Tag Archives: turkey

Easy Christmas Dinner

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!

The Roast

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.

For example:

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:

Clementine Syllabub

Cranberry Fool


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!

1 Comment

Filed under Canapés, Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Sides, Slow Cooker, Starters

Turkey Wellington Roulade

So, in previous years I have made a Turkey Wellington, and I have made a Turkey Roulade… this year the two have been unitied in glorious harmony, I give to you the Turkey Wellington Roulade!  You’re welcome!  This is an impressive centre piece for any Christmas celebration, it looks great bringing it out, all covered in golden pastry, and when you slice into it it is simply stunning! It also makes a fantastic sandwich if you have leftovers!


I made this for a small Christmas Party I had at the weekend as part of a buffet, because the turkey part is thin it can happily be eaten with just a fork, which is handy! Again, this recipe may look tricky but when you break it into individual steps it really really isn’t.  Give it a go and wow your guests this year!



Serves 8 comfortably

1 x ~1.6kg Turkey Breast (I get a frozen butter basted one from Tescos, defrost it and trim it so I just have the meat, no skin)
400g sausage meat (I use Lincolnshire sausages coz I like the flavour)
100g bread crumbs
75g dried cranberries
1/2 tin chopped chestnuts
1 small egg
250g smoked bacon lardons
~30 rashers pancetta
500g puff pastrya little milk for brushing (or beaten egg, either works)

– Take your Turkey Breast and trim it so all you have left is the meat.  Turn it over so the good side is downwards.
– Carefully split the breast about 1/3 through the breast, making sure to not cut all the way through.
– Repeat the split halfway through the remaining meat cutting from the fold towards the outer edge.
– The breast should unfold like a letter.


Here is a (hopefully somewhat) illustrative diagram for you.

– If you need to flatten it more you can score cuts partly through the meat to help it lie flat.
– Now take a rolling pin and give it a bit of a bash, especially if you have any fatter sections, beat it until it is mostly uniform and as close to a rectangle as you can get it without splitting the meat.
– In a medium size bowl mix together the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, cranberries, chestnuts, lardons and egg.  Add a little bit of seasoning and give it a really good squidge together with your hands.
– Spread the stuffing mixture over the turkey, spreading it into a layer of even thickness across the turkey.  You may not need all of the stuffing, in fact it is a good idea to keep some back for evening things out later.
– Choose which edge looks the straightest and then start rolling from the oposite edge so you finish with a cleaner line.
– If you have any vastly different thicknesses you can pad it with stuffing so you get a nice smooth roll.  Gently shape the ends so they are more squared off.
– On a clean, floured worksurface roll out your puff pastry so that it is wide enough and long enought to wrap around your turkey.  It should be around the thickness of a £1 coin.  Keep rolling, it’ll get there!- Place a layer of pancetta rashers in the centre of the pastry, then place the turkey on top, with the join pointing to the top.
– Pull the pancetta rashers up the side of the turkey and place another layer over the top and round the sides so that the whole thing is encased in pancetta.
– Now gently wrap the pastry around the turkey, brushing the edges that join with milk to make them stick.
– Neatly fold the ends up and make sure that all of the joins are on the top side of the turkey.

– Now, carefully and gently pick up / roll your turkey into an oven proof tin or dish so that all of the seams are underneath and you have a nice, clean pastry top.
– Now you can add any decoarations that you wish, use spare pastry to create shapes, or simply use your fingers to pinch or crimp a pattern on top.
– Brush with milk and bake in the oven at gas mark 6/200C for 2 hours.
– When the tme is up get two spatulas/fish slices and carefully lift the Wellington out and onto your carving board/serving platter.
– There will be an amount of juice in the tray so this will have something of a soggy bottom.  If you want to avoid this then you can try pan cooking your sausage meat first before making the stuffing and draining off the excess fat.  This should cut down on the amount of liquid produced, but I like to drain it off and make a gravy out of it all.  You could also try baking it on a rack over a roasting tin but I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure how the pastry might hold up to that kind of treatment.  .
– Allow the Wellington to rest on a carving board/serving platter for 20 minutes or so before serving.


Filed under Christmas, Mains, Moderately easy

My Pre-Christmas Dinner 2012

I held my annual Pre-Christmas Dinner at the beginning of December.  My aim was to have it posted by Christmas… then the New Year… then within a month of the dinner… and now I’ve reached the point where all of these deadlines have gleefully sailed by and I have finally managed to sit down and “put pen to paper” as it were.

This year I had a theme to follow.  Chocolate!  With the new year I have finally left my boring office job behind and have made a very exciting move to work at York Cocoa House.  This is, in part at least, why I have been so busy and have not managed to post my special Chocolate Themed Pre-Christmas Dinner before now.

Green Pasta 1

For a starter we had Christmas Tree Raviolli.  Green spinach pasta stuffed with a wild mushroom, ricotta and cocoa filling.  To make spinach pasta you follow the same method as for regular pasta but you start with 200g fresh spinach and rinse it with water.  Put it in a pan on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the spinach wilts.  Put the wilted spinach in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain.  Give it a bit of a squidge with the back of a spoon to encourage it.  When it has drained you want to chop it into incredibly fine bits.  Just keep chopping at it.  You can practice your cheffy knife skills a bit!

Green Pasta 3

Then you take your wilted spinach, 1 egg and 250g pasta flour and mix it into a smooth dough with your hands.  Roll the dough, either by hand or using a pasta maker if you haev one.  Then you cut out Chritmas tree shapes from the dough and put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of one of your shapes.  Brush water round the edge and press another shape on top of the first to seal in the filling.  Repeat as necessary until all of your dough and filling is used up.

The filling was essentially finely chopped mushrooms and shallots sauteed and repeatedly reduced down with white wine, mushroom stock and eventually ricotta stirred through with 2 tbsp 100% cocoa grated in.  I was freestyling rather so I don’t have an exact recipe!

Turkey Roulade 1

For our main course we had Turkey Roulade.  I took a frozen butter basted turkey crown from Tescos and defrosted it, removed the skin and butterflied it.

I made a stuffing out of 400g italian sausage meat, 125g smoked bacon lardons, 100g bread crumbs, 75g dried cranberries, 3 tbsp cocoa nibs, 1 tbsp grated 100% cocoa, 1/2 tin of chopped chestnuts and 1 small egg.  Season well then mash it all together with your hands.

Spread it over the butterflied turkey crown.  Roll it up tightly.  Wrap the whole thing tightly with pancetta.  Roast the whole thing in an oven heated to gas mark 6 for 2 hours.   Slice and serve with seasonal vegetables of your choice.

Turkey Roulade 2

For dessert we had Black Forest Mousses.  I made Nigella’s Chocolate Mousse but with Cherry Liqueur instead of Cointreau.  Topped with a lick of whipped cream and scattered with cocoa nibs I spooned Amarena Cherries into the bottom of martini glasses before filling them.

Black Forest Mousse

It was a lovely evening with my mum, dad, sister and her new boyfriend, and let’s not forget the dog! I’m having fun experimenting with chocolate in a number of different ways now that I have discovered a whole range of possibilities that I never knew exited before.  This meal was a nice little way to dip my toe into those possibilities and I look forward to experimenting some more!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Starters

Turkey, leek and spinach noodle soup

This is one from my new Wagamama cookbook which a colleague got me for Christmas. I thought I’d try it out because we have three tons of turkey left over and we’re still going strong! The original recipe calls for chicken but since we have all this turkey I thought I’d use that instead and save some time. It’s quick and simple and most importantly delicious!


150g soba noodles
500mls chicken stock
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sake
A few handfuls of cooked turkey meat
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped

– Cook noodles according to the instructions on the packet drain and then refresh under cold water.
– Bring the chicken stock to the boil.
– Add the leek, soy sauce, fish sauce and sake.
– Cook for 10 minutes until the leek is soft.
– Add the turkey and the spinach bring back to the boil and then remove from heat.
– Divide the noodles between two bowls and then pour over the soup.
– Garnish with chopped spring onion if you like.

Leave a comment

Filed under Easy, Mains

Turkey Meatballs with Courgette Ribbons

I invented this dish in honour of my first ever home grown courgette from my garden.  Less than 3 meters from plant to plate, that’s not bad going!  I have to say, I was actually impressed with myself for coming up with this recipe.  A lot of my cooking sometimes feels like rehashing the same old things in new and different ways.  This recipe was actually new and different and so, so , so delicious!

It is actually a simple recipe with just a few fiddly bits.  I would recommend a stick blender with a goblet attachment but you could use a food processor if necessary.  (Mine came from Tesco for £15 so it doesn’t have to break the bank.) I would also recommend a mandoline (£9 from Wilkos, see, doesn’t have to bee that bad).  However, you can easily use a vegetable peeler if you don’t fancy giving up the cupboard space.

Serves 2

1 heels of a white bread loaf
1/2 small onion
2 rashers of unsmoked bacon
~300g turkey mince
1 egg
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 courgettes, cut into ribbons with either a mandoline or a vegetable peeler
300ml double cream

– Use the mini blender to blitz the bread into crumbs.  Place the crumbs in a medium sized mixing bowl.
– Put the onion and bacon, roughly chopped, in the mini blender and blitz until they become a paste.
– Add this to the breadcrumbs.
– Add the turkey mine, the egg and the garlic.  Season to taste.
– Mix until everything is well combined.
– Heat a few tbsp of olive oil in a very large frying pan.
– Pinch off small, walnut sized balls of the mixture and lightly roll into balls then place in the hot oil.  The mixture will be a little wet but don’t worry.
– Gently turn over the meatballs after 4 minutes and continue to cook on the other side for another 4 minutes.
– If you have a big enough pan you can do this in one batch, if not, do half, put on a plate then do the next half.
– Take the meatballs out of the pan and place on a plate to one side.
– Add the courgette ribbons to the pan and stir gently until the ribons are just starting to cook.
– Add the meatballs back to the pan.
– Pour over the cream.  Bring to a light simmer and simmer gently for 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally.
– The sauce should go a golden colour once it has picked up all the flavour from the meat.
– Serve with linguine, tagliatelli or spaghetti, something long an thin anyway.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mains, Moderately easy

Holidays and Haydari

Hello! Sorry for the long break in posts, I went on holiday! Mum and I jetted off to Turkey for a week of R&R, sun, sea, sand etc.  It was lovely to get away from it all for a bit, it’s amazing how much better I feel with a tan, the wonders of vitamin D eh! We didn’t do too much, just chilled out by the pool/on the beach reading.  We did put in one epic day trip to Pamukkale though, so very very very worth it!

It took 4 hours to get there but I saw a lot of Turkey as it is rather that as a tourist resort. The women still work the fields by hand with scythes and hoes! Once there it was just an incredible site, absolutely unique.  It’s much bigger than you would think too.  We swam in Cleopatra’s Pool and I grazed my knee on a sunken Roman column. There were plenty of interesting ruins for me to geek about too!  On the outward journey we visited an onyx factory, and I won an onxy egg that was carved in front of us!  On the return journey we visited a carpet factory… I can now identify many types of carpet, yay!

Turkish food seems to be variations on several themes: meat (either on a stick or not), kofte (minced meat, eithr on a stick or not), tomato based casserole (cooked in various receptacles for various lengths of time).  All of these were ususally served with chips, rice, mashed potato, bread, tomato, cucumber, onion, cabbage/lettuce and carrot.  Turkish breakfast wasn’t that far removed we had hard boiled eggs with cucumber, tomato, a feta type cheese, olives bread and jam.  I certainly got my 5 a day! One thing I got really into was Meze, a mixture of lots of different salad things with bread for dipping.  My favourite, and, happily, the easiest to reproduce, was Haydari.  It’s similar to Tzatziki but this is yogurt with mint and garlic.

Serves 1-6 (depends how many other things you have going on)

~200g greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
~ small handful fresh mint leaves
pinch of salt

– Put in a bowl and mix.
– Ta da!

The flavours develop well if left overnight but if you’re whipping this up in a hurry it’s good to go straight away.

TIP: To finely chop herbs put the herbs in a small glass/bowl/mug and use scissors to snip, snip, snip at the herbs until they’re as fine as you want them.

I served this with another of my favuourite snacks; houmous!  I simply take a tub of supermarket houmous and mix in a few spoons of red pesto and some chopped sundried tomatoes and job’s a good’un!

Leave a comment

Filed under Easy, Not Food, Starters

Turkey Wellington

Ok, the pièce de résistance for my pre-Christmas dinner the Turkey Wellington!  I wanted to serve something that was traditional, so Turkey, but I didn’t want to do a whole turkey because that’s for Christmas dinner at my parents’.  I also wanted something really show offy!  Now, this dish is complicated.  But none of the steps are, in and of themselves, complicated.  It’s just a matter of following the process through a step at a time.  Now, to break this down I even stopped to take photos, my camera loves flour, really! 

Serves about 8 I’d say.  Or 4 with plenty of leftovers (makes a cracking sandwich!)

~1.6kg Turkey breast (freezer section in Tescos!) defrosted
~900g streaky bacon, rindless (3 packs of Tesco value rind on streaky bacon for me)
500g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

For the stuffing:
2 onions, finely chopped
knob of butter
350g minced turkey
250g sausages, skinned (just use your favourites, Coop Lincolnshire for me!)
2 eggs, beaten
150g dried cranberries
150g unsweetened chestnut puree
100g fresh white breadcrumbs

– First take your turkey breast and remove the skin and any gross bits. (Yes, I’m 5). 
– Then trim the breast to make it more of a cylinder. 
– Tie the breast with string.  (I sort of followed this video but fudged the first bit coz I didn’t follow.) 

Trim and tie your turkey breast.

– Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a very large frying pan. 
– Season the breast then place in the pan and brown evenly on all sides. 
– Set aside to cool. 

Pan fry the breast until golden brown.

– Now for the stuffing!
– Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan. 
– Add the onions and cook til soft.  Leave to cool. 
– Mix the minced turkey and sausage meat in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Easiest with your hands, use a spoon if you’re squeamish!
– Add the eggs and mix until thick and smooth. 
– Mix in the onion, cranberries, chestnut puree and breadcrumbs and seasoning and mix until everything is evenly distributed. 
– Set aside. 

– Roll out your pastry on a floured surface until it is about 45cmx45cm.  Size it up so it will wrap around your turkey. 
– Place your bacon over the pastry, laying it so there are no gaps, leaving a few centimeters at the edges.  Keep back about 5 rashers. 

Cover the pastry in bacon.- Spread the stuffing over the bacon, reserving a few heaped spoonfulls. Spread the stuffing over the bacon.

– Place the turkey in the centre of the pastry, topside down. 

Place the Turkey in the centre topside down.

– Spread the remaining stuffing on top of the turkey.   
– Gently pick up the bacon and fold it over the turkey.  Do this a bit at a time, pressing it to hold it in place. 
– Use the remaining 5 bacon rashers to cover the gap. 

Wrap it in bacon.

– Fold one long side of the pastry up and over the top. 
– Brush the edge  with egg. 
– Fold the second edge up and press to seal the two edges together. 
– Now brush the sides with egg and fold up, press to seal. 

Fold up the pastry.

– Next, carefully roll/lift it onto a greased baking tray. 
– Use the egg to stick any decorations you want to the top. 

Flip onto tray and decorate!

– Set aside until you want to cook it. 
– Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6/200C. 
– Brush with egg and pop it in the oven for 1 hour 25 minutes.  Unfortunately there’s no way to check it for doneness so if you happen to cut into it and it looks a little pink, bung it back in the oven. 
– After the 1 hour 25 minutes take it out of the oven and leave it to rest for 20 minutes. 
– Use two large fish slices to carefully lift it onto a carving board. 
– Slice and serve. 

Serve with as many trimmings as you wish!


Filed under Christmas, For the Keen Cook, Mains

Christmas Round Up

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope that if you celebrate you had a great day and that Santa brought you everything you wished for!  I got loads of kitchen stuff  including a brilliantly coloured set of Laguiole cutlery, some silicone bakeware and the cutest mini ramekins.  Now I just want to get in the kitchen and use some of it.  Alas for that plan we are on the traditional post-Christmas turkey sandwich diet.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.  One year my mum tried buying a smaller turkey so as not to have so much left over and we very nearly had a riot!  Since for me a huge part of Christmas is the food I thought I’d do a little round up of what Christmas eating entails in our household. 

Let’s start with the main event:  The Turkey.  We do our turkey very differently from everyone else I’ve met.  We barbecue it.  We have a big kettle barbecue and you put a really big roasting pan in the bottom  to catch the drips and arrange the charcoal either side of that.  Then you pop in the barbecue rack and once it’s up to temperature (Something about ash on the coals, who knows?  That’s my dad’s job!) you pop in the turkey (ours is usually 15lbs) for 2 1/2 hours.  Not only is this brilliantly fast but it keeps the oven free for veg and other things.  That and my dad can escape outside when the relatives arrive! 

My mother does obscene things with bacon and stuffing the night before and although putting the bacon between the skin and the breast is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen it is delicious!  The stuffing this year was made with chestnuts grown by our friend in Italy so sort of homegrown there!  Along with the turkey we serve the usual veg: carrots, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, peas, sweetcorn and parsnips etc.  As well as bread sauce, gravy, cranberry sauce and mayo for us kids. 

For the starter mum usually does something fancy with salmon and other seafood but for us kids it’s the traditional prawn cocktail or nothing!  Simple but always a pleasure.  My sister doesn’t eat green things except spinach so she has hers on spinach and I have mine on lettuce.  Other than that it’s prawns and seafood sauce.  This year it was garnished with a home grown lemon slice as the lemon tree we’ve had in the conservatory for 20 years is finally producing fruit!

Pudding is always Christmas Pudding with cream and mum works very carefully to make sure there’s a 5p in each portion.  We’d never think to deviate from the traditional Christmas meal as it’s Tradition.  There’s something very comforting knowing that every year without fail this will be what you eat on December 25th.  And since I’ve now gathered the recipes together here if mum gets struck by lightning or something then I can now step in and continue in her footsteps and there’s something extremely reassuring about that.


Filed under Uncategorized

Chilli Turkey Burgers and Red Onion and Tomato Salsa Recipe

An excellent low fat burger option.  Delicious and nutritious!


Chilli Turkey Burgers

Makes 4

500g turkey mince
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp fresh corriander, chopped
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped

– Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl using your hand.  Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. 
– Divide the mixture into four and shape into patties by slapping the mixture between your hands to remove the air, then shaping it into round burgers. 
– Place the burgers on a plate and cover then leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 
– Cook under the grill or on a bbq for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. 
– Serve on buns with lettuce, Red Onion and Tomato Salsa and creme fraiche. 

Red Onion and Tomato Salsa

1/2 a red onion, chopped
12 baby plum or cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh corriander, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice

– Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mix thoroughly and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.


Filed under Easy, Mains, Sides