A perfect Christmas menu for 10

If you are in need of a Christmas menu, then look no further! Here’s my guide to making the perfect feast for 10, with timing and get ahead information to save you from stressing on the day.  With a little prep a couple of days before the big meal, you will be ready to feed an army of hungry friends and family effortlessly!

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The menu

Canapé:
Mozzarella and olive penguins

Starter:
Pork Terrine

Main:
 Pancetta roast turkey crown with chestnut and sage stuffing

Sides:
Roast potatoes
Honey glazed parsnips and carrots
Stir-fried brussels sprouts with nigella seed
Sticky pigs in blankets
Cranberry Sauce

Dessert:
Salted Caramel Cheesecake 

 

Cooking guide and timelines

Two days before the big meal

  1. Start preparing the terrine by marinating the pork as per Step 1 of the recipe. (~10 minutes)
  2. Make the Cranberry sauce and chill in the fridge until you need to heat it up on the day. (~30 minutes)

The day before

  1. Make the pork terrine and leave to chill until you need it on the day (~1hr).
  2. Make the stuffing from the turkey recipe and chill until the following day (~20 min).
  3. Make the cheesecake and chill (~2hrs).
  4. Make the sticky pigs in blankets and chill (~20 mins).

On the day, for lunch at 1pm – turkey served between 2pm – 2:30 pm 
(Adjust timings as required for a later lunch or dinner).

09:00. Take out the turkey from the fridge as soon as you get up in the morning, around 9am at the latest.
09:00. Prepare the mozzarella penguins and set aside until you need them. (Or make the day ahead and store in an airtight container).
10:00. Prepare the turkey for roasting as per Step 1 from the recipe, heat oven 90C/170C fan/gas 5.
10:30: Put the turkey in the oven and roast as per instructions.
11:00: While the turkey is cooking, prepare the vegetables.
Peel, chop and parboil the roasties, set aside until ready for roasting;
Peel the parsnips and carrots and marinade in the glaze and set aside until ready for roasting;
Halve the sprouts and prepare all the rest of the ingredients for the stir-fry, set aside until ready to stir-fry.
13:20: Take the turkey out of the oven to rest for half an hour.
Put the pre-boiled roast potatoes in the oven, increase oven to 200C fan. roast for                40-50 minutes
13:30: Put the prepared pigs in blankets and stuffing in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Put the parsnips and carrots in the oven, roast for 30 minutes.
13:45: stir fry the sprouts and start making the gravy.
14:00: Carve the turkey.

Needless to say, if you can get your partner/guests involved they can help with making gravy, stir-frying etc.

Your Christmas shopping list

  • 600g carrots;
  • 500g parsnips;
  • 2kg floury potatoes (King Edward, Maris Piper);
  • 800g Brussels Sprouts
  • 3 onions;
  • 3 shallots;
  • 4-5 garlic bulbs;
  • 3 lemons;
  • 300g fresh cranberries;
  • 1 clementine;
  • fresh thyme;
  • fresh sage;
  • fresh chives;
  • fresh rosemary;
  • fresh parsley
  • 100g goose fat;
  • 18 cocktail sausages;
  • 3 packs sliced pancetta;
  • 2 packs dry-cured streaky bacon (20-22 slices)
  • 300g Pork tenderloin;
  • 1050g sausage meat;
  • 4kg turkey crown;
  • 1 pack unsalted butter;
  • 6 eggs;
  • 600g full-fat cream cheese;
  • 300ml soured cream;
  • 75ml double cream;
  • 100g green olives, pitted;
  • 1 jar cornichons;
  • 25g pecans;
  • 140g white breadcrumbs;
  • 140g cooked chestnuts;
  • 75g light brown muscovado sugar;
  • 250g dark chocolate digestives;
  • 397g Carnation Caramel;

From the pantry:

  • olive oil;
  • rapeseed oil;
  • honey;
  • wholegrain mustard;
  • English mustard;
  • Nigella seeds;
  • Brandy
  • Plain flour;
  • Chicken stock;
  • Caster sugar;
  • cocoa powder;
  • Sea salt;
  • Pepper;

I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any feedback of what more detail and info you’d like please let me know in the comments and I will gladly adjust the guide and add more to it!

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Photo Sarah Ahmad

~Em.

What to eat this Valentine’s Day

Today I decided to curate some of my favourite recipes for a more indulgent meal for a special occasion. If you celebrate the internationally recognised Day of Love, and you are looking for ideas for what to cook for your loved one then I hope you will find inspiration in some of these recipes!

Just for the two of you

Breakfast

Want to start the day right with a special breakfast in bed? These “Sweetcorn & Halloumi fritters with avocado and poached eggs” make a truly delicious breakfast if you have time to indulge this Velantine’s Day. (Vegetarian, Takes ~40 minutes to prep and cook).

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If you are shorter in time but still want to mark the occasion, make an easy but delicious “Chorizo Jam & Avocado Toast with Poached Egg“. This is a treat even if you are having to rush off to work straight after! (Takes 10 minutes).

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Dinner

If you are after a very special meal for two and you have a bit of time on your hands, I recommend making a pair of “Poussins stuffed with Boursin cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and olives“. They take a bit of effort, but are perfect to mark a special occasion! (Gluten-free, Takes ~60 minutes).

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Looking for something you can quickly put together for a special mid-week meal? This simple yet delicious “Prawn & ‘Nduja Linguine” is definitely a treat! (Takes 20 minutes).

Or, if you are on the more adventures side, try making a “Steamed sea bream with chilli, lime and lemon grass” – whole sea bream stewed with a fantastic array of Thai flavours which will definitely bring something special to your table! (Gluten & Dairy free, Takes ~20 minutes).

Thai Steamed Fish

For a meat free option, make my “Roast pumpkin, sage & taleggio risotto“. Halve the ingredients to make a simple but sophisticated meal for two! (Meat free, Gluten free, Takes 50 minutes)

Dessert

Treat yourself with this decadent “Lemon Syllabub” which takes just 10 minutes to put together but will make your meal feel extra special. Just halve the quantities in the recipe for a delicious dessert for 2! (Gluten-Free, Takes 10 minutes)

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I hope you all have a lovely day whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not! I personally don’t tend to celebrate it but I like any excuse for a special meal, so I’ll take it! 🙂

What will you be cooking this Valentine’s Day?

~Em

Entertaining: Spring Menu for 10 – Poached salmon with Dauphinose potatoes and more

This Easter was all about celebrating with friends and showcasing some Bulgarian traditions alongside the British ones. It was lovely to be able to host some of our good friends this time around. All together we were 11 people and that’s the most I’ve had for a ‘sit-down’ lunch so far. We’ve had bigger groups for other occasions but it’s always been buffet-style food and people helping themselves. I put together the following menu and I’m sharing some of the recipes from it here on the blog. I’ve picked out the more notable dishes which will give you a good basis of a meal for a slightly bigger group.   At the end of the post, I will also add some tips of what you can do in advance and rough timings to help you with planning. At the bottom of each recipe, I have included details of where I got the recipe from and a link to the original one where possible.  This menu made for a lovely late lunch which wasn’t too heavy. In big lunches like this, we are often too full by the time we get to dessert but in this case, everything felt just right.

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Poached Salmon, served with dauphinoise potatoes and pancetta peas and beans.

My Spring Menu for 10 includes:

  • Canapes: Borscht blinis with smoked salmon and lime Crème fraîche;
  • Starter: Lime, chilli and coriander crab with avocado and rocket;
  • Main: Poached salmon with dauphinoise potatoes and peas with pancetta.

Canapes: Borscht Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Lime Crème fraîche

Makes 26-30 | Prep 60 mins| Cook 30 minsSome effort

I got this recipe from the recently published charity book “A Taste of Glasgow“. It’s a fantastic cookbook which features a large number of recipes from Glasgow based restaurants and chefs. The book is no longer on sale but if you plan on using the recipe below, I would like to ask you to make a donation to Children’s 1st – the Charity that the book donated all its proceeds to. No donation is too small and you can donate here.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer
You’ll need:
  1. For the Beetroot Pancakes:
    • 120g self-raising flour;
    • 1 large egg;
    • 1 cup (250ml) semi-skimmed milk;
    • 1 small beetroot, cooked;
    • Olive oil
    • Sea salt;
  2. Lime Crème fraîche:
    • 100ml Crème fraîche;
    • 1 lime zest and juice;
  3. Garnish:
    • 200g smoked salmon;
    • Samphire, blanched for 10 seconds then refreshed in ice cold water;
    • 1 small raw beetroot, sliced wafer thin into discs – halved if necessary.

For the beetroot pancakes. Firstly, incorporate all of the beetroot pancake ingredients (except the olive oil) into a blender and blitz until a smooth, consistent, lump-free texture is reached. Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes. Add a little olive oil to a pan and place on a medium heat. Using a teaspoon, take a spoonful of batter and drop into the pan to cook – the pancakes should be about 3-4cm wide. When bubbles begin to appear on the top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook for 1 more minute. Cool on a cooling rack.

For the lime Crème fraîche, mix well the Crème fraîche and lime zest and juice. Chill until you need it.

To assemble and serve – start with placing the blinis on a serving plate. Add a little of the lime Crème fraîche, a small rosette of smoked salmon. Place a disk of raw beetroot and a small piece of blanched samphire.

This is a recipe by Campbell Mickel, one of Scotland’s best private chefs. I don’t have a link to the original recipe but do please donate to Children’s first when using this fantastic recipe from A Taste of Glasgow.

Starter: Lime, Chilli and Coriander Crab with Avocado & Rocket

Serves 10 | Prep 15 minutes | Quick and Easy | Gluten-Free

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Chilli, lime and coriander crab with avocado & rocket salad.
You’ll need:
  • 300g crab meat (I used 50-50 brown and white);
  • 3 tbsp coriander, chopped;
  • 1&1/2 red chilli, chopped;
  • 1&1/2 lime juice and juice of 1 lime for the mayo
  • 3 handfuls of rocket;
  • 3 sliced avocados;
  • 150ml mayo.

For the crab, mix the crab meat with the coriander, red chilli and 1+1/2 lime juice. Leave to chill until you are ready to serve. Make the zingy mayo by mixing the mayo and remaining lime juice and zest. Leave to chill until you are ready to serve. To serve, divide the rocket and avocados between 10 plates or small glasses. Top with the crab mix and serve with the mayo on the side.

Original recipe from Olive magazine, issue April 2011, available here.

Main: Foil-Poached Salmon

Serves 10 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 1hr 30 mins plus coolingSome effort | Gluten-free

I bought this beautiful whole salmon to use in this recipe from my local fishmongers, The Fish Plaice, who are just fantastic. They have two locations in Glasgow and an online store. You can find more information about them on their website.

Tip: There is a helpful step by step guide in the original recipe on BBC Good Food website.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer.
You’ll need:
  • Olive oil;
  • 3kg whole gutted and scaled salmon with the head removed;
  • bunch of dill;
  • 1 shallot, halved and very thinly sliced;
  • 5 tbsp dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc;
  • 1/2 cucumber thinly sliced (optional).

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Place a large piece of double-width foil on top of a large baking sheet an and brush it with oil, then put the salmon in the centre. Tuck a few generous sprigs of dill and the shallots in the body cavity, then season. Carefully bring up the sides of the foil to surround the fish, season well inside and out, then pour over the wine. Seal the foil all the way around, but not too tightly on the fish – you need to give it a bit of space within the parcel. Bake for 1hr 30 mins.

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All ready to go in the oven!

Once the salmon has cooked, carefully unwrap the foil parcel and pull the dorsal fin on the spine of the fish. If the salmon is ready, it should come away very easily. Reseal the parcel and leave to cool – it will carry on cooking a little more as it cools. If you are not sure that the salmon is cooked sufficiently, return it to the oven for 10 mins more.

When the fish is slightly cooled (or cold if you are serving it cold), carefully peel away the skin from one side of the salmon. You may need to use a knife to get you started, but it should peel away easily after that. Leave the dill and shallot in place, as you may damage the flesh of the salmon if you try to remove them. Carefully turn the salmon over onto a plater and remove the skin flesh from the other side.

To serve, carefully remove the fillets from one side of the fish, leaving behind the bones. You will see that the fish has a natural divide of 2 long fillets on each side. Insert your knife along the centre and carefully ease off each fillet. Transfer the fillets to a platter, bone side up. Lift up the central bone from the remaining whole fish – it should come away in one piece – and remove the dill and shallot. Ease the 2 remaining fillets apart and remove any pin bones. Serve the 2 fillets decorated with the cucumber slices and with lemon wedges.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue May 2013, available here.

Side dish: Potatoes Dauphinoise

Serves 8-10 | Prepare 15 minutes | Cook 1hr 15 mins | Easy | Gluten-free
You’ll need:
  • 15g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing;
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced,
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed,
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves,
  • 170 ml single cream;
  • 170 ml double cream;
  • 100 ml whole milk;
  • 1kg king edward potatoes, peeled and finely sliced.

While the salmon is cooking, start prepping the potatoes. Grease a 1.5 litre baking dish. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, until foaming. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and thyme, cook for another 3 minutes. Add the creams and milk to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer and season.

Tip the potatoes into the pan and simmer for 6-7 minutes. Transfer everything to the baking dish. Place in the oven with the salmon about half way through it’s cooking time on a shelf below. When the fish is out, place in the middle of the oven and increase the heat to 170C fan, and cook for another 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through, while the fish is resting and you are preparing it for serving.

Adapted from a recipe from myWaitrose Magazine, issue May 2016. 

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The sides: Dauphinoise potatoes and pancetta peas & beans. Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer.

Side dish: Peas & beans with pancetta & mint

Serves 8-10 | Prep 5 mins | Cook 15 minsEasy | Gluten-free Vegetarian
You’ll need:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 100g wafer thin smoked pancetta rashers;
  • 480g pack frozen soya beans;
  • 200g broccoli;
  • 500g frozen petits pois;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • food handful mint leaves, roughly chopped.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta until it turns golden, taking care not to burn it. Lift from the pan, then tip the soya beans into the pan juices and arrange the broccoli on top. Add 6 tbsp water; cover tightly and steam for 10 mins, or until the broccoli is tender. Meanwhile, strip the pancetta into pieces with scissors.

Stir the petits pois into the pan and cook for 2 mins more, then remove from the heat and toss in the lemon juice, mint and crispy pancetta pieces.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue April 2011, available here.

Tips

If you’d like to get ahead, you can prep quite a few of the elements the day before or get them started first so you free up more time for the salmon. The day before, you can prep the following:

  • Canapes: You can make the beetroot blinis for the canapes the day before and seal them in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can make the pancake mix the day before and let it sit in your fridge until the following day. You can also make the zesty Crème fraîche in advance.
  • Starter: You can make the crab mix and the mayo for the starter the day before and let them sit in your fridge. Your crab will be flavoured even more that way so that’s a bonus too! Just make sure you bring to room temperature before you plate up.
  • Main: You can make the potatoes dauphinoise up to the point before they go in the oven. Just bring to room temperature about 20 minutes before you put in the oven.

Tip 1 – Quicker & Simpler Main: For a speedy and slightly simpler solution, you can use 2 boneless, skinless salmon sides, then stack them on top of each other with some finely chopped dill and basil and the sliced shallot. Wrap in foil with the wine and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes less time. Then you can serve straight away without having to peel the skin and prep the fish after cooking.

Tip 2 – make a stock of the fish remains – head, bones, skin: I cut the head and tail from the fish at home and used them to make homemade fish stock. All you need to do is put them in the pan, add 150 ml white wine, 2 peeled and quartered onions, a couple of carrots very roughly chopped, a handful of parsley with the stalks and cover with water. Season really well. Boil for about 30 minutes, then remove the fish and veg, and reduce further. Place in an ice cube trays and transfer to a ziplock bag once frozen.

I hope you enjoy this fantastic fish based menu for 10. Let me know in the comments if you make this or elements of it and what you’d do differently!