I played sous chef for Dan as he prepared a traditional English Roast dinner for my family on Christmas day.
The dinner necessitated a trip to the Friar Tuck Shop in Sherman Oaks to pick up some imported goods. Naturally, we couldn't even begin to think about shopping, until we had lunch and a few pints of beer at the adjacent Robin Hood British Pub. It was Dan's first time at the pub, but it had been one of my regular hang out spots back in the late 90's. They have great food and a cozy atmosphere. I always feel like this is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon.
Full of beer and comfort food, we got down to the serious business of shopping for Christmas dinner. The Friar Tuck Shop is small and the shelves were fairly cleaned out by the Saturday before Christmas. Word to the wise, like everything else related to the holidays, do your shopping early!
Still, we managed to find everything on the list, except for the traditional Christmas cake. I've since learned that the cake really should be made a year or more in advance, so if we decide to go homemade next year, we are already behind schedule! This Christmas stress just seems to linger, doesn't it? Can't win.
Here are the special items that we picked up for the dinner.
Dinner was hectic. My aunt has a huge kitchen, with a little, tiny oven. We had more food than would fit and even had to dump the parsnips in order to make it all work. We had all five burners on the stove going and the oven completely packed. I actually was amazed that it all pulled together in the end, but Dan is a pro and knocked it out of the park.
Dan made the first turkey since my mom died, that this family has seen turn out properly. It didn't explode or come out undercooked. Not only that, it was amazingly delicious. Dan taught me a trick, stuff the turkey with quartered limes and oranges to keep it moist and flavorful.
Unfortunately, we didn't get pictures of it, but Dan introduced our family to British Christmas Crackers. I had always wondered why some of my friends wore paper crowns in their holiday pictures, but never knew that the crowns come from the crackers. Each one contained a crown, a little toy ( I got a pirate patch!) and a joke. It was a little awkward having Dan teach us how to crack them, but once we had our crowns and read the jokes, everyone got into the spirit.