Now is not really the time to be writing about luxury furniture. Most of us have the Christmas tree up, all our hallways and living spaces decorated, and we won’t be looking at designer furniture again until the new year. So, if we’re not thinking about luxury furniture, what could we possibly thinking about in mid-December? Food, of course. Lots of it and all of it festive. Here at Juliettes, we have rounded up a few of our team favourites for the day itself. We’ve avoided all the classic, very traditional ideas – you’ve seen them a thousand times and we can’t really improve on them. So these are a few alternative Christmas food recipes that have caught our eye. Look out next week for our favourite festive tipples.
A Sourdough Starter: Goat’s Cheese, Pear, Honey & Thyme Tartine
When it comes to Christmas food, what you want is a simple starter with bags of flavour. Tasty goat’s cheese, tangy pear, sweet honey and fragrant thyme on a crunchy, sourdough tartine. Perfect. The recipe here gives the full method for making your own sourdough loaf – and if you have the time and the inclination, why not? However, if, like us, you are a bit strapped for time (and, quite frankly, terrified of making bread), there’s no shame in buying a good quality loaf and popping all the ingredients on the top for a stunning starter. If goat’s cheese is not for you, this would also work brilliantly with a spot of Stilton or Dolcelatte (or Gruyère if you don’t like blue cheese). If it needs to be vegetarian, do check that your cheese is veggie-friendly (Capricorn Goat’s cheese, Stilton and Dolcelatte are all ok, some Gruyère is but check the label, and avoid Gorgonzola).
A Tasty Main: Pork Loin wrapped in Bacon with Marmalade Glaze
Turkey is not everyone’s idea of the ideal Christmas food. And if you’re having a quieter gathering, you may well want something smaller (that will fit in the oven without having to cut bits off). This succulent pork roast is packed with festive flavours of orange and spices and would make a fantastic centrepiece. It’s easy to carve with no waste. If you have more people over for Christmas dinner, simply increase the number of joints accordingly. The recipe calls for Creole mustard, which we couldn’t find here in the UK. A wholegrain Dijon will do just as well. You’ll also need to convert from Farenheit to Celsius (350˚ F is just under 180˚ C, 140˚ F is 60˚ C). If you also want an easy alternative to roast potatoes, we love the hasselback garlic butter potatoes shown in the video below the recipe. Both are perfect for a leisurely, hassle-free Christmas lunch.
A Vegetarian Main: Simply Vegan Meatloaf
We chose this because not only is it deliciously tasty, but you can still serve it with all the trimmings. The tamari, yeast, garlic and onion really pack a punch while the glaze combines sweet, sour and paprika to give an extra, smoky depth and a genuine roasted look. Serve with a good vegetarian or vegan gravy (Jamie Oliver does a great one – or you could buy vegan gravy granules). Remember to think about the accompaniments too and make sure they are also either vegetarian or vegan. There are plenty of alternatives to goose fat and butter, and you can add flavour with garlic, onion salt, herbs and spices. Now is your chance to spread your culinary wings and be more adventurous with your Christmas food.
A Scrumptious Side: Roasted Sprouts with Chorizo
Yes, we know we’ve just been going on about making sure your sides are vegetarian, then we go and put chorizo in the sprouts but bear with us, we do have a veggie option up our sleeve. Why does Christmas food always have to include brussels sprouts? Quite frankly, many of us here think that sprouts should be banned but, if you have to include them, we think it’s a great idea to roast them (so they are not flabby and watery) and serve them with crisp, fried chorizo for a burst of strong, salty flavour. If you are a sprout hater, give this recipe a go and let us know how you get on.
Make it Vegetarian
To make this vegetarian, we think it would work with a good sprinkling of soya bacon bits (check the ingredients – most are vegan with not a whiff of bacon in sight, but some are not). You will also need to find an alternative to the Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano is never vegetarian). Sainsbury’s Basics Italian Hard Cheese is a really good swap.
Make it Vegan
To make it vegan, we found The Naturally Vegan Food Company’s Italian Cooking Cheese. It is already grated so you can’t do shavings but it gives that salty, umami hit. We wonder whether you could try making cheese wafers with it? We haven’t tried so we don’t know how well it melts. All you do is put a heaped teaspoonful onto a baking sheet, lined with baking paper. Get as many as you can onto the sheet but leave room for them to spread. Put the sheet into a pre-heated oven (around 180˚ – 200˚ C) and cook for just a few minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out when they have melted into a lacy little circle. Do not let them over-brown. These are absolutely delicious and make a great canapé so let’s hope they work with the vegan cheese. Let us know if you try it.
A Delicious Dessert: Christmas Pudding Soufflé
After a starter and a hefty main course, do we really have room for a wedge of steamed figgy pudding? If you still want the flavours of a traditional Christmas pudding but without the stodge, this is for you. A light, airy soufflé with all the taste of Christmas. This recipe is a bit more involved than the others. If you don’t want to tackle the whole thing, we would suggest buying a good quality cranberry or raspberry sorbet instead of making your own. The soufflé asks for a tiny amount of cranberry powder. You can buy freeze-dried cranberry powder from health food shops in the UK (or raspberry powder if you prefer) but we don’t think it’s essential.
It also calls for 180g of egg white. You can buy egg whites in a carton but if you are using actual eggs, this means 3-4 egg whites, depending on the size of your eggs. Weigh 3 and see how you go. If it’s not enough, add another one. It has to be served immediately so you will need to prepare as much as you can earlier in the day, then leave your guests while you finish the dessert. Not necessarily a bad thing as it gives a bit of time for dinner to go down. This would be a spectacular finish to a very special meal.
What is Figgy Pudding?
A quick note for our US readers: Pudding in Britain can mean any type of dessert – something sweet after a main meal. It often refers to a very substantial, steamed cake-type creation served with lashings of custard. Christmas (or plum, or figgy) pudding uses lots of dried fruits, warm spices, citrus, eggs, flour, brown sugar and often brandy, all mixed together and steamed in a basin for a very long time until you have something resembling a cannon ball. It bears absolutely no relation to American ‘pudding’, which is like a cross between custard and Angel Delight.
An After Dinner Treat: Easy Gingerbread Fudge
If you’re worried that your blood sugar levels might be dropping (as if), we recommend a square or two of this with your after dinner coffee. It is ridiculously sweet with wonderfully warming flavours of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, and should keep your sugar cravings at bay well into the new year. It is also very easy to make and you could even pop some into a lovely jar and give it as a present. Diana at Little Sunny Kitchen has two gingerbread fudge recipes – this easy one plus a traditional, old-fashioned one (but that requires lots of beating and muscles like Popeye). We have to admit that we have used the picture of the old-fashioned fudge because we like the idea of topping it with crushed ginger biscuits (or honeycomb), rather than sprinkles, for a more grown-up look. You, however, can feel free to top it with whatever takes your fancy. It’s Christmas, after all.
Thanks to our Foodie Friends
Many thanks to our foodie bloggers for their delicious festive food recipes. We are so looking forward to sitting down with a selection of these fabulous dishes this Christmas – and impressing all our guests with our culinary creativity. Thanks for all the inspiration.
Well, after all that, we need to go and sit down on our luxury sofa, put our feet up on a designer footstool, and doze off in front of the Queen’s speech. Whatever you are having for your Christmas dinner this year, we hope you enjoy it and don’t worry, we’ll be back to writing about lots of lovely luxury furniture in the new year. Bon appetit!