Christmas Scents & Sauces

Christmas Scents & Sauces

One of the best ways to make the house feel seasonal is to fill the house with those traditional Christmas fragrances: Ginger, clove, orange zest, ginger and cinnamon blend to create a comforting scent that gently nudges you into the festive season.

You might think that home made cranberry sauce is too much work and as there are some delicious ready made cranberry sauces that you can buy from the shops, why should you consider to make your own?

Look at it as something calming to create. Take a moment to enjoy making this vibrant sauce. The whole family can join in and the house will be bursting with fragrances that lift your spirits.

Grab these ingredients and let me show you how simple it is:

2 red eating apples – cored & chopped into bite-sized pieces

5 cloves

2 star anise

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Zest and juice of 1 orange

250g of fresh cranberries

300 ml red wine

70g light brown soft sugar or coconut sugar

Start by bringing the wine, cinnamon, ginger, orange zest & juice, cloves, and star anise to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Once it it close to a boil and steam is rising, take the saucepan off the heat and leave to sit for about 1/2 hour so everything has time to infuse.

Then strain the mixture, and discard the sieve contents, retaining the liquid and return this to the saucepan. Use a spoon to gently push any liquid parts through the sieve.

Add the cranberries, apple and sugar to the red wine mixture and bring to a simmer. Let this mixture bubble away gently for about 15 minutes. You should hear the cranberries begin to pop and burst open and the apple will begin to soften.

Don’t worry if the mixture seems too runny at this point as the mixture will thicken as it cools. If the mixture is too dry add a little splash of extra juice or wine very gradually.

Remove from heat and leave to cool.

You can keep it, once cool, in a container with a top in the fridge for 3 days or freeze and defrost at room temperature to serve on Christmas Day.

How do you like your roast potatoes? Our family loves them crispy on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth fluffy on the inside.

After trying various methods I find it’s best to partly boil the potatoes the night before. 

Peel and chop your potatoes into even sized potatoes. Don’t be too pedantic over the size, but if they are all similar in size it helps to ensure even cooking.

Fill a saucepan with water (size of pan depends on how many potatoes you are cooking). Add the peeled and cut potatoes to this water as you prepare them. Then drain the water and refill with fresh water. Add a pinch of sea salt and then bring the potatoes to the boil from cold water. 

Cook them until a knife just goes into them – almost cooked but not quite – you don’t want to overcook them otherwise they will disintegrate into a mush when you drain them.

Drain them with a colander/sieve and then shake the colander so that the potatoes get a bit bashed up around the edges. This helps to make them super crispy on the outside.

Set aside to cool then place in a container that fits in the fridge and drizzle over some olive oil gently stir the potatoes so that they are all covered with a little oil. Add some fresh rosemary if you have any. Cover and pop in the fridge overnight. 

Bring the potatoes to room temperature on the day. Put the oven-proof tray that you are going to cook your potatoes in with 2-3 tablespoons of goose fat (or olive oil) – vary the amount according to the amount of potatoes. Turn your oven to 200ª – so that the oven is nice and hot and so is the cooking dish and oil. 

Once the oven is hot, carefully add the pre-cooked potatoes – be careful of the splashes of fat as this will be sizzling. Spoon the fat over the potatoes and add some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If your cooking tray is able to be heated on your hob – put it on the hob as you add the potatoes – this helps keep the oil hot as you add the potatoes and helps to ensure that outer crispy shell.

Pop the tray back in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. Check and turn the potatoes so all the sides get nice and crispy. Will probably take about 35-40 minutes. Just keep checking until they are golden and crispy at the edges. Adjust your oven heat lower or higher as required.

Leftover potatoes (if there are any!) are delicious chopped and sautéed and served with cold turkey or cold meats in the days after Christmas Day and will be delicious dipped into your cranberry sauce.

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