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Cooking for a British Christmas

There are two holidays in a British Christmas, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A traditional British Christmas will have its climax on Christmas Day with a roast dinner and the exchange and opening of presents; this is a day exclusively for the family. Celebrations have not finished, Boxing Day calls for more informal entertainment, but it is still festive.

Boxing Day is a British holiday, also introduced in other countries of the Commonwealth, celebrated typically the day after Christmas. There are different theories as to its origins, the most popular says Boxing Day is the day the servants would have free to open their presents –in boxes- and receive gifts –in boxes- from their employers, after having to work for them – double shift probably - on Christmas Day. There are not many servants today and Boxing Day has become an extension of Christmas celebrations to friends and acquaintances, calling for a more informal entertainment, but still festive.

A Christmas dinner

Roast turkey with all the trimmings is at the center of a British Christmas. Those traditional trimmings include stuffing, it can be any of your choice, bacon rolls, roast potatoes, turkey gravy, made ith turkey stock, for sure, and bread sauce, possibly. Seasonal vegetables are served on the side. As Christmas is supposed to be a day of bounty, sometimes, delicious Yorkshire pudding will come to the table in addition to the potatoes.

Christmas pudding and mince pies always make an appearance on the Christmas table. Such a magnificent dinner should have a light starter: consommé or a light creamy soup. Receive your guests with a glass of warm mulled wine. The table will be decked out in festive linen and a traditional Christmas cracker will sit on each table place for the dinners to crack open, with the help of neighbor dinners, of course.

These turkey tips explain how to choose, prepare and cook a turkey. After a recipe for a traditional roasted turkey, let's talk about turkey leftovers; because we don’t like to waste anything and we don’t want to eat more of the same either… “Recycling” leftovers into other delicious dishes only requires a bit of imagination.

Boxing day bash

Festive food takes center of stage in any celebrations, but after cooking for Christmas Day one does not feel tempted to present another labor intensive menu on Boxing Day.

Food should be kept relatively simple, avoiding excessive kitchen work on the day. Choose some recipes to prepare in advance, a quiche or savory tart, perhaps. Using a pie dish in the shape of any Christmas symbol will give your tart a welcomed festive twist. On the same line, why not use the Christmas colors –red and green- in your ingredients?

Boxing Day also demands lighter fare to counteract possible excesses on the previous day and to ease the pressure on waistlines. Salads are refreshing, making you feel light and clean, as if removing any rich food from your system. A selection of salads is in order.

Having been treated to a lavish formal meal the day before, Boxing Day calls for more relaxed entertaining, perhaps a laying out a buffet table.

With all those ideas in mind, a Boxing Day buffet should display a selection of salads, cold meats, desserts, and drinks. Any leftover turkey has a place on the buffet. Other favorite is baked glazed ham, not difficult to prepare at all. Make one of the desserts a refreshing fruit salad but don’t forget a delicious trifle.

The table should have Christmas crackers. Crhistmas crackers should be pulled apart by two people, each holding one of the ends. When the cracker splits, there will be a bang and one of the tow would be left holding the largest part. That person is entitle to keep the little gift stored inside the Christmas cracker.

Learn about other British food traditions such their afternoon tea. Create your own afternoon tea break, scones included.