble them! Only got little sliced mushrooms? Pan fry them in a small saucepan in a little butter. It’s your breakfast, enjoy it!
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!