Anna’s Kitchen Notes

The Modern Pantry’s Anna Hansen suggests some non-traditional ingredients for Christmas…

I love Christmas, yet it tends to sneak up on me unexpectedly. After 44 years I am slowly becoming accustomed to this fact and have started to prepare in advance. It’s not just the obvious things like turkey and mince pies. The key to a stress-free Christmas is to ensure I have a few of my favourite goodies stashed away to treat myself, my family and friends dropping by over the festive period.

Top of the list is cooking chorizo. The Quality Chop House Shop on Farringdon Road stocks Brindisa chorizo. Not only does it make a tasty canapé, grilled and served on a toothpick with chutney, but it is perfect for making Scotch quail eggs or accompanying a Christmas breakfast fry up.

While you’re at The Quality Chop House Shop you can also pick up a block of Shaun Searley’s suet and butter crust pastry (look in the freezer). It’s perfect for anything savoury, but mini sausage rolls are always a quick and easy treat. I like to double cheat and buy the Tuscan fennel-seed sausages from Gazzano’s on Farringdon Road. Here you can also buy lardo to thinly slice and serve on warm bruschetta. And what would Christmas be without a pannettone to thickly slice, toast and slather with butter, and serve with a slab of decent cheddar?

I also like to have a carton of egg whites (find them at Waitrose) to whip up batches of meringues (small ones for cocktail canapés and large for an alternative to Christmas pudding) to flavour with pink peppercorns or star anise. The cartons have a long shelf life and also freeze very well. Last but not least, I have a selection of my favourite cheeses and plenty of freshly baked oatcakes on hand (though Nairn’s gluten free oatcakes are surprisingly good). I make the dough ahead of time and freeze it until needed. I’ve recently discovered Blackwood’s cheese marinated in garlic and Argan oil. So good, especially served on oatcakes with The Modern Pantry’s confit watermelon rind.