Cornwall LivingIssue #142

Festive Flavours

With the big day looming as we plan our own Christmas dinners, Jude Kereama shares eight culinary tips to ease us into the main event.

By the time Christmas comes around, we all look forward to spending some time with family and friends. Christmas Eve is jammed packed in the restaurants and Porthleven is once again out in force to meet up for a drink and to wish each other a merry Christmas. There is something special about belonging in a village at this time of year, with friends and familiar faces all cheery in anticipation of the big day.

It is always handy being a chef when cooking Christmas dinner, and this year looks to be along the lines of cured salmon, oysters, a seafood chowder, the big roast with all the trimmings and a sticky toffee pudding. Cheese is always a must, washed down with some port and red wine, not forgetting the mince pies and plenty of snacking all day.

We all know that Christmas dinner is a point in the big day that many of us look forward to, which, unfortunately, puts a lot of pressure on the chef of the day. It seems impossible to get everything done in time and with the turkey taking up most of the space in the oven it can be quite daunting. In light of this, I thought I would share eight of my top tips to help get you ready for the big day.

  1. Make a red-wine chicken gravy a few weeks beforehand, freeze it and add it to the turkey juices on the day.
  2. Ask the butcher to take the legs off the turkey and debone them. Marinate the turkey crown (turkey without legs) in a brine overnight. This will make sure when you cook the crown that it will stay moist, and without the legs will also cut down the cooking time. Stuff the legs with forcemeat or stuffing and roll. Cook this the day before and let set. The next day you can slice it and warm in the oven quickly before serving.
  3. Rest your turkey for a couple of hours to make sure it is cooked all the way through and beautifully juicy.
  4. Cook all your vegetables the day before – steam your carrots and parsnips, boil and fluff up your potatoes ready for roasting, make your cauliflower cheese and stuffing, ready to warm in the oven. Make red cabbage a week before hand and warm on the day, and have your bread-sauce base made a couple of days before.
  5. Make your stuffing a couple of days in advance as it will last.
  6. I make my sticky toffee and the sauce four weeks in advance and freeze, to then take it out the night before and warm when needed. Try and do a dessert you can prep well in advance.
  7. Make a turkey stock with all the bones and make a delicious soup for Boxing Day with all the left-over vegetables. Serve with some turkey, brie, and cranberry toasted sandwiches.
  8. Keep it simple.

The festive period between Christmas and New Year in Cornwall is also a very special time.  There will be plenty of cliff-top walking and maybe a swim or two. Everyone is still off work and it is just fantastic to be able to spend time with family. It will definitely be a chance to get the cards out and dust off a couple of board games. We also love to pop down to see the Christmas lights in Mousehole which attracts a lot of people every year. A blustery walk to a local pub to catch up with friends is a good way of getting ourselves out of the house before we return to a family movie in front of a roaring fire, another feast, and a glass of red wine. Blissful!

Wherever you are in Cornwall, or perhaps further afield, I hope you all have a great Christmas.

Christmas truly kicks off in Porthleven on 1st and 2nd December, with the turning on of the Christmas lights and the festive market on the harbour front right outside Kota Kai. Why not stop by and grab a hot chocolate, mulled cider, mulled wine or a snack from the downstairs bar? With Christmas menus and party bookings now available at both Kota and Kota Kai, make sure to enquire as soon as you can!

Why not give Jude’s cured salmon recipe a try this festive season?


For the salmon:

One side of Salmon fillet deboned and skin on
1 ½ cups Cornish sea salt
1 ½ cups caster sugar
Zest of one lime
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
100gms chopped dill


Mix all the cure ingredients together in a bowl. Line a tray big enough to hold the salmon fillet with cling film. Sprinkle half of the cure mix on the tray and lay the salmon fillet skin side down on top. Sprinkle the rest of the cure mix over the salmon and wrap tight with the cling film. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, wash off the cure mix and pat dry. Slice into thin slices and serve with your favourite flavoured mayonnaise, mustard dressing, toast or sliced bread.

Kota and Kota Kai
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