1st December

Fruity wasabi nuts

  • 1 large bag of mixed blanched nuts
  • 1 whole tube of ready- prepared wasabi
  • large handful dried cranberries

Lightly toast the nuts in a hot oven or in a frying pan, shaking frequently.

Squeeze the wasabi onto the hot tray and toss the nuts until fully covered.(avoid breathing through your nose at this stage, it will hurt!)

Allow to cool, then toss in the dried cranberries for a festive twist.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

2nd December

Olive, anchovy and sundried tomato tapenade toasts

For the tapenade:

  • 1 large handful green olives
  • 1 large handful black olives
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ chopped onion
  • ½ handful sundried tomatoes
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • handful fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

For the Melba toast:

  • sliced white bread

For the tapenade, whizz all the ingredients in a blender with plenty of oil. For a coarse result, pulse briefly, or make it smoother by blitzing for longer.

For the Melba toast, remove the bread crusts and carefully slice the bread through the middle to give two very thin slices.

Place on a baking tray in the oven on its lowest setting until dry and crisp. (Stores very well.)

To serve, spread liberally on the Melba toast, or eat as a dip.

3rd December

Cherry tomato and pearl mozzarella kebabs with pesto dip

For the dip:

  • Basil pesto
  • Crème fraiche

For the kebabs:

  • small punnet cherry tomatoes
  • jar of mozzarella pearls/bocconcini
  • small bunch spring onions, finely sliced

For the dip, mix the pesto with crème fraiche and spoon into shot glasses.

For each kebab, push a cocktail stick through a cherry tomato and a mozzarella pearl.

To serve, perch a kebab on top of one of the dip-filled shotglasses and sprinkle with spring onion.

4th December

Risotto bites

  • your favourite risotto (leftovers are ideal), chilled until firm
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • panko bread crumbs, to coat
  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry

Roll the cold risotto into ping pong-sized balls.

Dip the balls in whisked egg and then roll in breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a large pan and deep-fry the balls until golden and crisp, drain excess oil and serve hot.

5th December

Pear, Stilton and walnuts on toast

  • a ripe pear
  • few drops lemon juice
  • thin baguette (ficelle)
  • small wedge Stilton
  • small handful walnuts, coarsely crushed

Peel and slice the pear, place in water and lemon juice for half-an-hourhour until soft.

Thinly slice the ficelle and toast.

Top each slice with a good portion of sliced or crumbled Stilton.

Lay the pear slices over the Stilton and top with crushed walnuts.

6th December

Potted shrimp and crusty bread

  • 1 pack of brown shrimp
  • 70g of ‘slightly salted’ Lurpak butter
  • ½ clove of garlic, minced

Melt butter on low heat, add minced garlic and allow to infuse. Mix in the shrimp.

Spoon shrimp into individual shot glasses and pour over melted butter to cover.

Chill until set.

Serve with plenty of good, crusty bread.

7th December

King prawn ceviche with avocado

  • 1 pack raw king prawns
  • juice of 2 limes
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 small knob ginger, finely diced
  • salt and pepper
  • coriander, chopped
  • 1 large avocado, to serve

Place raw king prawns in a bowl. Add all other ingredients and toss well to coat the prawns in the dressing.

Refridgerate for about 3 hours until the citrus has ‘cooked’ the prawns. Dice an avocado evenly, add a small squeeze of citrus juice to prevent discolouring, and season.

Divide amongst individual canapé spoons and top each with a ceviched king prawn.

8th December

Baked Cambozola with smoked salt and rosemary and garlic soldiers 


  • 1 whole Cambozola
  • smoked salt
  • 1 loaf bread, unsliced
  • fresh rosemary, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • handful fresh parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to medium high.

Cut a circle out of the soft rind in the top of the cheese.

Add a dash of olive oil, replace the rind, and add a dash more oil.

Place in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with smoked salt (or plain sea salt flakes).

Cut crusts off the loaf of bread and chop into chunky soldiers.

Mix the olive oil, garlic, rosemary and parsley and coat the bread in the mixture.

Put the soliders on a baking tray, and put in the oven along with the cheese.

Bake until the soldiers are crisp and golden and the cheese is completely melted.

Peel back the rind and dig in.

9th December

Cheat’s mini Baileys and orange cheesecake


  • 300g Philadelphia
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2-3 good glugs Baileys
  • 200ml double cream, whipped
  • packet of Jaffa cakes
  • chocolate discs


Cream Philadelphia, icing sugar and Baileys together until smooth.Fold the whipped cream into the mixture.Chill for at least 30 minutes.Divide mixture amongst the packet of  Jaffa cakes.Top with a chocolate disc.

10th December

Goats’ cheese, fig, sherry, basil and lemon toasts


  • 30ml sherry
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 ripe figs, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, thinly sliced
  • 1 small log goat’s cheese, sliced
  • fresh basil, torn
  • finely grated lemon zest
  • olive oil


Mix the sherry with the vinegar and sugar.

Lay fig slices flat on a plate and pour over sherry mixture.

Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Toast the sourdough slices, and divide the goats’ cheese and figs evenly between them.

Sprinkle over chopped basil, lemon zest and a dribble of olive oil.

11th December

Pink Champagne, lemon thyme and raspberry jellies


  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 sheets gelatine
  • 200ml water
  • 600ml pink Champagne
  • 3-4 sprigs lemon thyme
  • small punnet raspberries


Dissolve the sugar in the water and add lemon thyme sprigs.

Bring the water to blood temperature, allow to infuse with the herbs for 15 minutes.

Strain to remove lemon thyme and dissolve gelatin leaves.

Pour in the pink Champagne.

Divide half the raspberries amongst Champagne glasses. 

Pour Champagne jelly into the glasses and drop in the remaining fruit.

Chill jellies until set.

12th December

Blue cheese stuffed dates with Parma ham and crushed pistachios


  • 75gblue cheese
  • 75g cream cheese
  • 1 box dates, ready-to-eat
  • few slices Parma ham, cut into strips
  • handful unsalted pistachio nuts, toasted and crushed


Blend cheeses together.

Divide stuffing amongst the split dates.

Wrap a strip of Parma ham firmly around each date.

Sprinkle with crushed pistachios to serve.

13th December

Black pudding and quail egg tartlet


  • ½ pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 black pudding, cooked and crumbled
  • a dozen quail’s eggs, boiled, peeled and halved
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • small handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Cut puff pastry into 12 disks and cook until puffed and golden.

Top disks evenly with cooked black pudding and two quail egg halves. 

Sprinkle with spring onion, parsley and olive oil to serve.

14th December

Three cheese baubles


  • 60g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 60g buffalo mozzarella
  • 50g hard mozzarella, grated
  • 60g brie, rind removed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pack Parma ham
  • plain flour, to dredge
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • large handful Panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with black pepper and 1tsp Parmagiano
  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry


Place the cheeses and oregano in a bowl and work hard with your hands until you have a a dough-like texture (or, for less mess, use a blender).

Roll the mixture into individual balls.

Wrap each ball in a slice of Parma ham, making sure the cheese mix is entirely enclosed.

Roll each ball in flour, then egg, then the seasoned breadcrumbs.

Heat the vegetable oil and carefully deep-fry each ball for 40-60 seconds until golden, remove and drain on kitchen towel.

Serve hot, with a spicy tomato salsa or other condiment for dipping. 

15th December

Smoked salmon, egg  & caper vol-au-vents


  • 3 eggs
  • ½ pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1tbsp capers, chopped
  • mayonnaise, to bind
  • small pack smoked salmon
  • 1/2  lemon, juice and zest


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Hard-boil, peel and grate the eggs.

Cut the pastry into 2” disks and bake until they are puffed and golden.

Mix grated eggs with the capers and enough mayonnaise to bind, and season.

Fill the cavity of each puff pastry disk with the egg mixture.

Top each vol-au-vent with salmon, lemon zest and a little lemon juice.

16th December

Hot crispy chicken with satay shots


  • 1 pk mini chicken fillets
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 handfuls Panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil, to deep-fry
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • Small knob ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 heaped tbsp peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • fish sauce
  • soy sauce
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 Little Gem lettuce, leaves sliced, to serve


Coat chicken fillets in flour, dip in beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Deep fry in hot oil until golden and crisp.

Fry chilli, ginger and garlic in sesame oil until translucent and soft.

Add a few large splashes of fish sauce, soy sauce and a squeeze of lime.

Turn heat down low, add the peanut butter and stir continuously.

Add water to thin the sauce to preferred consistency.

Finish with lime zest, and serve in shot glasses with a slice of lettuce.

17th December

Feta, sundried tomato, spinach and rosemary pinwheels


  • 200g Feta
  • 4 large sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2  heaped tablespoons tinned spinach (well drained)
  • ½ sprig rosemary, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 1 pk ready-rolled puff pastry
  • olive oil


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Mix feta, tomatoes, spinach, rosemary and pine nuts until fully combined.

Spread the mixture onto the pastry sheet and roll up tightly like a Swiss roll.

Slice the rolled cylinder into chunks 2cm thick and place, rolled side up, on a baking tray.

Brush with olive oil and bake for around 15 minutes until golden.

18th December 2012

Cheat’s smoked mackerel and horseradish rillettes with pickled beetroot toasts


  • 1 pk smoked mackerel
  • 2 heaped tbsp creamed horseradish
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • French baguette, thinly sliced and toasted
  • 2 pickled beetroots, chopped
  • chives, to garnish


Remove skin from mackerel fillets.

Mash the fish with the creamed horseradish, garlic, and seasoning.

Spoon the mixture onto toasted slices of baguette and top with chopped pickled beetroot.

Garnish with chives.

19th December 2012

Chorizo and bacalao fritters

  • 250g potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ ‘ready-to-eat’ chorizo, cut into small cubes
  • 300g salt cod, soaked in water until desalinated (at least 24 hours, changing water regularly), and flaked
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • splash of milk
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • oil, to deep-fry

Peel and boil the potatoes.

Separate eggs and whisk the whites to soft peaks.

Grate the potatoes, mix in egg yolks, cubed chorizo, flaked cod, parsley, milk, lemon juice and shallot.

Fold the egg whites into the mixture.

Using two spoons, shape the mixture into quenelles.

Fry the quenelles in hot oil until crisp and golden.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a simple aioli.

20th December

Pate de foie gras on brioche with caramelised shallot jam


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 12 shallots, sliced very thinly
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 100 ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 1 tin shop-bought pate de foie gras (or as much as you can afford!)
  • 4 brioche buns, sliced into rounds, buttered and fried on each side


Melt butter in a pan over a low heat and fry the shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes until they begin to caramelise.

Add the sugar and thyme leaves, season, and continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes sticky.

Loosen the mixture by adding the Balsamic vinegar and red wine.

Continue to cook on a low heat until the liquid reduces and the shallots are so soft that they break up when pressed with the back of a spoon.

Spread foie gras pate onto fried brioche rounds and top with a teaspoon of shallot jam.

21st December 

Christmas Rolls


  • 1 large sheet shop-bought puff pastry
  • 6 thin slices Serrano ham
  • cereal bowlful sausagemeat or stuffing
  • large handful shredded turkey
  • ½ jar cranberry sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Lay the puff pastry out on a floured surface and line with Serrano ham.

Spread the stuffing across the ham slices.

Layer the shredded turkey down the centre of the stuffing.

Top the turkey with the cranberry sauce.

Roll the pastry around the filling to make a long cylinder.

Make a few slashes along the top with a sharp knife.

Crimp the edges so that the pastry is fully sealed and brush all over with beaten egg.

Sit on a baking tray lined with parchment bake until golden and cooked through.

To serve, slice into bite-sized chunks.

22nd December 

Dark chocolate & mincemeat festive clementine with macadamia ‘snow’


  • 6 clementines
  • 6 heaped tsp mincemeat
  • 100g bar good-quality dark chocolate, melted
  • 10 macadamia nuts, crushed


Peel the clementines, leaving a small amount of peel at the base.

Carefully pull back the segments of each clementines

Drop a heaped teaspoonful of mincemeat to the centre of the clementines and push the segments back together.

Holding the base, dip the exposed Clementine flesh into the melted dark chocolate.

Dust with crushed macadamias and place in fridge until chocolate is set.

Once set, remove the remaining peel and serve.

23rd December

Salmon supper salad


  • 1 pack smoked salmon trimmings
  • 250g new potatoes, boiled, cooled and cubed
  • handful raw Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 tbsp walnuts, toasted and crushed
  • 3 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • salt and pepper


In a bowl, combine the salmon, cold potatoes, sprouts and walnuts.

Add the creme fraiche, olive oil, zest, herbs and toss well to coat the salad in the dressing.

Season to taste and serve.

24th December

Stir-up Sundae


  • 500ml tub quality vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 clementine, zest only
  • 10 chestnuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
  • 50g marzipan, chopped
  • 6 tbsp mincemeat
  • splash of sherry
  • 50g dark chocolate, grated


Stir the orange zest, roasted chestnuts and marzipan chunks into the softened ice cream.

Store in the freezer until required.

Warm the mincemeat with the sherry.

Divide the ice cream amongst 6 serving bowls, and top each serving with a tablespoonful of sherried mincemeat and a good sprinkle of grated chocolate.