There is just something about Christmas that I love. Be it the certain foods and drinks that you can consume, the music that should only be listened to at the beginning of December, the decorations and lights, and spending time with friends and family. But when everything is put together, I get into the spirit and I just want to soak up all the festive atmosphere.
Moving to Madrid meant having a work Christmas function abroad for the first time. Working abroad - especially as a teacher - has enabled me to meet so many people from around the world where we all work in a community. We all got asked to bring or cook a dish where it would be shared amongst everyone. I decided to make something quintessentially British as in some Asian countries Christmas is celebrated in a more or less European fashion.
I absolutely love cooking, especially around Christmas when the whole day is based around food. Below are two of my Christmas favourites and how I make them.
I decided to cook trimmings (side dishes) because I wanted to contribute something traditional as the the well-coveted preferred meat is rather universal. A personal favourite of mine is roasted brussel sprouts, chestnuts, carrots, and onions glazed in honey. Not many people knew of this dish at the function and it surely went down a treat, of which I was pleasantly surprised. You can find many recipes online but this is how I cooked the dish and you will need the following:
500kg brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
250kg of carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
180kg pack of chestnuts, cooked, peeled, and cut in half
2 whole white onions, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely diced
a few sage or rosemary sprigs
honey or agave syrup
1. Preheat oven to 200C fan.
2. Wash, peel, and cut all the ingredients
3. Parboil the brussel sprouts, carrots, and chestnuts in boiling water for 5 minutes
4. In a baking tray, spread out the brussel sprouts, carrots, chestnuts, onions, and garlic
5. Evenly place the sprigs of sage or rosemary on top
6. Season with a pinch of cracked sea salt, ground black pepper, and a drizzle of the honey or agave syrup
7. Put in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through until everything is golden and tender
There is nothing better than a glass of spiced warm mulled wine
Most supermarkets will sell ready made bottles of mulled wine during the lead up to the Christmas period. However, if you are feeling festive and want to make it yourself, here is the recipe for another favourite of mine:
750ml bottle of red wine
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
4 cloves (optional)
4 tbsp of sugar (optional)
1. Cut one whole lemon and lime into thin slices
2. Put the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, lemon and lime slices, and sugar in a large pan
3. Pour in just enough wine to cover the ingredients and dissolve the sugar
4. Simmer for a few minutes until a syrup-like texture and an aroma is created
5. Pour in the rest of the wine and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes
6. Remove from heat and cool, leaving to infuse for 10 minutes or so