Christmas Food Rituals and the Ambassador's Rocky Road
Christmas for me, is all about the food.
Yes it’s about the real meaning of Christmas (whatever that might be to you), it’s about the magic of it all for children, it's celebrating and laughing with family, and the John Lewis advert, but it’s also, very much so, about food.
Reading Christmas cookbooks is a December indulgence for me - like watching Elf and listening to Michael Bublé. Obviously every family has its own particular food rituals at Christmas, whether that's what you eat on Christmas Eve, to the Turkey/Goose/Ham decision and brandy butter vs. double cream. Each year I read magazines and every Christmas cookbook going (hurray for Nigel Slater's new one this year), in order to introduce one new food ritual into the year, something that we'll repeat the following year. Sometimes it works (see below), and sometimes it doesn't (fancy-fied red cabbage I'm looking at you), but this in itself is part of the rhythm of Christmas for me.
These food traditions are just part of the nostalgia of Christmas. I don't think I'm alone in this, others feel the same way - in fact you only have to read cookbooks from Nigella, Nigel Slater, Gizzi Erskine and Jamie Oliver to realise that even the best cooks repeat their favourites too.
Asking some fellow bloggers, it becomes clear the variety of everyone's own food traditions. There's Éva who bakes Lebkuchen - a tradition inherited from her mum, Veronica who this year is making Christmas burgers (I'm going to investigate this myself for next year), Jenni and her Christmas Eve potato salad and sausages, a German tradition now transferred to Scotland, and Fran who bakes sausage rolls to her mum's recipe. A special mention goes to Beth for her Christmas Eve KFC - slightly jealous of this one!
Whatever your food rituals are, treasure them, and pass them on - this year's experiment could become your child's Christmas table must-have in the years to come.
My Christmas food rituals
We have turkey. Of course. But we also have beef. Two joints. Yes it's a little strange but it's what we do. Makes for immense gravy and a lot of leftovers - we wouldn't have it any other way.
A new cocktail
A new cocktail always gets tried, from Sloe Gin and Tonics, Nigella's fabulous Poinsettia cocktail (at breakfast - ahem), through to this year's Cocktail Club recipe. It's a time for indulgence on all fronts and a new cocktail is a great way to celebrate.
A new side dish
As if there wasn't enough to do already, I always try and add something new each year (I'm a glutton for punishment and a glutton as well.) This has ranged from different stuffing recipes, to fresh horseradish sauce to go with our beef (a keeper), to a piccalilli salad for Boxing Day cold cuts. And chips (my husband's family have turkey and chips on Boxing Day, so now we have turkey, beef, chips and mash...).
Not with Christmas pudding of course - unless you count the controversial decision to have double cream and brandy butter on mine which was the subject of some raised eyebrows last year. We have just that on Christmas Day and there's no messing with that formula. However on Boxing Day we now also always have Christmas pudding soufflé, which sounds like an insane thing to add to your to do list (and it probably is), but really is super easy and doesn't collapse. I promise. I also pray for a house-full so I can justify trifle making.
And then there's the Christmas baking...
I love baking anyway, but Christmas seems to kick that into overdrive, and there are recipes that I make every December, particularly in the week before Christmas. Gingerbread reindeer (gingerbread men turned upside down - see picture below), a Yule log (I love Nigella's recipe), Nigella's sticky gingerbread, some sort of bundt cake (have tin, need to make the most of it), mince pies of course as well as new stuff like mincemeat cinnamon rolls *pauses to drool*. And this year, something new. Something to spoil you. Check it out below...
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.
The Ambassador's Rocky Road
'Monsieur, with these Ferrero Rocher you're really spoiling us.'
One of the best adverts ever. If you're anything like me then your annual Ferrero Rocher consumption will be concentrated into a two week period (despite my love of them). It seems a good way to make the most of the glut of Rochers (Ferreros?) to make some Rocky Road with the children who are now on holiday and eager to bake. I've written about the ease of rocky road cooking before, and nothing's changed here. A doddle to do with children, and a really quick solution to 'what shall I feed people, they haven't eaten for 5 minutes' dilemmas that abound during the festive season.
Makes enough for 15 or so (it's very rich)
400g chocolate (half milk, half dark), chopped or broken up into small pieces
175g unsalted butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestive biscuits
200g glacé cherries
10 or so Ferrero Rocher
Put the chocolate, butter and golden syrup into a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, then repeat until the chocolate and everything else is fully melted and combined.
Crush the digestive biscuits into various different size pieces, either by hand (what I do) or put them into a freezer bag and save yourself a lot of mess (what I should have done).
Stir the biscuits and glacé cherries into the chocolate mixture.
Tip into a baking tray lined with some greaseproof paper. Smooth the top a bit just to level off - although it won’t look completely flat.
Pop your Ferrero Rocher on top of the rocky road at regular intervals.
Put in the fridge until firm (this will take a couple of hours). Once set, cut into portions - I got 15 generous ones out of mine.
This will keep for up to a week in an airtight container - but I doubt it will last that long.
Serve at your finest ambassadorial receptions.