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Christmas cooking guide: stuff the turkey!

Turned off by turkey? This Christmas, why not give the bird a miss.

Seabass is a great alternative to turkey on Christmas day
Seabass is a great alternative to turkey on Christmas day

I know it may pain all of you traditionalists out there, but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up and serve alternative dishes, like steak, fish or a meat-free feast that’s a break from the norm.

Smaller families, people who have to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas day (like me!) and those who just don't want the challenge of cooking enough turkey to feed the five thousand can all serve these alternative dishes with pride.

They are a bit special, yet easy enough to make in much less time so you can cherish Christmas with family and not food!

Fillet of Beef Wellington

Serve steak for Christmas dinner and you'll be a hero! Almost everyone loves a juicy, well-cooked steak, so why not add it to your Christmas day celebrations?

Being the Executive Head Chef of an award-winning steak house, it won’t surprise you to find that I love this recipe.

Ingredients

700g of beef fillet, fully trimmed (no silver skin)

4 slices of haggis

4 large flat homemade pancakes (3 eggs, 6 tablespoons of plain flour, 150ml of milk and 2oz of butter)

Ready rolled puff pastry

Egg wash (1 egg and 1 yolk)

Salt and pepper

Method

For the pancakes

1 Mix 3 eggs, 6 tablespoons of plain flour and 150ml of milk together in a bowl

2 Heat up a pan and add melted butter

3 Add the mix and make the pancakes as thin as you can

4 Flip the pancakes to cook the other side and then set them aside on a cooling rack for later

For the Wellington

1 Season the beef fillet and seal it off in a hot pan with a little butter

2 Set aside to cool

3 Take the puff pastry and cut it big enough to cover the meat and haggis

4 Line the puff pastry with the pancakes followed by the haggis and then place the beef in the middle

5 Egg wash the edges of the pastry, wrap it around all of the beef and seal

6 Place on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash

7 Bake in a hot oven at 200oc gas mark 6 for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how you like your beef cooked

8 Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving

 

Butternut squash and mushroom pot pies (vegetarian)

Christmas day should be full of comfort and joy and this comforting veggie pie will make a welcome change from the traditional nut roast.

Ingredients

1 large leek, split lengthways, washed and sliced

A knob of butter

250g of chestnut mushrooms, quartered

500g of butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks

200ml of vegetable stock

3-4 tablespoons of crème fraîche

A 375g sheet of puff pastry

Method

1 Cook the leek in a little butter for about 7 minutes until softened

2 Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes

3 Add the squash and cook for a minute then pour in the stock

4 Cover and simmer for 5 minutes

5 Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6

6 Stir the crème fraîche into the vegetables, check the seasoning and divide between 4 pie dishes

7 Top with pastry, trim and crimp

8 Cook for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden and crisp

 

Grilled seabass with a sunblushed tomato and black olive dressing

For anyone who is tight on time, this gorgeous fish-dish could not be easier to make - really!

Ingredients

2 fillets of seabass (ask your fish monger kindly to scale them)

Dressing

10ml of olive oil

5ml of white wine vinegar

1 shallot, sliced

50g of sundried tomatoes

30g of black olives, chopped

A squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Method

For the dressing

1 Whisk together the oil and white wine vinegar and add lemon juice, seasoning to taste

2 Combine with shallots, tomatoes and olives

For the seabass

1 Brush a tray with melted butter or oil and grill fillets skin side up for around 4 minutes until skin is crisp

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