HelloFresh Christmas Cheat Sheet

As I said in my recent post about how to host a hassle-free dinner party, the main trick to pulling off a spectacular meal is being organised. Planning ahead. Getting your prep done beforehand. But I admit that this sometimes feels a bit… dull. Even I, although I really do know better, sometimes can’t be bothered to plan things properly and just decide to wing it. And I always regret it.

At culinary school, we had to make a time plan before every single cooking session. Which meant writing one every day. Literally ‘11.30am: Second turn of puff pastry, start making caramel’, kind of thing. It was necessary to handle the hugely complex dishes we were putting together in class, but it’s not something I do in my day-to-day cooking. Even though I definitely plan, I don’t normally give myself a timetable. Except for Christmas dinner. And that’s where HelloFresh‘s cheat sheet comes in.


If you’re the kind of person that sighs and fidgets at the thought of putting together a cooking schedule for yourself on Christmas day, fear not. HelloFresh have literally done it for you. They sent me a copy of their cheat sheet to have a look at, and it’s absolute gold for an organisational nut like me. They’ve worked out what you can make ahead and do the night before. They’ve made you a scheduled timeline for your Christmas Day cooking. And they’ve even included lots of recipes for tasty side dishes, in case you’re struggling with what to do with your parsnips this year.

You can get the cheat sheet for free here.


It will be particularly useful if you’re the person in charge of Christmas dinner this year, but you’ve not done it before. Or if you’re stressed about the thought of cooking all those complicated bits and pieces and getting everything to be ready at the same time.

I cook the Christmas dinner in my family – when you have trained as a chef, you are responsible for the food at every family gathering for the rest of your life. Although some things stay the same every year, I like to mix it up too. We always have a goose, for example, but I like to try different ways of cooking and flavouring it. We always have braised red cabbage, but sometimes I try different ways of cooking other side dishes. There will be a Christmas pudding, but I always include another dessert as well, and that varies depending on my mood. The cheat sheet above has some great simple side dish recipes that you can try if you fancy mixing it up. I tested a few of them before writing this post, and I can guarantee that they are tasty.




Are you in charge of making the Christmas dinner in your family? Do you have any particular traditions? Do you like the exact same meal every year or do you mix it up? I’d love to hear! We never have bread sauce which, I am assured, means it’s we’re failing at Christmas…

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by HelloFresh, but as always, all opinions are my own. 

Roast Butternut Soup with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Chilli

It’s not often I can say this about a recipe featured on this blog, but this is vegan, gluten free, and healthy. Don’t worry, I have not abandoned the baked goods. But James and I do not live on macarons and pie alone (oh, if only), and plenty of savoury food comes out of my kitchen. Some of it is even healthy. I just don’t tend to feature it on this blog, because I find it less interesting. Also because so much of the savoury food I make is thrown together with whatever is lying around in the fridge, in a very ‘meh, it’ll probably be fine, chuck it in’ sort of a way, and so it’s hard for me to recreate dishes again, let alone write down how I made them.


However, the recipe for this soup was specifically requested (I know, how exciting) after I made it for a group at a yoga retreat, and so I recreated it and actually bothered to write down what I was doing, and here it is. Apologies for the rather uninspiring photos – they were taken at speed in the dying light. Still though, look how healthy it all looks…



It’s soup, so you can play it a bit fast and loose with the ingredients. Only one onion left? No problem. Got some herbs you want to throw in there? Go for it. Not a vegetarian and want to go mad and add bacon? Live your best life today.


1 large butternut squash
olive oil
2 onions
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
2 lemongrass stalks
80g Thai red curry paste (about 1/2 a small jar, or make your own if you’d rather, or add more to taste)
1 can full fat coconut milk
750ml vegetable stock
1 lime
1 chilli (optional – to garnish)


  1. Preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 6. Peel your squash and cut it into roughly finger sized chunks, discarding the seeds. Pop it in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then roast for around 40 minutes – you want it meltingly soft and just charring around the edges, for flavour.
  2. While that’s happening, slice your onions, peel and roughly chop your ginger, and bash your lemongrass stalks a bit so they release flavour. Put a generous slug of olive oil in your largest saucepan and cook the onions, ginger, and lemongrass down together, until the onions are soft. Add your curry paste and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until everything smells amazing. Tip in your butternut squash, coconut milk (saving a couple of tbsp if you want some to drizzle on the soup), and stock. Stir it all together and then simmer for around 10 minutes. Find the lemongrass and pull it out.
  3. When everything is all happily cooked down and amalgamated, blitz your soup until smooth – I use a stick blender, but a liquidiser or food processor will do the job. Add your lime juice, give it a good stir, and check the seasoning. It should be rich and warming, with a lingering chilli kick at the end. Add more salt, pepper, or lime as needed. Serve hot, drizzled with the leftover coconut milk if you’re feeling artistic, and add some chopped chilli or extra chilli sauce if you want it to have more spice.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan

When James and I had only just started seeing each other, he came round to my flat for dinner for the first time. I was still in that phase at the beginning of a relationship when you want to impress the other person and are trying to make them think you are amazing and wonderful, and so I asked him what his favourite food in the entire world was and told him I’d make it for us to eat. I was thinking maybe steak with some triple cooked chips and peppercorn sauce, or perhaps chocolate souffles, or fresh scallops, or raspberry sorbet, or roast lamb…

He told me his favourite food in the entire world was broccoli.

He could have asked for literally anything, and he chose broccoli. I realised this dinner was going to be less complicated and less expensive than I had imagined.


Since James and I have been together, I have eaten a lot more broccoli than I used to. Unlike James, though, I get bored with eating the same thing over and over, and so I started looking for another way to serve broccoli that wasn’t ‘steamed and plain’.

Putting this post up and calling it a recipe feels like a bit of a cheat, because the ‘recipe’ so pathetically easy. However, it is also, slightly dispiritingly, one of the most consistently praised things I cook for people, probably because it’s surprising. It’s a simple side-dish, but it makes broccoli so insanely delicious that it’s quite magical. It made a friend of mine who hates broccoli like broccoli. It made another friend of mine, who loves broccoli but was deeply suspicious of the concept of roasting it, message me to say ‘roast broccoli where have you been all my life’. It’s so good that I will fairly often just cook up a whole head of broccoli like this and call it lunch.

I mean, you know, I don’t want to big it up too much because I don’t want you all to think it’s the path to world peace or something and then be disappointed. But it’s pretty great.



As I say, this is more of a method than a recipe, so I’m not putting down proper measurements. Use your common sense. I trust you.

See those dark bits on the broccoli? The broccoli is not burnt. Those are the best bits. They are crispy and caramelised and delicious.


1 head of broccoli (not tenderstem)
sea salt flakes
black or red pepper
olive oil (or rapeseed, or whatever you fancy)
grated parmesan
chilli flakes, if you like



  1. Preheat your oven to properly hot – 220C/ 200 fan/ gas 7. While it’s heating up, cut your broccoli into florets and pop it into a roasting tray. Season generously with sea salt and pepper, give the tray a shake, then glug some oil over the top and shake it again, making sure the broccoli is well covered.
  2. When the oven is hot, put the broccoli in for 10 minutes. Bring it out, toss everything round in the tray a bit, and put it back in for 5 minutes more. When you bring it out, it should all be just tender with patches that are starting to catch and caramelise and crisp up. If you’re not there yet, put it back in.
  3. When you’re happy, dust the whole thing with a handful of grated parmesan and serve hot.

See? Barely a recipe at all.


Roast Vegetables with Goats’ Cheese and Balsamic Glaze

People sometimes ask me if you can cook on a narrowboat.

‘Of course you can!’, I reply, confident and dismissive. ‘No problem at all! It just takes a little adjusting, and you’re away!’

While this is – technically – true, even I will admit that there are some limitations.

  1. The oven we have is really a box of fire. It is an old and very basic gas oven. Before I was introduced to boat dwelling, I had literally never used a gas oven, having been raised on an electric oven and naively assuming that gas ovens had just sort of died out. Not so. The gas oven has character, and its character is capricious. Occasionally it will have an off-day (don’t we all?) and refuse to light for me. I have no idea what the actual temperature in there might be.
  2. It is much easier to overload the electrical circuit on a boat than it would be in a house. This means that, say, I cannot use the toaster and the kettle at the same time, or the microwave and the food processor, and so on. You have to learn to plan ahead a bit.
  3. There are space limitations. This is also true of a small kitchen in a flat, say, but I’d wager it’s more of an issue in the average boat than the average flat. You have to be very organised, and you have to clean up as you cook. You also have to make decisions about what you actually want in your kitchen. The essentials are fine, but on the boat, I’d never have, say, a Kitchen Aid, a pasta maker, a spiralizer…
  4. Lots of things are bespoke. As there is a limited amount of space, design is key and there’s a lot of clever storage. However, that means that boats are often built around large pieces of furniture, or things have to be dismantled to get into a boat, or they fit into a very specific space. Fridge broken in your house? You can find a new one! Fridge broken on your boat? Yeah, good luck with that.
  5. Things you take for granted as endless in the average dwelling – such as water, or gas – are not so on a boat. If you’re not careful, it’s easy for a gas canister or water tank to empty when you’re at a critical stage of dinner preparation.

But! While all that is true, I will staunchly defend boat living – and boat cooking – to anyone and everyone, because I love it. The boat has a personality. It feels safe and secluded and cosy. Cooking there has its own delights: throwing scraps out of the window to the ducklings in the spring; washing up in the special shifting light of the sun bouncing off wind-rippled water; learning to use your ingenuity in an entirely different way.

One of the first things I made on the boat was this roast vegetable dish. Roasting on the boat is delightfully easy, because all you have to do is whack the oven up high, chuck stuff in, and keep an eye on it. I have since become more adventurous, and have successfully made crepes, pies, schnitzels, and a whole host of other things in the boat kitchen. Still, I come back to this when I am short of prep time (occasionally) or feeling lazy (often). In essence, it’s a winter dish, but since a chilly evening is hardly a rarity in July in these parts, we happily eat it year-round.


Notes: We will often eat this on its own, between the two of us, and call it dinner. However, it would also be an excellent side dish to serve four to six people. It’s a very forgiving, chuck-it-all-in sort of dish, so all of the measurements and vegetable suggestions are guidelines. Do please use your best judgement.


1 very large sweet potato
1 small butternut squash
2 large carrots
4 cloves of garlic
smoked paprika
olive oil
I bunch asparagus, if desired
1 pack of goats’ cheese (I tend to use the harder, rinded variety as it keeps its shape better in the oven, but the softer stuff will collapse into the vegetables and also be delicious)
balsamic glaze


  1. Preheat your oven to 230C/210C fan/ gas 8 (but this isn’t precise, so don’t worry too much – you just want it nice and hot). Prep your vegetables. Scrub – but don’t peel – the sweet potato, and cut it into large chips. Peel the butternut squash and cut into 1 inch cubes (or thereabouts). Peel the carrots and slice them into small rounds. Put all of these in a roasting tray. All the vegetables cook at different speeds, so these different sizes should ensure they are finished at around the same time. Peel your garlic cloves and add them to the tray.
  2. Sprinkle everything with pepper and good flaky sea salt, and follow with a liberal dusting of paprika. Be generous. Glug olive oil over everything (say around 5 tbps, if you want a measurement) and shake everything around in the tin so it’s all coated in seasoning and oil. Put into your hot oven for 45 minutes, giving it a shake to turn the vegetables at about the halfway mark.
  3. Check your vegetables. If they feel done, or nearly done, continue to the next step. If not, give them ten more minutes, then check again.
  4. Drizzle the vegetables with the balsamic glaze. If you’re using the asparagus, coat it in a little olive oil and add it to the dish. Put the tray back in the oven for five more minutes. Remove, tear the goats’ cheese over the top and give it five more minutes. The goats’ cheese should be starting to melt, the asparagus cooked through, and the vegetables starting to caramelise and blacken around the edges. These bits are the tastiest part. Serve as is, or alongside a main dish.