What are you cooking for Christmas?

With the First Day of December just a mere 30 hours away, it’s time to turn our attention to the food preparations for the Christmas period.

Do you have a favourite recipe - say for a Christmas cake or yummy stuffing for the turkey?

Have you made some exciting preserves that are sitting silently on the larder shelves maturing ready to be devoured by the family?

What is the best recipe for pickled onions?

What is the best shape for a Christmas pud?

Now is your chance to contribute something that we can all enjoy - recipes, tips, menu ideas and web links .

Not sure about the scallops and chorizo.......maybe I need an invite to try it ;)

Hi Fiona - I used this Hugh F-W as one of my Christmas pud recipes for my cooking classes as it was gluten-free and dried fruit free but still Christmassy. It was a big success. Following that is the Chocolate Chestnut Truffle Cake that I devised for a Connection feature I wrote - you could substitute drained bottled cherries for the strawberries at this time of year. And then finally I have posted a gluten-free pastry recipe that I created having been frustrated with all the others that I tried which were too hard, too crumbly, too unpleasant - this one has a good melt-in-the-mouth pate sucree texture that is terrific for mince pies. Hope this isn't too much information! Have a great Christmas


Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall's Chestnut and Chocolate Truffle Cake

250g /9 oz dark chocolate

250g /9 oz unsalted butter

250g /9 oz peeled cooked chestnuts (tinned if you like)

250ml / 9 fl oz milk

4 eggs

125g /5oz caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 170°C / 325°F / Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a 23cm / 9” diameter springform type tin.

Melt the dark chocolate and unsalted butter together in a pan over a very gentle heat. In another pan, heat the chestnuts with milk until just boiling, then mash thoroughly with a potato masher (or process to a rough purée in a machine).

Separate the eggs, put the yolks in a bowl and mix with caster sugar. Stir in the chocolate mixture and the chestnut purée until you have a smooth, blended batter.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them carefully into the batter. Transfer the mixture into the greased, lined cake tin and bake for 25–30 minutes, until it is just set but still has a slight wobble.

If you want to serve the cake warm, leave to cool a little, then release the tin and slice carefully – it will be very soft and moussey. Or leave to go cold, when it will have set firm.

Hugh's tip: It can be served with double cream, especially when warm, but it is also delicious unadulterated. It’s a great alternative to Christmas pudding.

Strawberry Truffle Terrine

200g / 7oz plain chocolate

2 tbs dark rum

2 tbs cream (crème fraîche fluide)

300g / 10oz sweetened chestnut purée (crème de marrons)

50g / 2oz unsalted butter

about 200g / 7oz small strawberries

Line a small loaf tin with cling film or baking paper. Melt the chocolate, rum and cream together in a bowl over hot water. Beat the chestnut purée with the butter, then beat in the chocolate. Put half the mixture into the tin. Arrange the strawberries neatly over the mixture, standing them up straight. Cover carefully with the rest of the mixture. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Turn out, peel off the film or paper and slice to serve.

GF Pastry:

75g / 2 ½ oz quinoa flour

45g / 1 ½ oz rice flour

15g / ½ oz cornflour

½ tsp xanthan gum

30g / 1oz sugar

75g / 2 1/2oz butter

2 egg yolks

1 scant tbs water

Sift the flours with the xanthan gum and sugar. Rub the fat into the flour and then rub in the egg yolks. Add just enough of the water to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out between two sheets of baking parchment. (Bake in a moderate oven - 175 C - how long depends on size mince pie size takes about 15 - 20 minutes)

Alternatives to Mince Pies


Prunes simmered with rum, armagnac or brandy and pureed

Dates cooked with orange or Earl Grey Tea and lemon

Chestnut puree – with or without cream

Walnuts and maple syrup

Spiced grated apple

Pear and crystallized ginger


pastry star lid

pine nuts with spice and icing sugar

flaked almonds


sponge with scant (rice) flour

We were meant to be spending Christmas here in France but after a last minute crisis with a family member we are now having to go back to the UK - boo!

Despite that I am STILL having to cook! my menu is;

White Onion Soup with Scallops and Chorizo


Creamy lemon, pancetta & rosemary Turkey

Spicy red jeweled cabbage

Pepper and honey roastde carrots, parsnips and celeriac

Creamed brussel sprouts and bacon

Roast potatos (done in goose fat)

Rustic chestnut and mushroom stuffing

Cranberry sauce

Bread sauce



Lime cheesecake with caramalised satsumas

Christmas Pudding

Brandy butter

And yes EVERYTHING will be done from scratch!


I did say a “sort of chicken” whetehr fowl or for a guinea, so yes it is a fowl but its not is it, so thank you helen, just looking to heat up discussions here

Hello Gary’s cooking directions are superb - however a pintade is a Guinea Fowl - my neighbour rears them and I odten buy them off her. Excellent taste so enjoy!

A “pintade” is basically a chicken, but very delicate to cook, its best to cook using low temperature as a base and to cook in a bag if possible, once cooked you can finish off in a pan using olive oil and making a sauce using garlic onions and also corriander as a base for the sauce, you can just put it in the oven as well and cook for 70 mins at 100 degrees C and finish off by 20 min at 180 C, a lemon cream sauce is good with this as its very delicat meat, but goes dry if over cooked, I cook chicken in water or in a vapour oven, once cooked I then finish it in the oven with olive oil again, so go for it
Gary The Chef

I’d like to share a couple of recipes from Anne Dyson of The Greedy Goose Cookery School They sound yummy and I like the idea of the jars on the shelf too, I think they’d make good presents too for foodie friends.

The following two recipes are very good with the cold meats of Christmas, cold turkey, ham, pork etc.

Spiced Orange Slices

6 firm thin skinned oranges,

rind of 2 lemons

half tsp bicarbonate of soda

20g allspice berries

6 cloves

5 cm piece of cinnamon stick

20g piece of bruised root ginger

275 ml water

275 ml white vinegar

450g granulated sugar

Wipe the oranges and slice them thinly and finely. Put the thinly pared lemon rind and the orange and lemon pips in a muslin bag in a pan with the orange slices and the water and add the bicarbonate of soda. Simmer for 40 minutes. Meanwhile simmer the vinegar eith the spices tied up in muslin in another pan for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the spices and dissolve the sugar in the spiced vinegar. When it has quite dissolved bring the syrup to the boil and put in the orange slices. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until the syrup is thick and the rind of the fruit almost transparent and setting point is reached. Skim and cool. Remove the orange slices with a perforated spoon and arrange them in warm, dry jars and pour the syrup over.

Pickled Pears

900g cooking pears, the harder the better!

450g white sugar

275 ml white vinegar

a few cloves

the thinly pared rind of a small lemon

2 tsps allspice berries

small piece of bruised root ginger

small piece of stick cinnamon

Peel the pears but leave them whole if they are small. Otherwise half or quarter them and cut out the core. Stud each piece with a clove and tie up the other spices and the lemon rind in muslin. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar and add the bag of spices.

Simmer the pears gently in this until they are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fine skewer and are beginning to look transparent. Remove them carefully with a perforated spoon and pack into clean hot jars. Simmer the vinegar until it is thick and syrupy and cover the fruit with it. Tie down and seal.

well with a bit of luck I will be slow cooking a Turkey in the UK with the stufing of course, plum apple and bread soaked in white sweet wine, so I will let you know and if I can find my recipes I will also make some scottish shortbread on the day, yummy stuff, turkey is cooked for about 18 hours by the way, low temperature and lots of TLC