Stocking up for Christmas: Peggy's festive picks

Related tags Christmas eve Christmas

I can't believe we're already taking Christmas bookings, I've only just shaken the sand out of my smalls from that fortnight in Malaga. We've got a...

I can't believe we're already taking Christmas bookings, I've only just shaken the sand out of my smalls from that fortnight in Malaga.

We've got a lovely new Polish lad in the kitchen, Zachariasz - you wouldn't believe the trouble we had finding the letters for his name badge. He's says he's going to cook the regulars a traditional Polish Christmas dinner, but just in case not everyone likes beetroot soup and carp I'm stocking up on a few other bits and pieces too.

Mr Crumb gourmet pre-cooked stuffing

I do like a good stuffing, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed last Christmas. Mr Crumb makes over 300 ready-cooked varieties of the stuff, and they're all available for the first time in England after the company set up a London base. It's all made with fresh, natural ingredients and is available loose, shaped, chilled or frozen - all ready to heat up and serve.

Mr Crumb: 00 353 87 415 8518,

Brakes Butternut Squash and Cashew Nut Roast

If you're anything like me, there's nothing more mouth-watering than meat and two veg. But, when it comes to roasts, some don't go in for the traditional Christmas dinner. With veggies and health-conscious sorts in mind, we're introducing this butternut squash and nut roast to the menu. It's made of cashew nuts, almonds and pine nuts, butternut squash, and topped with creamy Brie cheese. It also comes with a separate sachet of redcurrant and orange sauce.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Moy Park light bites

We're going to do a buffet again this year despite the mess the WI made last time. I've told then they're on a last warning, and we'll be watering down the sherry. Moy Park has got a range of snacking options, like these goats cheese bites, and also breaded or roasted wings and drumsticks, nuggets, mini fillets and dippers, and breaded or battered vegetables.

Moy Park: 0800 085 2749,

Brakes Ardennes Paté

I don't really know what the "sous vide method" is, but it sure makes this paté tasty. Brakes have used the cooking style for this Ardennes pork paté, with plum pieces and brandy. It's great served as a starter, with melba toast, and comes packed in a plastic mould which means it retains its shape.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Tilda's Frozen Rice Pouches

Curry is an every-night thing for some of our regulars, whatever the time of year. And they got pretty angry that time we under-stocked on rice in favour of seasonal veg. That's where these frozen pouches come in handy. I can keep a good stock of these 200g sachets in the walk-in freezer, and they come in American Long Grain, Basmati and Pilau varieties.

Tilda: 01708 717 777,

Brakes Turkey Breast with Apple, Cranberry and Port Stuffing

My breasts were the talk of the town this time last year. They turned out to be by far the most popular part of the turkey dinners on our menu. This time around, we're stocking up on these portions with apple, cranberry and port stuffing. Brakes has developed a frozen version - a raw, netted boned and rolled single lobe turkey breast, stuffed throughout, and supplied in a roasting bag.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Cherry Valley Honey Roast Half Crown Duck

"Alright, duck," has always been a traditional greeting round these parts, but since we put the tasty meat on our Christmas starter menu, customers have increasingly been saying it to me as part of their order. This new duck on the bone product is easy to prepare. The honey flavour complements the duck taste perfectly and each portion is a breast with a wing joint, which is the only bone content.

Cherry Valley: 01472 371 271,

Brakes Classic Canapé Selection

Canapés, how classy! When I started out in this game, canapés meant a chicken drumstick and a pork pie. Now it's crostinis that are all the rage. This selection includes three varieties: Brussels paté and cranberry, avocado and prawn, and pepper salsa and goats cheese. Ready to serve after defrosting.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Chalice Infused Oils

Come the end of December, our regular's shirt buttons will be popping off. Maybe I can sneak some healthy Italian-style food into their diets with these infused oils, which come in lemon, garlic, basil and chilli varieties. I could fold some of the lemon oil into cream cheese and use it as a topping for canapés. Now there's a thought.

Chalice: 01482 332100,

Pritchitts Millac Dairy Whipping Cream

Our customers are a picky bunch when it comes to cream - some complain if it's not thick enough, and some send their pudding back if it's not dolloped in a perfect ball on top. So this is great because it can be either poured or whipped. It can also be saved well into the New Year as it's got a shelf life of five months.

Pritchitts: 0845 1300 307,

Brakes seasonal soups

What is it with soup these days? I'm not sure some of these ingredients existed when I started out in the kitchen, bubbling up big vats of oxtail soup. Parsnip, butternut squash and chilli is a new one on me. This, and Brakes winter greens and stilton soup, can simply be heated and served.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Woodward Foodservice Mincemeat, Apple and Cranberry Crumble Slice

Ever the innovator, I've pulled one out the bag here, with this combo of two classics - the mince pie and the crumble. This is a selection of winter fruits sandwiched between a butter shortcake base and a cinnamon crumble topping. It comes frozen, and is ready to serve after defrosting. Lovely smothered in brandy butter.

Woodward Foodservice: 0870 600 6465,

Brakes Individual Christmas Puddings

That letter from Claims Direct about the swallowed sixpence made us think twice about Christmas puds. Nevertheless, you can't ignore them. These puddings are moist and fruity, with a hint of spices. They're flavoured with cider and sherry and contain distinct pieces of fruit and peel. Packaged in single-person portions, each comes in a microwaveable container, and can be microwaved or steamed.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Askeys Christmas Brandy Snap Baskets

My time is at a premium when puddings are flying out of the kitchen, so I'll definitely be adopting Askeys' brandy snap baskets for a simple Christmas recipe. Just beat some chestnut purèe with icing sugar, fold in cream and grated chocolate, and dollop the mixture in the baskets. Decorate with chocolate curls, and Bob's your uncle.

Askeys: 01296 310 208,

Brakes Turkey Paupiette

Time was when turkeys were turkeys. You shoved the bird in the oven, and the carving rights went to dad. Nowadays, customers are demanding ever-fancier cuts, and that's where these paupiettes come in.

Filled portions of turkey with a mixed vine fruits stuffing, they are cooked in a pouch pack. They come with a port and fruit wine jus for that extra Christmassy feeling.

Brakes: 020 7599 5600,

Related topics Events & Occasions

Property of the week


- Leasehold

Village position close to Reading and Newbury Extensively renovated public house Bar, conservatory, snug and function room (80-90) Four en suite letting bedrooms Two bedroom owner/staff accommodation Part-covered trade garden...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more