BBC Food Christmas TV preview
It’s almost here – the Beeb’s pre-Christmas week chock full of food specials. Being a natural planner I can’t help but want a bit more advanced notice of what to stock up on to re-create all the special treats coming our way. So here is my Christmas gift to all those other fretful holiday cooks – a little sneak preview of what’s on offer.
First – party nibbles. Get in plenty of ready-made all-butter puff pastry. (In what parallel universe does anyone have time at Christmas to make puff pastry? What would you have to forego – presents? a tree?) In addition to my personal addiction, sausage rolls, you can use it to make Lorraine Pascale’s easy mince pie stars. Simply cut out squares, spoon a little ready-made mincemeat in the middle, flavour with aromatics (peel, vanilla, etc.), fold, glaze and bake.
The Hairy Bikers get their vol-au-vents out (Ho ho!) for their Christmas party, and also give their tarts a hearty stuffing (Ho ho ho!) of bacon and eggs, and cheese and pickle. Their guest pastry chef, Brett Pistorius, also whips up trayfuls of tiny chocolate fondants and shot glass trifles that look brilliant if you’re having a big party.
Next, foodie gifts. I’m glad to see we’re on the same wavelength as Lorraine with our suggestion for homemade Irish cream liqueur. But she’s trumped us with a really simple white and dark chocolate bark – just melt, swirl and cool. Ridiculously simple, and fills out any gaps in the gift hamper.
Likewise, the cake mix in a jar: fill a Kilner jar with the dry ingredients for a simple all-in-one cake. Layer the ingredients to acheive a sedimentary look. Add a tag with the other required ingredients (usually eggs and butter) and instructions to mix and bake the cake. This is also a great gift for young children who love baking, but don’t have the patience for measuring. (Cakes you could try: Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich, Lulu Grimes' chocolate cake; or cookies: Spiced oat biscuits, Gingerbread, Flapjacks with mango, sour cherry and coconut.) For a grown-up gift á la Blanc, poach some fresh pears, quinces and apples in a vanilla-scented mulled wine, seal in a jar and pop under the tree.
On to the main event, and a surprisingly simple treat from Raymond is his shellfish chowder, and a hot tip for a make-ahead starter. Just bag some super-fresh mussels and clams on Christmas Eve. And if you’re getting clams make sure to nab a little Serrano ham and Oloroso sherry for a Spanish treat from Rick Stein. Then tune in for advice on your chosen main course:
- Nigel Slater – duck
- Raymond Blanc – goose
- Lorraine Pascale – turkey
- Rick Stein – lamb
- Hairy Bikers - ham
On to show-stopping Christmas desserts, get started now on Raymond’s “Winter still life” recipe – frozen chestnut parfait mushrooms on meringue stems, surrounded by a forest floor of tuile leaf biscuits and chocolate sauce. “I want to create a dish that smiles back at you, and makes you smile.”
If a slightly easier, but beautiful, pudding is what you require, Nigel Slater’s always there with a trifle for every occasion. Grab some physalis (Cape gooseberries) to top the custard and cream. If you happen to end up with a surfeit of eggs, you could also try Rick Stein’s equally lovely orangey crème caramel.
Finally, when you're stinking of turkey and sausage grease, and you need to claw back some merriment from the festive grind, sneak in one of Lorraine's beautiful cocktails. Fish a little hibiscus flower from its jar of syrup (see? you have to order it now!) and sink it in some sparkling white wine with a squeeze of lime juice. You'll feel queen enough to give your own speech. (Chaps, as well.)
BBC Food Christmas specials
Friday 16th 9.00pm BBC TWO - The Great British Christmas Dinner (rpt)
Sunday 18th 11.30am BBC TWO – Hairy Bikers Twelve Days of Christmas (rpt)
Monday 19th 6.30pm BBC TWO – Raymond Blanc’s Christmas Feast
Tuesday 20th 7.00 BBC TWO - Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen (rpt)
9.00 BBC TWO – Hairy Biker’s Christmas Party
Wed 21st 6.30pm BBC TWO – Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen (rpt)
7.30pm BBC ONE – Nigel Slater’s Simple Christmas
9.00pm BBC TWO – Rick Stein’s Spanish Christmas
Thursday 22nd 7.00pm BBC TWO – Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen (rpt)
8.00pm BBC TWO – Lorraine Last Minute Christmas
Friday 23rd 8.00pm BBC TWO – Raymond Blanc’s Christmas Feast (rpt)
Saturday 24th 11.00am BBC ONE – Saturday Kitchen Christmas Eve
We'll add links to recipes as we get them published, but what shows will you be settling in for?