This time last week I was at Country Living Magazine – Christmas Fair at the London Business Design Centre. As always lots of wonderful gift ideas, beautiful clothes, stationery and jewellery. The food hall was packed to the rafters with great products, and seasonal smells.
I was demonstrating on the Country Kitchen stage with Chef, Marie-Clare James and we got chatting about getting ahead for Christmas. Edible gifts which save not only money but when time is short. She loves to give food gifts as they show love and thought has been spent! To listen in full please hear my Podcast.
You have plenty of time with a month or so before Christmas to have a go at pickling, flavouring and bottling…. the ideas she talked us through:
Pickled red cabbage, perfect for a food hamper. Preserved lemons, a great zing of colour, versatile but great with fish dishes, and a recipe Marie-Clare showed us ‘halloumi with a preserved lemon dressing. Gin and Tonic pickles, flavoured oils and vinegars, basil oil, mint, taragon and rosemary. Flavoured salt, and simple ideas such as roasting whole olives.
Closer to Christmas Marie-Clare makes homemade fudge, shortbread and uses the last of the herbs for homemade pestos, popping in to a jar for gifts or for use over the festive period.
Fuss free canapes
Managing the Country Kitchen stage, Marie-Clare has lots of different chefs and presenters in, all using different ingredients. She has had a few ingredients left behind and has come up with a few simple ‘fuss free’ canapes. These were ‘tattie scones’ made and used like a blini pancake with goats cheese and some really good smoked salmon. A quick mackerel pate on a cucumber round, not always bread or pastry as its just a ‘vehicle to get it into your mouth’. Canapés ‘gets you thinking about food’, your appetite going but you don’t want to overdo the canapes and ‘fill up’ too early. Lastly was the watermelon and goats cheese feta, simple but a combination that works so well – the sweet and salty!
Marie-Clare and I have much in common, its all about doing the prep so that come the Christmas days you can really sit back and enjoy the special time with friends and family!