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A Christmas extravaganza!

I love the rituals and traditions of Christmas. Nothing makes me feel more festive than spending a lazy afternoon getting the boxes of decorations out of the loft, carefully unpacking the clouds of tissue paper to unveil the glitter and sparkles within. In the space of an afternoon my flat morphs into a winter wonderland, decked with hundreds of fairy lights to lighten up the winter gloom.

There is invariably a lot of hosting at this time of year, so this week I’m focussing on little things to have with drinks – the obligatory Christmas canapés. Whilst there are lots of beautiful little selections of canapés in the supermarkets, if you are feeling weary of reheating endless cellophane-wrapped packets, then maybe add some of these for some homemade sparkle. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the traditional flavours of smoked salmon, sprouts, mince pies, brandy cream… so i’ve incorporated these flavours to make some suitably seasonal snacks.

The quickest and easiest recipe is the Salmon Ceviche, full of fresh, zingy citrus flavours, which needs no more than 15 minutes preparation and then will sit happily in the in the fridge for a few hours waiting to be served.

Needing a little bit more preparation and some pastry based fiddling are the Sprout Spring Rolls. I am an unashamed lover of sprouts, but even people who profess not to like sprouts like these. This idea originally came from my endlessly creative sister, who came up with this fantastic recipe, now firmly part of my Christmas repertoire. They take about 25 mins to prepare and need 15-20 minutes in the oven.

If you want a bigger centrepiece then I suggest this Bacon and Camembert Wreath. The bread has bacon jam twisted through the dough and a whole Camembert baked in the middle for dunking. The bread needs to be started 2.5 hours before you want to eat it, but is happy left to its own devices to prove whilst you do any last minute party prep.

There are always mince pies in the cake tin in December, but as a new little addition, I made Chocolate Brandy Cream Profiterole Puddings – a chocolate choux bun filled with boozy cream and dunked cutely in white chocolate to make them look like mini Christmas puddings. Its the sort of foody campness you can only get away with at Christmas!

So I hope you enjoy some of these. Its the time of year to feed and be fed, so make plenty, ready to be washed down with all that mulled wine and champagne!

Finally, thanks to the lovely 12C, who seem to enjoy me perpetually experimenting on them and happily ate all of the above last weekend!



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