Does Christmas camping sound like a mad idea to you?

If the answer to that is yes, then spend a moment conjuring up all the elements of a magical festive holiday: pine trees, open fires, holly dotted with red berries, long frosty walks, steaming hot drinks, friends and family and, of course, tonnes of food to share. Now it’s starting to sound more like the perfect camping trip! Head to open ground to banish any trace of that classic Christmas cabin fever, and don’t worry about missing out on everyone’s favourite meal of the year: we’ve got the food sorted.

The aim here has been to create a spread that’s every bit as luxurious and generous as a traditional Christmas table. We’ve arranged cameos for all the flavours that you would hope and expect to see, but made sure cooking it is still thoroughly practical and achievable. Ingredients have been selected for their crossover between recipes and versatility in the rest of your trip: bacon and eggs, for example, will sort out Boxing Day breakfast; bring extra dates and walnuts for snacking, and we don’t imagine you’ll struggle to finish that open bottle of red wine…

We hope you’re not one of those people who gets all lone-wolf and protective over preparing Christmas dinner, because this extravaganza calls for a team effort. Every element of it is quick and simple, but camping at Christmas is no time for heroics: delegate out the jobs and everyone will have something to be proud of on the plates.

Here are shortcuts to the 6 recipes if you're ready to go
Hvid Gløgg: Danish White Mulled Wine
Date, Walnut & Blue Cheese Filo Parcels
Parsnip and Potato Croquettes
One-Pot Red Wine Chicken with Bacon and Cranberries
Brussels Sprout & Red Cabbage Coleslaw
Christmas Cake Drop Scones with Brandy Custard

Planning ahead:

We’ve also made sure that this whole meal can be cooked on a double-burner camping stove with one saucepan and one frying pan (rinsing between courses required!). You’ll need a couple of large mixing bowls and the usual basic implements: wooden spoon, frying spatula, chopping board etc., as well as a potato masher. A thermos flask will serve you well for keeping mulled wine hot, a sieve for getting it in there, and a jug or a couple of spare mugs will come in handy for the main course.

Top tips:

  1. It always saves time and packing space to portion up as much as you can before leaving home, in this case particularly the flour, baking powder, sugar, brandy, elderflower cordial, dried fruit and spices.
  2. Bring cling film to tightly wrap around the filo pastry to keep the rest fresh for your journey home.
  3. It sounds obvious, but read through all the recipes a couple of times before going food shopping or setting out, to make sure you haven’t missed any implements or timings. They’re laid out in the recommended cooking order: i.e. the croquettes come before the chicken as they provide useful hot water for the stock.
    All recipes are designed to feed four people.

Drink Me:

Hvid Gløgg: Danish White Mulled Wine


In honour of ‘hygge’, this year’s craze for Denmark’s brand of candlelit, friendship-centred cosiness, we’ve turned our backs on the ever-present red mulled wine for something a little unusual. Scandinavians tend to drink this outside while singing carols – tune up!

This recipe is first in the list because we recommend making it, pouring it hot into a thermos flask and allowing it to sustain you while you rinse the saucepan and crack on with the cooking.

Ingredients

1 bottle medium dry white wine (something inexpensive)
75ml elderflower cordial
75ml brandy
1 organic lemon, sliced
1 heaped tablespoon flaked almonds
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
3 star anise

simple ingredients ready for a Scandinavian creation

Method

Tip everything into a large saucepan and slowly heat to just below boiling point, stirring to dissolve the sugar – don’t allow it to boil or simmer. Keep it there for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse, then strain it into your thermos flask.

smells great!

The Opening Number:

Date, Walnut & Blue Cheese Filo Parcels


Let’s start with the cheese board, all wrapped up in crispy pastry. There’s something rather luxurious about this simple starter, and usefully they can be eaten with your hands hot out of the pan to save on washing up.
Makes 8 parcels

tasty cheesy filo pastry parcels (try saying that in one mouthful)

Ingredients

2 sheets filo pastry
150g dates, finely chopped
3 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
100g blue cheese
2 teaspoons lemon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 1 more for frying

Method

  1. Put the dates and walnuts in a mixing bowl, crumble over the blue cheese, sprinkle in the thyme leaves and give everything a thorough mix together.
  2. Lay a filo sheet out on the chopping board and cut it into four strips, top to bottom. Keep the other sheet covered with a tea towel to stop it drying out.
  3. Place a spoonful of the mixture onto the bottom left corner of the first strip, about an inch from the end. Fold the bottom right hand corner up over the mixture to form a triangle. Lift and fold the whole triangle over so it rolls up the pastry sheet, then fold it right to enclose the mixture. Keep folding until you reach the top of the sheet; brush the tag end of pastry with melted butter to seal it and then brush the whole parcel with butter. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the sheet, and then the second bit of filo.
  4. Melt half of the final tablespoon of butter in the frying pan until it foams, then sear the parcels for 4 minutes on each side until they’re golden brown and crisp. You’ll probably need to melt the rest of the butter in between batches.

The Main Event:

Parsnip and Potato Croquettes


Makes 16 (this might be one per person too many, but we’d never risk short-changing on food at Christmas. You can fry any leftovers up with bacon and eggs for Boxing Day breakfast.)

croquettes being enjoyed by our Christmas elf

Roasties are surely everyone’s favourite part of Christmas dinner. The turkey might be dry and the Brussels sprouts soggy, but nothing else matters if those tatties are crisp. We wouldn’t have you missing out on that so we’ve come up with a stove-top alternative that guarantees that crunchy exterior vs smooth middle, with a hit of both vegetables at once. The faff of the usual flour/egg/breadcrumb croquette coating has been swapped out for a simpler version using olive oil and breadcrumbs, which gives the same crispness with less mess.

Tip: so you don't have to boil water for the chicken stock (below recipe), drain the potatoes and parsnips over a jug to catch the hot water.

Ingredients

750g potatoes, chopped into 1 inch chunks
500g parsnips, sliced into similar size pieces, the chunky end about 1cm thick, the tail end longer, so they cook evenly
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter
a splash of milk
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
200g breadcrumbs/semolina
salt and black pepper

cooked croquettes and coleslaw preparation

Method

  1. Cover the potatoes with plenty of water and bring to the boil. When the water has been boiling for a couple of minutes put the parsnips in (this is so they finish cooking at the same time). Keep an eye on the parsnips, they will soften more quickly – you might need to scoop them out a minute before the potatoes finish cooking, but they float to the top so this is easily done.
  2. While they’re cooking, tip the breadcrumbs out onto a plate for later.
  3. When the potatoes and parsnips are soft, drain them over a jug, and use the water to make up the stock for the chicken (next recipe). Return the drained vegetables to the saucepan and put them back on the heat briefly, shaking the pan around to steam off as much water as possible.
  4. While they’re still hot throw in a tablespoon of butter, the mustard and a splash (about a tablespoon) of milk. Season and mash.
  5. Scoop up a big tablespoon of the mash and form it into a fat sausage shape with your hands. Brush it with olive oil, and then roll it in the breadcrumbs until well coated.
  6. When you’re 15 minutes away from serving up, start heating the second tablespoon of butter with a dash of olive oil in the frying pan. When it’s foaming hot, fry off the croquettes in two batches, turning them so they’re golden brown and crisp on all sides.

One-Pot Red Wine Chicken with Bacon and Cranberries


See the tip under the croquette recipe, above.

A rich, rosemary-fragrant stew, touched with smoke and cranberry sweetness: this is deceptively quick and simple, and tastes surprisingly festive. Don’t reduce it down too far; you’ll probably want a bit of sauce to dip those croquettes into. We’re confident you’ll be making this one again, at home or away.

Ingredients

8 free-range boneless chicken thighs, halved
12 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, crushed
8 rashers of smoked free-range bacon
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
1/2 bottle red wine (decent enough to happily drink the rest of the bottle)
200ml chicken stock, made up from a cube with the hot water leftover from boiling the vegetables (above)
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
black pepper

Method

  1. In your large saucepan, fry off the bacon until crisp and then scrape out onto a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Tip in the chicken, brown that off and add to the bacon.
  2. Now put the shallots in, and sweat them over a low heat for 10 minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for one minute.
  3. Put the chicken and bacon back in, sprinkle over the flour and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the wine and stock, stir in the cranberry sauce and season with pepper (it’ll probably have enough salt from the bacon and stock).
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes, then with the lid off until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce reduces - another 5-10 minutes, depending on how saucy you like it.

Brussels Sprout & Red Cabbage Coleslaw


No one really hates sprouts any more, do they? Modern Brussels have been bred to be sweeter than the vegetables that earned such a gloomy reputation, and as long as you don’t boil them to baby-food there’s no excuse to shun these tiny cabbages any more. If anyone’s still not convinced, you can’t beat covering stuff in a creamy dressing to persuade the fussiest of eaters.

Ingredients

150g sprouts, outer leaves removed
1/2 a small red cabbage
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoons full fat natural yoghurt (or you can use all mayo)
3 spring onions, finely chopped
salt and black pepper
60g walnuts

Method

Slice the sprouts and red cabbage as finely as you can. In a good-sized bowl, mix together the mustard, mayonnaise, yoghurt and spring onions, and season well. Stir through the shredded vegetables, and then break up the walnuts over the top.

Save Space for Pudding:

Christmas Cake Drop Scones with Brandy Custard


These aren’t ‘just’ pancakes – they really do turn into light, spiced and fruity cake in the frying pan. For extra Christmas points pour the batter into large metal cookie cutters - they definitely taste even better when shaped like a Christmas tree…If you have an open fire going, there could be nothing more cosily festive than cooking these in the glow of the embers.

Top tips: Contrary to common belief, boiling only reduces alcohol content rather than getting rid of it entirely, so if you’re making this for children stick to plain custard.
Before you leave home: combine the flour; baking powder; salt; mixed peel and raisins; cinnamon, mixed spice and orange zest into the same bag. Mix the milk and vanilla extract in a bottle and give it a good shake to make sure all the vanilla doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Ingredients

2 eggs
75g caster sugar
200g plain flour
150ml milk
75g butter plus 1 tablespoon to fry in
50g raisins
50g mixed peel
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract/paste
zest of 1 orange
400ml ready-made custard
4 tablespoons brandy

ingredients for pudding (always the best part!)

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Stir through the flour and fruit mixture then fold in the melted butter and milk.
  3. Melt the last tablespoon of butter in your frying pan. Wipe out the saucepan and pour in the brandy.
  4. When the butter is foaming hot, dollop tablespoons of the cake mixture into the frying pan and cook for three minutes or so until golden brown underneath. Flip them over and cook for another three minutes until browned all over and cooked through. If you’re using cookie cutters just flip the whole thing over, cutter and all, to cook on the other side, then gently press out.
  5. While they're cooking, heat the brandy until it boils (or very carefully light it to burn off the alcohol), then pour in the custard and stir until hot.
  6. Serve immediately with a dollop of custard, and subtly loosen your belt.

Merry Christmas!!