I’m dreaming of a classic Christmas meal

Durham students present a ‘modern take’ on the classic Christmas meal

Brussels sprouts & roast chestnuts
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Having had a strong aversion to brussels sprouts as a child, one year my mum appeared to crack the code using one simple trick: adding chestnuts. So maybe this Christmas, the following recipe could help those afraid of the small green vegetable.

– Pierce the chestnut shells before putting them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for around 10-15 minutes.

– Remove them from the oven and let them cool, then remove the shells.

– For the brussels sprouts, boil them until soft and in a separate pan, sweat some shallots with

butter.

– Once the shallots look soft, add the chestnuts in with some masala wine, salt, and pepper –

season to taste.

– Finally, let it reduce to a stock, then add the sprouts and mix.

Sage & onion stuffing
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My mum’s sage and onion stuffing is my ultimate Christmas comfort food. One of my most poignant childhood memories is watching her cook, the kitchen filled with the aroma of sweet, cooked onions and fresh sage straight from the flowerbed. The ingredients simmer on low heat for as long as you can tolerate, lavished with melted butter. The glossy, golden mixture gets melded together with the crumbs from day-old bread and popped into the oven once indulged with a few extra slabs of butter and a sprinkling of sea salt. This sumptuous dish has everyone coming back for seconds each time.

Mushroom wellington
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While many great nut roasts and veggie/vegan alternatives for Christmas dinner can be found in mainstream supermarkets, there is something to be said for making your own showstopper. After all, it is likely you will be needing to amaze your non-veggie guests. For me, nothing beats a homemade wellington and Bosh! (@bosh.tv on Instagram) have two of the best recipes I have tried: a ‘beef’ wellington made using vegan burgers and a layer of mushrooms, or a portobello mushroom wellington with a nut roast layer. Both of these options will have the rest of the guests wanting to try a bit of your creation. Oh, and don’t forget a glorious (vegan!) gravy (shop-bought or homemade) to drizzle over the pastry!

Mulled wine
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Mulled wine is, in my opinion, a staple of the festive period. Ideal for any outdoor winter market or cosy gatherings with friends and family, this warming drink captures the season. Creating the perfect batch of mulled wine requires time and patience – how else are you meant to let the warming flavours of cinnamon, star anise, cloves and orange zestfully infuse? Heat red wine, caster sugar, your spices and plenty of fresh citrus zest on low heat for ten minutes before leaving this wonderful concoction to cool and infuse for half an hour. Then simply reheat (without boiling) before serving. Adding a dash of sloe gin is another option if you want to treat yourself this Christmas! 

Traditional Yule log
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The famous Christmas Yule log – one of my father’s many specialities. Resembling the traditional Yule log burnt on Christmas Eve, this delectable dessert is one that satisfies the taste buds like no other. After one-too-many roast potatoes and pigs in blankets, the bitterness of the dark chocolate with the sweetness of the fresh cream is the perfect finale to Christmas dinner. Sprinkled with your topping of choice (I encourage crushed pistachios and icing sugar), with the final placement of a holly leaf, this dessert is the epitome of festivity – one I cannot wait to indulge in when the festive season begins. 

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