Glad Tidings at the Dinner Table
A student’s guide to a budget-friendly culinary Christmas
As the frosty air surrounds our little town of St Andrews, we are led by the scent of cinnamon into a warm living room; tucking into a mince pie in front of the toasty richness of a fire… well one can only dream of such an ideal environment as many of us in this town only experience true warmth via the Library. Though I am not one to dampen the festive spirit!
For me, food is ethereal at Christmas. Whether it be figgy pudding (whatever it is) or a Cadbury selection box (the epitome of a British Christmas), each and every one of us is satisfied by a festive feast at this time of year. We are undoubtedly tempted by adverts on tv which showcase the supermarket spectacles on offer for the year and wish we could make them ourselves. Alas dear reader, I have collated a collection of recipes that ought to satisfy you, catering of course to budgets and differing culinary skills. So, turn on some Bublé and take notes for your flat’s Christmas dinner…
Starter — Baked camembert with bacon-wrapped breadsticks (BBC ‘Good Food’)
Starters are often tricky ones… you want to entice your guests without filling them up too much. This recipe from BBC ‘Good Food’ is perfect for sharing, meaning the cost can be divided up amongst your flat and the bank won’t be broken. The creamy earthy tones of the camembert with the saltiness of the bacon-wrapped breadsticks will convince your guests that you are dedicated to them, whilst they do the work of dipping! Camembert goes for around £3, so maybe a little pricey but after all it is Christmas.
Main — Roast Turkey Crown (Mary Berry on BBC Food)
You simply cannot go wrong with a turkey and to quote Catherine Tate, “Christmas Dinner…No turkey?” Turkey is notorious for being dry so take this recipe from the ‘Queen of Baking’ herself: Mary Berry, who ensures it is festively flavoured with orange, thyme and even soy sauce! Berry presents her turkey with sliced oranges on top, so you are destined to be lauded for your presentation. Turkey Crowns are less expensive than a full turkey, saving you a little extra, which can be taken further if you decide to opt for a frozen one. Either way, you’ll be as content as the Cratchit family at the dinner table.
Main (DF, GF, V) — Spiced veggie rice with poached eggs (Anna Jones of Jamie Magazine)
Heavens above! Rice at Christmas? Perhaps a rogue choice for the festivities but I’m sure it is a welcome change from standardised nut roasts. This hearty dish is packed with flavour, containing spiced leftover veg alongside a sumptuous runny yolk from the egg. While the dish may contain a number of spices, this can be adapted to whatever you have stored in your cupboard. It is certainly not a difficult dish to prepare, but oh won’t it make your carnivorous guests salivate.
Dessert — Baileys banana trifles (BBC ‘Good Food’)
Trifle: a true British staple and grandma’s annual contribution to Christmas dinner. Trifle is often viewed as a 1970s has-been, but these individual trifles are easy to make and will certainly provide that booziness (from the Baileys) that we so love at Christmas. All the ingredients can be shop-bought, so it's just a case of assembly in whatever glasses you have lying around, while taking a sip of that Irish cream from time to time! Certainly, a sweet delight that’ll have your neighbourhoods banging on your door, except this time not to carol sing!
Drinks — Holly Jolly Christmas Citrus Cocktail (‘Half-Baked Harvest’)
Ending the dining with a high, this zesty cocktail will be a refreshing finale. The cocktail which consists of vodka, elderflower, orange juice and ginger beer, forms a citrusy delight that will compliment an evening filled with rich foods. Garnish the cocktail with pomegranate and mint, to highlight that you are a domestic god or goddess till the very end!
After reading this, I hope you go forth and try out these recipes (I myself may give them a shot!). If at all, you need me to give them a taste test or validate your presentation skills, you are welcome to invite me along! In the meantime, enjoy the festivities whatever they may be and whether it be at the dining table or on the kitchen floor, enjoy the food that comes along with it…
Illustration: Lucy Robb and Maya Marie