This year, Christmas will be a family affair at my daughter Nicola’s in Worcestershire with seven ‘grown-ups’and three little ones: my grandsons Freddie (3¾), Benjamin (1) and Rufus (3 months). Nicola is going to do the Christmas Day cooking with her brother Jonathan and the rest of us will prepare contributions ahead to take with us.
Freddie is the only little one with any conception of what Christmas is. He’s very pleased that Nicola and Rachael’s old 17th century farmhouse boasts a beautiful large inglenook fireplace, which means there’s plenty of room for Santa to get down the chimney. A carrot will be left out for Rudolph and the grown-ups are agreed that Santa will need a nice glass of warming Scotch whisky and mince pie to help him get through his busiest night of the year. I can see in advance that we may need to leave a few glasses out so there’s no disagreement about who is Santa!
Here are my contributions; all well-practised recipes, except the Christmas puddings – I used a Nigel Slater recipe from his Christmas Chronicles for the first time. And the puddings were my first venture into Christmas preparations this year. I’d almost forgotten I’d made them (they’ve been hiding in a cool cupboard for a few weeks) until Freddie reminded me yesterday and asked if we were taking the Christmas puddings to Auntie Nicola’s … I must make a list!
I didn’t know about ‘Stir-up Sunday’ until a friend mentioned it when I said I was making the puddings this year. Apparently the official last date for making the puddings is the last Sunday in November. I guess it’s called ‘stir-up’ because it’s a tradition that everyone in the family gets a stir and a wish before the mixture goes into pudding basins. That’s what happened when I was a child (my grandmother made the puddings). Of course many people like to make them well before then to allow them to mature; some make enough for the following year (serious maturing!); while others like my late mother are very last-minute about it. I think you can be sure that a good recipe will taste good however far in advance – or last-minute – you make it. I’m hoping this ‘new’ recipe will work well but have much faith in Nigel Slater (click here for recipe).
OK, so I cheated and bought them. But I did buy them from Corto Italian Deli in Twickenham and they stock the best Italian foods you can find, and my Italian teacher Fabio also commented they’re one of the best makes when he saw them. It’s been a family tradition for many years that we have panettone with Christmas morning coffee and that’s when we open presents. I now buy two as my two daughters-in-law don’t eat raisins and prefer Pandoro, which is plain, while the rest of the family like the Classico (click here for more on Italian Christmas breads). But you can never have too much good panettone!
I did actually make some three years ago, which was fun to do.
If you want to make your own, click here.
Christmas Brandy & Vanilla Ice Cream
What do you like to eat with your Christmas pudding? Brandy butter? Brandy sauce? Custard? Cream? We’ve always had brandy sauce but I hit on the idea of making an ice cream version a few years ago and it was such a success the family always insists I make it every Christmas now (we have the brandy sauce too!). It is rich but somehow the icy coolness makes it quite refreshing too. And it’s so good you really shouldn’t save it just for Christmas. Click here for recipe.
I had great fun making some gingerbread last year with grandson Freddie (who was then just under 3). I made the dough in advance and when he came round to Nonna’s, we cut out people, stars and Christmas tree shapes. After baking and cooling, Freddie had fun icing them. The plan for this coming weekend is for the two of us to make this year’s, all ready to take up to Worcestershire on Christmas Eve (click here for recipe).
There really is nothing like homemade mince pies and my family always want me to make some for Christmas Day. I always love making them. The year I wrote the recipe on the blog, we even had homemade mincemeat, thanks to my son and a friend who made it. It was gorgeous, but I have to admit that this year the mincemeat has been bought. The pastry will be homemade though – a buttery sweet shortcrust pastry (click here for recipe).
Thanking all my wonderful followers for reading this blog and wishing everyone a brilliant Christmas and a very happy New Year 2019!!