Tasty Turkey Brine

Christmas isn’t too far away (and there’s even Thanksgiving first), so thoughts will soon turn to the centrepiece of any holiday meal – the turkey.

If you’re looking to make your turkey even more special this year, you could try out this tasty turkey brine recipe. If you’ve been brining your turkey for years, you’ll love the truly festive flavour this brine gives it. And if you’ve never brined your turkey before, you’re in for a real treat.

What Makes the Perfect Christmas Party?

christmas-party

When it comes to planning a Christmas party, the thought alone is enough to instil dread in those who are responsible for the organisation of such an event. In theory, planning a Christmas party should be a relatively straightforward affair. But with so many people to please and so little time to do so, the whole affair can be an inconvenient hindrance.

Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure that your party planning goes swimmingly, and the event itself is a success.

Set the Date As Soon As Possible

Evidently Christmas is a busy period, and anyone who has been involved with the planning of a Christmas party in the past can testify that setting a date can be a job in itself. You should aim to set a date for the end of the week rather than the beginning, especially if the party is for members of staff. Planning a party for the Monday can see a productivity drop for the rest of the week.

Find out what dates are available at the location you’re thinking of booking. The top Christmas party venues in London will be in demand, so be prepared to act quickly – if you’re struggling to find a location, a site like Venue Snoop can help. Before you confirm you venue, send people a choice of dates. Remember, you won’t be able to cater for everyone, so you should just go with what’s popular.

You should also ensure that when the date is set for the party, that all invitees are aware of the date. You could send out correspondence nearer the time, or arrange it so the event shows up on their PC calendar.

Find Out Your Budget, and Stick To It

The budget is just as important as the date when it comes to organising. Try and find out what the budget is before planning a venue, as you could find that all the allocated funds are spent on the venue hire alone.

Consider what sort of Christmas party you’re looking for, and then ensure that this is the kind of event that staff members would attend.

Look through your options and decide what is needed and what is wanted, getting the most important factors out of the way first means that the rest of the planning should be a reasonably stress-free affair.

Research Your Entertainment

Whether you’re planning to have a live band, a DJ or both, you need to ensure that the talent you book is able to live up to expectations. Generally, many acts are professional and will give their audience a good show. But like any sector, there can be a few bad eggs who can turn a potential celebration into something of a downer.

If you’re in doubt, why not use an entertainment agency. They will have plenty of acts available for you to choose from, and will be able to provide references from satisfied clients. This means that you can be confident that the band are not only professional, but will be confident enough to entertain a room full of people with little effort.

Organise Transportation if Needed

When planning a Christmas party, it can be difficult to find a location that is suitable for everyone. While a venue may be within the captcha area of many people, there are some who may struggle to attend the event.

Planning transportation makes it easier for those who are further afield than others. It also shows that you’ve considered their needs. Little touches like these can make all the difference as to whether a person attends the party or not.

The point of a Christmas part is to ensure that everyone has a good time. Catering for everyone’s needs beforehand will ensure that they enter a calm and relaxed atmosphere and have a good night overall.

Fantastically Festive Foods

christmas-dinner-table

On the run up to Thanksgiving and Christmas there are many things to look forward to, from gifts and guests who rarely visit to the much looked forward to downtime that is the highlight of every year. However, an essential element to any holiday season is the seasonal and festive food that can be cooked up. From the focus all around food for thanksgiving, to the true star of Christmas day: the Dinner. We ourselves are most certainly getting in the mood for the delicious festivities, so with the help of some of our favourite recipe sites,we thought that we’d look at four traditional dishes and provide a few fresh ideas on classic Christmas and Thanksgiving dishes.

For Thanksgiving: Bacon Wrapped Turkey and Succulent Stuffing

Bacon-wrapped Turkey
A bacon wrapped turkey has three levels of delicious awesomeness. First and foremost it offers a simple way of cooking a succulent turkey; second it brings out the best in both the bacon and turkey as this really makes for a magical combination and third and finally it allows you to create a real show stopper through easy to do, but rather beautiful looking woven strips of bacon.

Turkey Stuffing with Cornbread Sausage, Apples and Pecans

Turkey makes for the traditional meat of Thanksgiving and when done correctly it can be delicious. However, Turkey is also known as a relatively dry meat and as such, in addition to bacon, the right stuffing for succulence is essential.

If you’re looking for stuffing that is a little bit different this year why not try cornbread, sausage, apple and pecan stuffing? This classic combination creates rich sweet juices from the apple with a wonderful meaty taste from the sausages; this is then all finished off with a bit of contrasting crunchy texture through the pecans.

For Christmas: Christmas pudding and Pignoli Cookies

The Ultimate Christmas pudding
Every Christmas dinner has one or two guests who are steadfast “no’s” to the Christmas pudding question. However this year may be different if you opt for the ultimate Christmas pudding recipe; and the secret behind this pudding that has seen it earn the title of ‘ultimate’? Well that’d be the magic mix between the Vodka, Cinnamon and specifically selected fruits. This is then all coupled with the traditional splash of sherry and a good measure of honey to sweeten and polish off the recipe.

Pignoli Cookies
Tins of shop bought biscuits always end up doing the rounds at Christmas, so why not go one better this year with some delicious Pignoli cookies? What’s more is that these cookies are both relatively easy to make and full of festive flavour!

These beautiful biscuits are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and originate from the culinary powerhouse that is Italy. They actually also serve as a treat that is both gluten free and dairy free which, when compared against pretty much every other Christmas pudding or treat, is quite the rarity. Taking just 30 minutes from start to finish this simple recipe only requires seven ingredients to create 36 cookies!

Tastes As Good As It Looks?

great-looking-spread

At Christmas, or any other time of the year for that matter, it seems that not a restaurant visit goes by without a few camera flashes that are capturing mighty meals, delicious looking desserts or cocktail creations; and whilst this is frequently a topic of discussion amongst others as to just how annoying it is, it is indicative of one thing, and that’s that we eat with our eyes first.

The Science Behind Good Looking Food

There have been many experiments into the effect of a dish’s appearance upon our taste buds, which each finding that good looking food tastes better. One such experiment involved the same dish being served to two groups of participants; one group were served up with the pasta dish coloured with flavourless red wine dye, whereas the other group where served the white wine based dish without the dye. Many of those in the former group used typical red wine descriptors, which suggested a solid link between how food looks and how we perceive it to taste.

Make Great Tasting Food Look Great

Making your home cooked dishes look beautiful needn’t see you signing up for a cordon bleu course, or thinking that presentation is for the restaurant dishes of tiny proportions only. Here we fill you in on our three essential tips for making your food look as good as it tastes.

Getting inspired
In many gastro pubs the presentation of dishes serves to not only make a dish look great, but the sauces and additions to the plate make for small touches packed full of taste.
Perfect examples include Brie served with rich apricot chutney; Salmon (and other types of fish) served with honey-roasted beetroot, vodka & lime crème fraiche and plum & balsamic chutney coupled with pates to create interest and a great looking rustic plate.
Check out some of your local Gastro Pubs’ menus to see how they work colour and interest into their dishes.

Throwing in some colour
Colour is vital within a dish. Even the otherwise greatest tasting casserole can look decidedly hum drum if its brown based isn’t lightened up with the addition of a colourful vegetable platter.

For those looking for a super straight forward way of introducing colour, why not look to some exotic examples that will serve as a talking point over the dinner table. You could add the tiny, tasty yellow berry of the Physalis to your deserts, or add one of the 42 flowers that are not only edible, but delicious (which helpfully come in every colour of the rainbow!).

Serving it all up in style
To finish off your now great looking and perfectly taste complimented dish, you now need to think about your plates, platters and side dishes.

A particularly sociable way of serving up your food is to have shared platters. This has the added benefit of guests feeling free to eat as much, or as little as they wish.

For rustic dishes, such as the classic roast or wonderfully fragrant shepherd’s pie, why not opt for a slate platter, and don’t forget a sprinkle of taste as well as appearance enhancing herbs.

Buying the Tastiest Turkey

christmas-turkey-dinner
With Christmas just around the corner, those of us that have chosen to have turkey for our festive dinner will probably have already started thinking about where to buy it from.

Sure, there is the convenience of the supermarkets, our recommendation for buying your food locally rather than the large food stores, is just as relevant at Christmas as it is for the rest of the year.

You probably already realise the benefits of buying the vegetables for your Christmas dinner from a local supplier, and how much better this can make them taste. Well, the same is true for your turkey.

For one thing, if you choose the right local supplier for your bird, you can be sure that it has been raised in the very best conditions – which is not just important from an animal welfare point of view, it’s also likely to have a big bearing on how the meat tastes.

If you want a spectacular looking turkey for your festive meal, you’re going to want it to taste as good as it looks, and unless you know where it’s come from and how it was raised, you might be disappointed.

Apart from the fact that a locally sourced, responsibly-farmed turkey is likely to taste better than one you get from the freezer of your local supermarket, you’re also likely to get a lot more choice. This is usually true in terms of the type and size of turkey, but also what it was raised on and how this might improve it’s taste.

We’re big advocates of buying as much as your food as possible from good, local suppliers, so it’s not surprise that we think this is just as important when it comes to your Christmas dinner. After all, this is on of the most spacial meals of the year, so why wouldn’t you want it to be the best it could be. And if you don’t want to wait till December to enjoy a great turkey dinner, here’s a great post that shows that turkeys are not just for Christmas.

It’s Christmas Time! Well, Not Really…

OK, so most people are probably thinking about summer, rather than what they are doing for Christmas – but we believe in being prepared!

Christmas may be a few months off, but we wanted to put together a site that would help people with what can often cause all sorts of stress, but should be one of the biggest and best parts of Christmas – the food!

So yes, we may be starting a bit early, but when it gets to December and you’re starting to panic – you’ll be glad we’re here. To get us started, here’s a short video with some Christmas dinner planning tips.