Countdown to Christmas Prep – week one

Friday Foodie blog time and it happens to land on the 1st December 2017. An appropriate time to start the Christmas countdown. In our house the advent calendars for the children are up and on the local radio station this morning, in the breakfast show, the countdown to Christmas being sung out loud!

Its easy for me to sit back and say what should have happened, or in an ideal world… but how far are you with the Christmas preparations? There are a lot of families out there that are much more organised than me as I went online trying to book my Christmas shopping delivery and all the ideal slots are well and truly gone! One of the ladies at the Waitrose counter tells me people book their Christmas food delivery back in September, so I thought I was organised! Never mind, I have ordered the turkey which is the most important ingredient, and will have to push my trolley round gathering sprouts, bacon and smoked salmon. Surely, I think that will be more festive than just unpacking it at my door (trying to think positive).

So I have made my Christmas cake and am now feeding it with a few tablespoons (yes I am over generous) of brandy each weekend. My Mum has made and is bringing our Christmas pudding so I can look forward to that with all those dollops of cream and brandy butter… I really should have my lunch before typing this!

“It’s not so much to do with the preparations for Christmas Day itself. It’s making sure I’m ready for all those other bits of random socialising that seem to happen at this time of year – the mate who is ‘just passing’, or the friends who pop in for a drink and end up staying for supper.  A well-stocked fridge and cupboards help take the stress out of the whole business.

So what should you have up your sleeve? Well, perhaps the makings of a quick canapés or two, a few bits and bobs you can heat up in the oven; a crowd pleasing salad that works with cold meat and cheese; a pudding that can be whipped out with a fan-fare – ‘ta da’. Add a store cupboard filled with the sort of versatile ingredients that can be pressed into service at short notice and you’re ready to go” Lucas Hollweg, Food Writer – Delicious Magazine, December issue.

I have been running my workshops and classes over the last month on canapes and entertaining. I thought I would drop you a few ideas down when it comes to this early part of the day, Christmas Eve, or for the festive drink parties, friends popping in, which you may well be hosting over the coming weeks.

Savoury Canapés:

  1. Biscuits, Shortbreads – these can be made now, wrapped and frozen. Ready to cut and bake on the day you need them. Useful for serving with a cheese board, or with a hummus or dip on top.
  2. Sausage Rolls – I love these with cranberry sauce or I was reading the Delicious Magazine and they have a recipe for Prune and Apple sausage rolls again something you can make now and freeze. Reheat from frozen in a hot oven until piping hot.
  3. Bread – Stock up on more than you think you may need. Freeze sliced baguettes, focaccia, sourdough loaves so you can whip up crostini for canapes, or bruschetta.
  4. Savoury cheese cakes. I made a batch with puff pastry and poppy seed base and they froze most successfully. My favourite is with feta cheese but you can also make with goats cheese. Defrost on the day you require. Top with a shop bought or homemade red onion jam.
  5. Pastry cases – blind bake the cases and ideally if space allows freeze them in the tin till required. You then can make quick quiches, red onion and goats cheese tarts, seafood, and always a quick batch of mince-pies. The list is endless!
  6. Toppings – pea and mint hummus, homemade pesto, sweet chilli and crab, these can be made a day before you need. They are all toppings for biscuits, pastries, cucumber or even baked sweet potato slices. Colourful, gluten free, vegetarian so many options to think beyond the pastry!
  7. Goats Cheese truffles – a very simple but attractive idea that can again be made a day or so before you need them, I came across this in a Christmas guide on canapes.

For the most attractive and yet easy starter, appetiser I love a baked camembert. You certainly do not want to serve all ‘beige’ food at Christmas so its all about the colours and presentation. My favourite recipe is sun-dried tomato, pesto and pine nuts baked with toasted baguette slices, the type of casual plate you can put out with a few friends serve with a glass of wine and all ‘dig in’ my type of entertaining!

For sweet ideas, Nigella Lawson commented “I make up a batch of cookie dough, then freeze the unbaked cookies on baking trays. I then put the frozen cookies into freezer bags and stash them in the freezer so when people drop by I can give them warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies with their cup of tea without any effort at all. You don’t even need to defrost them; just bake from frozen, adding a couple of minutes to the required cooking time.”

 

I have also made chocolate salami this year, using Nigella’s recipe. This is a brilliant dessert that can be made a few days ahead and just slice off, just like a meat salami a few slices when required. Delicious with a cup of coffee at the end of the meal or as something naughty and sweet at any time of day!

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