Friday, 13 December 2013

Food and Food programs at Christmas time

At this time of the year there are a multitude of food programs with recipes for that perfect Christmas meal, cocktail, drink, party. All guaranteed to impress your guests to death and make you a celebrity.

It is all a bit silly when you think of it because unless you are a regular cook, someone who is comfortable in the kitchen and has imagination when in comes to food preparation and combination of different foods, well it can be a challenge to say the least to prepare a meal or a dish for that special Holiday event. Not to mention make it picture perfect like in that magazine.

I do however love to watch cooking shows at Christmas time, some of the recipes are intriguing and depending on the presenter/chef you can get that good feeling about a recipe and how beautiful it looks and how good it must be.

One Chef that I do like is Nigel Slater on the BBC Player, see

He is one of several chefs who present various recipes. What I like about him is that his recipes are or appear to be easy to make. I have tried a few and yes the result were as promised, no fuss and good.

I also watched another Chef on BBC, Delia Smith and she has a segment on Christmas Cakes, it looks easy and she certainly presents it that way, minimum fuss and preparation appears simple enough. Her method of presenting on air is old fashioned, first will show you the ingredients all pre-measured on a work table in her kitchen, then she puts all ingredients in a bowl and does a minimum of mixing, then jumps to the final product, voilà. You do not see her put the cake into the oven or take it out or even cutting the cake or tasting it. It is somewhat a little too surgical and just a little too pat. She also speaks to an audience of women, somewhat formal, no nonsense and no humour, you know she is not talking to men in the kitchen.

Rick Stein is another chef on the BBC, Rick has a restaurant and he is in business, big business.
He prepares dishes more to show you what can be done at Christmas time, I do not get the impression that you could do this at home. His preparation take place in his restaurant kitchen, it is all professional and he has other chefs to help him out, they work for him.  The results are great and he serves the food at a party for about 40 guests. It is fun to watch and you get the feel good of the Season.

But I return to Nigel, I have read his books on his life as a kid and love his recipes, he makes it easy and fun. The only one problem I have with his 12 Christmas dishes is how his producer for the series staged it all. We are told it is at his house in North London, a very modern and nice place with a great garden. Then the filming or shooting effects, the camera goes soft, zooms in and out of the kitchen, some shots are from the garden looking in or from the kitchen looking out, somewhat wistful, as if the cameraman is distracted by some external thought or souvenir. In the end it all looks a trifle recherché. Nigel also simpers to much a bit like an old lady.

In his Christmas special, he is in Scotland and Norway. First in Scotland in the Highlands with two good looking lads, he calls them the boys who cook a dish for a family dinner. Nigel watches them prepare a cocktail and a meat dish for an upcoming Christmas dinner and there is some double entendre banter throughout. Nigel purses his lips a little too much and needs a haircut.

Then off to Norway to select a Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square, the tree has to be more than 20 meter high, a very big tree. So there is lots of walking in the woods with two Norwegians looking for the big tree. Finally finds one, a superb tree, 115 years old. We are told that since 1946 Norway has given Britain a Christmas tree every year as thanks for the help received during the Second World War.

This of course is a segway to another of his recipe, the Salmon Wellington which is very easy to make and looks wonderfully delicious.

This year we are not having Goose or Roast Beef or Crown of Lamb. My cousin is cooking and we will have a tourtière and a ham, vegetables and Plum Pudding and other desserts.
Though next year I do want to return to Roast Goose a favourite dish of mine at Christmas.

One tradition if we can call it that, is our friend John who for 30 odd years has produced wonderful
Fruit cakes at this time of the year. John has a unique talent to produce the most wonderful fruit cakes
from dark to light coloured ones. His fruit cake is the sort that you could eat in one go if you did not restrain yourself, they are that good. He also introduced a long time ago, the notion that his cakes keep for one to two years because they are soaking in Brandy or Rum and remain moist and delicious.  Indeed it seems that the vintage cakes are better tasting, richer and more flavourful.

My personal favourite is his light golden coloured fruit cake a real treat.


  1. I have never seen a cooking show, that I recall.
    Alas, nothing good or caloric for me this christmas, what with PV coming up.
    Food for now is fuel, not fabulous. Jam tomorrow but never jam today.

    1. How sad, you know you are too thin. I told you this before. Anyway who do you know in PV? Food as fuel, OMG what a terrible statement. Not very French.

    2. Food as fuel is very American, who care nothing for flavor but want cheap and quick

    3. Is this true confession time, are you coming out and telling me this is your true self, stuff my face SPO? The horror!

  2. Replies
    1. Mitchell I can vouch that John's fruit cake is superb.