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  Cooking a celebration turkey meal

Are you cooking the Christmas meal or Thanksgiving dinner or simply a Sunday roast for the first time?

Excited but not sure how to do it?  

Follow my plan, shop and cook for success.




Plan ahead:  Plan your menu - all recipes on website
Chicken Liver Pate, Melba toast with fresh dressed leaves  
Spicy Swede and Squash soup with grated nutmeg 
Roast turkey, Sausages wrapped with bacon, Sausagemeat and stuffing balls
Yorkshire pudding, Gravy, Roasted honey crisp parsnips, Carrot and swede mash 
Crunchy topped cauliflower cheese
Crumble mince pies and Citrus soufflé

Shop ahead: 

Buy  freezer labels 
Buy tin foil containers for the freezer.
Buy parchment paper, foil and cling film.


Cook ahead:

Make your cauli-gratin early. Label and freeze it.



Why bother? I'll explain why . . . Cauli-gratin is a great veggie main course for a celebration dinner so you don't need to worry if someone arrives and tells you they are veggie. It is also a wonderful vegetable dish to accompany the roast. It is not a good choice to make on the day because it uses two pans and the sauce is bound to go lumpy if you are doing it in a rush. Worst of all is that although cauliflowers look and taste super they tend to have an unpleasant smell during cooking. As part of the festive meal cauli-gratin is lovely because it has the sauce included.

Session 2: Plan ahead:

Collect together  jam jars to store cranberry sauce.
Sort out which mincemeat brand you like and buy it in

Shop ahead:
Buy a couple of foil oven roaster trays to fit your oven - saves on washing up later.
Get a pack of disposable wine glasses to serve puddings

Cook ahead:1.Buy fresh cranberries and make cranberry sauce.

2. Make Citrus souffle and freeze it, undecorated

Cook ahead: 
Make Spicy Swede 'n Squash soup:
This is cheap to make - and will off-set some of the more expensive things you will have to buy for the celebration meal. Remember you need to have a big pan - borrow one if you need to. Use an old ice cream tub to freeze the soup. Label it clearly!!

Plan ahead:
Collect your plates and dishes
Borrow or find some plates in

charity shops.
Decide on table settings
Finalise menu plans

Shop ahead:
Buy drinks and wine early.
Buy food offers and freeze them.
Buy cheeses and freeze 
Check you have cheese biscuits

Plan ahead:  Price up the turkeys, a turkey crown is just the breast of a turkey and is easy to roast. No huge carcass to deal with. The crown may be cheaper.
A whole turkey is a splendid centre piece but remember the extra meat from sausages and bacon rolls helps to extend the meat.  

Shop aheadBuy ready rolled puff pastry and chorizo sausages and store them. Buy coffee, tea and basics such as UHT milk in case you suddenly run out.Tinned or carton custard is a useful standby for quick trifles. Buy red cabbage and ingredients for sweet and sour red cabbage and freeze it in tubs. Buy rice krispies and chocolate and make a few presents

Cook ahead:
Sweet and sour red cabbage freezes well


Make extra treats such as Krispie Chrissie-pud bites

Plan ahead:
Start your fresh food shopping list
Shop ahead:
Buy good value Cheddar cheese to freeze
Buy bags of flour and  margarine for pastry.
Buy ready-made mincemeat for pies
Cook ahead:
Make chicken liver pate to freeze in pots
Make Crumble mince pies
Shop ahead week before:
Buy potatoes, onions and brussels sprouts, carrots and swede and parsnips. All these vegetables can be kept outside in a box or basket and are best bought early as they are bulky and heavy.
Check your fridge for: Butter,  cream, milk
Check your store cupboard for: Packet stuffing and dried apricots, stock cubes, thickening granules, white bread mix, Mincemeat
Plan ahead 3 days to go:   
Check washing up liquid, tea towels and dish washer powder.
Check you have table covering and a centre piece
Check you have serving dishes and some serving spoons
Fill up butter dish. Put your condiments ready into little pots or dishes and cover with cling film. Cover jars with piece of wrapping paper over the screw top lid and tie it off with some curling ribbon, Check salt and pepper pots are full Check ice cubes are ready or buy a bag.
Plan ahead 2 days to go: If the turkey is frozen:
Make sure the turkey is thawing the day before- preferably in a cold place like a garage / fridge. Allow plenty of time to thaw.
Take out any frozen pre-prepared dishes such as swede soup, sweet and sour red cabbage, and cauli-gratin, sausages wrapped in bacon, prunes wrapped in bacon, and stuffing balls to thaw in the refrigerator.
Infuse milk with onion and cloves and leave in jug in fridge
Pop stale bread in the processor to make breadcrumbs for the bread sauce

Cook ahead: Day before celebration meal 
These items will store in the fridge and therefore prepare them in advance:
1. Make carrot and swede veg mash
2. Prep the brussels sprouts and put in a poly bag in the fridge: Trim the base of the brussel spout and remove any outer leaves if they are damaged Do not wash the sprouts they are clean because they are so tightly formed.
3. Prep the parsnips:Store in polythene bag. Roast parnips will probably the most popular vegetable you cook and they are also the cheapest vegetable.
5. Prep the sausages and bacon rolls:  Take a sausage and one rasher of streaky bacon and wrap the sausage. Lay the sausages in a foil container ready to use for cooking Cover with cling film and store in the fridge You can wrap soft dried prunes with streaky bacon too – they are very tasty.

Cook ahead: prepare potato
Cook Mash Potato:  Make a bit of mash, Peel and chop potatoes Boil for about 20 minutes Mash with butter and season with sea salt and black pepper. Put in a serving dish dab the top of the potato with more softened butter.  Cover with cling film and store in the refrigerator. Simply reheat when required.
Prep the roasties: Peel and chop potatoes counting around 3 -4 chunks per person Boil for 10 minutes, drain and shake the pan to roughen up the surface of the potato Place in an oiled foil dish and cover. Store in refrigerator or freeze – and cook from frozen.

On the day
Prepare all the vegetables early, immerse in cold water and cover. Roast turkey as per instructions.
Cook the turkey early, when cooked remove from oven and cover with bath towel over the foil to keep warm.
Turn oven up now to roast vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes and onions.
Cook sausages and bacon rolls.
Thaw and reheat Cauli-cheese in the microwave.

On the day: Cook in 4 easy stages1 Turkey

Decide when you are going to eat then work backwards: The turkey will take the longest to cook Cover the turkey breast with streaky bacon, drizzle with oil and season with black pepper Allow 25 mins per 500g (1lb) weight plus another 25 mins Cook it gently. 190 C or Gas mark 5 is as hot as you need to go.  Allow another hour after the turkey is cooked and removed of the oven.  Keep the turkey warm – I cover it with a towel over the foil and leave it to stand whilst I roast the potatoes and parsnips.  Leaving it to stand ensures moist meat that carves well. Piping hot gravy is essential.

2: Potatoes and roast veg  Now turn up the oven to 210?C or Gas 7 Foods that take around 45 minutes: Cook the sausages for around 30 mins and take those out and cover Put in the roast potatoes After 15 minutes also put in the parsnips to roast Put in the cauli-gratin either in the oven to re-heat and brown (or in the micro-wave). Reheat mash in oven for 15 mins.

3: Vegetable selections
Foods that can be cooked on the hob or microwave: These all take around 15 minutes The carrot and swede mash, some peas / brussels sprouts and the sweet and sour red cabbage.
4: Gravy and sauces in the final 5 minutes to go. Bring the flavoured milk to the boil for the bread sauce and tip in the breadcrumbs and stir well. Re-boil the pre-prepared gravy and heat up the gravy jugs (nothing is worse than cold gravy!)
Put the serving plates in the oven to warm and a meat plate for the turkey carving.  Serve everything piping hot













































































































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