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I was inspired this morning by one of my favourite food blogs Country Woodsmoke to share a snippet of our Christmas feasting – this was our Christmas meal yesterday snapped briefly before it all disappeared.

We had a roasted turkey thigh (perfect for two, and all delicious dark juicy meat), roasted carrots, parsnips and shallots, goose fat potatoes, and finely sliced sprouts tossed with crispy bacon.  I also had a good dollop of homemade bread sauce.

This was by far the tastiest and most enjoyable Christmas dinner we’ve ever made.  Happy Christmas everyone!

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Last weekend I went to Paris with my little sister Izzy – she turned 18 this year and for a long time I’ve wanted to do something special with her, and Paris at Christmas was what I decided on.  We went on Saturday and came back late Monday evening, we stayed in a sweet little apartment B&B in the 18th arrondissement on Boulevard Ney.

Highlights from our trip were sitting on the metro when a man with a guitar and amplifier began to play ‘What a wonderful world’, sipping hot chocolate at dusk outside Sacre Coeur and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere, and wandering through the organic market on Boulevard Raspail.

More details on what we ate and where to come, but for now, here’s my Paris at Christmas…

Best hot chocolate – chocolate on a wooden spoon stirred into hot frothy milk…

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Perhaps an unconventional Christmas meal, but with only two of us to feed a turkey or goose would be too much, and with some exquisite stewing venison in the freezer from Dunham Massey it seemed only natural to have venison stew.

We bought our venison from Little Heath Farm a few weeks ago when they received a delivery from the National Trust property just down the road.  It is nice to know that the main ingredient in our Christmas meal came from within 5 miles and most likely had a lovely life roaming the parkland at Dunham Massey.

With a large part of my University days spent studying Native Americans both in the UK and Canada, it seemed only apt to follow the recipe for venison stew from Jamie’s America book.  Based on a Navajo stew, this recipe is incredibly delicious and is the second time we’ve made it.

My only addition was to make some parsley and suet dumpling, which I popped into the stew towards the end of cooking.  There is something very moreish about dumplings – I think I could eat a plateful drenched in a couple of spoonfuls of stew liqueur.

Mash potato was made with our allotment grown potatoes, which must be said have been a bit disastrous.  Whether it’s the variety, how we’ve grown them, or how we cook them, but the potatoes just disintegrate into soupy glue if not watched carefully. 

I have learnt that the trick with them is to watch them carefully in the water, looking for the moment when the outside starts to break down, but leaving them long enough to make sure they are almost cooked through. 

This time I put it through my wonderful French mouli that I picked up at the carboot – it was fantastic!  With the help of a little cream (maybe a lot…) and butter, and some seasoning, the mash turned out all right.

What did you eat for Christmas dinner?

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Mr Rigg, Buddy and I spent this morning down on the allotment attempting to work off the copious amounts of rich food we have eaten over Christmas.

Though the jobs involved shifting poo and digging out a small oak tree, and at one point the rain came driving down, we had a good morning.

The large mound of manure has now gone and the allotment looks very neat…if very brown and slightly smelly.  We relocated four rhubarb crowns from the middle of the allotment to the bottom, to sit happily with the other rhubarb plants.

I cleared quite a number of ratty looking raspberry canes from the end behind the ‘shed’ (should be called a shack really), and together we dug out a small oak tree (one more to go).  I know it sounds terrible to be digging out an oak tree, but the allotment officer advised we should before they get too big.

Before we left we lit up the Kelly Kettle – its first use, despite being Mr Rigg’s birthday present back in May. 

With the bottom part filled with newspaper and tiny fir cones, it soon got the water boiling and we enjoyed a cup of herbal tea in our new enamel ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mugs.  Perfect for allotment picnics!

Our Christmas day morning was spent munching on some of the best bought buttery croissants (from Waitrose) topped with generous spoonfuls of our homemade strawberry jam.  And if you’re me, an extra helping of butter.

Then we helped Buddy open his stocking – our first Christmas with him – and he was so funny.  He was so interested as Mr Rigg began to open the bag of goodies…

perhaps not so keen on the silly Father Christmas hat and scarf chosen by me…

…but he does love his new friend Mr Pheasant…

…especially when you squeeze him and he honks …

Ah, the joys of Christmas with animals!

For Christmas Eve dinner we like to eat a baked Camembert and nothing else.  It is pure indulgence and feels very wicked, but it is a tradition of our own making and it feels like something special.

We bake the Camembert in its box – just take the lid off and pull open the paper.  This time I scored the cheese with a cross, added a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a garlic clove, sliced in half and wedged into the cut cheese. 

After about 15-20 minutes it comes out as gooey liquid cheese encased in its rind – which is my favourite part of it.  It goes a bit crispy but chewy at the same time.

Usually we just have a bowl of rustic bread, roughly cut into hunks to dip into the cheese.  This year we also opened a jar of Real Ale chutney to go with it. 

Although I can be a purist when it comes to dishes like this, refusing to dilute the taste of hot runny cheese and bread, I must admit a dab of chutney with it was delicious.

We ate it in front of a cosy log fire…

Does anyone else have Christmas traditions they’ve created for themselves?

Mr Rigg is home from work, we’ve got the Christmas carol’s on, the Camembert is out of the fridge ready for tonight’s baked Camembert cheese fondue, and I am feeling tremendously Christmassy.

Our night before Christmas involves eating a lot of gooey cheese with chunks of sourdough bread and going to midnight mass at our favourite little village church in Dunham Massey.  And we have snow.

Wishing everyone a very happy night before Christmas!

Image: Pretty Little Green Things

If you ignore the peeling paint in the back of the room (our house is still very much a work in progress) our house is looking quite Christmassy. 

I have hung ivy and holly from most of the pictures, the staircase is wrapped in yet more ivy, the tree is decorated and sparkling, and the mantlepiece is twinkling with jam jars of tealights amongst fir branches.

Today I did the first part of my Christmas food shop – my bags were full of goodies…Morecambe Bay potted shrimp…herb encrusted salami…Wensleydale cheese studded with cranberries…and a few things I can’t mention as they’re for Mr Rigg’s stocking..ssh!

I love Christmas.

There are some fantastic Christmas markets in Manchester at the moment, full of delicious foods.  From Raclette melted over new potatoes and gerkins, to spaetzle and paella there are all kinds of goodies.

One of my favourite things at the Christmas markets is Flammkuchen – a German style pizza topped with a creamy sauce, bacon and onion.  When I cook so much at home, it always feels quite expensive to eat at the markets.  So instead we decided to give it a go at home.

I went in search for a recipe – mind you, it took me a while to get the spelling correct!  I was inspired by this recipe because it used quark – an ingredient I’ve seen before but never known what to do with it.  Here was the perfect opportunity to quell my interest – turns out it’s like cottage cheese without the lumps.  Quite nice!

Flammkuchen

Pizza dough
Creme fraiche
Sour cream
Quark
Pancetta or bacon
Onion
Black pepper

Preheat your oven 220°C.

Roll out the pizza dough as thin as you can.

Finely slice the onion – the thinner the better as the onion isn’t pre-cooked.  I used pancetta rather than bacon and sliced it into lardons.

In a bowl mix equal amounts of creme fraiche, sour cream and quark. 

Spread the creme fraiche mixture over the pizza dough, top with sliced onion and bacon before popping it into the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden.

All it needs before eating is a good grind of black pepper…or not if your Mr Rigg.

Any other suggestions on what to do with the remaining quark would be graciously received!

Sometimes you just need something simple, quick and tasty to eat in front of the telly.  For me this week it was mushrooms on toast.  Made with mushrooms from Unicorn Grocery and bread from Barbakan.

Where has the week gone?  Not much excitement on the food front to report – but tonight Mr Rigg and I have planned out our meals (in theory!) for the next week.  There’s something deeply satisfying about being grown up and able to write a list of all the things you want to eat and being able to go out, buy the ingredients, and come home and eat those things.

As well as food planning, I’m also longing for a weekend of getting the house ready for Christmas – hopefully a tree can be found and a wreath put up.  Is anyone else starting to decorate for Christmas?

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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