A Taste if Christmas - the Recipes

Big thanks to all the PJ taste team with a special mention for the King of Pork Pies John Lord (and his wife Jean!) from Take and Bake Pork Pies and Missie Cindz for her guest appearance, for great performances at last nights Taste of Christmas Event.  And importantly thanks to all the guests who came along and helped raise a brilliant £146 for Cavendish Cancer Care

We demonstrated a number of dishes, shared some lovely food and everyone participated in our beef taste test.  In an effort to publish the recipes quickly I produce them here but we are keen to post a further blog in a few days with more juicy details from the evening.  However, I can’t resist revealing the results of our beef tasting so look below!

The key message was that you can easily, nutritiously and cheaply eat amazing local food for each meal on Christmas Day (and beyond).  However, we all need to find better ways of distributing and supplying this produce if we are to survive the curse of the supermarkets with their insidious ways – and survival for us independents is by no means certain.  I am sure that this subject alone will give us lots to think about, share and explore into 2012.  Importantly to work with the menu and recipes I have also included a link to the suppliers I used.  Please let us know if you need help in obtaining any of their produce.

A taste of Christmas with PJ taste – the recipes

Squash Shots with a Pumpkin Oil Garnish (V),

Serves 6

2 Large ish Butternut Squash
1 Large Onion
3 Cloves garlic
Olive oil/Butter
½ lt vegetable stock
½ lt milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and Pepper

Chop the butternut squash into large chucks removing seeds and roast with olive oil and garlic in the oven at a high heat.  Soften the onion in more butter/olive oil and then add the stock and milk and bring to a simmer.  Scoop the squash from the skins and add to the stock along with the seasonings.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Then liquidise and serve.

Pumpkin Sprinkle Garnish

½ cup pumpkin seeds
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup parsley
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Oil

Heat a dry frying pan to a medium heat.  Add pumpkin seeds and keep them moving with a wooden spoon.  After a few minutes they will begin to give off a nutty aroma.  Remove from heat.

Place toasted pumpkin seeds with all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse and few times until you have a coarse mixture.

Cinnamon & star anise cured salmon

150.0g brown sugar
300.0g rock salt 3 oranges, zested
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
500.0g salmon, centre piece of fillet, skinned and pin boned
2 slices sourdough bread, toasted, each cut into 6
crème fraîche to serve
3 slices of raw beetroot, peeled and shredded
12 coriander leaves

Whizz the sugar, salt, zest, star anise and cinnamon in a food processor. Spread a small amount onto a tray and lay the fish on top, tip over the rest of the mix over the top of the salmon and spread.  Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge or a cool place for 24 hours.

Wash any remaining mixture off the salmon and leave to dry for 1 hour. Slice when needed then use for your recipe.  Brushettas can be made with a generous amount of salmon, a dollop of crème fraîche, some beetroot and a coriander leaf.

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing

200g pound fresh chestnuts
200g unsalted butter
½ lt breadcrumbs, such as rye or sourdough, crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Punnet of wild mushrooms or 50g dried mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
Small bunch fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using chestnut knife or sharp paring knife, make large X on flat side of each chestnut through shell but not meat. Soak chestnuts in bowl of warm water to cover by 2 inches for 15 minutes, and then drain well. Arrange chestnuts in 1 layer in shallow baking pan, then roast in middle of oven until shells curl away at X mark, about 15 minutes. Wearing protective gloves peel away shells from chestnuts while still hot. In large pot boiling water, blanch chestnuts 2 minutes, then drain. Using kitchen towel, rub chestnuts to remove skins. Coarsely chop and reserve. Leave oven on.

Butter 9- by 13-inch casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter.

On foil-lined baking sheet, toast bread in 350°F oven, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Place in large mixing bowl and set aside. Leave oven on.

In heavy frying pan melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Add another 2 tablespoons butter and heat until melted. Add onion and celery, and sauté until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes.

Add mushroom mixture plus parsley and thyme to bread and gently stir to combine.

In heavy, small pot over moderate heat bring the stock to a gentle boil. Pour into bread mixture and gently toss to combine. Stir in egg, salt, and pepper. The stuffing is now ready to be used to stuff meat or cooked as it is in a casserole dish. The stuffing can be prepared up to this point and kept, covered and refrigerated, up to four hours. Bake until golden brown and heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Golden Beets and Brussels Sprouts


2 medium sized golden beets
10 brussels sprouts
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
Olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (can substitute a 1 teaspoon of dried thyme)
2 Tbsp almond slivers, toasted
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1 Boil or roast beets if using, until cooked. Cool, peel and chop.
2 Prep and blanch veg until nearly cooked, plunge in cold water to stop cooking process.
3 Mix ingredients, splash with olive oil and seasoning and hot roast for 20 mins until hot and slightly coloured.

Provencal New Potatoes

2 lb small new potatoes (look for the smallest you can find, the potatoes should be no bigger than 1 1/2 inches, if they are bigger, cut them into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces)

1 medium onion, sliced in the direction of root to top
6 cloves of garlic, crushed with peel on (do not remove peel)
2-3 small to medium vine-ripened tomatoes, or plum tomatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 Tbsp mixed herbs
Olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1 Wedge toms and roast in oven for several hours with salt pepper and herbs. Can be done a few days in advance
2 Blanch potatoes until almost cooked be careful not to overcook. Can be done up to two days in advance.
3 put ingredients in oven dish/foil dish and roast in hot oven for 30 mins until coloured and hot.

Rivelin Valley Beef casserole with Pride of Sheffield beer – a great Boxing Day dish which could be cooked in a slow cooker or in a moderate oven for a number of hours.


500g Rivelin Valley chuck steak
1 small onion, quartered
1 small carrot, quartered
1 garlic bulb, halved horizontally
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
black peppercorns250ml  Kelham Island Pride of Sheffield Beer
2 tbsp vegetable oil1 litre/1¾ pints chicken stock

Place the beef in a large bowl add the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns; pour over the beer and mix until well combined, then chill in the fridge for 24 hours.

1.    Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.
2.    Strain the beer from the beef mixture and set aside.
3.    Season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4.    Heat a flameproof casserole dish, add the vegetable oil and brown the beef all over, then remove from the dish and set aside.
5.    Reduce the heat, add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook for 4-6 minutes, or until pale golden-brown.
6.    Add the herbs and peppercorns, then add the reserved beer and continue to cook until the volume has reduced by half.
7.    Return the beef to the dish, add the chicken stock and bring up to the boil, then cook in the oven for three hours or until the beef is very tender.

Mrs Beetons Christmas Pudding – adapted a bit incorporating some PJ taste foraging!

8 oz moist sugar (use soft brown )
8 oz chopped suet – we used Rivelin Valley beef suet
8 oz sultanas cleaned
8 oz raisins halved and stoned – we used Sheffield wild plums which had been frozen
4 oz currants washed and dried
4 oz shredded mixed candied peel – Cut your own or use ready cut
4 oz of plain flour – Carr house Farm Spelt Flour
4 oz breadcrumbs
2 oz almonds blanched and shredded
the grated rind of a 1 lemon
3 eggs
a salt spoonful of  nutmeg grated
half a teaspoon of salt
quarter pint of milk
1 small wineglassful of brandy (optional)

Mix all the dry ingredients together, stir in the well beaten eggs, milk and brandy.

Turn the mixture into 2 well greased basins, and steam for 5 to 6 hours.

And finally the beef test

For this we took a leading supermarket brand of British beef and compared it to Rivelin Valley beef from Coppice House Farm in our slow cooked beef casserole made with Pride of Sheffieldbeer.

I could say a lot about the amazing differences in these two ingredients which apart from the name shared very little.  The colour was different, the way they cooked and the material which came out (of one of them) as they cooked was different.  We treated them identically and cooked/chilled/re-heated simultaneously with exactly the same times and temperature and ingredients through-out.  Then you tasted them!  The result was every single adult in the room on the night voted for the Rivelin Valley beef.  A resounding success for local food, great animal husbandry and common sense.