Food, glorious food! I won’t lie, this is what Christmas is all about in our house. For me, Christmas starts as soon as I hear the first bar of a carol or spot my first twinkly decoration — I immediately go into planning overdrive, feverishly putting dates in the diary and coming up with different menus for each occasion.
From mince pies and mulled wine to turkey with all the trimmings, I love an excuse to get everyone together for food. Christmas Eve is such an exciting time in our house. During the day, I’ll usually be prepping the next day’s main event, so for our Christmas Eve supper, my feast of the fishes — inspired by an Italian-American tradition — is perfect for the occasion. It’s easy to prepare, light enough that you’re not overwhelmed ahead of the main feast and also makes a stunning celebratory centrepiece. I’ll serve it with skinny fries — because who has fish without chips?
Keeping with the Italian theme, I’ll be making these deliciously wintery bruschetta as a pre-dinner nibble, topped with a sweet and sticky mix of caramelised squash, red onion, nuts and honey. I won’t need to make a pudding because I always prep a few fruit crumbles at the start of the month and pop them in the freezer, so dessert is sure to be a crumble warm from the oven. It’s a great excuse to open that tub of Irresistible blackberry and sloe gin ice cream, which has been calling to me for weeks! Happy feasting!
Winter bruschetta (V)
Bruschetta isn’t just for summer!
Feeds 6 • Ready in 50 mins, plus cooling
- 800g butternut squash (peeled weight), cut into 2cm chunks
- 2 red onions, cut into wedges
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tbsp Co-op olive oil
- 1 tbsp Co-op cider vinegar
- 2 tsp thyme leaves (optional), plus sprigs to garnish
- 3 slices Co-op Irresistible white sourdough, halved
- 180g Co-op ricotta
- 2 tsp Co-op clear honey
- 40g mixed nuts (we used walnuts, almonds and cashews), chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Put the squash, onion and garlic in a roasting tray and drizzle over the olive oil and vinegar. Season and toss to coat the veg. Roast for 35-40 mins, adding the thyme (if using) for the last 15 mins, until the squash is soft and starting to caramelise. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
- Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and stir into the cooled veg. Lightly crush the squash with a fork. 3 Toast the sourdough, then spread with the ricotta. Top with the roasted veg, then drizzle over the honey and scatter with the nuts. Garnish with the thyme sprigs, if using, then serve.
Feast of the fishes with cheese fries
A really special seafood stew
Feeds 6 • Ready in 50 mins
- 750g potatoes, cut into thin chips
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 4 tbsp Co-op olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Co-op tomato purée
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- 3 x 400g cans Co-op chopped tomatoes
- 175ml red wine
- 250ml chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
- 1kg mixed fish (we used salmon and cod), cut into large chunks
- 150g raw king prawns, deveined
- 250g Co-op mussels in white wine, cooked according to the pack
- Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 20g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/Gas 7. Put the chips in a large roasting tin and cover with boiling water for 3 mins. Drain, then dry with a paper towel. Put in a bowl with the rosemary and 2 tbsp of the oil. Season, toss, then roast in the (dried) tin for 35-40 mins, or until golden.
- Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a large frying pan. Sweat the veg and garlic for 10 mins, until soft. Add the purée and chilli. Cook for 2 mins. Stir in the tomatoes, wine and stock, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 mins. Add the fish, cook for 3-4 mins, covered, then the prawns. Cook for 2-3 mins, until pink. Add the mussels, season, then scatter parsley on top.
- Toss the chips in the grated cheese, then serve with the fish stew.
Save time by using frozen Co-op Crispy French Fries: simply toss in grated Parmigiano Reggiano when cooked.
Crumble with blackberry & sloe gin ice cream (V)
Cook the crumble in six small ovenproof dishes if you prefer
Feeds 6 • Ready in 50 mins
- 6 Co-op Conference pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunky slices
- 340g Co-op frozen summer fruits
- 90g Co-op Fairtrade light brown soft sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 90g Co-op plain flour
- 70g porridge oats
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 90g Co-op unsalted butter, chopped into pieces
- 60g mixed nuts (we used walnuts, almonds and cashews), chopped
- 500ml tub Co-op Irresistible West Country cream blackberry & sloe gin ice cream
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ Gas 6. Toss the fruit with 40g of the sugar and the lemon juice, then tip into a pie dish and press down.
- For the crumble, mix the flour, oats, cinnamon and remaining sugar in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then toss through the nuts.
- Sprinkle over the fruit, then bake for 35-40 mins, or until the top is dark golden and bubbling. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.
Pick up instore
Co-op Irresistible West Country Cream Blackberry & Sloe Gin Ice Cream, 500ml
(Selected stores only, subject to availability)
Overnight christmassy sourdough French toast (V)
Prep this the night before and wake up to the most indulgent of Christmas breakfasts
Feeds 6 • Ready in 55 mins, plus overnight soaking
- 75g Co-op unsalted butter, softened
- 6 slices Co-op Irresistible Christmas sourdough, halved
- 6 Co-op British free range eggs
- 350ml Co-op semi-skimmed milk
- 75g Co-op Fairtrade light brown soft sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Zest of ½ orange
- 2 tsp icing sugar, to serve
- 2 tbsp maple syrup, to serve
- Rub the base of a 20cm-long oval baking dish with about a quarter of the butter. Spread the rest on each of the slices of bread, then layer up in the dish — you may have to cut some slices to fill gaps.
- Whisk the eggs with the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and orange zest in a bowl or jug to combine, then pour over the bread slices. Cover with cling film, then transfer to the fridge to soak overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6. Bake the French toast for 45 mins, then remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Dust with icing sugar and divide between 6 bowls. Drizzle with maple syrup to serve.
My French toast bake is ideal for a stress-free festive breakfast: slices of your bread of choice are layered in a baking dish, covered with a spiced egg custard and left to soak overnight. In the morning, just transfer to the oven and cook until golden. Gorgeous.