Well it’s that time of year again, yay! I’m actually not naturally a Christmassy person, no really I was that awful child at the back of the (school) bus telling all the other children that Santa wasn’t real, Ooops. But I do love food and Christmas dinner is definitely one of my favourite traditions during the holiday season.
No sadly I don’t have any top tips for making an amazing Christmas dinner – best of luck – I do have some lovely quick DIY recipes that you can package and give as tokens to neighbours, friends and family.
- Wheaten Bread – a lovely versatile traditional Irish loaf, great with breakfast, soup or with smoked salmon.
- Russell James’ Pear and Goji berry chutney.
- Russell James’ Sauerkraut.
- Mulled Wine – just to bring some merriment to the table.
Wheaten bread is so easy to make, here’s the recipe I use;
Makes two 1lb loaves
350g (12oz) wholemeal flour
100g (4oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons bread soda
Pinch of salt
50g (2oz) porridge oats
1 medium egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
500ml (18floz) buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease two 1lb loaf tins with oil.
- Put the wholemeal flour into a large bowl. Sift the plain flour, bread soda and salt together in another bowl and add to the wholemeal flour. Add the porridge oats.
- Beat the egg, olive oil and buttermilk in a jug and add to the flour mixture. Mix well (don’t over mix) until it comes together and there are no dry parts left in the mixture. Pour into the tins shaking them to level the mixture.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when you knock it on the bottom. Take it out of the oven; leave it in the bread tin for ten minutes to cool. Remove it from the tin and let it cool completely on a baking rack.
Recipe notes for variety:
- Always use a level teaspoon of bread soda, otherwise you will get a metallic taste in your bread if you use too much.
- Replace a tablespoon of porridge oats with a tablespoon of wheat germ. It adds a nutty flavour and is very good for you.
- Replace 2 tablespoons of porridge oats on top of the bread to give it more texture
- Add a tablespoon of honey to the buttermilk and egg mixture to sweeten it.
- If you want to make the recipe into a single 2lb loaf of bread, you will need to cook it for an hour, then turn the bread over and bake it for another 10-15 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow on the bottom when you knock it.
- This bread freezes well.
- Play around with the proportions of wholemeal flour to plain flour to make a heavier of lighter bread: for example using an ounce more wholemeal flour and an ounce less plain flour will make the bread richer.
This recipe is so simple the only tip I could offer is don’t over mix and grease your loaf tins really well!
Here is an additional link with someone else’s perspective on Wheaten bread:
Mulled Wine is sure to warm your toes, I found a recipe in a community newspaper;
2 unwaxed oranges
1 lemon, peel only
150g caster sugar
5 cloves, plus extra for garnish
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 bottles of fruity, unoaked red wine
150ml ginger wine
Method: Peel and juice 1 orange, and add to a large saucepan along with the lemon peel, sugar and spices. Add enough wine to just cover the sugar, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and cook for 5-8 minutes until you have a thick syrup.
Meanwhile, if you’re serving the mulled wine immediately, stud the second orange with 6 vertical lines of cloves, and then cut into segments to use as a garnish.
Turn the heat down and pour the rest of the wine into the saucepan, along with the ginger wine. Gently heat through and serve with the orange segments as a garnish. Alternatively, you can allow the syrup to cool, and pour it into sterilised bottles for use at a later date.
Again this recipe is easy to follow, I grated my lemon peel and I’m not sure I’d do that again, it’s a tad bitsy when drinking, other than this be careful with the wine you choose it could make or break the taste.
Pear & Goji Chutney [Russell James – the raw chef]
I tested this recipe before months before Christmas so that when I came to make for people I’d be confident it was a great tasting gift. There was a video clip with Amy Levin making this chutney step by step. Which I watched as I made it the first time, I came to realize she adds coconut sugar which is not originally listed in the above link. Some family members said it tasted good. However after I tasted the chutney I couldn’t help feel there was something missing, it just lacked a flavour and I’m guessing that’s the coconut sugar. Second time around I had the sugar but had to guess the amount – I used 1 tbsp – as I couldn’t find the video online.
It’s a beautifully easy mixture and I love using my hands to gently squeeze the juices from the pears. The goji berries which I’ve never used before really make the ingredients pop!
1 green cabbage, chopped
1 red cabbage, chopped [or as I called it, purple]
So I watched two video’s, one with Russell James – which I can’t find a link to – and then one by Mother Earth News [https://youtu.be/pXdGoR-k3B4?list=LLVlwPxAG4IUMwmCZbw5RmYg]
Both use the same ingredients, slight difference is Russell James touches briefly on type of salt to use and he also uses a clip close mason jar where as Mother Earth uses an open ceramic vessel, she also gives some general useful info.
I have yet to taste my sauerkraut, I’m a little worried now I haven’t used enough salt, time will tell. It was really lovely to make and looks great in the jars. I should highlight it probably wouldn’t take others as long to cut the cabbage as it took me, I specifically wanted very thinly sliced strips.
Ok so all this was awesome to try and I’m not even culinary goddess. If you’re quick you could still fit in some chutney and sauerkraut before Christmas, if not the wheaten bread and mulled wine should go down a treat!
This is a link to a video clip of me making some of the above recipes; https://youtu.be/e2Y4n-prob0
If you’re really stuck for time coming up to Christmas, FEAR NOT, I’ll be making flap jacks and chocolate banoffee biscuit balls, whoop whoop, holidays are comin’ holidays are comin’….
Mulled wine and chutney.