Arguably the most important meal of the year, Christmas dinner is the one time that we really try to get it right [read: perfect] in our family. Although we’re not turkey eaters [shhh!] and still prefer chicken [and so does our bank manager], we love preparing all of the sides and trimmings that we don’t have the rest of the year around and making it look amazing at the table. So this year I decided to share my must-have appliances and the tableware in this Christmas Dinner Guide that I’m using this year to try and lure three little boys from what Father Christmas has delivered and up to a table topped with the biggest bowl of my favourite vegetables ever. There’s absolutely no denying that Gav is the chef in the family. I love the shopping, chopping, preparing and even serving – but when it comes to all of those recipes and timings, my mind boggles. So above are some of the gadgets and cooking bits that he uses and loves.
a – Le Creuset
I love that I can have Father Christmas red this year thanks to a very amazing American friend. Our day to day set of Le Creuset pans are over 22 years old now and don’t look any older than the day I carried them home on the bus in my late teens. I think they might have been the first thing I ever put in my “bottom drawer” [or hope chest if you’re American] and they were absolutely the best investment I ever made for our kitchen. If you’re thinking of buying and in doubt about whether they are worth it, don’t be; they are worth every single penny. Plus, my Granny always said that if ever we had a home invader, one wallop with a Le Creuset saucepan and it would all be over for them.
b – Le Creuset Bakeware
I love new bakeware – every Christmas I buy new mince pie tins and cookie sheets for the boys to bake with, and I had no idea until a few weeks ago that I could get Le Creuset bakeware. I haven’t found a brand of tin that I love yet and so I’m hoping these will be the miracle bakeware that I need in my life. I found ours in John Lewis.
Our old steamer said goodbye this year as we only had one handle left on it and it had seen far better days, and we were kindly sent a very shiny and new set from ProCook. It’s a 20cm stockpot & lid with large 4.4L capacity and two 20cm steamer inserts. The steamer is heavy duty and there are 85 steam vents in the base, and I cannot wait to let my sprouts and kalettes [my absolute favourite vegetables] steam away in the kitchen without panicking that my mother in law will wander in and see our old steamer and shudder. Haha. It’s much lighter than our old steamer, and beautifully shiny, with a bridge lid instead of a round knob like our old one [which had fallen off ashamedly, haha]. Steamers are the best investment in the kitchen – we use ours so often that I can’t imagine life without it. This one is also oven safe to 260 degrees.
d – Chicken Brick*
We were sent this amazing piece of kitchenware from Sous Chef and we fell in love with it immediately. It’s used widely in France we’re told, and we adore it. I’m a huge fan of slow cookers, except my chickens always look quite bland after a spell in one of those. The chicken brick is a terracotta miracle which not only keeps your chicken moist until everyone is ready to eat, but also lets it brown too. Ours has pride of place on top of the range. It needs specific care with washing and instructions need to be followed carefully, but we’re looking forward to using this on Christmas day because we have no fear of our meat drying our whilst I get the timings squiffy for everything.
e – Kitchen Aid [Copper]
There’s never an occasion that I can’t use a Kitchen Aid mixer for – and after seeing my mom’s new pistachio one, I fell in love with this copper edition which has such a Christmassy feel about it. So festive and I can already imagine myself baking our Christmas cupcakes. The Kitchenaid comes with a wide range of culinary tools including those used for creating smooth frosting, which saves so much time [and pain] compared to mixing manually.
In my 20s, hangovers were bearable – but now, with three little boys who LOVE Christmas, avoiding a hangover at all costs is high on my agenda. That being said, the less I drink, the easier it seems to be for drink to affect me. I had no idea that the sulphites in wine [especially as I prefer red] which act as preservatives, can also be a cause of the hangover feeling themselves! The Üllo [pronounced Oo-Low] aerates and purifies the wine as it’s poured through, removing selective sulphites – leaving wine tasting as it should, without the nasties added in. I’m looking forward to testing this with my in-laws to see what they think as they have travelled to quite a few vineyards in France on holidays, and tasted far more wine than I have. We’ve wrapped this up for them and we’re pretty sure they’ll never have received anything like this before!
g – Superfast Thermapen Digital Thermometer*
No one likes food poisoning, especially at holiday time – and it’s not considered good form to undercook your meat at Christmas. I panic when cooking any kind of meat that I can’t deem cooked easily, and so I also tend to overcook – unless it’s in a slow cooker and then I cook it for as many hours as possible and generally get away with it. Instead of ending up with a dry and chewy bird or ham this year, we’re using a Thermapen – dubbed the “Ferrari of Food Thermometers” – to know whether everything is cooked. It’s amazingly accurate and now we won’t be asking #isitcooked, because we’ll know for sure. If I could go back 20 years to when I started cooking for myself, I’d give myself one of these and feel much happier.
h – Salter Air Frier*
I’ve never used a deep fat frier before – and there’s a good reason for this. Gav says [and he’s right] that we’d end up frying everything possible, just because we could. I still remember the delicious taste of my Granny’s chips that she fried in a pan on her stovetop and I’d so love to enjoy those seven days a week, but I’m not sure that my Slimming World record would like that. Still, there are so many dishes that I’d like to try at home like tempura and so on, especially on boxing day when you can have lots of nibbles and canapes around for everyone – and this seems like the ideal way to strike a balance. The Digital Hot Air Fryer has amazing reviews on Amazon and so we’re going to be putting it to the test this holiday. I’m so intrigued to see how it works.
There’s nothing that I love quite as much as a well-dressed table. If I had a larger house, I’d have collection upon collection of different tablescapes stored for every occasion. As I don’t, I do try and make Christmas and Easter more special than the rest of the year. Here’s what our table is wearing this Christmas.
a – Viners Studio Collection
Since moving in together, Gavin and I have been through more cutlery sets than any other household item. This year, Viners have sent us the most beautiful Studio set, which looks as though it was crafted uniquely for Christmas with its Jack Frost like pattern. My own parents still have the Viners cutlery set which they were gifted at their own wedding in 1975, and I’ve pre-warned our boys that I fully expect these to last as long. This means that they are not digging tools for the garden. The Studio set is heavy weight stainless steel and feels very elegant in the hand. There’s a fine dining feel to the pieces, and we’ve also been gifted the salad servers which match beautifully.
b – Lexington
It’s no secret that I love Lexington table linens. I have quite a few – but until this year I hadn’t seen any which were really suited to Christmas. By chance I was looking about on the internet last week and found that they have these beautiful red ones, specifically made for Winter with a pine cone napkin ring.
c – Villeroy & Boch
Villeroy & Boch make such beautiful tableware – I’ve collected pieces from them since I was 18 years old and despite Gavin breaking my favourite teapot last month they’re probably the most popular brand in our house.
d – Von Shef*
Although I’m not a huge coffee drinker like my husband, this set is beautiful for after dinner coffee [and breakfast coffee, and any other time of the day coffee if you’ve become accustomed to it like Gavin has]. There’s a cafetière, milk frother and six cups in a very festive gold which looks beautiful in our kitchen.
e – Villeroy & Boch
I’ve labeled this one as well – but it’s the same collection of Yuletide tableware. I love the contrasting shapes and can’t wait to see how it all works out.
f – Amara*
Amara are one of our favourite stores. There is *always* something that I can fall in love with, and I’m still swooning over the nautical collection we received in the Summer. These champagne saucers are perfect for Christmas and New Year and have a beautiful pearlescent shimmer.
g – White Company
There’s nothing sweeter than little Christmas trees adorning a Christmas dinner table – and you can gift them afterwards, or plant them in your garden. The White Company have an impressive collection this year, but you can get them everywhere – especially local supermarkets now.
h – Viners*
These beautiful chargers match our cutlery and are perfect for Christmas with their sparkly circumferences. As they look so much like frost, we’re also using the plates for our Jack Skellington breakfast and I’m sure they’ll be used over and over as they are just so adaptable.
We’re all set, and all ready for the Christmas dinner now – we just need to get our new table in before the big day! Fingers crossed – and good luck with your own Christmas preparations, everyone!