There are so very many things to love about Christmas, but top of our list (perhaps predictably) is the food. We simply adore festive fare in all its various forms. Christmas dinner, centred around roast turkey and all the trimmings, is perhaps our favourite meal of the year. We’re crazy about cranberries, potty about pigs in blankets and mad about mince pies. Then, of course, there’s the traditional Christmas cheeseboard. Let’s just say it’s a brave man
who stands between us and the Stilton… Our other favourite thing about Christmas is the entertaining. It’s the one time of the year when we get to see most of our family and friends. Christmas parties, therefore, bring our two favourite things together. If you love the idea of festive entertaining, but aren’t quite sure what to serve, help is at hand. Read on to discover some of our resident national trainer Jo Underhay’s tried-and-tested Christmas party food recipes.
Bring On The Brie
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the cheese. But if your Christmas party is more of a ‘drinks and nibbles’ affair, a formal cheeseboard isn’t appropriate.
Fortunately, canapés are the perfect way to keep your guests sated – and still indulge your love of cheese!
Modern canapés have come a long way since the days of cheddar and pineapple on sticks. For example, I love this quick and classy Christmas party food recipe for Brie & cranberry twists. It’s so easy to be creative with filo pastry. These canapés involve minimal prep
– and just 10 minutes in the oven – leaving you plenty of time to mingle. And they still taste delicious if you prep them in advance. Simply cover the unbaked twists with cling film, chill for up to a day, and bake just before serving.
Spiced Smoked Salmon Blinis
Smoked salmon is another classic Christmas party food ingredient, but it has more to offer than just a starter on the big day. Smoked salmon and crème fraîche blinis are my go-to sophisticated savoury bites at this time of year. They look and taste amazing, but take just 15 minutes to prep and cook, so they’re perfect for parties, too.
This clever variation, courtesy of Waitrose, adds a seasonal spiced twist, thanks to the addition of cardamom, mace and pepper. The other secret ingredient? Porridge oats! Simply toast all these ingredients together on your hob for a couple of minutes, then blitz in a small food processor. Warm your blinis, then build your topping, “sandwiching” your spiced mix between the crème fraîche and the salmon.
Top tip: Be sure to make more than you think you’ll need, because they’re always super popular whenever I serve them!
Prawns can make the perfect Christmas party food and you can easily rustle up something delicious on your hob. I tend not to eat them that often, so they do feel like a bit of a treat when I do indulge. It might not seem like an obvious pairing, but prawns work surprisingly well with bacon. The butter is an extra indulgence, and the chives give the whole dish that extra tangy lift. I think this recipe works equally well as a canapé, or as a substantial starter if your party incorporates sit-down dining.
Top tip: If you’re concerned about timing, you can prep most of this recipe up to four hours ahead.
If, like us, you’re a lover of bread sauce, this is the Christmas party food recipe for you. It’s the perfect way to use up any leftover portions, so this will work well for a Boxing Day party. That said, we love bread sauce so much we’re happy to make some especially for this! These crispy stuffing croquettes are an easy crowd-pleaser for the festive season.
Do use panko breadcrumbs if you possibly can. They have a light, airy texture that’s wonderful for fried food, because it absorbs less oil on the hob, resulting in a crisper crunch. And trust me, the dipping sauce is divine. Chilli jam and cranberry is a match made in heaven. I use it for heaps of dishes at this time of year.
Top tip: To maximise crunch, fry the croquettes in batches, to keep the oil temperature high. Then drain well on kitchen paper, and keep warm in a low oven.
You don’t have to experiment with a whole raft of new Christmas party food recipes. Old favourites, that you’re confident making, can easily be updated with a few clever twists. Take oven-baked chocolate brownies, for instance. This Sainsbury’s recipe features warm, seasonal spices – and a dash of port – to bring some festive flair to a familiar classic. You could even adapt your own recipe in a similar way, if you prefer.
Top tip: Inventive decoration is your friend. Simply cut your brownies into triangles instead of squares. Then decorate your “tree” with icing, stars and sprinkles. You could even make a chocolate finger “trunk”.
Christmas party food no longer means deprivation for vegan guests. Feast your eyes on these show-stopping Christmas Brandy Truffles. They might look fiddly to decorate, but investing in a holly template cutter makes
light work of everything. You’ll need to be a bit organised, and make these in advance, as they need to be fully refrigerated before you decorate. I think that using a dried cranberry to represent a holly berry is just genius!
Top tip: Beautifully boxed, these indulgent vegan treats would make a fabulous homemade Christmas gift.
It’s not a proper Christmas party until the mince pies make an appearance. Yes, I know you can buy them in any and every supermarket. But trust me, this homemade recipe and the mouth-watering aroma it will produce in your kitchen is well worth the effort. What makes it special? I think the buttery apple mincemeat is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Best of all, this will keep in sterilised jars in the fridge for up to a month. But the pièce de résistance is the pastry. The addition of some freshly squeezed orange juice, plus grated orange zest, really elevates it into something super special.
Top tip: You can freeze the pastry, well wrapped in cling film and foil, for up to a month.
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