Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Food Column with Carol Taylor – #Thanksgiving/#Christmas Traditional Menu

I little bit earlier than last year, but with Thanksgiving not until 28th of November, I thought those of you having Turkey for that celebration might enjoy some of the dishes Carol Taylor created for this menu.

Traditional Christmas Menu (and some ideas for Thanksgiving)

This menu is a mix of the traditional with a couple of other dishes thrown in…I always like to make at least one new dish every Christmas some I never make again as they were ok..Just not that memorable…You know what I mean don’t you…

Prawn Cocktail

As far back as I can remember Prawn Cocktail has been a must-have for our Christmas starter…..One year I fancied a change and we had a fantastic fresh seafood platter with Oysters, Langoustines everything you could think of and some Thai dips made by the daughter in Law…The only way to eat Oysters. But we also had to have Prawn Cocktail….I think I would get lynched if I didn’t make it and the sauce has evolved over the years. I now add horseradish for that extra bite. Some add Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce but we like it with just horseradish and I use Salad cream instead of mayonnaise. Sometimes I mix the two it just depends on how I feel on the day. But as with anything it is personal taste so play with the sauce and find how you like it best.


• 500gm of Cooked Prawns, peeled.
• 4 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
• 5 tbsp Salad Cream or mayonnaise
• 2-4 tsp hot Horseradish Sauce.
• Salt and freshly ground Pepper.
• 3 tsp Lime Juice.
• Shredded Iceberg lettuce
Garnish: Tomatoes sliced, Paprika pepper, Extra prawns …I leave the tails on these.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Mix tomato ketchup, salad cream together. Add horseradish sauce, lime juice, salt and black pepper.
  2. At this stage, I taste and adjust the seasoning and add more of whatever I need to…. generally horseradish.
  3. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

To serve: Put some shredded lettuce in individual serving dishes with cucumber if using. Put a generous serving of the cocktail sauce on top. Sprinkle with Paprika. Garnish the dish with Prawns, A slice of lemon and tomatoes if using.

Crab, Coconut, Chilli and Coriander Soup.

I use fresh crab for this soup as it is readily available and picked here but you could use tinned crab.


• 500 gm crab meat
• 4 cups of crab or fish stock
• 1 large tomato chopped and peeled
• 1 cup of coconut milk
• 1 onion finely chopped
• 1 celery stick chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic crushed
• 1 fresh red chilli , chopped and seeded ( if req) I don’t
• 2 tbsp of olive oil
• Juice of 1 lime
• Salt to taste
• 3 tbsp of fresh chopped coriander
• Lime wedges and hot chilli oil to serve.

Let’s Cook

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat. Stir in the onions and celery and saute for about 5 mins until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and the chilli stir to combine well and cook for a further 2 mins.
  3. Add the tomato and half of the coriander and turn up the heat and cook stirring for 3 minutes then add the stock. Bring to a soft rolling boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the crab and the coconut milk and simmer for a further 5 mins.
  5. The soup should be thick but not too thick so add some water if required.
  6. Stir in the lime juice and remaining coriander and season as required with salt.
  7. Serve in hot bowls with the chilli oil and lime wedges on the side.


Beetroot Tartare.


• 160 gm of cooked beetroot.
• 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp of double cream

For Fried Capers:
• 10 capers
• Oil to fry about 3 tbsp.

For the crisp bread:
• 2 very thin slices of stale bread
• 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Make the crisp breads by cutting the bread into squares allow 3 to 4 squares per person.
  2. Heat the grill on its highest setting and put the bread on a tray and drizzle with the oil. Grill on each side for 1-2 mins until crisp and golden being careful not to burn (like I did)
  3. To make the tartare, finely chop half the beetroot and blitz the other half with the olive oil to make a rough paste, and then combine with the chopped beetroot and cream and season to taste.
  4. Rinse the capers and pat dry then heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat add the capers and fry for 30 seconds until they have started to open up then drain on kitchen paper.

To serve: Place a 6-8cm ring on a plate and put in some beetroot mix then remove the ring.
Garnish with capers and the crisp bread.

Pigs in Blankets. – Christmas dinner would not be complete without them would it?


• 8 thin slices smoked bacon
• 16 chipolata sausages
• I tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tbsp clear honey.

To prepare

  1. Mix honey, thyme and Worcestershire sauce in small bowl, add sausages and make sure they are coated in the mix. Cut bacon down the middle long ways. Wrap bacon around sausages.
  2. To freeze put in a container and separate the layers with greaseproof then remove from the freezer on Christmas morning and cook as below
  3. Put sausages on a baking sheet well spaced apart.
  4. Cook on 180 for about 30 minutes until nicely browned and bacon is crispy.

Crispy Roast Potatoes.

I always par boil my potatoes and give them a good shake before putting them into a hot pan with some duck fat and roast…Basting and turning every 30 minutes until nice and golden.

To jazz your roasties up a little add some herb butter, garlic and or rosemary sprigs.

Brussel Sprouts.

Christmas dinner would not be the same without a bowl of Brussel sprouts and there are many ways you can cook these lovely little cabbages and even people who don’t like sprouts …Love them!

My spicy pan fried Brussels come very close or top depending on whether you are bacon or a chilli fan…

I love just plain little Brussels lightly steamed or boiled with my Christmas dinner. Sautéed with bacon they are to die for…

This recipe serves 4 people.

• 1lb of Brussel sprouts trimmed and halved
• 1 tbsp of olive oil
• 1-2 garlic cloves
• 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
• 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
• 6 shallots peeled and quartered
• Chilli flakes and chopped fresh chives to garnish.

Let’s cook!

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and shallots and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the shallots just start to turn golden.
  2. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and add the sprouts. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat then reduce the heat and cover the pan, cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until the sprouts are almost tender.
  3. Sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar and let it cook just for a few seconds. Season the sprouts to taste with salt and cracked black pepper.
  4. Garnish with chilli flakes and chopped chives.

A beautiful side dish with your Christmas dinner.

Broccoli with red chilli and anchovies.


• 300 gm tender stem broccoli, trimmed and cut lengthways
• 3 tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 Onion finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic crushed
• 2 anchovy fillets drained and finely chopped
• 1 red chilli finely chopped
• Juice of half a lime
• Parmesan shavings

Let’s Cook

  1. Blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes in boiling water and then drain. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic, anchovies and red chilli and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the blanched broccoli and fry for 2-3 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
  4. Squeeze over the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper and toss together.
  5. Top with parmesan shavings

Bacon, Chestnut and Cranberry Christmas Stuffing.


• 450g sausage meat
• 2 rashers unsmoked back bacon, cut into strips
• 100g dried cranberries
• 50ml ruby port
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 50g butter
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 140g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 140g peeled, cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
• 1 medium egg, beaten

Let’s Cook!

  1. Soak the cranberries in the port for an hour.
  2. Fry the onion and bacon gently in the butter, until the onion is tender and the bacon is cooked.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.
    Cool slightly, and then mix with all the remaining ingredients, including the cranberries and port, adding enough egg to bind I find it easiest to use my hands so get those hands in and mix thoroughly.
  4. Next, I do a little tester; in fact, I generally do that with all my stuffing as it is the only way to tell if the seasoning is correct. Fry a knob of stuffing in a little butter, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. This stuffing can be baked in a dish or rolled into balls that will be crisp on the outside and moist inside.
  6. Bake in a greased dish at 190C/gas 5/fan 170C for about 40 minutes, until browned and, in the case of sausage meat stuffing, cooked right through.
  7. Alternatively, roll into balls that are about 4cm in diameter. Roast the stuffing balls in hot fat (they can be tucked around the turkey or done in a roasting tin of their own) for 30-40 minutes, until crisp and nicely browned on the outside.

Cranberry Sauce.


• 3 cups or 12oz of cranberries.
• The juice of 2 large Oranges.
• A cup of sugar.
• 1 stick of cinnamon.

Let’s Cook

  1. Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to the boil and turn down so it is still a rolling boil and cook for 10 mins if ( using) frozen berries or 20 minutes if using fresh cranberries as they will take a bit longer to pop.
  2. Allow mixture to cool and put in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Bread Sauce

Freeze the breadcrumbs ready to use (I always) keep a bag of frozen breadcrumbs in the freezer. The sauce can be made the day before and reheated on the day… I have been surprised living here that many people have not heard of bread sauce my mum always made it at Christmas we couldn’t have turkey without bread sauce…


About half loaf of good quality stale white bread either broken into smallish pieces or can blitz into breadcrumbs if you like a smoother sauce.
• I brown Onion peeled and studded with cloves.
• 2 bay leaves.
• Salt & Pepper.
• About half pint milk.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Pour milk into a saucepan and add studded onion. Slowly bring to boil and turn down and let gently simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. When cool remove Onion and bay leaves. This can be reheated to serve or made the day before and kept covered in the fridge. It is quite a thick consistency so if too thin add some more bread if too thick some more milk.

Roast Turkey with Proper Gravy.

We always have a turkey and this year it will be a home reared one so we are looking forward to that. We had Beef the year before last as we couldn’t get a turkey here which is why we now grow our own Turkeys.

How to Roast a Basic Turkey

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, place thawed turkey, breast side up and tent with a piece of aluminium foil.
  3. Bake turkey using the chart below.
  4. Remove foil during last hour of cook time.
  5. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170°F.

Here is a link to a calculator Turkey Cooking times

Proper Gravy

  1. When you cook a roast, whether it’s turkey, chicken, beef, or lamb, you should end up with plenty of browned drippings and fat from the roast when it’s finished.
  2. The “drippings” are browned juices and fat. All of the flavour gravy you make from the drippings comes from those browned bits. You need fat as a base for the gravy.
  3. If you have pan juices, but they haven’t browned at the bottom of the pan after the roast is done, you can put the empty pan back in the oven. Set the temp to 450 or 500°F and cook until the juices evaporate and begin to bubble and brown at the bottom of the pan.
  4. In this approach to making gravy, I break up the drippings as well as we can with a whisk, but don’t worry about any browned bits in the gravy itself. If you want, you can pulse the gravy in a blender to make it smoother, but I never bother. The browned bits are the best part!
  5. Remove all but 1/4 cup of fat from pan:
  6. Remove the roast from the pan. Remove excess fat leaving 4 tbsp of fat plus juices and browned drippings in the pan.
  7. Scrape up drippings and place pan on stovetop on medium heat:
  8. Use a metal spatula to scrape up any drippings that are sticking to the pan. Place the pan on the stovetop on medium high heat.
  9. Sprinkle 4 tbsp flour onto the drippings. Quickly stir with a wire whisk so that the flour gets incorporated into the drippings. Let the flour brown a bit if you want, before adding liquid in the next step. (You can also start with a slurry of flour and water if you want.)
  10. Whisk while slowly adding liquid: Slowly add stock or a combination of stock and water to the pan, whisking vigorously to dissolve the flour into liquid.
  11. Allow the gravy to simmer and thicken, and continue to slowly add liquid until you have about 2 cups of gravy. (You’ll probably need to add 3 to 4 cups of liquid.)
  12. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Always taste first before adding more salt! It may not need it.

If it was down to me and there were only two of us for Christmas Dinner then I would have something like this lovely quail with Juniper Sauce.

Juniper Berry Sauce:


• 1 banana shallot peeled and finely chopped.
• 8 juniper berries very lightly crushed.
• 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped.
• 1/2 tsp sugar
• 200 ml white burgundy or a dry white wine.
• 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 40 gm butter
• 25 gm flour
• 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves.
• 3oo ml venison stock
• 100 ml double cream
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Put the shallot, garlic, sugar, white wine vinegar, juniper berries, white wine and the fresh thyme in a pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Lower the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes this needs to reduce to about 2 tbsp.
  3. In another pan melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Strain your wine reduction through a fine sieve and still whisking…we don’t want a lumpy sauce now do we? Add the wine reduction….keep whisking!
  4. Pick out the juniper berries from the strained mix in your sieve and add to the sauce. Keep whisking and add the stock slowly ….to the sauce a ladle at a time. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Finally, pour in the cream and bring to a very slow simmer. Remove from the heat and season. The sauce can be used immediately or reheated when it is needed.

This is a beautiful sauce over when poured over a luscious piece of beautifully cooked venison or my favourite quail… if you have guests for dinner or just for the two of you for that special occasion.


Christmas Pudding

Christmas Dinner would not be complete without a little bit of Christmas Pudding and I love to see the Christmas Pudding flaming as we pour over the brandy it looks so nice.

For those of you who don’t like Christmas pudding or want a lighter dessert this lovely crème caramel fits the bill perfectly.

Crème Caramel.

For the caramel
• 160g/6oz sugar
• unsalted butter for greasing the ramekins

For the custard
• 4 free-range eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 25g/1oz caster sugar
• 600ml/1 pint full-fat milk
• pouring cream, to serve ( optional)

Let’s Cook!

  1. Pre-heat oven 150C/300F/Gas 2.
  2. Warm the ramekins in the oven, so they are warm when the caramel is poured in.
  3. First make the caramel. Pour the sugar and six tablespoons of water into a clean stainless steel pan.
  4. Dissolve the sugar slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon over a low heat.
  5. When there are no sugar granules left, stop stirring and boil until the sugar turns a dark copper colour.
  6. Remove immediately from the heat to ensure the caramel does not burn. Quickly pour the caramel into the warmed ramekins.
  7. Set aside to cool and become hard. (Do not put in the fridge because the sugar will absorb moisture and go soft and tacky).
  8. Once hard, butter the sides of the ramekins above the level of the caramel.

For the custard

  1. Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract and caster sugar together in a bowl until well mixed.
  2. Pour the milk into a saucepan, gently heat over a low heat until you can still just dip your finger in for a moment, then strain the milk through a fine sieve onto the egg mixture in the bowl.
  3. Whisk together until smooth, and then pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins.
  4. Stand the ramekins in a roasting tin and fill the tin half-way with boiling water from a kettle.
  5. Cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the custard has set.
  6. Do not overcook the custard – check around the edges of the dishes, to make sure no bubbles are appearing.
  7. Take the crème caramels out of the oven, remove the ramekins from the tray and set on a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge overnight so that the caramel is absorbed into the custard.
  8. To serve, loosen the sides of the custard by tipping the ramekin and loosen with a small palette knife round the edges. Place a serving dish on top of the ramekin and turn upside down. Serve with pouring cream or decorate with some fruit…

I hope you find something to like about this menu and that one of these dishes will be your addition to your Thanksgiving/Christmas menu xxx

©Carol Taylor 2019

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE

Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes:

My thanks to Carol for all her efforts to bring great cookery and healthy options into our diets and I know she would love your feedback. thanks Sally