It’s the night before Christmas. The presents are bought and wrapped, the turkey’s ready and waiting and your nearest and dearest are assembled for the big day tomorrow. And guess what? They’re hungry!
The last thing you want to do is spend Christmas Eve slaving away in the kitchen for hours, but with these quick and easy, fizz-friendly, five-step recipes you can wow a crowd and still have time for a bit of festive relaxation yourself…
All the recipes can easily be scaled up or down to feed more or less people, depending on your needs.
Cheesy Crisp-mas Canapés
The team at Hattingley Valley love the tang of local Lyburn Old Winchester cheese with their Classic Cuvée. Similar to an aged Gouda, this cheese can also be used as a vegetarian substitute for parmesan. These easy cheesy crisp canapés are delicious made with either Old Winchester or parmesan, and will keep your guests happy while you whip up your fish pie.
A chunk of Lyburn Old Winchester or Parmesan cheese, grated.
- Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Spoon grated cheese onto the baking parchment to form rough circles, using around a tablespoon per crisp. If you go freehand, the finished crisps will be fairly rustic in appearance, or you can use a cookie cutter to make neat circles, or any shape you like. Stars look particularly festive!
- Make sure that none of the cheesy piles are touching, and that they have a little room to spread.
- Bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes until the cheese begins to crisp and turn pale golden around the edges. Don’t be tempted to leave them too long to brown further, as they will turn bitter.
- Remove the crisps from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or so before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
Festive Fish Pie
This delicious version of a classic recipe cuts down the steps to make a speedy one-pot wonder. By replacing the traditional mash topping with a crispy cheese and breadcrumb layer, you’ll not only save time but also make something a little lighter so you’re not overloaded for the celebrations ahead. This pie is great served with new boiled new potatoes and wilted spinach.
2 leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
100ml dry white vermouth
2 tablespoons anchovy sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
350ml crème fraiche
500g salmon fillet, skinned and chopped into 2cm chunks
300g haddock, cod or pollack fillet, skinned and chopped into 2cm chunks
300g undyed smoked haddock fillet, skinned and chopped into 2cm chunks
50g fresh breadcrumbs
50g Gruyère cheese, grated
- Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan oven.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks and vermouth and cook over a low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the anchovy sauce, tarragon and crème fraiche. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave to cool a little.
- Place the fish in a wide ovenproof dish and pour over the leek sauce.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese and scatter over the fish. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, until the centre feels piping hot.
Mulled Berry Mess
This super-easy recipe puts a wintry spin on the summer classic, Eton Mess. You can substitute half or even all of the whipped cream with Greek yoghurt if you want to lighten it up a little – but hey, it’s Christmas, so why not indulge yourself!
For the mulled berries:
250ml red wine
1 stick cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
zest and juice of 1 orange
500g mixed red and black berries (e.g. blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, grapes). Frozen mixed berries, defrosted before use, will also work well.
A few extra berries to garnish.
For the mess:
750ml whipping cream
6 meringue nests
- First, make your mulled berries. Pour wine into a medium saucepan on a medium heat and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, orange juice and zest, and sugar, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and mixture has reduced a little.
- Reduce heat further and add the fruit, stirring gently. Cook down a little so the fruit softens, but don’t let it go too mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely before the next step (pop it in a bowl in the fridge to speed things up).
- Whip the cream in a large bowl until thickened and beginning to form peaks, but is still soft. Roughly crumble the meringue nests into the cream.
- Reserving a little of the liquid, add the mulled berries to the meringue and cream mix, gently stirring the whole lot to ripple it all together.
- Arrange in six serving bowls or glasses, drizzling with a little of the leftover liquid and garnishing with a few extra fresh berries.