Christmas Day Prep – The best tips for the big day from our expert team!

 

The lead-up to Christmas can be, in equal parts, exciting and stressful. Shopping mall Santas and elves cast disapproving looks as you frantically buy last-minute gifts, and jolly Christmas songs haunt you as you scour the supermarket shelves for a turkey, only to realise that everyone else bought theirs last week!

Never fear, we do this every year – and can confidently call ourselves ‘Christmas Connoisseurs’. Even if, this year, you aren’t spending the festive period in one of our fantastic properties available for Christmas, we can certainly share with you some of our tried and tested advice for a hassle-free Christmas day.

We asked our experienced Chefs for their top Christmas dinner tips, and our Chalet Managers for decorating ideas to wow your guests. We’ve even made you a soothing and festive Christmas dinner playlist, to set the perfect mood – without Mariah’s whistle notes interrupting the dinner table chatter. All you have to do is get your loved ones together and enjoy the best bits of a Bramble Ski Christmas experience, wherever you may be.

A crisis-free (and delicious) Christmas Dinner – According to Bramble Ski Chefs

Our Chefs know how to do Christmas dinner, and have got the timing down to a fine art. From tailoring the menu to incorporate our guest’s favourites, to perfecting The Art Of The Roast Potato – they are not only skilled in traditional Christmas cookery, but at adapting to whatever their guest’s traditional Christmas looks like.

There are some things that don’t vary, however – the importance of preparation, timing, ALWAYS serving the main course on nice warm plates and the impression of effortlessness (despite the effort you’ve gone to!).

Read on for the ultimate tips and tricks from the best in the business.

 

Christmas dinner images

 

1. Plan, plan, plan

As over-the-top as it may seem, we love a good spreadsheet or list to lay out all your timings, keep you on track and ultimately save you stress on the big day! Break it down day by day, as you’ll want to start prepping your dessert and veg, marinating your meat and making your sauces up to 2 days before. 

2. T’was the night before Christmas…

Do whatever you can the day before – make the cranberry sauce and store it in your serving pots, ready to go straight on the table. Prep your veg –  you can peel and keep your potatoes in a pan on the stove, ready to turn on to boil the next day. Get your dessert out of the way, Christmas cake tastes best when a little aged anyway, trifle layers can be pre-made and assembled when needed, and steam-cooked Christmas pudding can be stored in the fridge ready to be presented with a drizzle of brandy, a flame and a flourish (to rounds of admiring applause). 

3. Bye-bye (dry) birdie

Chef Alex Langley advises – “Brine your Turkey 24h before to moisten it and lock in all the flavour. Add plenty of aromatics such as garlic, thyme and lemon, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, sage, and juniper berries to create a delicious flavour.” Dry turkey is a thing of the past! Bonus tip: If making stuffing, always cook it on the side, not in the bird.

4. Save that oven space!

“Save oven space by having a cold starter that’s simple to prepare or can be prepared in advance, such as a terrine or smoked salmon.” Says Chef Alex Langley. There are some amazing recipes out there for delicious cold starters that can be pre-prepared and assembled on the day with a mere flick of the wrist. You’ll be hailed as a Christmas Wizard!

5. All hail the perfect roasties

“For perfect crispy roast potatoes – Peel them the night before, then boil in salted water for 10 mins, drain well till relatively dry, and fluff them up by shaking them in the colander. Coat them in semolina to create a really crispy crust, then salt and roast them till golden at 200°C in goose fat. Add lots of garlic and rosemary halfway through roasting to flavour them without burning the added ingredients.” – Bramble Ski Group Head Chef Brett Raybould. Take it from him. 

6. Beloved Brussels

All the family (even the kids!) will learn to love this unfavourable festive veg, when prepared Chef Brett Raybould’s way. “Fry the lardons, reserving the fat. Rinse and halve your brussel sprouts, douse them in the bacon fat and roast them from raw. Then toss in the fried lardons, toasted pecans, butter and maple syrup for extra texture and umami flavour. Add dried cranberries for extra sweetness, if desired” Boring Brussels are no more!

 

Christmas brussel sprouts

 

Impress your vegan & veggie relatives on Christmas eve – Chef Phillippa Fern

Being a vegetarian or vegan can be a bit lonely at Christmas. While the centrepiece turkey dazzles your fellow guests, you get served a slice of a haphazard attempt at a nut roast.

If you’re hosting, luckily nowadays there are a plethora of wonderful recipes online to follow for creative and tasty meat-free mains (just remember to follow the steps word for word to avoid disaster!)

What is less often considered, however, are the Christmas Eve nibbles. It is easy enough to throw together a cheese board or charcuterie last-minute – but vegan options are easily overlooked (especially if you have put all your focus on the show-stopping mushroom wellington for the following day)!

Don’t fret about trying to make stuffed peppers seem festive. We’ve got you covered – or rather our talented Chef Phillippa Fern does. Specialising in vegan cuisine, she gave us some fantastic ideas for a unique grazing platter that will knock the socks off of your non-meat-eating guests on Christmas Eve.

 

Vegan Christmas nibbles images

 

1. Pickled Brussel Sprouts

“So good for nibbles / canapés / cheese boards and they last forever. Add any veggies you have lying about in your fridge. Broccoli / Sliced Ginger / Radish / Kohlrabi.” – Chef Phillippa.

RECIPE: 150ml Apple Cider Vinegar, 200ml Distilled water (to top up), Brussel sprouts, 3 tbsp Sugar, 1 tbsp Salt, 1 Star anise, Cinnamon, Dill, Cloves, Pink Peppercorns, Chilli (to taste).

Sterilise your jar. Place the vinegar, sugar, salt and aromatics in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Place rinsed and halved Brussels sprouts in the jar (using gloves to keep everything sterile). Pour over the pickling liquid, and top with water.

Seal and leave on a window sill at room temperature for 3 days, turning upside down every now and then, then transfer to the fridge. These should be ready after this time to eat, but the flavour will get better the longer you leave them. They will last up to three months in the fridge. Remember to use the juices too!

(Fills a 1.5L jar)

 

2. Pickled Tumeric Cauliflower

“So tasty, and not to mention anti-inflammatory for our poor livers over Christmas!” – Chef Phillippa.

RECIPE: 150ml Apple Cider Vinegar, 200ml Distilled water (to top up), Medium sized cauliflower, 4 Whole chillies, 3 Bay leaves, 2 Star anise, Pink peppercorns, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp Turmeric.

Sterilise your jar. Put half of the dry spices into the bottom of the jar (using gloves to keep everything sterile). Add your rinsed cauliflower florets. Add remaining dry spices and vinegar, and top up with water.

Seal and leave on a window sill at room temperature for 3 days, turning upside down every now and then, then transfer to the fridge. These should be ready after this time to eat, but the flavour will get better the longer you leave them. They will last up to three months in the fridge. Remember to use the juices too!

(Fills a 1.5L jar)

 

3. Popcorn

“I love doing different flavours for popcorn. Amazing as a healthy alternative to crisps. My fave at the moment is olive oil and nori. It goes so well with a glass of fizz.” – Chef Phillippa.

 

4. Toasted Seaweed Flax Crackers

“So yum and so easy and they always impress people. Another healthy and gluten-free alternative to crackers. Mix the flavours up with spices like Turmeric and Black Pepper or Nutmeg and Ginger.” – Chef Phillippa.

RECIPE: Ground flaxseeds, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Toasted Nori, Splash of Water.

Make a spreadable paste and bake at 150°C for 30 mins. Flip and bake until dried out.

 

5. Marinated Olives

“Buy some olives in good olive oil and add your own flavours to them. Here are some of my faves.” – Chef Phillippa.

ADD-INS: Chilli, Sliced Garlic, Thyme, Rosemary, Pink Peppercorns, Orange Rind.

Leave in the fridge for a week, making sure they are submerged in olive oil.

 

6. Festive Granola

“This granola is perfect for snacking and a great alternative to spiced nuts. Mix it up with different flavours or keep it traditional and have it on Xmas morning. Make it savoury granola by adding Seaweed/Miso/Curry Powder.” – Chef Phillippa.

RECIPE:

300g Mixed Whole Nuts

100g Mixed Seeds – flax/sesame/chia

100g Sunflower Seeds 

70g Tahini Paste

50g Olive/Coconut oil

1 tsp ground ginger 

1 Tsp sea salt 

100g coconut flakes

100g dried cranberries 

Zest of 1 orange

Combine the nuts/seeds/tahini/oil/ginger and salt and mix together. Bake at 150°C for 25 minutes. Add the coconut flakes for a further 5 minutes. Allowed to cool and then fold in the cranberries and zest. This is last up to 1 month in a sealed container.

 

7. Cranberry ‘Wensleydale’ Nut Cheese

“This vegan version of the festive favourite is a real show stopper, and so easy to make! Your vegan guests will be amazed!” – Chef Phillippa.

RECIPE:

100g cashews, soaked in boiled water for 1/2 an hour
20g blanched almonds, soaked in boiled water for 1/2 an hour
2 tbsp fermented kimchi brine (1 probiotic capsule)
50-100g distilled water
30g dried Cranberries, chopped
1 tsp agave/maple syrup
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Squeeze of lemon
.
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Combine the nuts, kimchi brine or probiotic and 50-80g of water in a high-speed blender and blitz until smooth.
Fill a cheesecloth with the mixture, hang and leave to ferment at room temperature over a bowl for 24 hours.
Remove the cheese from the cloth into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
Line the ring mould with greaseproof paper and sit it on a plate.
Fill and compact the cheese mixture inside the mould (or ramekin), level the top with a knife and let it sit in the fridge for a further 12 hours to set.
Remove the parchment and enjoy with some flax crackers, homemade chutney and some pickled Brussels.
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Friends at Christmas

Setting the scene – table decorating tips from our Chalet Manager Emily

The Christmas table is the frame for the masterpiece that will be your Christmas dinner! So make it beautiful.

You can spend hours scouring Pinterest to find clever ideas and a look that suits not only your personal style, but also pairs well with other elements in your dining room interior. From laid-back, chic Christmas decorations to glamourous, sparkly table set-ups, here are a few tips that can work, whatever your style.

Tried and tested by our Haute Montagne Chalet Manager Emily, these ideas are all very simple to pull off, yet very effective. She is responsible for overseeing the decoration of many of our Verbier chalets each December, – and does it all at lightning speed during the busiest period in our calendars.

 

Christmas table decoration inspiration images

1. Forage your foliage

Pine branches and pine cones are all around us this time of year, grab them from the garden to lay across the table for free, seasonal decoration (and they smell amazing!) You can even spray them with snow spray or glitter to jazz them up.

2. A sweet setting

Candy canes with name labels attached make adorable place settings, plus the edible factor makes them extra appealing – for kids and adults alike. Other ‘sweet’ ideas include using fresh or dried fruit and spices on the table – whole pomegranates, dried orange or blood orange rounds, star anise and cinnamon sticks can all be used creatively to add colour and seasonal fun.

3. Unexpected yet effective

Christmas baubles can be placed under upside-down wine glasses as fun and easy decorative pieces, adding height and colour. Place a tealight on top of the upturned base, and no one will even know they were wine glasses to begin with! Ta-da!

4. Perfect your fold

Whatever decorative style you prefer, there’s a napkin fold to match. If a cool, paired-back Christmas is your thing, a simple neutral linen napkin pulled through a pretty ring with a sprig of rosemary or thyme tucked in is so simple yet effective. Similarly, a neatly rolled napkin secured with twine and a festive posy looks pretty. If you prefer something with a bit more wow factor, Christmas tree napkin folds are easy to master, and elf shoe napkin folds will delight children! There are plenty of instructions online that you can find in seconds for these and many more.

5. Set the mood!

Finally, when all your nearest and dearest are sat around the table, set the mood with our soothing and festive Christmas dinner playlist. Featuring Michael Buble, Eartha Kitt, Norah Jones, other classic crooners and jazzy background tracks to give a healthy dose of festive ambience, without overtaking the dinner table chatter.

 

From our Bramble Ski family to yours, have a wonderful Christmas!

 

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