Christmas Day in the Hungry Swan household starts with champagne cocktails. Well, it is the only day of the year it’s acceptable to crack open a bottle with breakfast so it’d be rude not to really. This year Santa bought some hibiscus cordial (Santa shops at Partridges Market, who knew?) which we mixed with the champagne. Usually people who adulterate champagne give me rage, but the flavour of this cordial is quite subtle so it doesn’t overwhelm the delicate champagne. It’s also not too sweet which is a pet hate of mine.
When the rest of the Swans arrived we started with presents (obviously) and Aunty C’s Christmas Soup. We call it Christmas Soup because poor Aunty C is forced on pain of death to make it for us every year on Christmas Day. But you know, you could make it whenever you wanted. The apples and celery mean it’s very fresh and light but with stilton stirred in and then crumbled on top it has more depth, plus you get the occasional mouthful of half melted stilton – yum!
To serve 8 as a starter you will need:
Small onion, chopped
5 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
A block of stilton (enough for everyone, if you have stilton-o-philes, bring more)
½ pint(ish) veg stock
What to do:
- Fry the onion in plenty of butter until it’s nice and soft.
- Add the chopped celery and sweat it for about 5 minutes.
- Add the cooking apple and stir, stir, stir.
- Then pour over your veg stock and leave to simmer for around 15-20minutes, you can always add more stock if you think it’s too thick but go slowly – nobody likes watery soup. Make sure that the celery is soft or it’s a bugger to blend. According to Aunty C this takes a surprisingly long time, so give it a stab just to make sure.
- Once everything is soft then blend until smooth then reheat.
- Pop some crumbled stilton at the bottom of each cup and ladle over some soup. Add a grind of black pepper and extra stilton if you like (some people will take half the block given the chance *stares accusingly*)
- We serve our Christmas soup in tea cups just to tide us over until the main course is ready. Et voila!
This year the main event was a delicious beef fillet (we hardly ever have turkey), which dear Mummy Swan had to cut in half to cook to suit everyone’s tastes.
We both wanted ours rare, but the elders wanted theirs well done. Before cooking, the meat is smeared with a mixture of peppercorns and thyme, which has been smushed together with olive oil in a pestle and mortar. This needs to be done at least an hour before you put it in the oven. Cover with foil and cook for 10minutes in a hot oven (230º in a non-fan oven), then turn the beef, pour over half a pint of red wine and turn the oven down to 210º. Cook for another 15m if you like your meat beautifully rare, or longer depending on your tastes, and don’t forget to rest it once it’s cooked. Obviously the piece of meat we had was huge as it had to feed a host of hungry Swans, but your butcher will be able to give you cooking times if you buy a smaller piece or check out this website which is pretty handy.
This gravy was amazing… dark and rich, boozy from the red-wine-meat juices and so thick you could practically stand a spoon in it.
If you’d like to recreate this deliciousness you will need:
Olive oil & butter you’ve cooked roast potatoes & parsnips in (probably a tablespoon)
Wine and meat juices from the roast beef
A beef stock pot
What to do:
- Get the tin you roasted your potatoes & parsnips in. Add plain flour to the leftover olive oil, about two tablespoons, and mix to make a roux
- Put the tin over a low heat and gradually add the red wine, beef, peppercorn & thyme juices, stirring constantly to make sure there are no lumps
- Your gravy will be really thick, so add hot water until it’s at a consistency you like
- Taste your gravy, if you’ve had to add a lot of water you may need to add a beef stock pot
- Bring it to just below boiling point – it should be ‘simmering vigorously’ and then it’s ready! Ta da!
We hope you had a wonderful day! What did you do? Any family recipes you’d like to share with us?