Confession time – I’m not actually the biggest lover of turkey and all the trimmings. When it’s just us, we actually go BBQ style and cook Christmas lunch outside on our outdoor kitchen instead. This year we’re being hosted for Christmas, so I will smile sweetly and of course enjoy the turkey. But I’m the host for Boxing Day with the fam, so for that I’m thinking either mini beef wellingtons, or a recipe for roasted salmon over juniper branches from the fabulous Nordic Cookbook. Followed by a massive cheeseboard from Neal’s Yard and homemade pecan pie, if I can only perfect the pastry.
I’m in the middle of testing all the recipes at the mo – which has so far involved having the juniper branches specially flown in to Colombia Road Market! I might have taken it a tad far. But I really love Christmas cooking and there’s honestly no better time to be a foodie. And actually no one will riot if you decide to ditch the turkey this year. It seems like everyone’s at it – quick survey round the team has so far suggested goose, veal with Heston Blumenthal’s bone marrow sauce, glazed ham, and even suckling pig!
If you’re not into the trad Christmas dinner, here is the recipe I used for Christmas last year. Luckily it’s dead straight forward (no special orders at Columbia Road), while still looking and tasting spectacular. A huge seabass roasted on fennel and then some whiskies around the fire pit is where it’s at…
BAKED SEA BASS WITH FENNEL
1 small sea bass per person, scaled and gutted (ask your fishmonger to do this)
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
handful basil leaves, roughly torn
small handful black olives
1 tbsp olive oil
Heat oven (or set up your Big Green Egg!) to 200ºC. Rinse and dry the fish. Season all over, then stuff the cavity with some fennel slices, lemon and basil. Scatter the olives and any leftover fennel, basil and lemon into a roasting tin.
Place the sea bass on top. Drizzle each fish with the oil and bake for about 30 mins or until cooked through and starting to brown.
Top it off with some jazz and lounge (I like some cool tunes off French radio station FIP), and have yourself a very merry non-trad Christmas. Speaking of, my dream Christmas destination would be somewhere warm, I think please! I’m thinking Soho Beach House in Miami, it’s the coolest hotel, delish food, and fab ocean views. Heavenly.