Prue Leith shares her Christmas food tips

PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 December 2019

Prue Leith Lunch Dean Clough Mills

Prue Leith Lunch Dean Clough Mills

© Hannah Ali 2018

Prue Leith is probably on more than a few dream dinner party guest lists. Surprisingly this year she won’t be using her culinary talents for the Christmas feast. We caught up with the Great British Bake Off presenter at Dean Clough in Halifax to find out her festive secrets.

Prue Leith Lunch Dean Clough Mills Prue Leith Lunch Dean Clough Mills

Your favourite part of festive dining

The fizz on arrival. I do love a party. But if it turns out to be awful (which is rare of course) the best moment is goodbye

A go-to dish when unexpected guests arrive

Prue Leith Lunch Dean Clough Mills Prue Leith Lunch Dean Clough Mills

I always have dried linguine and spaghetti in the larder and home-made pesto in the fridge or Bolognaise sauce in the freezer (I make it in mega amounts and freeze it in small quantities, flat in a freezer bag so it thaws fast if sunk in water). So Pasta al Pesto or Spag Bol are always possible.

A cheat's tip

When making real Crème Anglaise (proper custard with eggs) thicken the milk with a teaspoon or two of cornflour or custard powder before adding the sugar and egg yolks. This will stop the custard curdling but it will still have that real Crème Anglaise flavour.

A favourite tipple

Ilmington Apple Brandy. It's made in a nearby village and is brilliant.

Your showstopper pud

Pavlova. It's easy to make, you can vary the fruit with the season, it looks wonderful and everyone loves it.

What does your Christmas day look like ?

This year mine will be in Kerala and I guess I will be on a rice boat or gazing at a temple.

Boxing Day favourites, food and beyond

I usually make something simple and comforting like macaroni cheese and serve it with a great big salad full of rocket, peas, cabbage, broccoli and nuts. Or we eat left over ham with baked potatoes and avocado and tomato salad.

Best party nibble

If you don't mind your hair smelling like a chip shop, arranchini (Italian rice balls) flavoured with truffle oil and rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, are irresistible. (So cool them a bit before serving!)

Food tradtiions

We eat prunes soaked in port on Christmas Eve, served with Crème Anglaise (see above). One year we just soaked the prunes until soft in a bottle of port without cooking them, and ate the lot between four of us. Which meant a quarter of a bottle of port each,which had us all more than tipsy.

We also hang Quality Street sweets on a bare branch for a 'sweetie tree' which the grandchildren love.

The perfect present would be…

An enormous peg board for all my necklaces. 200 of them. And I can't throw any away because I love them!

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