With the start of Advent we are now in the run up to Christmas

The season of Advent starts on Wednesday and signifies a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

Roast turkey for  Christmas dinner with all the trimmings
Roast turkey for Christmas dinner with all the trimmings

The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”.

This should be when we start the festive period.

In reality we’ve been bombarded with adverts since the 1st of October warning us if we don’t have a table groaning with food , scores of presents under the tree and a shiny happy family in matching festive pyjamas, then we are totally inadequate. There’s so much pressure on everyone nowadays to have the perfect time. Real life rarely goes according to plan and that’s what makes it interesting.

Cooking Christmas dinner can be a fraught time.

The expectancy is to have a roast turkey, ham, stuffing, cocktail sausages, at least two different types of potatoes, sprouts, root vegetables, red cabbage, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Nobody would dream of serving that much food for a normal lunch so why do so much for this day?

To get ahead I’ve done some recipes this week that can be made and either stored in the fridge or frozen. Cranberry sauce is pepped up with some spices and cognac and really livens up the festive bird. It can be made now and stored in a jam jar in the fridge. As can the recipe here for a maple mustard glaze for the ham. Gravy is an integral part of any roast dinner and the base ingredient of it is a good stock.

The recipe here calls for chicken wings to be roasted then simmered with aromatic vegetables and water for a few hours. Strain, cool and bag before freezing. It can be added to the turkey juices straight from frozen and whizzed into the perfect gravy.

Every year I vow to have some ready made up dishes in the freezer for entertaining and it never happens. This year I’m going to buy some great cheese and local charcuterie. Some of the chutneys and jellies that were made throughout the year will be cracked open and fresh bread will be baked.

One thing I’ve already done is make up some sausage rolls and froze them to have something hot. The recipe has sausage meat combined with caramelized spiced onions and they’re baked in a homemade flaky pastry.

Feel free to buy ready rolled pastry – no one will judge you…