Christmas Cookery Books and Crown Devon…

Finally, we are on the last day of the school term – hurrah! After this afternoon’s Carols in the playground, there will be lovely relaxed mornings without me yelling at the boys to get ready for school over and over….sadly, they will still both be up at 6am, but that can’t be changed.


I’ve been re-reading my Christmas cookery books, looking for ideas.  I still really love the ‘new’ Delia Christmas one (I have the first Christmas book she did, as well), partly for the styling as well as the actual recipes, the vintage baubles and white backgrounds are pretty much my own taste and the recipes (including many re-worked from her ‘Winter’ cookbook) are, as always, fabulous.  I make her mincemeat every year, and if I do make a cake it’s also from this book.


I also enjoyed re-reading Nigella’s Christmas book.  There are some nice canape ideas that I’d forgotten about.  This is the book that started the trend on collecting Crown Devon ‘Stockholm’ china, as it’s used in the photos (and, I believe, in the accompanying TV series).  More on the later.


New this year and not strictly a Christmas book, is the The Great British Winter Kitchen.  I haven’t cooked anything from this yet but I’ve really enjoyed reading it.  The recipes look great and contain simple ingredient lists (it reminds me a lot of Jamie Oliver, if I’m honest).  My kind of book.


Back to the Crown Devon ‘Stockholm’.  So, I remember mentioning some time ago, that I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon in collecting this, instead I’d stick with the (much cheaper and easier to find) Royal Doulton ‘The Coppice’.


What can I say?  I buckled.  I am weak.  Over the years I have watched this grow ever more expensive and more difficult to find and this year, I just couldn’t resist adding a few bits to my clutter.   My lovely SIL bought me a couple of pieces for my 40th, and I especially love the ‘tennis’ plate and cup.


From collecting the Coppice, I know what pieces are the most useful to me, with this in mind I’ve managed to buy some tureens, by far the nicest things, I think, they have such a pretty shape and I like the detail of the little red line painted around the base.  I love having tureens for serving vegetables on a special roast lunch (or Christmas dinner!).  I’ve also bought some little fruit bowls and a jug (for serving Christmas pudding, naturally).  In an ideal word, I’d have a platter for the turkey (but don’t think there is a large one with this collection, only meat plates that are a bit small) and maybe a sandwich set with square platter and plates.  Ideally.  But this is expensive stuff to collect, so I’m stopping here, for now at least.


In the garden, it’s all just very wet and soggy.  We have a lot of fog going on around here, that sits in our little dip all day, only lifting in the afternoon, if we’re lucky.  I still have chard, kale, spring onions, horseradish root and some old beetroot.  The garlic is in.  I’ve missed planting broad beans and sweet peas….oh well.  I’m happy to leave the garden now until January, when I’ll start obsessively reading seed catalogues and planning next year.

For those that celebrate it, I hope you have a fabulous Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Getting Ahead For Christmas…

Now we are under that 1 month marker, I’ve started putting things into the freezer for our Christmas Lunch.  It’s only us this year (which has never happened before) so we are having goose and as I don’t fancy spending the day on my own, in the kitchen (our house is sort of open plan-ish so I’m exaggerating here, plus I do actually like cooking, but I plan to spend the morning drinking champers and watching the boys open gifts!), I also had quite a few things about to go out of date, so I figured I’m make up what I could, at this point.


I’ve talked about this before, but bird of any kind means that bread sauce and the Foster family recipe stuffing balls HAVE to be made.  I also figured that as I regularly make flavoured butter rolls for the freezer (anchovy and capers to go with broccoli, mummmmm) I didn’t see any reason not to make a roll of brandy butter, so I can chop slices off to eat with mince pies as well as some for the pudding on the day itself.  Oh and I also made rum sauce and some 18th Century Chestnut Stuffing, courtesy of Delia, as these, too, freeze really well.

I’ve posted all the recipes before, but ages ago, so here they are again:

Brandy Butter

110g Unsalted Butter

1 Raw Egg Yolk

350g Sifted Icing Sugar

2 Tbls Brandy

Rind of 1 Orange

Cream together the butter, orange rind and half the sugar.  Beat till fluffy, add egg yolk, the rest of sugar and brandy, beat again then chill.

(I have frozen mine rolled in baking parchment, then foil in a long sausage shape, so I can cut off discs to use as and when needed).

Rum Sauce

60g Butter

60g Plain Flour

570ml Whole Milk

50g Caster Sugar

6-8 Tbls Dark Rum (or more!)

Place the butter, flour and milk into a saucepan.  Using a balloon whisk keep stirring the whole time, heat over a medium heat until thickened.

Turn the heat down, stir in the sugar, heat slowly for 10 mins, stirring all the time to ‘cook’ the sauce.  Next, stir in the rum and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin from forming until ready to serve (needs to be served warm so you can reheat in the pan, or in a microwave, if needed)


Great Gran Foster’s Stuffing Balls

110g Fresh white breadcrumbs

50g suet (you can use vegetable or beef)

1 x Egg

Fresh or dried thyme (my family all use dried, but I actually prefer fresh)

Lemon rind and juice of half a lemon

Basically mix all the ingredients together, with seasoning, and roll into small balls about the size of a walnut.  Cook for about 30 mins, I usually pour a little oil over then to get them started.

Bread Sauce

1 Lrg onion

15-20 Cloves (depending how ‘clovey’ you like it, less if you’re not keen)

1 Bay Leaf

1 Pint whole milk

2/3 Loaf of white bread, crusts removed and blitzed into crumbs (I used to just cut it roughly with a bread knife into smallish bits when I was a student)

Knob of Butter


Grate of nutmeg, if you fancy it

You basically peel and cut the onion in half then stud with the cloves (I stick a fork in the skin and push the cloves into the holes) add to the milk, with the bay leaf, bring to the boil, take of the heat and leave for at least an hour to infuse.

When you are ready to serve, reheat the milk, remove onion, cloves and bay and add the breadcrumbs (add more milk of needed, or more breadcrumbs, it should be quite thick).  Let it heat through slowly for a while so the bread swells and goes mushy, then season (and grate nutmeg if using) and serve with a blob of butter on top.

My version of Delia’s 18th Century Chestnut Stuffing (I’ve linked to the original at the beginning of this post)

100g Fresh breadcrumbs

200g Cooked Peeled Chestnuts (I use Vacuum packed pre-prepared)

Parsley – good handful

1 Lrg Onion ( diced  and softened in butter and stone cold if you plan to freeze stuffing raw)

330g Sausage Meat (I just use a pack of sausages as I like organic)

100g streaky bacon

Good grating of nutmeg

Use a processor to pulse the breadcrumbs, parsley, chestnuts and seasoning together (not too small) remove and place in a large bowl.

Now use the processor to dice the onion, cook this on a low heat until soft (about 8-10 mins).  Add to the bowl (allow to go completely cold first, if you plan to freeze the stuffing raw) along with the diced bacon (I cut with scissors directly into the bowl) and sausage meat.  Squelch together with your hands and use to stuff the neck of the bird, or cook in a separate dish.  I freeze it raw, ready to de-frost and cook when needed.

Deer Apron Cut Out Shadow

All the above was done with me flouncing about in my new deer apron (made for The Shop).

On a linked note, you would not believe the debate in our house over goose verses turkey for the ‘big day’…..we are all for goose (including my youngest, who is a vegetarian but likes to have a say) except my oldest, who keeps shouting for turkey.  I keep changing my mind, but have to finalise it as the Ocado delivery is booked and I could do without forgetting to remove one from my basket and then find myself paying for both!

I’ve just noticed that it’s snowing on the blog – hurrah! I always get excited when that happens 🙂