THIS week in Taste, the chef at a top Weymouth hotel has passed on some tips for all those who want a stress-free kitchen at Christmas.

There’s no need to panic about catering for the family Christmas as Moonfleet Manor Hotel’s head chef Michael Culley, shares his top tops for cooking the perfect food for families.

1. Preparation is key – do as much as you can in advance. Stuffing, pigs in blankets and bread sauce can be frozen and vegetables can be prepared the day before.

2. Plan a cooking schedule - decide what time you want to serve the food and work backwards – remember the turkey should rest for an hour loosely covered with tin foil and tea towels.

3. Start the day itself with a good breakfast, especially if you are going to enjoy a few glasses of wine or champagne throughout.

4. Cook the turkey in a deep tray on top of carrot, onion, celery and garlic. Once the turkey is cooked, make the gravy by adding red or white wine, tomato paste flour and chicken stock to the tray - something I call “nan's gravy”.

5. For great roast potatoes make sure all the potatoes are of a similar size, par boil and drain. When drained, give them a quick shake in the colander to fluff them up. Make sure the oil/fat you are using to cook them in is already hot before you put the potatoes in the oven. Once they have a bit of colour, add butter to make them rich and indulgent.

6. Make your bread sauce by infusing the milk with cloves, onion, garlic, nutmeg and bay leaf.

7. If you’re not the biggest fan of sprouts cut them in half, blanch them for 3-4 minutes and cool them on ice. Then fry with grated orange zest, grated chestnuts and pancetta.

8. Remember to use seasoning to enhance the flavour of everything you plan on cooking.

9. Get the kids involved – it’s a great way for them to learn about food and cooking. They also love to set the table and make decorations.

10. Put your feet up – after all your hard work, make sure you put your feet up while the family takes charge of the washing up!

For more information on Moonfleet Manor, call 0844 482 2152 or visit