Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Recipes and Gadgets

Christmas Day is one of the few occasions in the year when we can eat what we like and as much as we like without feeling guilty or being judged. We eat turkey until we hate it, plough through countless tins of Quality Street, and always have one too many glasses of our favourite tipple.

But while everybody devours their feast, there’s always one person not enjoying themselves quite as much as everybody else…the host. If that’s you this year, then you’re probably going to need our help to make creating the perfect Christmas Dinner that bit less stressful.

Below, we’ve put together a collection of our best and most useful Christmas cooking appliances, plus a few of favourite Christmas recipes that we’ve come across this year. Enjoy!

Team Buffet Host – Save £10
Instead of dishing out food onto individual plates, let people serve themselves. It creates less hassle for you and lets each guest choose a portion to suit their appetite. Plus, the hotplate keeps food warm so you don’t have to worry about serving it straight away.

EGL 2-Tier Electric Steamer – 70% Off
The benefits of steaming vegetables are well known. Not only does it retain more vital nutrients and vitamins, but it locks in moisture and ensures the vegetables stay bright and colourful, helping you create a more exciting looking plate of food.

Plus, the steamer reduces the amount of pans you have to use, which cuts down on the washing up!

Set of 2 Oven to Table Dishes – 60% Off
You can say goodbye to awkwardly removing food from the oven with on oven glove or tea towel with this Set of 2 Oven to Table Dishes.

With their silicone bases and removable silicone grips, they can be removed safely and easily from the oven, and grip firmly to whatever surface you lay them on. Perfect for serving delicious roast potatoes!

Make Your Table Sparkle…
Make sure your table looks as good as your food with our fabulous selection of festive table decorations. Whether you’re searching for tablecloths, centrepieces, crackers or wine glasses, you’re sure to find exactly what you need at 24studio.

Our Top 3 Christmas Recipes

Jamie’s Mulled Wine - “Christmas in a glass”

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I'm doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you'll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

186 calories per serving. Taken from

Mary Berry’s Classic Christmas Cake – “The longer you leave it, the better it will taste!”

  • 175g (6oz) raisins
  • 350g (12oz) glace cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) currants
  • 350g (12oz) sultanas
  • 150ml (¼ pint) sherry, plus extra for feeding
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 250g (9oz) butter, softened
  • 250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. black treacle
  • 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
  • 75g (3oz) self-raising flour
  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • About 3 tbsp. apricot jam, sieved and warmed
  • Icing sugar
  • 675g shop-bought almond paste
  • Packet royal icing mix to cover 23cm/9in cake

Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the sherry and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Fan 120ºC/Gas Mark 1.

Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours, and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra sherry. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more sherry. (Don't remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)

Decorate with almond paste and royal icing.

To prepare the Christmas cake ahead: Prepare the fruit and soak in sherry 3 days ahead - this is essential to plump up and flavour the fruit. Make the cake and wrap as in stage 4. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, following stage 4. You could also freeze the cake before decorating, for up to 3 months; defrost at room temperature.

Taken from:

The Best Turkey In The World – “With flavoured butter for that bit of extra love”

  • 6.5-kg turkey
  • 2-4 clementines
  • Rosemary, bay or thyme sprigs
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 3 onions, peeled
  • 2 celery sticks
For the butter:
  • 1 x 250g pack of butter
  • 75g dried cranberries, really finely chopped
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  • Few sprigs of fresh sage, leaves picked
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Clementine
This year I'm using a flavoured butter to give a bit of extra love to my turkey, and this is a job you can do the day before. Put your butter into a bowl and add the chopped cranberries. Chop, sweep and run your knife through the herb leaves until really finely chopped then add to the butter with a pinch of salt and pepper, and the finely grated zest of your clementine. Mix so the butter softens and everything is combined. Divide the butter roughly in half.

Get your turkey and use a spoon to work your way between the skin and the meat. Start at the side of the cavity just above the leg and work gently up towards the breastbone and towards the back so you create a large cavity. Pick up half of your butter and push it into the cavity you've created. Use your hands to push it through the skin right to the back so it coats the breast meat as evenly as possible. Do the same on the other side then rub any leftover butter all over the outside of the bird to use it up. If you've got any herb stalks left over, put them in the cavity of the turkey for added flavour as it cooks.

Cover the turkey in cling film and keep in the fridge until you need it.
Take your turkey out of the fridge a few hours before you are ready to put it in the oven so it has time to come up to room temperature. That flavoured butter will already be under the skin so you'll only need a few tweaks to finish it off. Halve 2 to 4 clementines and pop them in the cavity with a few more sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, bay and thyme. The fruit will steam and flavour the birds in a really lovely way. Take a sprig of fresh rosemary, pull off the leaves at the bottom then spear that through the loose skin around the cavity to hold it together and keep it from shrinking back as the turkey cooks.

Open up the neck cavity and pack as much stuffing as possible in there, then carefully pull the skin back over the cavity, tuck it under the bird and pop it in the roasting tray. If you've already made your gravy like I've done, you won't need a vegetable trivet, if not, do that now by roughly chopping 2 or 3 carrots, 3 peeled onions and 2 celery sticks. Preheat your oven to full whack and get the turkey in the roasting tray. As soon as it goes in the oven, immediately turn the heat down to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

As a rough guide, you want to cook the turkey for about 35 to 40 minutes per kilogram, so a 7kg turkey will want about 4 to 4½ hours in the oven. But there are so many variables such as the sort of oven you have and the quality of your bird. Check on your turkey every 30 minutes or so and keep it from drying out by basting it with the lovely juices from the bottom of the pan. After 3½ hours, remove the foil so the skin gets golden and crispy. If you are at all worried just stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. When the internal temperature has reached 65ºC for a good quality bird, and about 82ºC for a cheaper bird, it's ready to come out.

Carefully put a metal skewer in the cavity and use it to lift the bird and angle it over the roasting tray so all of the juices from the cavity run out. Move the turkey to a platter then cover it with a double layer of tinfoil and 2 tea towels to keep it warm while it rests for at least 30 minutes.

Taken from:

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