Festive food and drink from top chefs

Festive food and drink from top chefs

Perfect Christmas feasts

Eric Lanlard’s mince pies

Battersea-based French baker Eric Lanlard shares his recipe for delish mince pies…

Serves 6 | Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus marinating | Cooking time: 20 minutes

For the mincemeat
• 250g (8oz) golden sultanas
• 250g (8oz) natural glacé cherries, halved
• 250g (8oz) raisins
• 100g (3½oz) mixed peel
• 125g (4oz) unsalted butter
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp ground mixed spice
• Finely grated zest of 1 orange
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• 250g (8oz) dark muscovado sugar

• 250ml (8fl oz) Amaretto liqueur

For the pies
• Butter, for greasing
• 1 x quantity shortcrust pastry (see for recipe)
• Plain flour, for dusting
• 250g (8oz) ready-made puff pastry
• 15g (½oz) light muscovado sugar
• 1 egg, lightly beaten

The mincemeat should be made a few weeks before you use it for this recipe for the flavours to develop, but trust me – it is worth waiting for. Put all the dried fruit and spices into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the grated zest, sugar and Amaretto in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved – do not let it boil. Pour over the mixed fruit and stir gently, without breaking up the fruits. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to infuse for 48 hours. Pack the mincemeat into sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks to allow the flavours to mature.

1. When you are ready to make the mince pies, preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C)/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease 6 x individual 10cm (4in) diameter loosebottom tartlet tins.
2. Roll out the shortcrust pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tins. Generously fill the pastry cases with the mincemeat (this will use approximately 500g (1lb)).
3. Roll out the puff pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and brush it with the beaten egg. Using a star-shaped cutter, cut out 6 star shapes, or any shape you like, to cover the tart and place them on top of the mincemeat. Sprinkle with the light muscovado sugar.
4. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the stars have all puffed up. Serve warm with some crème fraîche drizzled with Amaretto and sprinkled with roasted flaked almonds … yum yum!
This recipe will also make 24 small mince pies in 2 x 12-hole bun tins – just reduce the cooking time to 20–25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
From ‘Home Bake’ by Eric Lanlard, published by Octopus Books, written by Eric Lanlard, photography by Craig Robertson

Adam Byatt

Adam Byatt, of Michelin-starred Trinity and Bistro Union in Clapham, shares what he loves about the season… “Christmas is the most perfect time of year to step back for a moment and be together with friends and loved ones with great food and wine at the very centre of our celebrations, a chance to cook, laugh, be cosy, fed and nourished together. Christmas follows a traditional theme for my family and I. Champagne and Moxon’s smoked salmon, gifts then white wine and a spiced decadent prawn cocktail, more present giving followed by roast turkey with all the trimmings, a break before Christmas pudding or mince pies and brandy butter, cheese flows late on into the afternoon. I like the day to have food at its core – a one-off day of decadent overindulging.”

Marcus Wareing

What’s your top tip for entertaining over Christmas? 
Don’t panic… it’s just a roast with a few more trimmings so do some planning and get everyone to help. Remember the shops are not closed for more than a day!
Best accompaniments to Christmas dinner? 
Well in my house it would be plenty of stuffing – in balls but also a softer version (with a crunchy top) cooked in the oven in a dish. Some of us (not many!) like bread sauce, really easy to make and, of course, pigs in blankets. It makes the meat (turkey or whatever you choose) go a little further. Starter wise – something that can be made in advance and plated or just kept in the fridge until it’s needed. Might be a prawn cocktail, some smoked salmon or gravadlax or even a terrine. But try to avoid choice as that’s when it gets complicated.
Your top alternative to turkey… 
 If it’s for a smaller number of people, then we a make chicken – a capon is good. It’s a little larger in size than a usual chicken and has a slightly stronger flavour though not as strong as a turkey. A rib of beef would be a great alternative.
Your favourite Christmas food? 
I love the Christmas lunch itself but then I love every roast dinner – I was brought up on them. The Christmas extras though – a homemade sausage roll or mince pie are perfect after a walk.
Most over-rated Christmas food… 
For me bread sauce but to my wife it’s heaven! It’s all about traditions and habits growing up.
Top Christmas tipple… 
For me a nice Bordeaux, always the best – any time of year! For my family, it will be cocktails! Something to include limes and generally a new one each year!! (Inspired by my brother and sister in law.)

Vivek Singh

Vivek Singh, Executive Chef and CEO of The Cinnamon Collection on the best way to use up turkey… “I think using up leftovers is important, and something every household could certainly do more of to reduce waste. At Christmas, I like to use left-over turkey in the ultimate Boxing Day stir fry curry with mustard seeds, onions, curry leaves, turmeric and a tin or two of coconut milk! Trust me, it’s the cheapest and quickest way to find yourself in Kerala on Boxing Day without having to take a flight!”