Connect’s Christmas Tips!

With over 30 years of experience and knowledge of the foodie festive period, we thought it would be great to share just a few of our tips and cheats!

Seasonal Seeds

Take 250g of mixed seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame and place in a mixing bowl. Add a dessert spoon of marmite to the seeds and using your fingers, mix the marmite thoroughly through the seeds. Spread all the seeds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet into a pre heated oven at 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roast the seeds for 3 to 5 minutes – keeping a close eye to make sure they don’t burn. Leave to cool before enjoying as a tasty snack over the festive period, or any time of the year as they are so yummy!

Home Roasted Cashew Nuts

This recipe is quick and easy and is great accompaniment festive drinks with your nearest and dearest. The seasonings can easily be varied, why not add dried chilli flakes, cracked black pepper or swap the honey for maple syrup.

Ingredients

250g raw cashew nuts

¼ tsp honey

Salt to taste

Method

Place the raw cashew nuts into a clean, dry frying pan on a medium heat, making sure that the nuts are a single layer in the pan.

Keep watching and gently turning the nuts until golden brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. When they start to brown a little add the honey and salt to taste and gently mix until the honey and salt cover the nuts. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving. These can be made ahead and stored in an airtight box. Delicious!

Really Good Turkey

The all-important timings for cooking a turkey are 40 minutes per kg plus add 20 minutes at the end of the cooking time for a perfectly cooked bird. Don’t forget to pre heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Top tip for a deliciously succulent turkey, cover the breast with a couple of used butter papers – save them up from your Christmas baking – to keep the turkey moist, remembering to remove the papers 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time to allow it to become golden in colour.

Extra Naughty Turkey

When you remove the butter papers from the turkey, place rashers of streaky smoked bacon across the whole of the bird! This elevates the turkey flavour to a different level and remove from the oven when the turkey is fully cooked and the bacon is crispy – just carve and enjoy!

Really Crispy Roast Potatoes

Place the peeled potatoes in pan of cold water and bring to the boil.  Once they reach the boiling stage, drain the potatoes and return to the pan.  Add one tablespoon of plain flour per five whole potatoes and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Place the lid on the pan and holding firmly, shake, shake and shake the pan again! Place the potatoes on a baking tray and coat in oil until covered and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until crispy and golden! Just amazing and works every time! Gluten free flour works perfectly for those guests with allergens.

Pimp Up Your Cranberry Sauce

Whilst cranberry sauce is delicious, it is easy to add that extra zing by adding two tablespoons of Cointreau or Grand Marnier! Just mix together and enjoy – or go that one step further and add a teaspoon of fine orange zest to get your tastebuds really popping.

Cheats Gravy

Once you have removed the turkey from the roasting tray, place the tray on the hob on a medium heat and add 250ml of boiling water. Whisk well to combine the water, turkey juices and turkey bits from the bottom of the pan to simmering point – this is where the real flavour is! Then pour everything into a jug. Add 2 tablespoons of gravy granules and top up with boiling water and whisk until thickened to the consistency you desire – easy scrummy gravy with real turkey juices!

Extra Scrummy Mince Pies

For a different take on mince pies, place the pastry in the base of the bun tin. Before adding your mincemeat, add the zest of an orange and a splash of brandy and mix. Place a spoonful into each pastry case and finish off by piping a Viennese whirl biscuit topping on each and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for 20 minutes until lightly brown. A fantastic alternative to traditional mince pies and they will come back asking for more!