Take 5 – Pimp up your Christmas dinner

As a caterer I’m no stranger to cooking Christmas dinner big or small. Here’s some of my tips which can still be achieved.

1. Spread it out..

Don’t just have one sitting, take your time, have some starters, then take a break.

mini posh king prawn cocktail -  Great Glen Game charcuterie - Kintyre smoked mussels

mini posh king prawn cocktail – Great Glen Game charcuterie – Kintyre smoked mussels

Something light, local and tasty to start. Quality speaks for itself, no need to complicate. MacCallum’s of Troon, Great Glen Game’s Venison, Kintyre smoked mussels or hot smoked salmon pots with crème fraîche. Another favourite is Venison loin marinated in teriyaki, cooked medium, sliced and served with balsamic syrup served chilled with aperitif’s and smoked almonds. For veggies if you kept some frozen Chanterelles https://thebusinessbug.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/5-ways-with-chanterelle-mushrooms/

 2.  Jazz up the sides…

With the turkey cooked, roast potatoes extra crispy and then its time jazz up the rest.

jazz up the main

jazz up the sides

Cook your pigs in blanket in maple syrup and a little ground cloves, really lifts the flavour. Use Italian sausages for the stuffing, it works really well. If cooking a ham joint – marmalade glaze studded with cloves is lovely. Red cabbage and apple (with sauce frozen from your apple harvest is good), sprouts with chestnuts, buy dirty carrots and parsnips from a market, they taste better when cooked. I tend to make a tray dauphinoise potatoes, they always go down very well.

The important thing is preparation,  most of it can be done the day/night before and takes the stress off the big day.

3. Invest in Cheese..

Isle of Mull, Berthaut’s Epoisses, Dunsyre and Dunolp’s Bonnet

Here’s a few of my favourites: Isle of Mull’s delicious cheddar like cheese, French Époisses de Bourgogne is my must-have, Dunsyre blue from Ayrshire cows and Dunlop’s Bonnet goats cheese makes for a great cheeseboard. There are so many more, depends on you and your guests. If you like a smoked cheese, Kintyre’s naturally wood-smoked cheese is hard to beat. Pull out your homemade chutney for this course, recipes here  https://thebusinessbug.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/my-top-chutney-jam-recipes or Galloway Lodge Poacher’s Pickle is very good choice. Yes, French cheese is the best but its important to support local as well. Crusty bread, Perthshire or Maclean’s oatcakes and some red onion confit for the goats cheese.

4. Make dessert light..

So, cakes and not puddings, less stodge. How about these; Black Forest Gateaux, Christmas tree cake or a light Pavlova:

Pandoro Christmas tree cake, Black Forest Gateaux or Pavlova

Controversial/ less traditional but I’ve found the lighter option welcomed more by many groups. Some of these cakes maybe well known but make them unique. Be proud of a squinty cake that the kids helped make. For the Black Forest Gateaux, make sponge for 2 cakes to produce a 4 layer cake, use mascarpone, morello cherries, dark chocolate shavings and chambord to soak sponges. For the Christmas tree cake see here:


5.  Make your own drinks..

raspberry gin, lychee vodka and parma voilet grappa

homemade raspberry gin, lychee vodka and parma violet grappa served from the freezer

Raspberry Gin – use 3/4 of a bottle gin. To make, quickly cook 500g of fresh raspberries with 300g of sugar until sugar dissolved. Pour into large storage jar and mix with Gin, refrigerate and stir daily. Sieve on Christmas Eve and keep chilled before serving.

Strawberry Vodka – same as above just change fruit and alcohol.

Warning: These recipes are extremely dangerous, having seen non-drinkers drunk on this stuff, its way too tasty these drinks. Have some good chocolate or your homemade chocolate truffles for the full decadent experience.


try these:

Your favourites are a good place to start. Red or White? Well, I like for white:  Hahn Pinot Gris, or anything from Trimbach and/or White Burgundy and I’d probably move on to Spanish Priorat/French Granache for reds. But think about what your audience likes and keep your favourite handy

One further tip:

Buy at least one thing local for each course, big them up, show support for your community deli, farm shop/wine shop or producer.

For food suppliers check out these:







Kintyre’s Old Smokehouse fish products:


or MaCallums in Finneston

Italian sausage: Italian delis (Pietro’s Deli, Glasgow)

Above all, enjoy and get help!!! Oh and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Any thoughts?

About Hendo Henderson

Scotch whisky, rum & cocktail storyteller globetrotter - old school backpacker to 3 businesses, mountain and history buff.

Posted on December 12, 2012, in Food & Drink Chat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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