Traditions and memories go hand in hand. All you need is a whiff of a traditional festive feast and the memories will flood through. James Claire whips up a selection of festive foods this month.
Why change things that work so well? Why corrupt food that tastes divine? And why create something new out of something so perfect in its pure state?
This year my household has grown by one and it’s time to start teaching the traditions that make a perfect Christmas. While turkey is traditional, so too are chicken terrine, gingerbread men and Tunis cake.
Different countries, cultures and ways of celebrating the festive season have created traditions from all corners of the globe. People like us celebrate the season in the heat, while others celebrate in the depths of a winter chill.
However and wherever you celebrate this ebbing phase of the year, enjoy, eat well and develop your own traditions and create treasured memories for yourself and those near and dear.
250g unsalted butter
2 lemons, finely grated zest only
250g plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tspns baking powder
80g almond powder
For the topping
400g dark chocolate, broken into
• Preheat the oven to 180? Celsius.
• Grease and line the loaf tin with baking parchment.
• In an electric mixer bowl, cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly followed by the flour and almond powder. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin.
• Bake for 45 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent the top from browning and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
• For the topping, pour the cream into a small pan and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted.
• Refrigerate and cool until the mixture begins to thicken but not too hard. Pour the chocolate mixture in an even coat over the cooled cake (still in the tin) and put aside to set.
• To serve, remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer. Decorate with chocolate curls and holly leaves.
1,300g chicken breast
2 slices of bread, crusts removed
6 rashers of turkey bacon
4 tbspns chives, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g chicken livers, roughly chopped
6 black peppercorns
3 tbspns coriander seeds
1 tbspn clove powder
¼ tspn cinnamon powder
salt, to taste
4 tbspns salted butter, melted
2 tbspns cognac
2 eggs, beaten
2 egg yolks
60g pistachio nuts, shelled
60g dried cranberries
6 rashes turkey bacon
• Heat the oven to 160? Celsius.
• Put the chicken breasts and turkey bacon in a shallow dish, then place in the hot oven for 25 minutes.
• Roughly chop the cooked chicken meat.
• In a food processor, blend the chicken and turkey bacon in batches to a coarse texture, then tip into a large bowl.
• Tear up the bread and soak in the milk for 5 minutes.
• Squeeze out the bread and put it in the food processor with the shallots, garlic and chicken livers. Process to a coarse texture, then add to the bowl, mixing it well.
• Grind the peppercorns, coriander seeds and cloves to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar. Stir in the cinnamon.
• Add the spices to the chicken along with melted butter, the cognac, eggs, egg yolks and salt. Mix together thoroughly.
• Press half the mixture into a 1.5-litre baking dish or similar. Scatter over the pistachios and cranberries, then cover with the remaining meat mixture.
• Arrange the reserved bacon rashers over the top, tucking in the ends. Cover the dish tightly with foil, then put it in a roasting tin.
• Pour boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the dish.
• Bake for 2 hours, remove foil, then bake for 15 minutes more to brown the top. Cool completely, then wrap in fresh foil and chill. For the best flavor, let the terrine chill and mature for at least 2 days before eating. Serve slices of the terrine with salad leaves.
300g plain (all-purpose) flour
8g powdered cinnamon
8g powdered ginger
8g bicarbonate soda
120g unsalted butter
40g whipping cream
30g golden syrup
• Place the sifted flour, cinnamon, ginger, bicarbonate soda into an electric mixer bowl with a paddle attachment.
• Add the caster sugar.
• Chop room temperature butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients, and mix until the butter has been worked into the dry ingredients completely.
• When the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, add the egg, cream and golden syrup and mould the mixture into dough. Ensure the dough is completely worked and there are no dry ingredients remaining at the base.
• Remove the dough, cover it in plastic and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.
• Heat the oven to 175? Celsius.
• Roll the chilled dough onto a floured bench surface to 3-4mm in thickness. Use gingerbread men cutters to cut out the dough and place them onto a parchment lined tray. Allow space for expansion upon baking.
• Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes. Remove when baked and allow them to cool on the tray. Decorate the baked cookies or leave them plain; they taste wonderful either way.