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Christmas cooking guide: festive feasts with a twist

You don't have to stick with tradition when it comes to Christmas dinner.

Adding different and unusual ingredients to your side dishes can help spice up your Christmas feast
Adding different and unusual ingredients to your side dishes can help spice up your Christmas feast

Adding unusual ingredients or different herbs and spices to your dishes can help create the perfect alternative Christmas feast that will wow your dinner guests.

Your turkey is always going to be the main attraction, but it’s easy to jazz up your main by giving the classic Christmas trimmings a tasty twist.

Try these sumptuous seasonal side dish recipes, from the ultimate mashed potatoes, to a new take on Brussels sprouts and a Spanish style cranberry sauce, all of which make for an exciting menu of accompaniments that will create a modern Merry Christmas meal.

Saffron Mash

With its subtle flavour and golden colour this saffron mash makes a simple but unusual side-dish.

Ingredients

900g of floury potatoes, such as King Edwards or Maris Piper peeled and evenly diced

150ml of double cream

A pinch of saffron strands

5g of butter

Black pepper

Fresh chives

Method

1 Boil or steam the diced potatoes until tender and drain if boiling.

2 Heat the cream and the saffron in a small saucepan to just below boiling point

3 Remove the saffron and cream from the heat and set aside to infuse

4 Place the cooked potato in a saucepan and cook gently over a very low heat to dry out

5 Mash the potatoes and add the saffron cream and the butter 6 Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and add some snipped chives to add a touch of colour and flavour

6 Serve

 

Brussel Sprout Gratin

You won't hear any protests at this sprout dish - almonds, double cream, bacon and parmesan make for a luscious accompaniment for traditional turkey.

Ingredients

675g of Brussels sprouts, trimmed

100g of lardons, or back bacon, cut into strips

15g of blanched flaked almonds

15g of butter

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

300ml of double cream

A dash of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan

Salt and black pepper

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6

2 Simmer the sprouts in salted water until almost but not quite cooked (around 4 minutes)

3 Drain thoroughly and cut in half

4 Sauté the bacon and almonds in the butter and oil in a wide frying pan until lightly browned

5 Add the sprouts and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring almost constantly

6 Add the double cream, bring up to the boil, and let it bubble away for 2-4 minutes until reduced to a rich sauce

7 Season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper

8 Draw off the heat, stir in a dash of lemon juice, then spoon into a dish

9 Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan, and scatter evenly over the sprouts

10 Bake for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown, with the cream bubbling through the surface ever so slightly

11 Serve

 

Sangria Cranberry Sauce

This citrus-scented red wine cranberry sauce will be a welcome new addition to the Christmas dinner table.

Ingredients

1 lemon

1 lime

1 orange

4oz bag of fresh cranberries,

5oz of frozen strawberries in sugar

1 cup of red wine

1 cup of sugar

Method

1 Grate 1teaspoon of lemon zest and squeeze 3 tablespoons of juice

2 Grate 1 teaspoon of lime zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice

3 Grate 1/2 a teaspoon of orange zest and squeeze ¼ of a cup of juice

4 Combine all the zests, juices, cranberries, strawberries, sugar and wine together on high heat until bubbling gently

5 Reduce heat to medium/low and cook for 15 min uncovered

6 Put into serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours

7 Serve

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