Christmas is all about bringing people together, enjoying each other’s company and feasting on lots of food. If you’re in charge of the Christmas dinner this year, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right.
Figs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat and are a great source of fibre and vitamins. Combine with pine nuts to create a delightful winter dish. The perfect way to start your Christmas meal.
2 tablespoons pine nuts
125g soft goat’s cheese
2 tablespoons honey
a few sprigs of thyme
In a small saucepan, warm the honey and thyme over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Set to the side and allow to infuse.
Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Cut the figs into halves and place on the griddle cut-side down, cooking until charred.
In a dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over a medium heat.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Top each fig half with a spoonful of goat’s cheese. Drizzle the infused honey and scatter the pine nuts over to finish the dish off.
2. Prawn cocktail
This is a retro starter that has really stood the test of time;a guaranteed people pleaser. Get your cocktail glasses ready and spend about 25 minutes preparing this classic prawn cocktail, which will serve 4.
400g cooked shell-on prawns
4 little gem lettuce
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
5 tablespoons tomato chutney
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons horseradish sauce
Dash of tabasco sauce
Paprika, for dusting
4 teaspoons chive, snipped
Peel all the prawns, minus four which will be used as garnish.
Break the lettuces into individual leaves, dividing evenly between each of the 4 cocktail glasses.
Sprinkle the prawns over the lettuce, seasoning with black pepper.
In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, tomato chutney, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and tabasco sauces. Season to taste with the lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Spoon the mixture sparingly over the prawns, dusting with the paprika and sprinkling with chives.
Top each glass with one of the remaining prawns and serve alongside bread, if desired.
3. Roasted pears with walnut and ginger
Roasted pears, walnut and ginger will make for a dish which not only tastes like Christmas, but also smells like it too. This dish will be a light counterpart to the main course and is even suitable for vegans. Serve the dish on its own or alongside a small rocket salad.
70g walnut halves
20g pine nuts
20g stem ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Halve and core four of the pears, placing them cut-side up in an ovenproof dish. Leave the remaining pear for later.
Sprinkle over the caraway seeds and ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until they are brown on the edges and the flesh is soft.
Place the walnuts and pine nuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for around 4 to 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they will golden relatively quickly.
When the pears are cooled, scoop the flesh out of 4 of the halves - leaving enough so they don’t collapse.
Chop up the 4 halves and put in a food processor with the scooped out flesh and toasted nuts, leaving some nuts for decoration later. Add in the stem ginger and remaining cinnamon then blitz until it is a textured paste.
Divide the mixture between the pear skins.
With the reserved pear, peel and core. Slicing lengthways, arrange the slithers on top of each of the stuffed pears.
Decorate each pear with some of the toasted pine nuts and serve, warm or cold.
4. Smoked salmon toasts
If you’re looking for something light and tasty to start proceedings with, you can’t go wrong with these salmon toasts. This popular dish will be a great and popular way to start off your Christmas meal in style.
1 avocado, ripened
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
200g smoked salmon
3 sprigs of dill
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
12-16 slices of crispbread
½ a punnet of cress
Halve the avocado, taking the stone out and scoop out the flesh.
Mash with the crème fraîche until smooth and add a small squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, if required.
Slice the radishes, finely chop the dill and toss together with vinegar and a little pinch of salt.
Spread the avocado mixture over the crispbread and top with fine slices of salmon.
Sprinkle over the radish slices with a scattering of cress and a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
Serve alongside wedges of lemon.
5. Baked Camembert
Camembert is a soft, strong and gooey cheese which is great for dipping, therefore making it perfect for your party guests to tuck into. It’s easy to make, giving you more time to focus on the main dish. Place in the middle of the table with a basket of toasted bread and let your guests get dipping.
1 tablespoon dry white wine
2 sprigs of thyme
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Toasted bread, to serve
Heat oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.
Unwrap the cheese from the packaging and place back into the box.
Tie a piece of string around the box to secure; slash the cheese a few times. Top with the white wine, thyme sprigs and the chilli flakes.
Bake on a baking tray for about 20 minutes, until gooey.
Serve with toasted bread and dip in