Christmas in the UK is synonymous with gastronomic indulgence. From group meals to Christmas hampers, the holiday season encourages friends and family to enjoy calorie-filled feasts together. As the holiday approaches, be sure not to miss out on these top ten festive foods...
On a cold winter’s evening mince pies and mulled wine are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. For a warming mulled wine try the following simple recipe:
- 2 bottles red wine
- 1 glass ginger wine
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- Pour the liquid ingredients, spices and sugar into a large saucepan and mix well.
- Cut the orange into quarters and pierce with cloves. Add to the saucepan.
- Heat gently for 10-15 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Serve immediately.
The Christmas Day roast
No British Christmas is complete without a traditional Christmas dinner. Get the family around the table with roasted turkey or goose, roasted potatoes and parsnips, green vegetables and gravy. A stuffing is made from pork with either chestnuts or sage and onion. ‘Pigs in blankets’ (sausages wrapped in bacon), bread sauce and cranberry sauce are also popular trimmings. Christmas crackers liven up the main course of this substantial festive meal.
This fruit and suet pudding is a household staple for the holiday season. Christmas pudding is traditionally homemade months in advance, but nowadays there are many high-quality alternatives on the market. Douse in dark spirits for a flambé effect and serve with brandy butter.
Christmas dining deserves a hearty cheeseboard. Go for an English cheddar, a good blue cheese such as stilton, and camembert. Each family has its own favourites, but variety works best. Match with an equally wide range of crackers and grapes for a well-presented cheese platter, or wrap and make cheese hampers for friends and neighbours.
The Christmas cake
The Christmas cake, whether homemade or shop-bought, is a canvas for creativity. Decorating the cake is a great way to involve young children in the preparations and provides an added personal touch.
Many people like to graze throughout the holiday season. Dried fruits and nuts are light enough not to spoil the appetite, while satisfying a sweet tooth. Dried figs, apricots, raisins and dates make a light snack when watching a Christmas movie.
A pâté, or terrine, is made from ground meat, fats and flavourings, which are minced into a spreadable paste. Pâté can make a welcome addition to a cheeseboard or gift hamper, or can be eaten with fresh bread and salad. During the holidays flavoured pâtés with cognac or brandy are widely available.
All things chocolate
The UK has one of the highest rates of chocolate consumption, per person, in the world. During the Christmas period cocoa products fly from the shelves even more quickly. Luxury chocolates make excellent gifts, can feature in a festive hamper, or can be hung from any Christmas tree.
The Christmas ham
A second joint of meat can be eaten cold in the days following Christmas. Leftover meat can be worked into numerous recipes, including curries, pies and casseroles. Be sure to have a jar of strong English mustard in the cupboard.
High-quality local produce should be at the heart of Christmas cuisine. Fresh or smoked, salmon is a versatile ingredient in festive cooking. It can constitute a main course or be used in canapés at the Christmas party.