It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas around here ... fairy lights inside and out, the tree's decorated and the doors are bedecked with evergreen wreathes. And I'm concocting menus. Of course, there'll be roast turkey with all the trimmings, traditional Christmas pudding, mince pies and Christmas cake. But, like many other families we've got another list of must have foods and rituals that are essential for our Christmas celebrations ...
1. There absolutely has to be a chocolatey dessert and it's usually either chocolate truffle torte, bûche de noël or chocolate and chestnut roulade. I've tweaked the truffle torte recipe this year, flavouring it with brandy, coffee and clementines, adding sticky prunes to the sponge base and decorating it with pistachio coated truffles. I've tried it. I think they'll like it. This is the recipe for individual gluten and dairy free chocolate truffle tortes.
2. Going to the garden to pick brussels sprouts on Christmas morning and serving homegrown vegetables with the turkey. Growing the veg doesn't always go to plan but this year we can tick all the boxes - red cabbage, brussels, parsnips, shallots for the bread sauce and potatoes which are in the freezer, parboiled and ready to roast.
3. Thick slices of fruity, marzipan filled stollen with freshly brewed coffee have to be one of the best christmassy breakfasts.
4. Mulled wine - it's Christmas, need I say any more?
5. Decorating the house with foliage and berries gathered from the garden. My favourites at this time of year are skimmia japonica flowers, variegated euonymous, laurel especially the variety Otto Luyken and it wouldn't be Christmas without holly and ivy. Naturally, not forgetting to choose the perfect sprig of holly to decorate the Christmas pud.
6. And finally, we'll be kicking off the festivities on Christmas Eve with, the now customary, glasses of egg nog and spicy gingerbread Christmas trees.
Wishing you and your families a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
See you in 2013 ...