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Christmas recipes - Annie Stirk's recipes

PUBLISHED: 19:33 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:35 20 February 2013

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Our food and wine consultant Annie Stirk shows how careful planning ensures a perfect Christmas in the kitchen <br/>PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY BULMER

Christmas is a great time to get together with friends and family, but with expectations running high, all the preparations for entertaining and organising the festive food can be daunting. Success is in the planning!

How many people will you be catering for? Will you be having a party? So, sitting down with a glass of Mulled Wine and a pen and paper will really help to focus the mind on what you are going to need. A bit of planning will also help to eliminate any last minute panic, but sometimes that's all part and parcel of the fun.

Christmas dishes such as cakes, puddings, chutneys and preserves can all be made ahead and actually improve with keeping - and they also double up as great presents.

Other recipes such as pates and frozen puddings and desserts can be made early too, as well as those all important stuffings. It's also useful to have a couple of casseroles and savoury pies in the freezer to give you more time to relax and enjoy some fun with the family.

For this Christmas master class I have decided to ring the changes with an 'alternative to the bird' - this lovely recipe for a rib of beef. There is so much great Yorkshire beef around and this classic roast makes a stunning centre piece, either for Christmas Day or a New Year celebration.

If you are worried about not having enough leftovers, well there is nothing nicer than slices of cold beef served with fruity chutneys and crisp jacket potatoes on Boxing Day. Christmas pudding is traditionally made on Stir-up Sunday, which this year falls on November 23rd.

This is the start of all the exciting seasonal preparations and it's a great chance to get the family into the kitchen to help make a traditional spicy fruity Christmas pudding. I will be in the kitchen making my mum's delicious pudding recipe and I hope you enjoy trying it out too.

However, don't worry if you don't manage to get it done, there are plenty of good ready-made puddings around in local farm shops and deli's - but sshh - don't say I told you! I hope you and your family have a very Happy Christmas.


ROAST RIB OF BEEF

Serves 6

Ingredients

2.5kg of French trimmed Rib of Beef

2 tbsp grain mustard

2tbsp creamed horseradish

Few sprigs fresh thyme

6 large red onions, peeled and quartered

4 whole bulbs of garlic - trim the tops

2 tbsp duck fat or a drizzle of vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.

Take the beef out of the fridge and allow it to get to room temperature.

Mix the grain mustard with the horseradish and sprinkle in the thyme leaves.

Mix together then rub the mixture generously over the beef.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the prepared onions and garlic in a heavy based roasting tin and sit the beef on top.

Dot the duck fat around the meat and vegetables. Alternatively, drizzle with oil.

Roast in the oven for approximately one and a half hours (this will give you rare meat).

Cook for a further 30 minutes for medium or a further half an hour if you prefer it well done.

When the beef is cooked, remove from the oven, cover with foil and allow it to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Reserve the juices from the roasting tin to make your gravy, squeeze the softened garlic cloves into the gravy for a delicious rich flavour. Carve the meat and serve with crispy roasties, Yorkshire puddings, red cabbage, parsnips and sprouts.


CRISPY ROASTIES

Serves 6

Ingredients

1.5kg floury potatoes i.e. Maris Piper, peeled

2-3 tbsp olive oil or duck fat

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Cut the potatoes into even sized chunks and cook in a pan of boiling water for approximately 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the oil or duck fat in a heavy based roasting tin and heat in the oven. Oven 200C / Gas mark 6

Drain the potatoes in a colander and tip back into the pan.

Shake the pan vigorously to fluff up the outsides of the potatoes.

Tip the potatoes into the roasting tin and coat with oil/fat.

Season with the sea salt and pepper.

Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning a couple of times during cooking, until golden brown but soft in the middle.


SPICED RED CABBAGE

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, halved and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large red cabbage, shredded finely

3-4 tbsp muscovado sugar

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 star anise

tsp allspice

300ml vegetable stock or use half stock and half red wine

2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a large pan.

Add the oil followed by the onion and garlic, and cook until softened.

Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for approximately 45 minutes or until all the liquid is evaporated and the cabbage is tender.

Use immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate - it tastes even better reheated the following day to serve with cold cuts.


CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Everyone has their favourite Christmas pudding recipe and this is my mum's, which our family have loved for years. I am delighted to share it with you, and hope that you enjoy as much as we do. It's moist and delicious, and perfect served with a creamy rum or brandy sauce and if you are feeling particularly brave, do have a go at flaming your pudding - it makes quite a spectacular end to the meal. I can never quite manage to eat my Christmas pudding immediately after Christmas lunch. I prefer to sneak into the kitchen on my own later when everyone is dozing in front of the fire to enjoy it as an indulgent treat!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

100g glace cherries, chopped

100g dried apricots, chopped

100g dried prunes, chopped

150g currants

300g sultanas

550g raisins

150g mixed peel

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Grated zest of 1 orange

300ml good local beer/stout

2 tbsp sweet sherry

100g flour

200g soft breadcrumbs

tsp cinnamon

tsp nutmeg

tsp mixed spice

75g ground almonds

50g toasted flaked almonds

200g dark muscovado sugar

150g suet

4 eggs

2 level tbsp golden syrup

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

1 large cooking apple, peeled and grated

Orange and Lemon Juice, optional

Method

Choose a large mixing bowl then add the cherries, apricots, prunes, currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and orange and lemon zest.

Pour the beer or stout and sherry onto the fruit mix, stir well, cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave overnight in a cool place.

In a separate bowl, combine together the dry ingredients flour, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, almonds, dark muscovado sugar and suet.

Whisk the eggs and stir into the fruit, mixing well and drizzle in the golden syrup. Stir.

Fold in the grated carrot and cooking apple.

Gradually stir in all of the dry ingredients, mixing well.

If the mixture seems a little dry, then just add the juice of the orange and lemon, or a little extra beer.

Make a wish and divide the mixture between the prepared pudding basins.

Grease one large and two smaller pudding basins.

If you want the pudding to slice perfectly, press the ingredients together firmly.

If you want a lighter, more crumbly pudding, pack them less tightly.

Fill the basins to within one inch of the top.

Cover with greaseproof paper, then a layer of foil.

Steam the large puddings for 6-7 hours or the smaller puddings for 4-5 hours. If you don't have a steamer, stand the basins on an upturned saucer so the water only comes halfway up the basin. Keep the liquid boiling fairly steadily. Always top up with boiling water. When the puddings are done remove the foil and greaseproof covers and replace with fresh ones.

Reheating the pudding on the big day

To Steam: place the pudding in a steamer for a minimum of two hours which will give you a nice dark pudding. Alternatively if you can't wait, then microwaving is the speedier option.

To Microwave: remove any foil covering and replace with cling film. For a large pudding, cook on full power for approximately 6 minutes. For the small one, allow approximately 3 minutes. Make sure the pudding stands for 3 minutes before serving. However, do check your instruction book as wattages vary. Check that the puddings are piping hot.

To serve

Place the pudding on a pretty serving plate. Warm some brandy in a small pan but be careful not to let it boil or overheat. Carefully light the brandy with a match and then pour the flaming brandy over the pudding at the table. It looks really dramatic and is worth the effort. After the flames subside, place a sprig of holly in the top and serve with rum or brandy sauce or cream.


Many thanks to Taste Tradition, Thirsk, for supplying the rib of beef for this month's master class and to Mulberry Hall for the cookware and tableware. Taste Tradition Ltd. T: 01845 525330. www.tastetradition.co.uk Mulberry Hall. T: 01904 620736. www.mulberryhall.co.uk.

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