Festive Tipples: What To Drink At Christmas Part Two


If you’re a hopelessly retro traditionalist like me, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a Snowball or two (or three). I don’t get why people don’t drink this more – it’s light, sherbety, and frothy, and you get to serve it with a maraschino cherry! You can buy packs of ready made Snowballs, or you can mix your own. Take one part Advocaat, three parts lemonade, and add to a glass. Mix in a tiny drop of the maraschino cherry syrup (this is my secret trick), a dash of lime cordial, and top with a toothpick adorned with cherries. Now drink it and make another one right away. Isn’t Christmas telly GREAT?!

Now, I’m sure I’m teaching grandma to suck eggs here, but I only really recently learned the perfect way to make G&T – well, the way I like it, anyway… remember clever Charlie and his recipe for homemade Pimm’s? He makes an excellent gin and tonic.


His secret is to add a third to a quarter of gin to Indian tonic water, then a big squeeze of lemon, plus a nice slice of lime. And ice – that’s important too. To be honest, I’d always missed the importance of these latter three ingredients, but they really do lift the whole thing and make it something special. (And good gin helps – Tanqueray is my favourite, followed by Bombay Sapphire, and Fever Tree tonic is a must!)


Perhaps not traditional at Christmas, but still one of my favourite drinks – Campari! It has a pretty festive colour, don’t you think? Campari is a bitter orange liqueur and the easiest way to drink it is with lemonade, soda water or tonic water.


If you’re hankering after something a bit stronger, try my new favourite cocktail – the Negroni! It packs a heck of punch! Luckily the recipe is simple, so even after you’ve had a couple you should still be able to whip up some more… You just mix equal parts gin, Campari and red vermouth, and serve over ice. Hic!


Finally, there’s a couple of really good sweet dessert wines that are perfect for this time of year – ice wine and Sauternes!


Both are super sweet, thick and syrupy wines perfect for pairing with mince pies, Christmas cake or Christmas pudding. (And Sauternes is delicious served with chicken liver parfait too!)


My favourite Sauternes comes from Fortnum and Mason (and was delivered in my Christmas hamper this year!) but ice wine can be a little trickier to track down. It’s made from grapes which have frozen on the vine, creating a super sweet taste, and is mostly produced in Canada and Germany. Funnily enough, the only place I’ve found it for sale is Lidl – but at £18.99 a bottle, this isn’t a bargain basement deal (and as I said, is absolutely delicious!).

What are your favourite Christmas tipples? Let me know in the comments!

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Festive Tipples: What To Drink At Christmas Part One

Welcome to part one of my festive drinks posts – I’m covering wine in this one, and I’ll be talking about spirits and cocktails in my follow up!


The question of what to drink with the dish of the day isn’t surely at the top of the list when it comes to party planning on Christmas Day – which is why it’s handy to have a couple of no-brainer options under your belt. Whether you’re the host or a guest, picking up a bottle of red and white to go with the meal is a sure fire recipe for success!


To pair with turkey and roast ham, pick up this Giesen Sauvignon Blanc for £8 from Majestic and Sainsbury’s – a pretty damn good price for a sweet, versatile white with gooseberry notes! This is the perfect bottle to pick up if you’re only bringing one with you – because turkey or chicken is sure to be on the menu. I also reckon it would be a great gift as well, especially if you pair it with a handwritten note with serving suggestions on it!


If you’re having darker roasts like duck or game (and we’re having duck and partridge this year!) you should check out Château Labadie, 2009 The Wien Society, £10.50. With its medium body, it’s a great partner for roasted meats of all kinds, making it a great way to spread a little Christmas cheer at the table. Rich and decadent, with a velvet mouthfeel, this went down a treat when we taste-tested it at my parents’ house for Sunday lunch!


But you know, mulled wine makes Christmas – yet I rarely drink it on the day. Instead, it’s served before carols or after a long snowy walk, to redden your cheeks and steam up your glasses. Huddled over a cup of mulled wine, inhaling the wisps of cinnamon and orange, snuggled in the candlelight with a cosy blanket over your knee – this is what Christmas dreams are made of! I absolutely love these super little sachets c/o Hotel Chocolat – bundles of festive joy you can chuck into the pot like a big witches brew, to steam and seethe while your guests arrive! Who needs scented candles when you’ve got these babies to hand?!

What tipples will you be serving with the big meal this year?

Samples of the products mentioned were provided as PR samples, all text and photos are my own.

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Boxing Day Ideas for Turkey Leftovers!

This is a flashback post that some of you might have already seen at Thanksgiving – but I thought it was worth a repeat for all the UK-based readers who will be up to their eyeballs in turkey this Christmas! Here are some great recipes using leftover turkey that taste so delicious you’ll want to cook extra next year!

Leftover mosaic

Week One: Feel Good Chicken Broth - Broth before stock

Christmas bento

Although there aren’t many recipes for holiday bento treats from Japan (unless you count fried chicken and cake!), you can adapt western style ideas to Japanese cooking methods, like with these festive gyozas. They’re filled with caramelised onion, turkey and sage and onion stuffing, and are just right for getting in the festive spirit.

Christmas bento and furoshki

To make this bento, you’ll also need to make star shaped onigiri, topped with star shaped ham and cheese, pigs in blankets (chipolata sausages wrapped in streaky bacon and baked in the oven) and stuffing balls, and get rocket leaves (erm… to look like holly…) tomatoes, and cranberry sauce for a dip. A dipping container and food picks (penguin and star shapes were used here for the Christmas bento theme) are useful too. You can also fill a foil-lined side dish container, as here, with glazed biscuits, minced pies, and your favourite fruit and nut mix.

Recipe for festive gyozas

INGREDIENTS

  • Small box sage and onion stuffing
  • 2 medium onions
  • 40g butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Olive oil
  • 150g raw turkey breast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 26 gyoza skins
  • Oil

METHOD

  • Mix up your sage and onion stuffing – you need to keep 70g of it for the gyozas and the rest can be made into stuffing balls.
  • Finely chop your onions, then cook on a very low heat with the butter and sugar until they go a golden brown. This could take an hour or more, but you don’t have to stand over it and stir it the whole time, thankfully!
  • Shred the turkey breast with a knife so you end up with meat that’s finely cut but has a bit more texture than mince (and is leaner).
  • Once you’ve done that, mix the caramelised onion, the raw turkey breast, 70g of stuffing and the salt and soy sauce together.
  • Fill your gyozas by placing a small amount in the middle of a dumpling skin, wetting the edges and folding it in half, pleating the edges. It’s easier to do this with a gyoza press.
  • Once you’ve done that, heat some oil in a pan and add six gyozas. Pour water into the pan until it reaches a third of the way up the sides of the gyozas, then cover and cook until the water has evaporated. Once that’s done, remove the lid and fry until the bases are crispy.

Note

You can freeze these gyozas and cook them from raw.

Christmas bento

This recipe originally appeared in 501 Bento Box Lunches, published by Graffito Books.