Our annual go-to guide of festive tips, advice and recipes is back with 12 more top chefs, foodies and talented cooks sharing their wisdom
Charred Lobster, Hexham
Take your roast potatoes to the next level
To make sure you get the best roasties this Christmas, follow this tip which the team at Charred live by. At the end of cooking the meat, take it out of the tin and place it directly on the shelf above your roasties and allow the juices to drip down. This is where the magic happens; the potatoes will absorb unimaginable flavour and you’ll get an amazing crispy skin on the meat too.
Top tips to make the most of your festive cheeseboard
You can spend ages designing the perfect cheeseboard, but I’m a fan of keeping it super simple. At most, I would have three cheeses on there. Rather than going traditional with a blue, a cheddar and a Brie, I say mix it up. Maybe go for three different sheep’s milk cheeses, but still a blue one, a soft one and a hard one. Or choose a wonderful cheese that you can buy in two forms – like Wigmore and Riseley. Wigmore is a sheep’s milk soft cheese, which is then washed and matured to become Riseley. The most important thing is not to worry about suiting everyone else’s palates – get things you like so you’ll enjoy any leftovers.
Kennedy and Rhind, Jesmond
Festive celeriac with honey, hazelnuts and Christmas spices
1 celeriac, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
2 tbsp honey
pinch each of cinnamon, ginger, coriander and clove
zest of 1 orange
10 hazelnuts, cooked and crushed
sea salt and pepper
Par boil the celeriac until almost cooked but still slightly firm, then drain. Melt the butter, add the celeriac and sauté until golden brown then pop in a hot oven for 5 mins. Once cooked, add the remaining ingredients, toss and serve.
Knitsley Farm Shop, Knitsley
The perfect roast turkey
The perfect turkey starts with the best bird. We source ours from a local farm with high welfare standards and where the birds are hand-plucked. I prepare ours the night before, using 250g unsalted butter and plenty of streaky bacon. Start by slicing the cold butter into thin strips. Starting at the neck of the bird, loosen the skin carefully, working your hand between the skin and the breast muscle without damaging it. Slide the butter between the skin and muscle, and work around the whole bird to ensure it stays moist throughout cooking. Next, using good sausagemeat, stuff and fill the cavities. Once stuffed, cover the top and drumsticks with streaky bacon. I also put foil over both legs individually and some over the top, and then remove it towards the end of cooking to let the bacon crisp. For cooking times, I follow the method below, but there are a couple of points to note. First, I don’t keep the prepared bird in the fridge overnight as it delays the cooking time, so I leave it covered in a cold place. If you do put it in the fridge, take it out an hour before cooking. Second, buy a meat probe. The bird needs to reach 72C in the thickest part to be safely cooked without getting too dry. Then, when it is done, you just rest the bird, carve and serve.
Turkey roasting method: Preheat oven to 220C/Gas 7. Roast for 20 mins. Reduce oven temperature to 180C/Gas 4 and continue to roast for 100 mins (small turkey) to 200 mins (large turkey). Remove the joint from the oven and check the juices run clear. Rest for
20-30 mins before carving.
Khai Khai, Newcastle
Malabar beef stew
1kg beef short ribs
3tbsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp black peppercorns
60ml first press coconut oil
3 cinnamon sticks
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 medium green chillies, slit
2 medium white onions, thick slices
250g carrots, cut into chunks
1tsp rice flour
beef stock or cold water, to cover
150g coconut milk powder
200g cauliflower florets
4 sprigs fresh coriander leaves
Wash, drain and marinate the short ribs with salt, 1tbsp ginger garlic paste and peppercorns. Refrigerate overnight, and bring to room temp before cooking. Heat 45ml coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and sear the ribs in batches. Remove meat from the pan. Add the remaining oil, cloves and cinnamon. When they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves and chilies, and sauté for 1 min on a medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add remaining ginger garlic paste and sauté for 3-5 mins. Add carrot, rice flour and the seared meat. Sauté for 2 mins, cover with beef stock or cold water, making sure the meat is submerged. Taste and season. Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6 and cook for 2 hours. Remove from oven and stir.
In 150ml of lukewarm water, dissolve coconut milk powder and stir smooth. Bring coconut mixture, cauliflower florets and coriander to a simmer in the pan and cook until the florets are tender. Serve with steamed cauliflower, basmati rice and/or naan bread.
Carruthers & Kent, Gosforth
Starting the day with fizz always lifts the spirits and traditional French Champagne is a delight. Sophie Baron NV (£37.99) has soft bubbles and slight toasted brioche notes and is a treat to open the festivities. British fizz is arguably the best it has ever been, particularly from Sussex and Kent. Gusborne Brut Reserve 2016 (£36.99) has lovely notes of brioche, but is dry and rich with white peach just discernible. A fun alternative is the pink Prosecco, Mabus (£11.99). We were suspicious of pink Prosecco, but this is dry, crisp with more than a hint of strawberry, and it’s delicious.
For turkey, we recommend a Pinot Gris such as New Zealand Framingham (£16.99) for its honey-baked apple and slight notes of cinnamon. This year, we’ve added a Rousanne, Jean Perrier Savoie (£21.99), to our go-to list as its creamy, buttery, peachy and nutty notes complement the meat and all the trimmings.
For beef, either rib or wellington, you need a hearty, robust, big red with good fruit. A good Cabernet Sauvignon will do the trick, and we recommend Nero di Troia Cannace (£22.99), from Puglia in Southern Italy. Plush and rich with lots of spice and plum, this is the perfect Christmas red. If you want something with more fruit and softer travel, again look to Italy for a Primativo, Zola (£18.99), with red cherries, blackberries, spice and leather.
For chocolate desserts, we recommend a south African version of port. The Liberator Bishop of Norwich 2018 is rich and dark with notes of mocha and chocolate making it a perfect match for chocolate mousse, cheesecake or gateau. Finally, a traditional Christmas pudding demands an Italian sparkling Moscato to lighten the load.
Hoardweel Farming, Duns
Succulent pork and crackling to die for
The best crackling comes from high quality pork with a good layer fat. Berkshires provide a wonderful starting point. Sprinkle the skin with a little salt and place the pork in a hot oven for an hour before reducing the oven temperature and continuing to cook slowly, depending on joint size, for another 4-5 hours. Using high quality pork and this simple, long cooking process ensures you’ll get perfect results every time – succulent pork and crackling to die for!
Baristocracy Coffee, North Shields
The perfect gift for foodie friends and family
I have a plan this Christmas (it may just remain a dream), to make confit garlic as gifts for all those hard-to-buy-for foodies in the family. This is the perfect ingredient to have on hand to elevate garlic mayo, add to pasta sauces, spread on sourdough and even eat with a spoon.
First, see if you can find peeled garlic cloves (I’ve bought them in Asian supermarkets like HiYou in Newcastle or smaller high street veggie shops). You need enough to fill the jar you’re keeping them in with a little space at the top for oil.
Place the garlic cloves in a saucepan and just cover with olive oil. Cook over the lowest heat possible until the cloves are holding their shape but are soft enough to spread (around 30 mins). If the oil starts to bubble, take it off the heat to cool down before continuing to cook – you don’t want it to boil.
Once the garlic is ready, leave it to cool then spoon into sterilised jars, pouring in enough of the garlicky cooking oil to cover. As long as the jars are properly sterilised, the cloves are submerged in oil and it’s stored in the fridge, the confit garlic should last a year (although it’ll definitely be eaten before then!). If you know any kids who can decorate labels and swing tags for the jars, you’re laughing – a very low effort, absolutely delicious gift done!
Blagdon Farm Shop, Blagdon
Blagdon’s Carrot cake
This award-winning cake is a favourite in the farm shop, and it can be frozen and iced later, which means it’s perfect for those guests
who arrive at short notice over the festive period!
450g self-raising flour
4 level tsp bicarbonate
4 level tsp baking powder
280g light brown sugar
4 ripe bananas, mashed
220g grated carrot
300ml sunflower oil
110g chopped walnuts
For the icing:
225g cream cheese
85g salted butter
170g icing sugar
2 drops vanilla essence
chopped walnuts to top the cake
Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2. Mix all the ingredients except the walnuts and sultanas together well, then fold in the walnuts and sultanas. Place the mixture into a square cake tin and smooth out. Bake for 45 mins. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing.
For the icing, beat all the ingredients except the walnuts together in a large bowl. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle over the chopped walnuts to finish.
Managing director, St Mary’s Inn
This dish is great to have on-hand when guests arrive at short notice, or to eat in front of the fire with good wine and cheese. It can be made and kept in the fridge, ready to slice and reheat as required.
500g minced pork
1 onion, finely diced and lightly fried in 20g butter
½tsp chopped thyme
½tsp chopped sage
½tsp chopped parsley
100g chopped chestnuts
100g dried cranberries
100g chopped chicken livers
salt and pepper
10 slices prosciutto
Mix all the ingredients except the prosciutto in a large bowl and season well. Line a terrine with two layers of cling film, then add a layer of prosciutto ham, ensuring all the sides are covered. Fill the terrine with the mix, cover with foil and cook in a bain-marie in a preheated oven at 160C/Gas 4 for 45 mins.
Sweet Patisserie, Whitley Bay
Lightest chocolate mousse
If you can’t face Christmas pudding, this mousse is easy and you can make it special by serving it with berries, cherries or oranges soaked in liqueur, and/or a crisp biscuit.
180g dark chocolate (min 64% cocoa solids)
8 egg whites
20g caster sugar
Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t allow the bowl to touch the water) or in a microwave. Once thoroughly melted, set aside to partially cool. In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt at high speed until soft peaks are formed. Then, at a medium speed, gradually add the caster sugar until you have a slightly glossy smooth meringue mixture. Be careful to not over-whisk. With a large slotted spoon, gently and gradually fold in the melted chocolate using a figure of eight motion until there are no traces of egg white. Spoon the mousse into glasses and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
Bouchon Bistrot, Hexham
Bored of roast potatoes? Try Dauphine potatoes instead
115g lightly salted butter
salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in the oven on a bed of sea salt until tender, then crush with a hand masher. Next make the choux pastry: place the water in a pan with the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour then whisk over medium heat until the mixture is ‘drier’. Take the pan off the heat, leave it to cool slightly, then add eggs one by one. Whisk between adding each egg until all the eggs are incorporated into the mix. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
With the pastry mix still warm, fold in the potato pulp. Adjust seasoning. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and shape into small balls on parchment paper. Freeze the balls until needed. To cook, set a deep fat fryer to 180C, drop in the frozen balls and cook until golden. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven.