Making Christmas dinner is a high pressure job - but it can and will be wonderful if you follow these easy and simple rules, says Hollie Rosenberg
In was winter 2006 and all was well. Except for the fact I had a massive hangover after a night in a dingy south London club and my flat mates were in the very same world of pain.
But it was the last day before returning home for Christmas festivities and I wasn't prepared to let a fuzzy head bring me down.
So instead of ordering a pizza, I prepared and served up a little Christmas feast. It was magnificent - something of a masterpiece. Christmas dinner, I realised, is my big talent.
So, for anyone else taking on the most important meal of the year, here are my tips to making a bloody good feast...
1. Ultra crispy roast potatoes are essential and people will remember them most. To me, they are the best part of a Christmas dinner and any roast. Boil them on a high heat for up to 20 minutes before draining the water out of the pan. Bash the potatoes around a little bit in the pan, the slightly crush edge of the potatoes will allow them to crisp up more when drizzled in oil and put in the oven. Mix some garlic in for a little extra taste sensation.
2. For the BEST roast parsnips. Boil them first for around 10 minutes before putting them in the oven covered in a drizzle of oil. Five to 10 minutes before taking them out pour honey over them to glaze. Be careful though, they will burn quickly so a watchful eye is essential to achieving a sweet caramelised result.
3. Serve a dessert you can make the day before and will still taste amazing. Something like a chocolate roulade which can be frozen and then taken out just as you start cooking the main course. It will take heaps of pressure off and give you a chance to drink more wine.
4. For the best Yorkshire Puddings ensure your baking tray is a third filled with oil and that the tray is placed in the oven until it is boiling hot. The shallower the tray the more the puddings will raise. Quickly pour the batter mix into the tray holes and pop back into the oven as soon as possible. Any delay will cool the oil down and your puddings won't rise to their full potential. An easy Yorkshire mix can be thrown together quickly – all you need is a cup full of plain flour, a cup full of milk (the same cup to get the measurements right), a pinch of salt and an egg. Voila.
5. Buying shop bought Pigs in Blankets is ridiculous. After all, they are insanely easy to make. But take it one step further, why have a chipolata when you can have a ruddy big Cumberland wrapped in streaky bacon?
6. Don't be afraid to branch out from turkey. Personally, I'm not a fan. And each year I like to push the boundaries. After all, has anyone in the world who loves meat ever turned down a piece of roast beef? I think not.
7. Don't stress about it. It's Christmas and no one will care if the Yorkshire puddings don't rise. But if they do moan, threaten to take their presents back.
8. If all goes wrong just serve wine. Everybody loves wine.
MORE! See all our latest Christmas features, gift guides and videos here.