20 Dec

Christmas Dinner: The Perfect Plate

The weather is colder, the presents are wrapped, and now it’s time for the festive feast to begin. Cooking Christmas dinner is a complicated task on its own, let alone trying to please each of your guests’ palates. What do you do about those less favoured elements of the dinner to ensure that everyone around the dinner table is happy this Christmas?


We wanted to create some exciting and tasty alternatives to your Christmas dinner. So we asked three of the UK’s best food bloggers to ask their audience for their least favourite element of the classic festive dinner, and to come up with a tasty alternative to make it a bit more enjoyable for all.

Stuffed Turkey Parcels with Mushrooms and Champagne Sauce

After asking her readers for their least favourite part of Christmas dinner, Fiona from London-Unattached has been on a mission to make things better. Wave goodbye to dry turkey with this indulgent and special celebratory dish which maintains a festive flair, while ensuring carving tools are kept out of sight. It also is incredibly presentable, served in a way which stops the meat drying out. The turkey can be prepared in advance and doesn’t take long to cook. And better still, there won’t be any leftovers. Oh, and it has the bonus of leaving 2/3rds of a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine for you to share with your guests!


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 turkey breast fillets
  • 200 grams mixed mushrooms (I used 20 grams dried weight of dried porcini mushrooms and 150 grams chestnut mushrooms)
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 3 banana shallots
  • 1 handful of fresh thyme leaves


  • 100 ml fresh chicken stock
  • 200 ml champagne (or any dry sparkling wine)
  • 50 ml double cream (optional)
  • 8 slices of cooking pancetta (or 4 thin slices of streaky bacon)
  • Culinary string to tie (or toothpicks!)


  1. Set the oven to 190°C or 185°C for a fan oven
  2. If you are using dried porcini mushrooms, pop them in a glass of warm water for 10 minutes, then squeeze dry. I’ve used a mushroom stuffing, but you could easily make this dish with your own favourite stuffing mix!
  3. Peel and finely dice the shallots
  4. Wipe, trim and finely chop the mushrooms.
  5. Put the shallots into a pan with about a quarter of the butter and soften over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes till they are translucent and the edges are just starting to go brown
  6. Remove about a third and set to one side
  7. Now, add the mushroom mixture and cook for 5-10 minutes, adding another 25 grams of butter as necessary and stirring frequently. They are cooked when they are soft and buttery – don’t try to brown them.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and stir through the thyme leaves
  9. Take each turkey fillet and beat out between two layers of culinary cling film till they are about ¼ cm thick. Try to get an oblong shape and if any bits of the fillet start to fall apart, cut them off and reserve to use in a stir fry or soup!
  10. Divide the mushroom mixture into four and put in the centre of each beaten out fillet.
  11. Spread the mixture out with your fingers or the back of a knife, leaving about 1/4cm border around each fillet
  12. Fold the parcels up starting with the long sides of each fillet. Pull each side to meet in the centre, then fold up the first of the short ends, before folding the last short end over.
  13. Now, take your pancetta slices and use them to wrap around the sides of each of the parcels.
  14. Take the string and pull out about 20cm length. Wrap the string around the pancetta first and tie with a double knot. Put the cut end of the string under the parcel. Then, take the uncut end of the string over the smooth side of the parcel, then under where the folds meet and loop through the cut end of the string at 90 degrees. Bring the string back up and over, loop and cross underneath. Continue till you have eight ‘segments’ like an orange and pull the string so it is firm. Cut and knot at the side. If that all sounds too fiddly, you can just skewer your parcels with toothpicks!
  15. Melt 25grams of butter in a shallow casserole and brown the parcels on each side for about 5 minutes.
  16. Add about a third of the champagne to the bottom of the casserole and put the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes

To make the champagne sauce

  1. Melt the remaining butter in a small, heavy based saucepan
  2. Add the reserved shallots
  3. Now, add the remaining champagne and chicken stock and bring to a fast boil. Reduce down by about half.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. If you are using cream, allow the mixture to cool slightly before stirring through the cream. Then, heat back to a gentle simmer.
  6. Cut the string of the parcels and remove to serve
  7. Serve the parcels with the champagne sauce on the side, garnish with a few sprigs of thyme and serve. The parcels can be made in advance, browned off in the frying pan and then cooled and kept in the fridge overnight.

Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Almonds, and Cranberry Glaze

For Karen from Lavender and Lovage, she feels Brussels sprouts get a bit of an unfair deal: “It’s not their fault really; it’s the way they are cooked that makes this much maligned veggie so unpopular.” If you pan-fry (or roast) fresh sprouts, with butter or oils, they become a thing of culinary beauty which can be served on Christmas Day dinner with roast potatoes, carrots and all the trimmings. Meat eaters can even add a few smoked lardons when sautéing the shallots for an extra flavour dimension.


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 25g salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 500g button or baby sprouts, halved if too big


  • 40g flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce or jelly
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the butter and oil together in a large sauté pan and add the shallots; fry them over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the sprouts.
  2. Continue to fry the shallots and sprouts together, stirring all the time for about 4 to 5 minutes until the shallots are translucent and the sprouts are golden brown around the edges.
  3. Add the flaked almonds and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more before adding the cranberry sauce or jelly to the sprouts – stir to coat them, add the seasonings and serve immediately.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse Christmas Pudding Cake

If you, like Becky from English Mum’s audience, aren’t a fan of Christmas pudding, you’re not alone. Becky created a delicious festive alternative exclusively for you. With decadent layers of rich chocolate and a creamy peanut butter mousse, this tasty treat is a great alternative to Christmas day dessert! To create the dessert, you will need a (3 pint/1.7 litre) pudding basin. Place the pudding basin upside down on some baking paper and draw around it. You’ll need this template for the sponge cake layer, then lightly oil the pudding basin and line with cling film. Before you start, make sure you have room in your freezer for the basin to stand as you’ll need to freeze layers a little at a time.


Ingredients (serves 4)

For the peanut butter mousse:

  • 115g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 125g smooth peanut butter
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 150ml double cream

For the chocolate mousse:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs, separated


For the chocolate cake:

  • 115g butter
  • 115g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder


For the peanut butter mousse:

  1. Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and icing sugar until smooth.
  2. Next, whisk the double cream until fluffy, then gently fold into the peanut butter mixture until completely combined.
  3. Carefully spoon around a third of the peanut butter mousse into the bottom of the lined pudding basin to form the first layer. Place into the freezer to firm up. Reserve the rest in the fridge.

For the chocolate mousse:

  1. Pour the double cream into a saucepan and break in the chocolate. Place on a low heat and as soon as the cream is warm enough to melt the chocolate, turn the heat off, continuing to stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Leave to cool a little while you whisk the egg whites. Make sure that the cream/chocolate mixture is cool enough (it needs to be just lukewarm otherwise it will scramble the eggs) before mixing in the egg yolks.
  3. Next, fold in the whites, again take your time and wait until everything is a uniform colour.
  4. By this stage, the first layer should be firm enough, so spoon about half the chocolate mousse carefully into the pudding basin to form the second layer. Reserve the rest of the mousse in the fridge until you need it.

For the chocolate cake:

  1. Butter and line a 20cm loose-bottomed tin with greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 160/gas mark 3.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly mix the eggs and milk with a fork and add about half to the mixture. Beat well, then add about half the dry ingredients. Beat again, and then repeat the process with the rest of the egg mixture and the flour/cocoa.
  3. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool.
  4. Check the pudding in the freezer. If the second layer is firm enough, add the rest of the peanut butter mousse to form the third layer. If not, leave for another half an hour and try again.
  5. When the third layer is firm enough, smooth on the final layer of chocolate mousse and return to the freezer to firm up.
  6. To add the final cake layer, using your prepared template, cut the sponge to size, then place into the pudding basin, pressing firmly down with both hands.
  7. Cover with cling film and store in the freezer. Remove about half an hour before serving. Decorate with grated dark chocolate.

Wilted sprouts, dry turkey, and unfavourable Christmas pudding can all be things of the past with our delicious bespoke and alternative Christmas recipes.
So not only will the main part of your Christmas dinner be tasty, the sides, and dessert will be delicious too!