So what does Christmas look like in a Chef’s household? – Well probably not as different as you may think!
Christmas at the Kemps always has a traditional feel to it… this may surprise you as generally I love to have culinary adventures (as many of our Kemp & Kemp brides and grooms will tell you!)
Traditional doesn’t need to be dull though… I always aim for a level of ‘deceptive simplicity’ …food which speaks for itself, best quality ingredients, cooked superbly & presented beautifully.
I also need to keep my sanity so I plan ahead, get out my trusty ‘Delia Smith’s Christmas (because nobody does a countdown list better!) and get cooking.
I do love a day (coming up this week) set aside for sausage roll and mince pie making, table planning (will I go deep jewel colours this year or keep it classic with starched white & silver?) ; and collection of the tree… the tree which rivals Trafalgar square for size because if we’re going to do it we may as well go large!
Deep breath then…
We kick off festivities with a very jolly (though time limited!) drinks party for friends on Christmas Eve. Richard is the ever attentive front of house manager making sure that everybody’s glasses are kept well topped up (most friends would say he does this job far too well! ) and nibbles are served.
On the nibbles front, this years faves are drunken devils on horseback (prunes soaked in armagnac, then wrapped in pancetta & cooked until crisp) ; parmesan & rosemary short breads and sticky sausages in honey & soy (because who doesn’t love a sticky sausage!)
Once guests have gone (it’s a 6.00 to 8.00 affair) we all sit down to beef bourgignon with creamy mash ( my family just don’t think it’s Christmas without a bourgignon on Christmas eve, they will accept no substitutes).
Christmas is here – let the food fest begin!
Because there are no small children involved, Christmas day itself starts at a civilised time… thank the Lord.
Usually breakfast consists of bagels with scrambled eggs (cooked slow and low for perfect and with a dash of double cream please!) and smoked salmon. Now, having said I like to keep it traditional, I may go off piste this year and serve griddled sourdough with chopped tomatoes & crispy Serrano ham (we were in Spain a lot this year & kept having this utter delight drizzled with fabulous olive oil for a mid morning breakfast).
I try to treat Christmas lunch the way I firmly believe it should be viewed… it’s a bigger roast dinner after all!
We keep it simple, a starter I can make in advance – which is potted crab & Melba toast this year.
Then: roast turkey (again I don’t really mess about here… a simple sage and onion stuffing does the trick for us), goose fat roasties, roast parsnips (sometimes I parmesan them), Brussels sprouts with pancetta, baby carrots, pigs in blankets (I use pancetta rather than streaky bacon so they are extra crisp) with cranberry and bread sauce an absolute must, and a rich boozy gravy made by gravy maestro Richard.
This year we have my sister in law with us – she’s Irish and just must have ham with her turkey, so ham she will have!
Yes, we will have Christmas pudding, we will set it alight & we will serve it with brandy butter… it’s the law!
By boxing day
It’s a long walk and a picnic (in all weathers) usually featuring beef, rocket horseradish baguettes, a bottle or two of red wine and pockets full of ‘celebrations’ for dessert.
Later there’ll be ham to use up so it’s ham egg & chips, mustards and chutneys on boxing night…bliss!
Ooooh that’s a big old meat fest isn’t it?? Watch this space if you want a meat free day….
Have a lovely Christmas everyone!
Richard and Karen