I began writing this post as an ode to childhood. The joy in family cookbooks – dimpled, slightly messy and full of annotations, collections of delicious recipes ripped lovingly out of glossy magazines and family recipes passed down by taste and then word of mouth. I still have mine – a rulered school book crowded with delicious images, the offline Pinterest board of a schoolgirl 15 years ago.
Along with my Mum’s favourite dishes, this little book was a playground of inspiration that was pulled out on rainy days and holidays, especially during the festive season where rich, naughty dishes were especially welcomed. Then, as I was drafting my story this weekend happened. The world has been reminded that we live in an often scary place and we should treasure laughing over old anecdotes with our loved ones, make more memories and let go of the inconsequential times. Squabbling over cracker winners, debating dishwashing duties and cleaning our pans crusted with flavour – those inconsequential dramas that can loom large during the holidays.
Disclaimer: We were invited for a night of festivities, Michelin starred canapes, wine stories from our host Philip Schofield(!), beautifully carved Turkey and a touch of dessert creation but all opinions are my own as ever.
Instead, string up those fairy lights, relish favourite flavour combinations, mull all the things and nibble another naughty taste of orange chocolate. They are my favourite tastes of Christmas and I plan to share a new one this year with my family, a glass or two of Cranberry and Clementine Margaritas, kindly taught to us by the Waitrose cookery school.
Hello there #FoodBloggerNirvana
Treated to a starter of Gravlax, beetroot and horseradish which disappeared in the blink of an elf, our eyes become round at the smell of a full Turkey dinner with all of the trimmings – yorkshire puddings, golden roasties and parsnips (my favourite), pigs in blankets, bread sauce and even some rather tasty sprouts. Yes, they are a real thing.
Sadly, I’ve realised that most of the photos I took at the table (it’s not rude in a table full of bloggers, in fact it’s almost expected) were deleted in a formatting-my-camera-incident so I’ll have to hand you over to my table mate – the luscious Miss Lux – she wrote a full, mouthwatering discourse on our #MakesChristmas menu. After our mains, with an early start the next day I sadly had to dash, missing out on a delicious sweet course and getting a whole lotta instagram envy.
Luckily, beforehand we had tried our hand at a a couple of recipes – a tasty but simple cocktail concoction and a rather delicious canape featuring feta cheese, hazelnuts, concentrated melon syrup, champagne jelly and a mango/champagne flavoured foam that wowed the Michelin dining team.
So, may I present to you a festive combo that will get your tastebuds jumping.
- 25ml Cranberry Syrup*
- 50ml Tequila
- 25ml Contreau or Triple Sec
- 1/2 Lime cut into quarters
- Handful Fresh Cranberries
- 1 Clementine
- Run a wedge of line around the rim of a glass upside down, pour salt around the rim until you have a thin, even layer. Half fill your glass with ice.
- Three quarter fill your cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add the cranberry syrup, contreau, juice of the lime quarters, pop a few cranberries in and a small amount of clementine zest.
- Put together the cocktail shaker securely banging the halves together and shake hard for around 15 seconds. To open the shaker, tap the seam of the shaker halves to loosen the pressure.
- Strain the cocktail into your prepared glass, and serve with fresh lime and cranberries.
- *Created by bringing 200ml Cranberry Juice and 2 TBSP caster sugar to a boil in a small pan, before turning to a simmer for 20-30 minutes, until reduced by half.
Just don’t tell Santa I’ve already opened a present or two already, ok? Those Waitrose elves knew exactly the way to my heart – another string of fairy lights, mulled wine spicings and a chocolate orange. Heaven.
What #MakesChristmas for you?