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Christmas Eve supper

 

Set the scene for a sumptuous Christmas with this lovely Christmas Eve supper menu, which includes a fair few festive flavours...

Starter 

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Scallops in the shell with cream and vermouth

Fresh scallops are very plump and good around Christmas time, and this is my own favourite way of serving them. The recipe has the advantage of requiring no last-minute fuss - it even freezes well and can be cooked straight from the freezer.

 

Main Course

bacon collar of  

Roast collar of bacon with blackened crackling

Bacon joints are much easier to cook than they used to be, now that modern curing methods have eliminated the need for pre-soaking. You could also use a prime gammon joint for this recipe. Scoring and painting the skin with molasses or black treacle turns it into superb crackling. 

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served with

English Cumberland sauce 

This is, for me, one of the great classic English sauces, provided it's made with a good-quality redcurrant jelly with a high fruit content; some of the commercial varieties are lacking in fruit and are too sickly sweet. Cumberland sauce is always served cold and is a wonderful accompaniment to either hot or cold gammon, tongue, cold goose or game, and it goes extremely well with a slice of Old-fashioned Raised Game Pie. This sauce should not be thickened – it is meant to have a thinnish consistency.

 

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Jacket potato wedges with melting cheese and spring onion 

Top these potatoes (left in photograph) while they are still hot so that the cheese melts well – on cold potatoes, it has a tendency to go hard and crispy. 

Braised red cabbage 
This is a recipe I have been cooking for years. It's great because it can be made the day before and gently re-heated with no last-minute bother. It is a perfect accompaniment to venison, goose or pork (and if you have any left over it does wonders for bangers and mash).

Dessert

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Spiced Cranberry and Orange Jellies with Frosted Cranberries 

I always like to serve a jelly at Christmas time because when there is a lot of rich food around it is so nice to have something cool, light and refreshing at the end of a meal. This one is incredibly simple, but don't be tempted to jazz it up – we've already tried that and found this simple version infinitely better. If you prefer, you can make the jelly in a 1¼ pint (725 ml) capacity jelly mould rather than glasses.

 

 

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