Mrs. Margaret Thatcher M.P. talks to Margaret Clifton about her favourite Christmas recipes in this weeks:
Monday: Dickens immortalised the Christmas Dinner in his ‘Christmas Carol.’ The air of expectancy, the table groaning under its weight of good things, the excitement of the young Cratchetts, the happiness of Bob Cratchett and his wife. One almost catches the savoury aroma of the cooking bird; one can almost taste the richness of the Christmas pudding. The traditional Christmas Dinner lives on; it wouldn't be Christmas without it, but the “extras” vary. Once, it was always sage and onion stuffing in the bird, and custard or white sauce to serve with the pudding.
Tuesday: Mrs. Margaret Thatcher tells me that her family like Chestnut stuffing. She uses one pound of Italian chestnuts, a large cupful of chicken stock; 3 to 4 rashers of bacon; about 2 ounces of brown breadcrumbs; one large egg; the rind of one lemon grated finely); one ounce of margarine; one teaspoonful of sugar; salt and pepper; a little chopped parsley. “If we are entertaining on Boxing Day, “Mrs. Thatcher told me, “I make twice this quantity, as Chestnut Stuffing is very popular. Half of it I make into small balls, coat them with egg and breadcrumbs, and cook them in the oven in dripping.”
Wednesday: To make the Chestnut Stuffing: Make a vertical slit down each chestnut, and boil for about ten minutes. Skin the nuts while still hot (boiling the water up again, if necessary) cover with the stock, and simmer. Sieve them, add the chopped bacon, lemon rind, bread-crumbs, salt pepper, parsley and sugar. Finally, add the softened margarine and bind the mixture lightly with beaten egg.
Thursday: With an eye on something to serve with the cold bird, which, says Mrs. Thatcher “seems to go on for ever!” she makes Sausage Stuffing as an extra. She forms it into sausage shapes, which she coats with egg and breadcrumbs. This way, she has plenty of spare stuffings for after-Christmas-Day meals. Like most mothers, she feels that the Sauces grown-ups like for the Christmas Pudding are too rich for the children; she serves single cream with the pudding, for her twins, Carol and Mark.
Friday: For adult taste, she recommends Brandy Butter to serve with the Pudding. She tells an amusing story of how, when she was first married, she made Brandy Butter to serve with the Christmas Pudding, and got into “hot water” when her husband discovered she had been using the best brandy! Since then, she always keeps a small bottle of cooking brandy by her for this purpose, and for “flaming” peaches or bananas. “To make Brandy Butter,” says Mrs. Thatcher, “beat two ounces of good quality, softened butter with the same weight of castor sugar, and gradually beat in two dessertspoonfuls of cooking brandy.”
Saturday: A big thank you to Mrs. Thatcher for giving us housewives these Christmas recipes; they will be good, as she is a very excellent cook. We hope that the time off from her many career duties, with her husband and her children will be deservedly rich with many Christmas blessings. Here's a favourite recipe of mine for a “wassail” , or drink your health wine for the grown-up family. Named “The Bishop” it is one of the oldest mulled wine recipes and contains 12 cloves; two ounces of loaf sugar; two lemons; mixed spice to taste; one quart of port; one pint of hot water. Stick one of the lemons with the cloves, and roast it. Put the port into a saucepan and bring near boiling point. Boil the water, adding a good pinch of mixed spice. Add this to the hot wine, together with the roasted lemon. Rub the loaf sugar on the rind of the second lemon, put into a bowl adding half the juice of the lemon. Pour on the hot wine, and serve hot.