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The ellenor Mocktail

by Millie Gooch, local Author and Founder of Sober Girl Society

50ml double cream
25ml evaporated milk
25ml (or 50ml) of a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative
A dash of vanilla extract
A pinch of cinnamon
20ml maple syrup
25 ml freshly brewed coffee

Grab a cocktail shaker and add the ingredients.
Fill with ice, SHAKE, strain, and serve.


Christmas Dinner Delights - With a Twist

How does mince pie cake sound? Or chilled Christmas pudding mousse? Dan Parzefall, Facilities manager who leads the Catering department at ellenor, has plenty of tricks up the sleeves of his chef whites to make our traditional festive fare delicious and palatable for the whole family.

The kitchen staff at the hospice in Northfleet are looking forward to making Christmas special for patients and their families. And this year Dan is sharing some of their kitchen secrets. They mostly involve variations of our much-loved traditional favourites – but with a few ingenious modifications that might surprise you!

Dan, who started his career as a chef, said: “Some foods can taste bland to patients, so it is even more important at Christmas to make sure everything is juicy and full of flavour. And that benefits all the dinner guests!

“A lot of dishes can be prepared in advance. You can steam your veggies, cover them, and put them in the fridge, then all you need to do is microwave them when you need them. You don’t need expensive brands and posh ingredients. After all the preparation, the truth is that the meal itself is usually eaten in about 20 minutes!”


Pate: Cut the crusts off the toast and slather it in butter to make it soft. Serve with pretty little pieces of cooling cucumber, with the skin pre-peeled off. If you sprinkle the cucumber with a little salt beforehand, it draws the moisture out and gives it a softer texture.

Prawn cocktail: Shred the lettuce and chop the prawns up into tiny pieces. It’ll still tastes great! You don’t need a complicated seafood sauce either – just mix some mayo and some tomato sauce with a pinch of smoked paprika. Again, you can decorate with skinless cucumber, sliced like coins. Serve with toast on the side.

Melon balls: Rather than the traditional melon boat, have you tried blending the melon and serving it in a little glass dish? It’s delicious with a swirl of strawberry sauce on top. You can use the topping sauce that you buy readymade, or warm up a few strawberries with some sugar and then mash them. Just keep it simple.

Main course

Turkey: So many people dread the dry meat of Christmases paste, but there is absolutely no reason for your bird to be anything but succulent. The trick is to cook it a few days before, slice it and keep it in the fridge. On Christmas day all you need to do is put it in a baking dish, cover with gravy and pop it back in the oven until the meat is piping hot and falls apart.

Roasties: Everyone loves their Christmas spuds, and all families have their secrets when it comes to cooking them. Use your usual tricks to get them crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. Dan par boils the potatoes, tips them into a mixing bowl with salt, pepper, rosemary and oil, then throws them into a tray and into the oven. Then he leaves well alone until they are cooked. You can’t really cut corners when you are producing your perfect roast potato, but you can always cut some of the crunchy sides off when you serve them.

Veggies: It’s fashionable these days to pimp up your Brussels sprouts with pancetta or bacon lardons, but in Dan’s book, it’s best just to cook them in some stock – and the same goes for the carrot batons. It gives your veg so much more flavour! And to get your dinner guests’ taste buds going even more, why not pimp up your parsnips with a butter and honey taste? With your Parsnips, it’ probably best to pre-boil them to keep the end result a bit softer, then brush them with a little melted butter and honey, then just slow cook them and they will come out of the oven hot and delicious. Dan also likes to prepare a tasty steamed red cabbage and apple dish, which takes about 30-40 minutes. There’s no need to muck around with the flavours too much; just add a bit of soft brown sugar and a splash of mulled wine to scent the ingredients.

Stuffing: The hospice cooks just use a shop-bought mix with water and butter to make their stuffing, but instead of baking it they cover it with cling film and cook it in a steamer. This means it is nice and tasty and soft with no crispy edges.

Pigs in blankets: These are a firm favourite on Christmas day, but you can serve your pigs and your blankets separately if you like. Then you can please both the sausage and the bacon lovers and cater for everyone’s needs. Dan favours the Richmond skinless sausages at the hospice, or the little flat square sausages you can buy in frozen packs, which are soft and full of flavour.

Gravy: Meat dripping is always great for best tasting gravy, but save yourself lots of time and hassle, just use a seasonal gravy mix or granules. Or you can try a tin of vegetable soup -- if you strain it and add a bit of hot veg stock it makes an excellent, tasty and lighter-coloured accompaniment to your turkey.


Christmas pudding: You can either mash it up a bit and add custard or cream, or puree it into a mousse for your loved one beforehand. All you need is a 99p pudding, pop it in the blender with some butter, then put it in a little dish in the fridge to set. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream. It doesn’t have to be hot, as long as it has been cooked once – and it will still taste of the traditional Christmas pudding. Go on, dare to be different this Christmas!

Trifle: Make the jelly with some alcohol-free mulled wine. Don’t use alcohol as it won’t set! Then pile on the brandy custard and a bit of whipped cream. Leave it in the fridge to set and serve with some fruit sauce. Keep the recipe simple: you don’t need to use bits of fruit to make it mouth-watering.

Mince pies: These can be a bit unpalatable, but there’s no need for anyone to miss out. Put any 6 mince pies in a mixer with an egg and little melted butter and bake into a hideously calorific cake which is all gooey in the middle. Just cut off the crusts and add custard – or top it with icing and cut into slices like the kitchen staff do when they are baking for the ellenor café.

Cheers everyone!

Decorate your table with crackers and festive serviettes, and don’t forget the cheesy jokes – and remember to stock up with everyone’s favourite tipple. Just soak up the company of your nearest and dearest at this very precious time of year.

Dan said: “The main thing is to enjoy your Christmas Day with your guests and spend quality time with friends and family.”


These little hints and tips are a generalised guide to making Christmas dinner delicious for the whole family. You will need to take the dietary requirements of each individual into consideration when you are cooking for your guests.