This Christmas, don’t just set the pudding on fire. Make your festive feast truly unforgettable with one of these 10 showstopping recipes
Compiled by: Lucy Frith, Jenny Tregoning, Zoe Beaty
This street makes a memorable Christmas centrepiece. Cut out doors and windows for added wow and have candles or fairy lights twinkling around them
Preparation time: 2 hours, plus chilling and setting time
Cooking time: 1 hour
For the gingerbread:
- 160g dark molasses/black treacle
- 120g light molasses/golden syrup or honey
- 400g soft dark brown sugar
- 400g unsalted butter
- Zest of 1 orange
- 8 tsps ground ginger
- 4 tsps ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
- 1kg plain flour
- 2 tsps salt
- 2 lightly beaten medium eggs
For the royal icing:
- 750g icing sugar
- 3 lightly beaten medium egg whites
- 1½ tsps lemon juice
For the caramel glue (optional):
- 200g caster sugar
- 60ml water
- Liquorice wheel or edible laces
- Colourful chocolates or sweets
Head to stylist.co.uk/gingerbreadhouse to print out
Step 1: To make the gingerbread: pour the dark and light molasses into a saucepan with the sugar, butter, zest and spices and melt over a low/medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Step 2: Increase the heat to bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and beat in the bicarbonate of soda until combined. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Sift the flour and salt, then fold into the mixture in batches, using a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs until just combined. Do not overwork the mixture, or the biscuits will spread during baking.
Step 4: The dough will be very sticky, but do not add any flour. Scrape out of the bowl onto a clean surface and knead together until just smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour.
Step 5: To make the royal icing sift the sugar into a bowl. Add the egg whites and lemon juice.
Step 6: Whisk using an electric mixer on a low speed until you have smooth stiff peaks. If it looks dry, add a little water. If it looks runny, add extra icing sugar.
Step 7: Transfer to a bowl and cover with a damp cloth to prevent it drying out.
Step 8: Using a ruler, cut out firm paper or card versions of the templates. Heat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 3. Roll out the gingerbread to 5mm on top of some greaseproof paper.
Step 9: Cut out the house pieces and carefully transfer on the greaseproof paper to a baking tray.
Step 10: Place in the freezer for 5 minutes, then bake in the oven in batches for 6-12 minutes, until golden brown at the edges (bake gingerbread for houses a little longer than individual biscuits as longer cooking times yield stiffer biscuits). Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Step 11: Whisk in a little water to the royal icing until you reach soft peak consistency. Spoon one third of the icing into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. To assemble the houses, pipe along the edges of the wall pieces and stick to the front and back pieces. Pipe extra icing where the walls join each other on the inside of the house to create some support. Pipe icing onto the top edges of the side panels and front/back pieces where the roof pieces will be placed. Stick on the roofs and hold for a minute until the icing starts to set. Pipe decorations onto the houses.
Step 12: Unroll the liquorice. Using icing or caramel glue, stick colourful sweets to the liquorice and leave to set. Once set, stick to the front edge of the houses to look like festive street lights.
Step 13: Add a little extra water to the remaining icing to make flood icing with a thick but runny consistency. Spoon over the peaks of the roofs and allow to drip down the sides. Leave to set for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.
From Gingerbread Wonderland by Mima Sinclair (£8.99, Kyle Books, amazon.co.uk), out now
Hot buttered rum
Combat mulled wine fatigue with this rich, warming drink, which will fill the house with comforting buttery aromas
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 200ml pineapple juice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 40g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsps demerara sugar
- 100ml spiced dark rum
- 4 pineapple chunks and 2 mini meringues, to decorate
Step 1: Place all the ingredients apart from the rum in a small saucepan and warm over a medium heat, allowing the cinnamon sticks to infuse and the butter to melt. Then simply add the rum – no need to burn off all the good alcohol!
Step 2: Pour the mixture into two heatproof glasses and garnish each with two pineapple chunks and a floating mini meringue.
From Social Eats by Jimmy Garcia (£19.99, Kyle Books, amazon.co.uk), out now
Chocolate hazelnut dacquoise with figs
A truly showstopping dessert – both in technical difficulty and taste, this is a decadent and beautiful alternative to the Christmas pud
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
For the dacquoise:
- 10 egg whites
- 275g caster sugar
- 50g cocoa powder
- 250g ground hazelnuts
For the filling:
- 750ml double cream
- 1½ tbsps vanilla bean paste
- 75g icing sugar
- 10-12 fresh figs
- Twisted willow or other decorative twigs
- Sugar spiral (optional)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Draw a 23cm circle on each sheet, then flip them over.
Step 2: Get a large bowl and an electric whisk and make sure both are clean and dry, as any water or grease will affect the meringue.
Step 3: Place the egg whites in the bowl and whisk on high speed to soft peaks. Add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Step 4: Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk until combined. Fold in the hazelnuts, taking care not to knock the air out of the meringue. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Lift the paper up and pipe 4 blobs on the corner of each tray, then press the paper on top to stop it moving.
Step 5: Pipe concentric rings to fill the circle on each of the lined trays. Next, pipe 6 small discs around the trays (you will have some mixture left over). Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, vanilla bean paste and icing sugar together until you have firm peaks.
Step 6: Place one of the meringue discs into a 23cm metal ring on a cake stand or serving plate, trim if necessary, then spread a layer of cream 1cm thick on top. Cut 10 figs in half from top to bottom. Place these upright into the cream around the edge of the ring, cut side facing out until you have a border of figs. Fold the small discs of meringue into the remaining cream with 2 quartered figs. Pile the cream into the centre, pressing it lightly so that it holds the figs in place against the ring.
Step 7: Place the second meringue disc on top, trimming if necessary, then press down lightly. Lift the ring off. To help you do this, dip a cloth in hot water and run it around the ring. Place the dessert in the fridge for a few hours so the meringue softens. Before serving, decorate with twisted willow and figs, and a sugar spiral, if desired.
From Sweet by James Martin (£9.99, Quadrille, itunes.apple.co.uk), out now
Heston's mulled cider trifle
From the vermouth-infused jelly to the richly spiced custard, the traditional trifle has been given a top-to-toe overhaul
Preparation time: 1 hour, plus cooling and setting time
Cooking time: 90 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 14-16)
For the mulled cider jelly:
- 800ml spiced mulled cider
- 200ml vermouth
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 4 lemons, zest and juice
- 32g gelatine leaf
For the ginger biscuits:
- 90g plain flour
- 85g ground almonds
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ tbsps ground ginger
- 110g unsalted butter, cubed
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 40g egg yolks
- 35g olive oil
For the spiced custard:
- 200ml whole milk
- 400ml double cream
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsps ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsps cinnamon
- 200g egg yolks
- 110g caster sugar
- 2 gelatine leaves, soaked
For the macerated citrus:
- 1 grapefruit
- 2 lemons
- 4 oranges
- 1 lime, zest
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
For the Chantilly cream:
- Seeds from 3 vanilla pods
- 1,200 ml double cream
- 6 tbsps icing sugar
- Candied orange peel
Step 1: Simmer the cider, vermouth and sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Cool to room temp, then add the lemon zest, juice and gelatine. Leave for 20 minutes, then return the pan to a medium heat until the gelatine melts; leave to set.
Step 2: For the biscuits, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gently mix in the dry ingredients. Combine the egg and olive oil and mix in. Shape the dough into a rectangle, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 2 hours.
Step 3: Put the dough between 2 pieces of baking parchment and roll out to 5mm thick, place on a tray and freeze for 20 minutes.
Step 4: Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2. Cut out stars from the dough using a 7cm star cutter. Transfer to a parchment-lined tray and bake for 15-20 minutes (bake leftovers on a separate tray). Remove from the oven, stand for 2 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
Step 5: For the custard, heat the milk, cream and ground spices in a pan over a medium heat. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring with a spatula, then remove from the heat.
Step 6: In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and some warmed cream to temper. Slowly whisk in the rest of the cream. Return to the pan and heat to 76°C, mixing continuously for 2 minutes.
Step 7: Stir in the gelatine until dissolved, then place the pan in a bowl of iced water to cool. Transfer to an airtight container, cover the surface with clingfilm to avoid a skin, place the lid on and chill.
Step 8: For the macerated citrus, peel and segment the fruit, removing the pith. In a bowl, mix the lime zest and sugar, then add the segments, cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Step 9: For the chantilly cream, whip the vanilla seeds, cream and icing sugar until firm peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag and chill.
Step 10: Put the jelly in a piping bag and pipe into a deep glass trifle dish about 2cm up. Lay the biscuit stars around the inside and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Next, pipe enough jelly to cover the biscuits and chill for 1 hour. Push more biscuits into the jelly.
Step 11: Put the custard in a pan over a low heat to soften slightly then spoon over to create a layer about 1.5cm high; chill for another 20 minutes. Next, spoon the macerated citrus on top and pipe mounds of the cream to cover. Finely grate over some lime zest, then crumble the leftover baked ginger biscuit mixture and some candied orange peel before serving.
Pickled cucumber and hot smoked salmon toasts
These classy canapes epitomise #nofilter eating. Deceptively easy to pull off – and bound to turn heads
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Ingredients (Makes 12)
- ¼ cucumber, halved lengthways
- 5 radishes, finely sliced
- 2 tsps caster sugar
- 2½ tbsps white wine vinegar
- 140g cream cheese
- 2 tsps wholegrain mustard
- 6 slices rye bread, halved
- 2 fillets hot smoked salmon, skin off
- ½ tbsp poppy seeds
- Edible flowers (optional)
- Salt and black pepper
Step 1: Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cucumber into ribbons and place in a bowl with the radishes, sugar, vinegar, a little salt and 3 tbsps water. Leave to pickle for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
Step 2: Beat the cream cheese and mustard in a bowl and season. Toast the bread and cool briefly, then spread with cream cheese.
Step 3: Drain the vegetables and divide between the toast. Flake over the salmon, sprinkle with poppy seeds and top with an edible flower.
From Posh Toast (£6.49, Quadrille, itunes.apple.com), out now
Make sure everyone’s watching when you cut open this veggie centrepiece – the colourful filling makes it a real talking point
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
For the pastry:
- 600g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Leaves from a bunch of thyme, chopped
- 200g butter, room temp
- 250ml ice-cold water
For the filling:
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 5 peeled beetroots, cubed
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Leaves from 2 sprigs of marjoram
- 4 parsnips, cut into fingers
- Leaves from 2 sprigs of sage
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp honey
- 25g butter
- 2 leeks, sliced
- Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
- 2 heads of winter greens, shredded
- Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- Knob of butter
- Grated nutmeg
- 200g Lancashire cheese, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
Step 1: Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl with the thyme. Cut the butter up and rub in until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the water and knead to a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour until soft. Put the beets in a tin with a little olive oil and vinegar, add marjoram and season. Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour, removing foil for the last 15 minutes. Put the parsnips in a tin with sage, orange zest, honey and some olive oil and cover with foil. Roast for 45 minutes, taking off foil for the last 5-10 minutes.
Step 3: Heat the butter in a frying pan. Cook the leeks and thyme on a low heat for 20 minutes, then remove. Add more olive oil to the pan and cook the greens, until wilted. Season, then add the lemon zest and chilli.
Step 4: Once the sweet potatoes are cool, mash the flesh with a knob of butter and nutmeg. Steps 1-4 can be done in advance.
Step 5: When ready to cook, roll the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. Line a 20cm springform tin. Let excess hang over the edges.
Step 6: Layer the pie. Begin with the leeks, then half the cheese, the beets, the greens, the rest of the cheese, the parsnips and finally the sweet potato. Lay the excess pastry over the top, twisting the ends. It may not cover the whole of the top. Brush with beaten egg.
Step 7: Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden. Cool for 20 minutes, then take out of the tin.
A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones (£12.99, Harper Collins, itunes.apple.com), out now
Pass on the prosecco and serve this fragrant golden cocktail with hints of Earl Grey, peach and apricot instead
Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus 4 hours for infusing
To infuse the cognac:
- 700ml Hennessy fine cognac
- 150g dried apricots
- 2 tsps of Jing Earl Grey tea leaves
For the Alpine sour:
- 50ml Hennessy fine infused with apricots and Earl Grey tea
- 15ml peach puree
- 10-15ml lemon juice
- Egg white
- Vanilla powder (waitrose.com)
- Viola flowers (amazon.co.uk)
Step 1: Add the dried apricots and tea leaves to the cognac. Leave for 4-5 hours in a glass jar.
Step 2: Strain 50ml of the infused cognac through a sieve then shake with peach puree, lemon juice and egg white in a cocktail shaker.
Step 3: Serve in chilled glass. Garnish with vanilla powder and viola flowers.
By Pawel Rolka, bar manager at Coq D’Argent, London (coqdargent.co.uk)
Turkey roll with Christmas crumble topping and sage and onion stuffing
All the traditional components are here – turkey, thyme, chestnuts – but as you’ve never seen them before. Bejewelled with cranberries and pistachios, it’s the ultimate insta-worthy way to do Christmas lunch
Preparation time: 30 mins, plus chilling and resting time
Cooking time: 7 hours
For the gravy:
- 2kg turkey bones, chopped – you can get these from your butcher
- 2 turkey wings, chopped
- 3½ litres chicken stock
- 150g button mushrooms, wiped, trimmed and sliced
- 4 banana shallots, sliced
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 50g butter, melted
- 50g plain white flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the sage and onion stuffing:
- 250g butter, cubed
- 400g onion, finely chopped
- 800g sausage meat
- 160g fresh fine breadcrumbs
- 100g vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts, finely chopped
- 100g dried cranberries
- 5 tbsps chopped sage leaves
- 1 tbsp juniper berries, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
For the crumble topping:
- 100g sourdough bread, torn into pieces and toasted
- 100g shelled pistachio nuts, peeled
- 100g pork scratchings
- 50g dried cranberries
- 2 tbsps thyme leaves
For the turkey:
- 1 boneless, skinless turkey, 2-2.2kg, butterflied (any butcher will do this for you – make sure to ask for the bones)
- 20 streaky smoked bacon rashers
- 150ml brown sauce
- 1 orange
Step 1: Up to 2 days in advance, begin the gravy. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Roast the turkey bones and turkey wings in a tray for 30-40 minutes until they are dark brown, but not burnt.
Step 2: Transfer the bones and wings to a large saucepan over a high heat. Add the chicken stock, mushrooms, shallots and celery and bring to the boil, using a large metal spoon to skim scum off the surface as necessary. Turn the heat down to very low and leave to simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours, or until it is reduced by one-third.
Step 3: Turn the heat off, add the thyme leaves and leave to infuse, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Pass the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, then leave to cool completely. Cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours so the fat can set on the top and be removed easily. When you’re ready to finish the gravy, remove and discard the fat. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Mix the melted butter and flour together to make a paste. Add this mix into the boiling liquid, little by little, whisking constantly and vigorously until the gravy thickens. Season, then pass the gravy though a sieve lined with muslin. It’s now ready to serve. Put to one side until needed.
Step 4: To make the sage and onion stuffing, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until softened. Tip the onions and butter into a large bowl and leave until cool. Then add the remaining stuffing ingredients and mix together. Leave until needed.
Step 5: To make the crumble topping, mix the toasted sourdough pieces, pistachio nuts, pork scratchings, dried cranberries and thyme leaves together. Break everything up with your fingers until they are all the same size. Leave to one side until needed.
Step 6: To prepare the turkey, begin by unrolling it and opening it like a book, smooth side down. Cover the surface with clingfilm and bash it out a little with a rolling pin to make it into a rough square, 1-1½cm thick. Spread a ½cm layer of the stuffing mix on to the turkey breast and then tightly roll it up like a Swiss roll. Wrap it in clingfilm as tightly as you can, then use kitchen string to tie the ends and to secure the roll in a couple of places to help it keep its shape.
Step 7: Place the turkey roll into the fridge until needed. You will have more stuffing mix than you will use for the turkey, but do not throw it away. It will be roasted separately. Cover and keep it in the fridge.
Step 8: When you’re finally ready to cook the turkey, preheat the oven to 120°C/Gas Mark ½. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour 400ml of boiling water into a roasting tray. Put a wire rack in the tray and place the still-wrapped turkey roll on the rack above the water.
Step 9: Place the tray in the oven and roast the turkey for 1½ hours, or until a thermometer stuck into the centre of the turkey reads 70°C. Once the correct internal temperature has been reached, remove the turkey from the oven and leave it to rest, still wrapped in clingfilm, for 45 minutes. Do not turn the oven off.
Step 10: Line a heatproof bowl with the bacon rashers, with plenty of overhang. Add the remaining stuffing, pressing it down, and wrap the bacon ends over the top. Place the bowl in the oven about 15 minutes before the turkey should finish cooking and bake the stuffing for 45 minutes, or until it reaches 70°C on a thermometer.
Step 11: Remove the bowl from the oven and leave to one side until just before the turkey finishes resting. Preheat the grill to medium. When getting ready to serve, place the bowl with the stuffing under the grill and grill for 8-10 minutes until the top of the stuffing is crispy.
Step 12: Rest the turkey for 30 minutes, then unwrap it and brush a thick layer of the brown sauce over the top. Use your hands to press the Christmas crumble mix all over and instantly grate over the orange zest to release the oil.
Step 13: Slice the turkey and serve immediately with the gravy and stuffing. The perfect accompaniments? Bread sauce and roasted carrots and parsnips.
From Proper Pub Food by Tom Kerridge (£9.99, Bloomsbury, itunes.apple.com), out now
Brussels sprouts, pomegranate and soft feta salad
Put leftover brussels to good use on Boxing Day in this stand-out salad. Sprouts have never looked (or tasted) so good
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side dish)
- 100g feta
- 2 tbsps whole milk
- 500g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 1½ tbsps olive oil
- 5 tbsps pomegranate molasses
- 2 tbsps chopped parsley
- Handful mint leaves
- 60g pistachio nut kernels, chopped
- ½ pomegranate, seeds removed and reserved
- Extra virgin olive oil
Step 1: Blend the feta and milk in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge until ready to use.
Step 2: Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil with a pinch of salt. Blanch the brussels sprouts for 30 seconds, then drain well.
Step 3: Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sprouts and cook for 3-5 minutes, turning rarely to get a chargrilled effect. Add the pomegranate molasses and cook until the sprouts are nicely caramelised, which should take 3-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
Step 4: Put the sprouts in a bowl and season with salt. Add the parsley and mint and mix. Scatter over the pistachios and pomegranate seeds, and add dollops of the feta mixture. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.
From Falafel For Breakfast by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley (£9.99, Murdoch Books, itunes.apple.com), out now
Braised short-rib and truffle buns
Rustle up these meaty morsels and you’ll be a Boxing Day legend
Preparation time: 2 hours, plus overnight chilling
Cooking time: 3½ hours
Ingredients (Makes about 30 buns)
For the brioche dough:
- 500g soft white flour
- 10g salt
- 65g caster sugar
- 15g fresh yeast
- 4 eggs
- 135g water
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 120g butter, thinly sliced
For the short-ribs:
- 2 tbsps grapeseed oil
- 1kg beef short-ribs
- 1kg beef stock or water
- 100ml light soy sauce
- 100g honey
- 3 tbsps salt
- 3 tsps black pepper
For the filling:
- 500g short-rib meat
- 2 shallots, diced
- 10 shitake mushrooms, stems removed, diced
- 5 spring onions, sliced
- 150g cooked pearl barley
- 2 tsps preserved lemon
- 5g white pepper
- 200g braising liquid
- 50g truffle paste
- 30g chives
- 2g Maldon salt
- 1 beaten egg
- Handful of sesame seeds
Step 1: Put the flour, salt and sugar in a mixer with a dough hook. Add yeast, eggs, water and lemon zest and mix on slow for 2 minutes. Up the speed to medium for 6-8 minutes until you have a glossy dough. Add the butter and mix for 5 minutes. Tip the dough into a container, cover and chill in the fridge overnight.
Step 2: Pre-heat the oven to 120°C/Gas Mark ½. Heat the oil in a roasting tray over a medium heat and fry ribs until browned all over. Add the rest of the short-rib ingredients and bring to the boil, then cover with foil and bake for three hours. Cool slightly before removing the ribs and flaking the meat from the bones.
Step 3: Combine the filling ingredients (except the egg and sesame seeds) in a bowl, then roll into 30g balls. Firm up in the freezer for an hour.
Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead out the air. Flatten out 40g pieces and roll them around the frozen beef balls, encasing them. Brush with egg yolk, scatter with sesame seeds and space out on a parchment-lined baking tray. Cover with cling film and prove in a warm place for 30 minutes. Remove the clingfilm.
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 130°C/Gas Mark 1 with a tray of hot water at the bottom. Bake the buns for 15 minutes, then up the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for 5 minutes until risen and brown.
By Nuno Mendes, head chef of Chiltern Firehouse (chilternfirehouse.com)