Christmas lunch can be the most stressful meal of the year for many of us landed with the task of cooking it. Will you get the timings right? Will the turkey be undercooked or as dry as sandpaper? Will the sprouts be like bullets? Indeed, will anyone eat them in the first place? Will the family complain about being dished up the same old festive fare as last year? And then what on earth do you do with all those leftovers?
Well, fret ye not. It doesn't have to be like this. With a soupcon of strategic planning and a spoonful of creativity, you can have you most inspired Christmas ever.
We've rounded up 12 of the best foodie bloggers from far and wide to share their festive tips, ideas and advice. Ho-ho-yum!
• Let your kids take some of the strain when preparing your Christmas lunch! A big favourite in our house is making stuffing togther, using good quality sausage meat. For added fun, we divide the stuffing into small quantities, roll it into little sausages and wrap rashers of bacon around them. All very kid friendly. Equally fun to make together are sausage rolls for starters, using store bought puff pastry and sausage meat for ease of use. In our house, anything which involves squishing, rolling and cutting goes down well in the kitchen.
• You'll be looking for something to do with the turkey leftovers. How about frying up some onions and garlic, chucking in a little sherry, stirring in the turkey and then adding double cream for a delicious and flavoursome Boxing Day treat which can be served with pasta.
• Take your leftover meat and any leftover roasted vegetables, stirring a little white sauce into them and filling some savoury pancakes with the mix, before baking in the oven.
• Make your Christmas cookies in advance and freeze them in ice cream tubs. My mother-in-law always labelled these containers 'smoked fish' which meant no one touched them until Christmas time. These delicious and easy Canadian cornflour shortbread biscuits freeze well, and are easy to decorate with pretty Christmassy fruit and nuts.
• Want to shake things up a little at Christmas dinner? Why not make your roasties Indian style with the addition of a few spices and a sprinkling of fresh coriander? The roast potatoes go really well with turkey or chicken, and add a touch of the exotic to your Christmas table.
• Be organised and make a plan in advance. There are plenty of jobs that can be carried out prior to the big day to take the heat off. I have a check list on my blog that people can download if they wish.
• Placing the turkey in brine the night before cooking will ensure delicious moist meat, even if you happen to overcook the turkey. It also adds a beautiful subtle flavour to the meat.
• Lots of recipes tell you to wash and dry the turkey. Don't. You'll just splatter germs all round your sink and the oven temperature will kill them anyway.
• Don't bother steaming your Christmas pudding on the day. Do it the day before when you have more time. On Christmas day, just microwave it. Nobody will ever know.
• Have some home made short crust pastry ready waiting in the fridge so that you can make turkey pies with left over meat on Boxing Day. If you make enough pastry you can freeze some pies too.
• Use leftover roast vegetables and meat (not turkey) in a frittata for Boxing Day Brunch. You can use leftover meat for wraps, panini sandwiches, quesadillas risottos or pasta bakes.
• Leftover Christmas pudding can be made into cake pops, mixed with ice cream or put into a trifle. Leftover pavlova makes a fab Eton Mess or crumble it into homemade ice cream.
• For the perfect crispy roast potatoes make sure you parboil the potatoes for around 10 minutes after boiling point to ensure a nice soft fluffy outside that will roughen up a bit when shaken around, use goose fat and make sure it is very hot before adding the potatoes, toss well to coat in the fat and don't overload the tray or they will just steam - if cooking for a large number use two trays.
• An excellent way to give leftover - or undercooked - turkey new life is to make a jalfrezi curry. Jalfrezi is one of the most popular curries at Indian restaurants. Traditionally it has always been a dish of leftovers.
• Make your own cranberry sauce. This may not sound like it will make your life easier, but if you make your own cranberry sauce (embarrassingly easy) no-one will realise that you've bought ready peeled potatoes and your onions are out of a tin.
• Make gravy from scratch using cornflour, water and gravy browning as a paste then top up with water you've cooked the veg in. Pour into the roasting dish that the bird's cooked in to scrape up all the goodies from the bottom of the tin. Sweeten with a dollop of redcurrant jelly and enrich with a glug of wine and plenty of black pepper.
• Make pasties using leftovers. Chop up the leftover meat, potatoes, veg and stuffing, add a pinch of your fave spice and then dollop into the middle of squares of puff pastry. Fold over, seal and brush with beaten egg and bake to make delicious pasties.
• Use up Christmas cake by making Christmas cake ice cream.
Crumble the fruit cake, pour over your favourite brandy, liqueur, orange juice (if wanting to make non alchoholic). Allow to steep for as long as you can. Soften a tube of vanilla (or any flavour really) ice cream, mix through 2 cups of fruit cake mixture and put back into ice cream tub or a mould. Serve with a sauce or custard.
• Try these delicious leftover Christmas pudding truffles. I use:
300g Dark Chocolate cocoa
300ml Double Cream and leftover Christmas pudding, soaked overnight in brandy
Put the cream in a small pan and heat on the hob. When the cream has just boiled take off heat and stir in the chocolate until it melts. Add the pudding.
Do you have any canny Christmas tips to share with our readers?