There’s nothing like planning ahead when you are cooking up a feast for Christmas. My handy guide will help you organise Christmas dinner without dropping a cranberry or burning a sprout.


7 days in advance

Make and freeze the stuffing – try this recipe for apricot and chestnut stuffing

  • 1 largeonion, coarsely chopped
  • 225g/8ozdried apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • 225g/9oz fresh whitebreadcrumbs
  • 75g/3oz salted butter
  • 225g/8oz tinned whole chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • generous bunch flat leaf freshparsley, chopped
  • ground sea salt to taste
  • freshly groundblack pepper
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat oven 200C/400F/Gas 6. Butter a shallow ovenproof dish.
  2. Add 600ml/1 pint water into a pan with the onion, lemon juice and apricots. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl. Melt the butter in a frying pan and pour half of this onto the breadcrumbs. Stir in the lemon zest.
  4. In the remaining butter, fry the chestnuts over a medium heat until lightly browned. Add to the bread crumb mix. Add the apricots, onion and parsley to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Turn into a buttered, shallow ovenproof dish and bake in a preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until piping hot.


Recipe Tip

To freeze: cool and cover the dish with foil, freeze until Christmas Eve.
To thaw: take out the night before using and thaw overnight.  Cook in a pre-heated oven 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 10-15 minutes or until hot and crispy.

Make the cranberry Sauce


There is nothing to get you in the festive mood quite like cooking up a batch of boozy cranberry and orange sauce. It smells like Christmas and it is the perfect accompaniment to Christmas dinner.


  • 100g light brown sugar (soft)
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 250g pack fresh or frozencranberry
  • 25ml orange liqueur


Tip the sugar and orange juice into a pan, then bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape – this will take about 5 mins if using frozen cranberries or 8-10 mins if using fresh. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Will keep in the fridge for 1 week. On the day, bring to room temperature before serving.



Make this up to a week in advance and refrigerate, or freeze for up to three months.

Heat a finely chopped onion and  ¼ tsp. ground cloves with 2 bay leaves, 600ml (1pt) whole milk and 50g (1¾oz) butter.

Simmer gently for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and leave to infuse. Stir in 200g (7oz) breadcrumbs, add ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg then season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stir in a little double cream and serve warm.


24 hours in advance

TURKEY – make sure it’s thoroughly defrosted, depending on the size of your turkey you might need to start considering the defrosting process.


Prepare the potatoes:   these can be prepared  well in advance. Par-boil your potatoes for 10 minutes, drain well, and shake to roughen the edges. Cool thoroughly. Now they can be frozen (if made weeks ahead) or if 24 hours in advance put in the fridge on a tray; under a clean tea towel.



Prepare the carrots and parsnips:


Peel, blanch and half cook the parsnips  – there is nothing worse than under-cooked parsnips.  Peel and slice 500g (1lb 2oz) carrots and 500g (1lb 2oz) parsnips, then blanch in boiling water.   Drop into chilled water, then drain and dry, and refrigerate under Clingfilm.


Prepare the sprouts and soak in water


Take the stuffing out of the freezer

While the turkey cooks

Top Tip – Turkey  Preheat oven to 190°C/gas 5. Season the bird, then stuff the cavity with 1 lemon, quartered, 3 bay leaves and one, peeled onion, quartered.

Rub a handful of butter under the skin, then roast according to the packet instructions. If necessary, the turkey will stay hot for up to 1 hour in a warm place, covered with buttered foil and a tea towel.



When the turkey comes out of the oven, put a pan of goose fat in and turn up the heat for five minutes. Spoon the potatoes into the preheated tray, season well with ground rock salt and turn to coat. Roast until sizzling and golden brown.

Don’t be tempted to cook the potatoes in the oven with the turkey as the steam that



Whisk together 2tbsp olive oil, 4tbsp runny honey and 2tbsp wholegrain mustard and mix with the pre-prepared carrots and parsnips. Place on a preheated tray, season well and roast for 30 minutes until tender.


And remember if all else fails reach for the cooking sherry or at the very least the tea-pot! Merry Christmas!


About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen