Top tips for festive chefs

Chestnut, cranberry and mushroom roulade.
Chestnut, cranberry and mushroom roulade.
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You’ve ordered the turkey, have stocked up on cranberry sauce, but what about when guests turn up unexpectedly or you need to sit quietly in a dark room with a large helping of comfort food? Don’t panic, we have the answers...

James Mackenzie: Best Christmas Eve supper

Cranberry, orange and juniper sausage rolls

Makes two long rolls


400g quality sausage meat

500g all-butter puff pastry

1 large orange

75g semi-dried cranberries

3 juniper berries crushed

Dash of orange liqueur

1 tsp chopped sage

1 egg

25g sesame seeds


Put the semi-dried cranberries into a small saucepan with the juniper berries. Juice the orange and pour over the cranberries with the dash of orange liqueur. Gently bring to the boil and then remove. Allow to cool so the dried cranberries plump up.

Put the sausage meat into a mixing bowl, zest half the orange and add to the sausage meat along with the sage. Drain the soaked cranberries and juniper and add to the sausage mixture, add a couple of twists of black pepper and a pinch of salt, mix thoroughly.

Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle about ½ cm thick. Cut down the middle and place your sausage mixture evenly down the middle of the piece of pastry.

Brush the pastry with some beaten 
egg and fold over to make your sausage roll. Brush all over with egg wash and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Place on a non-stick baking sheet and bake as whole long rolls for 20-30 minutes at 180C until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and place to cool slightly on a cooling rack. Slice up into preferred portions with a serrated knife and serve while still warm.

This goes really well with some Christmas chutney and far better than any frozen sausage rolls!

James Mackenzie is chef proprietor of the Pipe and Glass in South Dalton.

Joan Ransley: Best dishes to rustle up for unexpected guests

Chestnut, cranberry and mushroom roulade

Serves 6–8


1tbsp olive oil

20g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

300g mushrooms, roughly chopped

1tsp of thyme leaves

100g brazil nuts, roughly chopped

200g cooked, peeled and ready to use chestnuts, roughly chopped

25g poppy seeds

25g dried cranberries

Zest from half a lemon

1 egg, beaten

30g fresh brown breadcrumbs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

375g ready rolled puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

Extra poppy seeds for decoration


Preheat oven to 200C. Place the olive oil and butter in a pan, add the chopped onions and garlic and sweat over a moderate heat for 10 minutes until 
soft. Add the mushrooms and thyme 
and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and their juice has evaporated. Allow to cool a little. Place the mushroom mixture in a food processor and 
give it a very brief blitz, keeping it 
quite coarsely chopped. Place the mushroom in a mixing bowl and add chopped brazil nuts and chestnuts; poppy seeds, cranberries, lemon zest and beaten egg. Mix well and add enough breadcrumbs to bring the mixture together. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Unfurl the puff pastry – it should measure approximately 40cm by 25cm. Lay the pastry on a baking tray covered with a piece of parchment paper measuring approximately 45cm by 30 cm.

Place the filling along the length of the pastry leaving a wide margin either side of the filling.

With a sharp knife make about 12 diagonal cuts along the pastry down either side of the filling.

Fold the top and bottom ends of the pastry over the filling and then plait the strands of pastry along the length of the roulade.

Brush the plaited pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with extra poppy seeds.

Place the roulade in the preheated oven and cook for 30mins or until golden brown and crisp.

Allow to cool and double wrap in foil before putting it in the freezer.

To cook from frozen: Defrost the roulade thoroughly and reheat in an oven preheated to 200C (gas mark 6) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Beetroot and carrot salad with goat’s cheese

Serves 6-8


4 lettuce leaves, rinsed

2 raw medium beetroots, scrubbed and peeled

1 raw carrot, scrubbed and peeled

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 cucumber

1 ripe avocado,

4 cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

juice from 1 lime

sea salt & black pepper

100g soft goat’s cheese

2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

edible flowers such as pea, marigold or viola (optional)


Rip the lettuce leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Grate the beetroot and carrot by hand or by using the grating attachment on a food processor and add to the lettuce together with the sliced red onion. Slice the tomatoes and chop the avocado and add to the remaining ingredients. Throw the coriander into the bowl and add the olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper. Gently combine all the ingredients. Place the salad in a fresh bowl and top with goat’s cheese pine nuts edible flowers if you have them.

Joan Ransley is an Ilkley-based food writer.

Elaine Lemm: 
Best sweet treat

These delightful little cakes are so 
quick and easy to make. They are very versatile being just as good with a cup 
of tea, as a glass of wine and will keep 
for several days in an airtight tin. Just before serving, to revive less-than-fresh cakes, pop them in a warm oven for a 
few minutes and sprinkle with icing 


Makes 6

The basic mixture.

75g plain flour

75g caster sugar

75g ground almonds

Whites of 4 large, fresh eggs

125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled plus a little extra for greasing

Icing sugar for dusting


Heat the oven to 180C. Sieve the flour into a large, roomy baking bowl. Add the caster sugar and the ground almonds and stir well. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy and light but not firm peaks (you are not making meringues).

Add the egg whites to the dry ingredients, then add the cooled butter and gently stir everything together until you have created a thickish cake batter.

Place six small, lightly greased loaf tins or similar (silicone moulds or mini muffin tins work very well, they should hold about 120 ml) onto a baking sheet.

Using a dessertspoon, three quarters fill with the cake batter. Clean up any spillages or cake batter on the cake tin rim or sides (if not the batter will burn before the cake is cooked and spoil the flavour of the cakes). Cook in the centre of the oven for 15–20 minutes or until risen and golden brown - when the centre is pierced with a toothpick it should come out clean.

Leave the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove and leave to cook on a wire cooling rack.

Variations on Basic Friand Recipe

Coconut and Mango: Replace half the ground almonds with desiccated coconut and proceed with the recipe until filling the cake tins. Once the batter is in the tins, push small cubes of fresh, ripe mango into the batter and bake as usual.

Lemon Friand: Add the zest of 1 unwaxed lemon to the dry ingredients and proceed with the recipe.

Blueberry Friand: Once the cake batter is in the tin, push two or three blueberries into the cake batter and bake as usual. Only use fresh blueberries for this recipe.

Elaine Lemm is a York-based food writer.

Adam Smith: 
Best dish to impress

This dish is simple in its composition, however carries the “wow” factor and the element of surprise will impress. The use of all elements of such a beautiful product as the hand dived scallop just add to the depth of flavour with the touch of truffle luxury.

Baked scallop leeks and truffle

Serves 4


4 whole scallops in the shell

1 large leek

1 black truffle

20g mushroom of choice

20g samphire

200ml double cream

50ml white wine

200g puff pastry


First open and clean the scallop removing the skirt and the black sack. Dispose of the black sack but wash the skirts and roe. Reserve the shell. Slice the scallop into 3 thick slices.

Take a hot pan and add the skirts, lots of water will come from them into the pan; keep cooking until all the liquid is evaporated, add the white wine and reduced to a syrup, then add the cream. Bring to the boil and leave to infuse for 
20 minutes, and pass through a fine 
sieve. Dice the leek and sweat until soft but without colour, place the leek in the bottom of the shell, place the slices of scallop on top then pour over the sauce.

Place the mushroom, truffle and samphire on top of the scallops. Then add the scallop shell lid; seal to the bottom half of the shell with a strip of the puff pastry running all around and brush with egg yolk. Place into a hot oven at 200C for 12 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Adam Smith is head chef at the Burlington at The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey.

Stephanie Moon:

Best alternative to a Christmas pudding

This recipe is like an old friend – you can depend on it! At Christmas time a light pudding makes a change from the traditional rich food. Taking only 45 minutes to prepare, it leaves you with time to enjoy the festivities.

Mulled pear and vanilla Christmas meringue log with toasted hazelnuts

Serves 6-8

For the meringue

4 egg whites

175g caster sugar

½tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

For the crust

50g caster sugar

½tsp ground cinnamon

60g finely sliced hazelnuts

For the mulled pear

½ a bottle of red wine

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

1 tangerine/mandarin/clementine 
studded with 5 cloves

Lemonade to taste

Juice of 2 oranges sieved

1tbsp of Yorkshire honey

For the filling

300ml double cream

1 vanilla pod split and seeds removed

4 mulled peeled pears chopped (Remove core 
and discard)

To serve

Mulled wine syrup reduction.

Tangerines/clementines or any fruit you prefer to add to the syrup

Sprigs of fresh mint


To mull the pears simply peel, add all the mulled pear ingredients and simmer until soft (around 8-15mins depending on ripeness). Remove and allow to cool. Reduce the liquor to thick syrup taking care not to burn once it starts to get sticky. Remove and cool.

To make the meringue log, line a 
baking tray with silicone or greaseproof paper. Smear the paper with a little 
almond oil or vegetable oil. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Halfway through, add lemon juice and half the sugar. Whip until stiff. Fold in the remainder of the sugar and spread evenly, about 1cm thick, over the tray. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and hazelnuts to form a crust. Bake for approximately 10mins at 160C.

Turn out onto a clean kitchen cloth, remove the paper and allow to cool. 
Whip the cream with the vanilla and perhaps a little sugar. Once almost stiff, add the finely chopped mulled pears 
and spread onto the meringue. Roll up like a swiss roll, slice and delicately swirl the mulled syrup around the plate with a 
little fruit. Garnish with fresh sprigs of 
mint and the tangerines/clementines to serve.

Stephanie Moon is chef consultant at Rudding Park.

Mehdi Boukemach:

Best comfort food for frazzled festive nerves

With all the preparation required in the run up to Christmas Day, the nerves can be in tatters. If you find yourself in need of comfort food try this easy peasy recipe made with simple ingredients.

Cheese and bacon potato gratin

Serves 4


1.5kg floury potatoes, peeled and halved

Knob of butter

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

100ml white wine (or chicken stock)

300ml milk

300ml double cream

300g cheese thinly sliced (recommend Bluemin White)

4 rashers of bacon


Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Boil the potatoes for 4 minutes or until they just start to soften. Drain and when cool enough to handle, slice about 5mm thick. Heat the knob of butter and add the garlic and onion and fry until the onion softens but is not coloured. Add the wine/stock, milk, cream and seasoning. Heat through but do not boil.

Grease a large baking dish and layer 
half the potatoes followed by half the cheese, then layer the rest of the potatoes. 
Pour the onion and cream mixture over 
the top, then the rashers of bacon and finally top with the rest of the cheese. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil turn the oven up to 200C or pop under the grill until 
the cheese turns golden brown.

Mehdi Boukemach is head chef at Fodder in Harrogate.

Alison Shaw: 
Best mid-Christmas supper

Venison And Orange Casserole

The perfect recipe to restore some much needed energy ready for New Year.

Serves 4


3tbsp oil

675g stewing venison, cut into 2.5cm cubes

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2tbsp wholemeal flour

300ml beef stock

2 oranges, grated zest and juice

1tbsp tomato purée

5tbsp brandy

1tbsp black treacle

Salt and black pepper

175g mushrooms, thickly sliced


Orange wedges

Chopped parsley


Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a cast iron casserole and fry the meat in batches until browned, place to one side. Add the remaining oil to the casserole and sauté onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually blend in the stock, orange zest and juice, tomato purée, brandy and treacle, stir well. Return meat and juices to the casserole and season. Bring contents to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, cover with the lid.

Transfer to the oven at 120C for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Stir in the mushrooms and simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning and garnish with orange and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Alison Shaw is resident chef at Country Warmth in Malton.