The first of December always feels like the start of the festive season. Up until then, we feel it coming, but on the first, a sudden and more immediate countdown begins. There are instantly more social arrangements and the shops are filled with everything Christmas. As a huge fan of this season, especially the food, this is a round-up of a few of my favourite recipes for all the surrounding parties. I’ll round up nother eating occasions in the coming days.
Parties & snacks:
If you are having a party and just need snacky things for drinks, here are a few ideas.
Baked Camembert (or Brie) with sundried tomatoes, garlic, and thyme. This is probably my all-time favourite snack and I always keep wheels of Camembert or Brie in the freezer. The pouches of sundried tomato in vinaigrette either available from Woolies or Ina Paarman are always in my pantry. All you need is a clove of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme.
If you want something a little sweeter then my baked Camembert with caramelised apples and thyme is also a winner:
Have loads of melba toast or delicious crispy flatbreads made in advance. These are WAAAY nicer than chips and biscuits which are loaded with fat. They are perfect for any cheeseboard, dip, or spread, and I normally make a batch of both and keep them in an airtight container:
How to make melba toast
Simply freeze the loaf you would like to use – ciabatta works well, then allow it to thaw slightly. Alternatively use stale bread. Slice the bread very thinly using a bread slicer or electric carving knife (this is a little easier than doing it by hand). Lay the slices on a large baking tray and bake in the oven – preheated to 180C/350F for about 10 minutes until they harden and just start turning golden brown. Store in a sealed container until ready to use.
The best-ever crispy flatbread recipe.These flatbreads which were featured in my first cookbook are the bomb. They are totally moreish and addictive. This makes a big batch but it can easily be halved.
The festive season is not complete without at least one or two batches of the best-ever chicken liver pate.
I normally make a double batch and freeze off a few ramekins for all the picnics and summer parties. This has become a hugely popular recipe on my site and I include a second modified recipe with less butter and a bit of cream.
For a few more dips and spreads:
Ottolenghi’s famous hummus, or Roast beetroot hummus (which can also be made with roast butternut), Chargrilled zucchini hummus, a classic South African smoked snoek pate, and a very delicious caponata recipe.
If you are looking for a few hot snacks, I loved my recent zucchini and cheese phyllo pies which I made in my air fryer. You can make these in advance. I have a delicious sweetcorn & cheese option too.
Sausage rolls with apples and sage are always a good idea for a party.
Baked goats cheese cigars with honey & thyme are a fancy and most delicious snack.
Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tartlet is one of my all-time favourite picnic and party snacks. Make in advance and serve at room temperature. And for something even easier, tomato & basil crostini with whipped goat’s cheese.
Just make a batch of spicy caramel popcorn and don’t look back. Everyone loves this and despite the spices, kids love it too.
Bacon-wrapped chipolata sausages with rosemary and honey are always a winner. Dip into mustard or mustard cream (stir Dijon through whipped cream).
Since it’s summer in South Africa over Christmas, something like delicious Peruvian ceviche is stunning party food. Serve with potato crisps or corn chips to make fish and chips.
If you are serving fresh oysters, try my oysters with spicy cucumber & lime granita.
Since we are in a party mood here are a few fabulous festive cocktails:
Pomegranate & ginger spritzer (the red seeds make it look instantly like Christmas)
Happy festive season friends!