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Chef’s table: veggie writer Anna Jones invites us round for Christmas

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Veggie cook and writer Anna Jones takes us from her Christmas Eve prep to a Boxing Day feast. Nut roast not necessary…

Thanks for giving us a sneak peek inside your Christmas. Need a hand with peeling?
It’s all under control thanks. I try to do all those boring things like the veg prep and making the stuffing the night before so they are ready to go in the oven. Making gravy in advance is a really great life saver. On Christmas Eve I roast off loads of veg like leeks, celery, carrots and squash. Once that’s out of the pan, I pour cider over the top, get all the sticky bits off the bottom of the tray, add flour and stock and you then have a massive vat of gravy.

The worst thing that can happen is running out of gravy. What about Christmas breakfast?
I prefer a light breakfast because there’s so much heavy food later. I make pancakes with oats and almond milk and a compote of blood oranges which goes on top with maple syrup, served with tea, coffee and a little champagne and orange juice. Then we do presents and go for a nice walk.



What time is the main event?
I usually have my family and my husband’s family over and we don’t eat dinner until about 4pm. I do a light starter like a salad with roasted feta. It’s 40 minutes in the oven with coriander and lemon zest and it comes out burnished and a little soft. Flake that up with clementines, rocket and roast squash and it’s lovely. Something to get your taste buds going.

Do you dress up?
We’ve had a Fifties Christmas, a Forties Christmas, a black tie Christmas… I put on a posh dress, which feels a bit weird for me, but it’s nice to mark the occasion. This year we are planning a straight up 2016 Christmas.

The good old chocolate log: a retro staple

The good old chocolate log: a retro staple

What’s the centrepiece of your Christmas meal?
I make a galette, which is all the ingredients you might put in a nut roast – chestnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, onions, maple syrup – bashed down into a pizza-style base. I top it with roasted squash and caramelised onions or cashews and spinach. Then I have the usual trimmings of roast potatoes with rosemary and garlic, butternut squash and parsnips. I hate boiled sprouts so I roast them until they are really crisp. To drink, we have something sparkling, either champagne or prosecco.

Is there room for pudding?
My husband has put in a retro request for a yule log and we’ll have a gingerbread and cranberry tart too. My mum is brilliant at games so we play board games, sit around and have a snooze. My dad’s side of the family is Welsh so there are singing games too. Later on in the evening, I make a goodwill pie with the left over roasted veg. I do similar with the leftovers on Boxing Day and add lots of fresh salads. It’s more of a running feast than a sit down meal.



And to wash it all down?
I make mulled wine with lime zest and vanilla so it has a lovely fresh edge, then add Baileys and clementines. Hot buttered rum is very easy – add apple juice, a tiny bit of butter and some cinnamon.

What is your Christmas interiors style?
I tend to keep it clean and neutral. It’s not posh or perfect. I love more natural ways of decorating rather than lots of baubles. I like winter foliage like eucalyptus, holly and ivy and the smells of citrus and cloves. The Christmas table is quite clear, with just a linen tablecloth, grey linen napkins and green foliage. I’m an antique nerd. Everything that goes on my Christmas table has a story. My grandma had these engraved wine glasses so they go on the table every year because they were her one posh thing.

That sounds really cosy. Are you a fan of the idea of hygge?
Christmas is that rare occasion when you turn off your mobile (I take a proper technology break), get your family together and drink mulled wine. In Denmark people put candles in their windows for passers-by. We got married recently so I’ve got about 250 candles left over. This Christmas our house is going to look like an R Kelly video!


Words: Colin Crummy
Photography: Camera Press/Phil Fisk

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