Dinner 15

Dinner No 15 hosted by Tanyah: November 2013

Well this was an amazing experience for me. As I said on the night I didn’t eat a single roast dinner growing up so I have grown up to be a non-traditional type of cook.

I almost resented doing this Christmas dinner for my turn as there are so many dishes I want to try out for the 8ateclub but ultimately I *needed* to do this, to feel happy and relaxed for my first ever Christmas dinner. I must say having done it I am absolutely thrilled. I feel totally ready for Christmas and am so grateful to have the 8ate guinea pigs to try it all out on!

It needed to be workable for the real Christmas dinner when I will already have produced a Christmas Eve meal for the family who are staying so I was looking for things that could be prepared in advance. In particular things that were done in the oven rather than the hob as I have a tendency to forget to stir things on the hob and they burn!

Having watched the women in my husband’s family cook Christmas dinner many times I have come to see that the main stress seems to come from the turkey itself. I am not a turkey lover (if it was that great people would eat it all year round) but my husband was quite adamant that tradition comes first. So, turkey it was.

So I thought about how I could make it a bit more ‘me’ and a bit less daunting!

In the end I decided to try doing something I had done with chicken before which was to make a roll of stuffed turkey breast and then serve it in slices.

I also decided to do a starter because in my experience the Christmas meal is often rather frenetic, with everyone herded to the table to gobble down dinner and then disappear. I thought a starter may make the approach to dinner a bit more relaxed, so chose a cold smoked salmon starter that was more of an assembly job than cooking…. I also wanted an alternative to Christmas pudding and in the event one of my gorgeous guests brought me a home-made Christmas pudding which I will be pulling out on the day as well – brilliant!

So my menu (with my own comment underneath) was as follows:

Smoked salmon served with a horseradish and vodka creme fraiche sauce and caviar

feedback was not to bother with a starter and serve it as a canape

Stuffed paella turkey wrapped in serrano ham with manchego cheese

I loved this, thought it carved beautifully and had loads of flavour.

Roasted brussell sprout cheese and bacon gratin

horrid, nothing is going to improve a sprout!

Roasted butternut squash with maple syrup and pecans

I felt this got lost on the plate and I will exchange for steamed carrots.

Mini sausages basted in pappadew mustard

couldn’t taste the mustard but maybe it added to the overall flavour?

Roast potatoes

I was chuffed with these, I used a mixture of polenta and flour to coat but will just use flour next time. The goose fat was definitely yummy.

Home made cranberry sauce

What a breeze! Why does anyone buy it? Made enough to freeze for Christmas so that is one thing done already!

Bread sauce

I infused the milk for TWO DAYS! next time I won’t whizz it up as the texture was *too* smooth.

Onion gravy

Personally I don’t think this was needed but I am assured you can’t have a Christmas dinner without gravy, I thought it was pleasant enough, not knock out, will do again but add a bit more punchy flavourings.

Chocolate and clemintine roulade

This was delicious although very rich. Bit of a faff to make and everything collapsed when I rolled it up, but patched it all back up with the icing and nobody knew.

  1. As the serious Christmas planing gets underway, my mind keeps turning to Tanyah's wonderful "first ever" Christmas dinner. Despite being a full month ago, Tanyah's evening was really the start of my Christmas festivities.

    Put plainly, it was the best Christmas dinner I've ever had. All the traditional elements were there but with a Tanyah twist that really worked for me with the flavours and textures but also struck me as very clever and practical for Tanyah to host a large family gathering for the "real thing".

    I actually liked the lightness and freshness of butternut squash amongst the other stronger flavours but think steamed carrots would do the same job.

    I think Tanyah can be feel very proud, confident and prepared for Christmas day. Have a lovely one.

  2. Harriet

    In recent years I've rarely eaten Christmas lunch other than cooked by myself so it was a real treat to sit down to Tanyah's test run.

    Tanyah's meal captured the spirit of the traditional elements with her own spin making it feel exciting and new. What a fabulous idea to do a turkey roll. This livened up the turkey with bold flavours and has the added bonus of saving space in the oven and being able to prepare in advance.

    Top tips from the conversation flowing round the table included freezing parboiled potatoes to roast large quantities on the day and tried and tested sprout recipes.

    By the end of a delightful evening I left feeling inspired to put renewed effort into my Christmas cooking and reminded that there are parts of my own repertoire that are special. So this Christmas I took Tanyah's cue with sprouts and did some jazzed up with bacon and some just steamed. I also loved her homemade stuffing which gave such great texture to the plate and tasted delicious and so made several stuffings myself.

    So thank you for a wonderful evening and for inspiring me to elaborate on my own Christmas dinner. I hope that we were as useful a testing ground for you!

  3. Lucinda

    Tanyah this was a fabulous Christmas meal, not least because it was your first and excellently cooked but also because it had the lovely 'Tanyah' stamp on it, I.e it was all a little different!
    The smoked salmon and horseradish creme fraiche was lovely, a perfect introduction to Christmas lunch whether it's a starter or canapés with champagne,

    The paella stuffed turkey was beautifully presentated, carved brilliantly and tasted gorgeous. The chorizo in the paella gave it another dimension in flavour and I thought the gravy was a good addition for moisture and it is Christmas after all!
    The sausages we lovely and the mustard enhanced them without being too much of a feature which was great given that you already had Turkey, Serrano ham and chorizo in the main dish. I enjoyed the sprout gratin as an alternative to the steamed/sautéed with lardons but I did find it a little rich; I think it would be a great way to serve them after Christmas if you are a lover of sprouts – sadly I only really tolerate them on Christmas Day. The roast potatoes were fabulously crunchy and fluffy in the middle, well done. I am afraid the cranberry sauce escaped me but I am sure it too was delicious and arguably better on Xmas day?! I agree that the bread sauce was a little too smooth, a problem easlily rectified, but the flavour was great. I always make my bread sauce on the morning itself and would say that it doesn't need 2 days of infusing to get a great taste, just add a few more cloves, onions and peppercorns.

    The chocolate and clementine roulade was divine, the clementine really cut through the richness of the choc and cream and was such a fabulous balance of flavours, gorgeous!

    You created a wonderful Christmas meal which I thoroughly enjoyed and I loved how you tweaked it to make it your own!!
    My question to you now is, Will you cook the same Xmas lunch next year to build a tradition or will you keep changing it to keep it different??
    Well done Tanyah and thank you for another great evening!!

    Lou xx

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