Keys Guide to a Top Yuletide

Keys Digest


Keys Guide to a Top Yuletide

Keys Guide to a Top Yuletide


We all love to get together with our nearest and dearest in the run up to Christmas but catering for a full house can be a daunting prospect and can leave you feeling more of a party pooper than a hostess with the mostest.

Don’t worry, help is at hand with our Keys Guide to a Top Yuletide – a selection of festive food recipes to make sure your celebrations are the talk of the town.

Olde Worlde Glazed Ham


This total crowd pleaser is a doddle – quick preparation and a long cook that will give you time to get on with other stuff.  It also looks fabulously retro and would grace any Dickensian Christmas table.

What you’ll need:

  • 175 ml of Dijon mustard
  • 85g of light brown sugar (plus extra for dusting)
  • I tsp each of fresh chopped thyme and sage leaves
  • 7 kilo joint of smoked, cooked ham lightly slashed all over with a sharp knife
  • 175 ml pineapple juice
  • 20 canned pineapple rings
  • 20 cocktail cherries


How to do it:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 180 degrees and mixing the mustard, herbs and sugar in a small bowl
  2. Place the ham fat side up in a roasting tin and massage in the mustard mix making sure to get it into all the cuts
  3. Pour the pineapple juice into the bottom of the pan and place the ham in the oven to bake for two hours. Baste with the pan juices every 20 minutes
  4. Remove the ham from the oven and increase the heat to 200 degrees
  5. When the ham has cooled slightly use tooth picks to attach the pineapple rings around the ham adding a cocktail cherry to the centre of each ring
  6. Give the ham a light sprinkling of sugar and then return to the oven and cook uncovered until the pineapple turns a nice golden brown colour
  7. Remove from oven and allow to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes


And voila, a stunning centrepiece for your table – slice thickly and serve with any festive fare that takes your fancy


Roasted Balsamic and Cranberry Brussels


I’m not saying my mum was a rubbish cook but back in the day it was considered good form to boil your sprouts to within an inch of their lives resulting in a bright green, bitter gloop that could have put me off these little green balls of deliciousness forever.

Thankfully culinary methods have moved on and this recipe – which guarantees great results every time – has restored my faith in this Christmas staple.

What you’ll need

  • 5 kg of washed and trimmed Brussels sprouts
  • 110ml olive oil
  • 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 175ml balsamic vinegar
  • 160g of dried cranberries


How to do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  2. Fry the bacon in a pan until golden and crispy, then set aside on a sheet of kitchen roll
  3. Cut the sprouts in half and toss in a large bowl with the olive oil. Line two oven trays with baking sheets and divide the sprouts between them.  Roast until golden brown and starting to caramelise – around 25 minutes
  4. Meanwhile mix the sugar and balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to medium low and reduce until you have a thick sauce
  5. Drizzle the balsamic over the sprouts and sprinkle with the cranberries and crumbled crispy bacon


Perfect as a buffet dish or as part of a full on roast


Christmas Cauliflower Cheese


This luxurious take on cauli cheese goes brilliantly with ham or gammon and is a firm favourite with the kids.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 50g salted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 75g grated strong mature cheddar
  • 75g grated gruyere
  • 75g grated parmesan
  • 400ml milk
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook cauliflower for five minutes. Drain and tip into an oven proof dish
  3. Melt butter in a heavy based sauce pan and stir in the flour until you have a thick paste. Cook the paste for two minutes stirring continuously
  4. Gradually add the milk and gently simmer
  5. VERY gradually add the wine, stirring well to ensure the sauce doesn’t split
  6. Add the cheese and stir until sauce is smooth. Mix in the English mustard
  7. Pour sauce over the cauliflower and cook in the oven for 15 minutes
  8. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the cayenne pepper and serve



Cranberry Sauce


This luxurious accompaniment is so easy to make and lends a real Christmassy feel to your festive feast.  This sauce can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a good few days.

What you’ll need:

  • 500g of cranberries
  • 80ml of orange juice
  • 200g of light brown sugar
  • 150ml port
  • 1 clementine


How to do it:

  1. Combine the cranberries, port, sugar and orange juice in a saucepan over a medium heat
  2. Simmer for five minutes until the cranberries soften and begin to burst open
  3. Break the clementine into segments and add to pan. Cook for a further two minutes
  4. Allow to cool




Bread Sauce


Another one of those dishes that’s so simple to make and so pleasing to serve.  Creamy, tasty, Christmassy and reminds me of home – you’ve just got to have bread sauce at this time of year.

What you’ll need:

  • 200g of white bread after removing crusts
  • I litre of milk
  • I onion
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 heaped tsp salt
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsp of double cream


How to do it:

  1. Cut or tear bread into 2cm cubes
  2. Pour milk into pan over a medium head. Stud the onion with the cloves and add to the milk along with the bay leaves, peppercorns and salt
  3. Bring the mixture to almost boiling point then remove from heat, cover and leave to infuse for an hour or two
  4. Strain the liquid through a sieve and return to a low heat
  5. Add the bread to the pan and cook for 15 minutes stirring regularly
  6. Just before serving add the butter until it melts stir in the cream and sprinkle with the grated nutmeg


That’s it – you’re done.  Transfer to a gravy boat and serve hot.


Perfect Roast Potatoes


It’s amazing that the humble potato can be transformed onto such a scrumptious thing of beauty with a few simple steps and a bit of tender loving care.  Follow this method for delicious crunchy roasties that will have everyone coming back for seconds.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 kilo of floury potatoes – King Edwards or similar
  • 200 ml of sunflower oil
  • Sea salt


How to do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Peel potatoes and cut to preferred size
  3. Boil in salted water for around 10 minutes
  4. Drain and shake in colander to create a fluffy exterior
  5. Tip into a roasting tray, toss in the oil and sprinkle with salt
  6. Place in the top of the oven and baste with the oil every 20 minutes


And that as they say is that – perfect roast potatoes with no fuss or hassle


Posh Baby Carrots


I just love these sweet little carrots which lend a tasty and colourful aspect to your table.  They can be made in advance and heated through just prior to serving.

What you’ll need:

  • 1kg of scrubbed baby carrots
  • 60g of unsalted butter
  • 2cm piece of ginger peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tbsp of clear honey
  • The zest of one large orange


How to do it:

  1. Simmer the carrots for five minutes in boiling salted water then drain in a colander
  2. In a large frying pan melt the butter and add all the ingredients
  3. Stir well and cook on a medium heat, turning regularly, for 25 minutes until the carrots begin to go golden.
  4. Season with seal salt and freshly cracked black pepper


And you’re good to go.  If you’re not a fan of ginger you can leave that ingredient out but it really does add a wonderful dimension to the dish.