If ever there was a time of year for tasty snacks, canapés and bite-sized loveliness this is it.  What better way to start the big day hosting a party for friends than with tasty canapés? The trick is to keep them simple, seasonal and delicious.  Here are my best Christmas cooking tips – enjoy.

Firstly the most welcoming plate of goodness has to be a mince pie and homemade is hands down the way to go. Try this for starters…use left over goose fat to make your pastry for mince pies, and try putting Stilton in the mince pie buried in the mincemeat, delicious savoury and best served warm.

My mincemeat recipe

  • 10 lemons, boiled for 1 hour until soft and left to cool
  • 1kg raisins
  • 1kg sultanas
  • 10 Bramley apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1kg dried mixed fruit
  • 750g mixed peel
  • 1kg beef suet
  • 1kg dark muscovado sugar
  • 1kg currants
  • 10 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 10 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 tsp. mixed spice
  • 10 tsp. ground ginger
  • 500ml brandy
  • 500ml sherry

Mix all the ingredients apart from the brandy and sherry in a large bowl.  Cover and leave for 12 hours.  Place the mincemeat in a baking tray and place in an oven preheated to 120°c for 3 hours.  Allow to cool, and then stir in the brandy and sherry.  Store in clean, dry jars.

Do try the pastry recipe, make it a day in advance and allow it to rest, it’s easy to work with and delicious:

Mince pie pastry

  • 255g plain flour
  • 70g butter
  • 70g goose fat
  • 6 tbsn. cold water

Mix the flour and the butter and goose fat together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Slowly add the cold water until the pastry comes together.  Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge overnight.

And here is my advice on making the most of leftover Christmas turkey!

Breast meat

If you have any of this left after your Christmas lunch then it’s great cut into bite-sized pieces and mixed into a Caesar salad: I toss it with lovely crisp Cos lettuce, pitted olives, parmesan shavings and a few anchovies, then pour over a quick and easy Caesar dressing using mayonnaise blended with black olives, fresh garlic, parmesan and olive-brine. It’s lovely to serve up at a Boxing Day buffet when everyone is feeling the after-effects of the previous day’s over-consumption.

Turkey wraps are another good option for the breast meat too, and you can hoover up some other leftovers from the Christmas dinner table at the same time – I pop them into a whole meal wrap with brie, cranberry sauce and some lettuce, then toast them in a low temperature oven at 170°for ten minutes to melt the cheese.  Delicious!

Leg Meat

I find the darker brown leg meat – previously roasted or otherwise – lends itself well to curried turkey.  Leave the bone in, then roll in a marinade of yoghurt and tandoori spices before popping them on a roasting tray and placing them in an oven heated to 240°c for 20 minutes.  It doesn’t matter if they’ve already been cooked – this still works really well.  They emerge deeply caramelized and are wonderful served with a crisp salad, pilaf rice and fresh lime.  They’re nice served cold too.

The Bones

A lot of people use turkey bones for stock, but I prefer to make a delicious – and healthy – turkey ramen broth.  My version takes a little time, but it’s worth it.  First, I place the now meat-free bones on a roasting tray with Asian spices, star anise, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon grass and roast for another 30 minutes at 200°c to enhance the flavour.  Remove from the oven before transferring the bones to a large saucepan, completely covering them with water and some lovely fresh vegetables and slowly simmering for 4 hours to yield a lightly spiced roast turkey broth.  Once passed through a fine sieve the broth can be brought to the boil and simply seasoned with salt and a good quality good soy sauce.  Serve with Udon noodles and an egg you have boiled for five minutes then peeled.

If there are flakes of meat dotted around the roasting tray then scoop them up – they needn’t go to waste either. I pop them in bubble and squeak – my all-time favourite Christmas meal.  Fry any leftover roasties and sprouts with chopped onions in a little butter until really crisp, then flip over and add the leftover flakes of meat.  Crack one egg per person on top before placing into a hot oven for five minutes.  Slide out and serve with a spoonful of Branston pickle.  Great for a festive hangover!

Have a peaceful Christmas and happy cooking

Adam x