Here are some top tips from local Author Liz Ashworth about how to make your Christmas meal extra special.

Liz Ashworth has been involved with, and written about food for over 40 years. She is passionate about preserving our Scottish Food heritage and promoting local food producers whenever she can. Author of over fifteen cookery books including The ‘Teach the Bairns’ series, she has written about her life experiences in many newspaper and magazine features and is a member of the Guild of Food Writers.

Liz has produced a Walled Garden recipe book for us containing over 50 recipes. The book is intended to take the connection between chef and gardener one step further and continues our ‘Plot to Plate’ ethos. We’re passionate about growing the finest produce and getting it onto the plate as quickly as possible. Within the ancient walls of our garden we grow well over 350 varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs, many of which date back hundreds of years. The book is £5 and can be purchased here. 

Try a different ‘mash’ this year!

Heaven and Earth
A popular German dish of mashed potato mixed with stewed apple – it is delicious.  Serve separate bowls of hot mashed potato and smooth stewed apples so each diner can mix their own.

Potato and Pear Puree – Serves 4
450g (1lb) potatoes – peeled and cut into pieces
450g (1lb) pears – peeled, cored and chopped
Simmer in boiling salted water till tender. Drain and mash with butter till smooth. Season with grated root ginger or ground ginger and serve hot.

Parsnip and Potato Mash
Simmer equal quantities of potatoes and parsnip in boiling salted water till tender.  Drain. Mash smooth with butter, milk and a little nutmeg to season. Serve hot.

Kathryn’s Lemon Mash
Friend Kathryn makes this light mashed potato. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water till tender, drain, steam, mash with a little olive oil and lemon zest. Season to taste and serve hot.

The Ultimate Crisp Roast Potatoes
Roast potatoes that remain crisp to the last mouthful.

Choose a starchy dry potato like King Edward, Maris Piper or Rooster. Peel, cut to even size, cover with cold salted water, boil then simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well. Shake to fluff the outside, important for crispness. Choose an oil or fat with a high smoking point. Heat about 2cm ( ¾ in) oil in a deep roasting tin. Add the drained potatoes and turn to coat. Roast at 180C,(160C fan) 350F, Gas 4,  till golden turning occasionally.  Drain on kitchen towel and keep crisp in the warm oven before serving.

What to do with the vegetables?

Brussel Sprouts and Almonds
Melt a little butter in a pan, add flaked almonds and a handful of breadcrumbs, stir till golden, season with nutmeg if liked, sprinkle over the hot sprouts and serve. Equally as good with cauliflower or broccoli.

Tagliatelle of Courgettes and Carrots
Use a potato peeler to peel the prepared courgette and carrot into thin strips. Steam for 5 minutes or till tender. Toss with sea salt and black pepper. Serve at once.

Neep Purry
Beat tender boiled turnip with butter and ground ginger. Serve hot.

Easy roasting!

Roasting the ‘Bird’!!
Stuffing helps to keep the flesh moist, however, it makes life easier to keep stuffing separate and serve a selection to suit different tastes.

To avoid a dry ‘bird’ pop an onion, pear and or apple and perhaps a sprig of thyme or rosemary into the body cavity, (or lay a turkey crown on a bed of the chopped vegetable and fruit ) rub the breast well with oil or soft butter and lay rashers of bacon over to add flavour and keep in moisture, splash with wine, stock or water before roasting on low trivet, in a deep roasting tin surrounded by a ‘foil tent’. Calculate the cooking time by the weight of the bird – generally 20 minutes per kg (2.2 lbs) plus 90 minutes. The meat is cooked when the juices run clear when probed with sharp knife or skewer. Remove from the oven and drain the juices into a pan. Cover the tented ‘bird’ with a thick towel to keep the heat and allow the flesh to rest before carving.

The juices will make good gravy. Allow to simmer and reduce slowly, season to taste with salt and pepper and add a generous spoon of Gordon Castle Cranberry and Redcurrant sauce and or a glug of Gordon Castle Plum Gin. Serve hot with the main course.

Sticky Cranberry and Redcurrant Sausages – Serves 4 people
Great way to serve all those extra sausages! A great nibble with some mulled wine at a party.

450g (1lb) sausages
2 tablespoons Gordon Castle Cranberry sauce with Redcurrants
1 tablespoon Gordon Castle Marmalade with Elderflower
1 dessertspoon Gordon Castle runny honey
Salt and pepper
Grated zest of 1 orange

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan), 350F, Gas 4. Line a roasting tin with foil and oil well. Prick the sausages, lay in the tin and cook for 10 minutes in the oven. Mix the cranberry sauce with the marmalade, honey, salt and pepper and orange zest. Remove the sausages from the oven and coat well with the cranberry mix. Roast a further 10 to 15 minutes (turning as required) till tender and caramelised. Serve hot or cold.

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