Roast topside of beef
1.85kg – oven roast at 200ºc for roughly an hour for a medium-rare joint of beef. I was really pleased with how this ended up, it was perfect.
Chestnut Bourguignon pie
I simply followed this BBC Food recipe by The Vegetarian Society for a fun and interesting vegetarian alternative to the beef joint which still works with the same vegetable dishes and trimmings.
My pastry wasn't the best. That is to say, the pastry itself was fine, but it wasn't quite the right shape for my pie dish (you can see a few gaps around the edges in the photograph) and I didn't have the confidence (not being hugely experienced with pastry) to adjust the shape properly.
Roasted chips in goose fat
This roast potatoes/chips hybrid potato dish of my own invention was really the only part of the meal with which I was disappointed. Something went wrong during the cooking, and they didn't really crisp up fully all the way through. They were quite enjoyable nonetheless, but didn't turn out as I had hoped. The idea was to roast the chunky potato chips in goose fat at 200ºc for around an hour – I think, another time, I will use slightly less goose fat, and try par-boiling the chips for about five minutes first.
Creamy parsnip & horseradish gratin with Red Storm Lancashire cheese
This is a recipe I adapted from the 'Potato Bake' recipe in Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian Cookbook – I used parsnips instead of potatoes, and layered horseradish sauce between the layers of parsnips in the gratin instead of using milk, so as to tie the dish in with the beef joint I was doing. The Red Storm Lancashire cheese is a strong, creamy cheese which I bought in a local delicatessen. I was really pleased with the way this dish turned out; it was cooked just right, and the balance of flavours between the parsnips and the horseradish was perfect (I had been a little worried that the horseradish would be too strong and overpowering) – but if I were to do this again, I'd use slightly more cheese, as there wasn't quite enough to cover the top of the dish fully, in the end.
Sautéed Brussels sprouts with black peppercorns
Fairly self-explanatory – sprouts peeled and cut in half, sautéed in olive oil in a frying pan with a handful of peppercorns for about twenty minutes.
Sweet & smokey 'pigs in blankets' (pork sausages with Bramley apple wrapped in streaky bacon) in Jack Daniels BBQ glaze with thyme
Pork sausages with Bramley apple chunks tightly wrapped in streaky bacon rashers and drizzled with Jack Daniels 'Sweet & Smokey' BBQ glaze and sprinkled with thyme, then baked in the oven at 200ºc for half-an-hour.
Roasted in goose fat at 200ºc for forty minutes.
Red wine gravy
After taking the beef joint out of the oven half-an-hour before serving, so it can 'rest' a bit (being roasted is exhausting work, after all!), I removed it to a separate dish and used the same roasting tin to make the gravy in order to catch and use all the meat juices and flavour. I put the roasting tin over a gas hob and added half a bottle of red wine, some hot water and some (whisper it) Bisto gravy granules. Easy!
Spiced ginger, Speculoos and dark chocolate cake
This recipe by Joy The Baker came to me via Twitter, and was recommended by a friend. It sounded so delicious, and so festive, I thought I had to give it a go! I always prefer cooking savoury food – baking cakes and other desserts always strikes me as something of a 'dark art' by comparison – but this recipe was actually pretty easy to follow (once you got over the American measurement sozes all being in 'cups', as if you're shopping for a bra instead of making a cake). The 'Speculoos' topping is a wonderful caramelised biscuit spread from Belgium – I had to order this from Amazon in order to get hold of it, as I couldn't find any regular shops in the UK which stocked it!
Rory's famous Christmas Pudding
This is the only part of the meal which I didn't do, so I have no idea how to make this! The picture came out well, though – and it was dark, fruity, boozy, and very tasty (all the things one looks for in a traditional Christmas pudding).
Everyone enjoyed the meal very much, and I had a great time cooking for everybody. There are things I would change if I were to do it again, but overall I was pretty pleased with how it all turned out. Happy Christmas!