Easy Christmas Entertaining From Provender Brown! November 29, 2018 15:00

There is something truly unique about Christmas Dinner – we gear ourselves up for an almighty feast of delicious, rich foods and lashings of wine, only to fall asleep in front of the Queen’s Speech before waking up and starting all over again!

As a lover of food, it won’t surprise you that for this exact reason (unashamed gluttony!) Christmas is one of my favourite days of the year. Having the shop, however, means that I don't have as much time to spend prepping food as I might like and so have had to devise quick and easy (but still delicious) solutions for Christmas entertaining.  In the spirit of goodwill to all, I've pulled together some of my favourites to share with you.

Quick & Easy Festive Canapés

They say first impressions count the most, so make sure you welcome your friends and family with some tasty bites. Also great for parties leading up to the big day or for munching while you tackle the wrapping!

  • Inverawe Catherine Wheel Roulades - these smoked salmon and salmon pâté roulades are the perfect instant canapé. The secret is to slice when frozen, that way you get at least 20 slices per 112g roll. Simply pop each slice onto a cocktail oatcake or a slice of cucumber
  • Smoked salmon on blinis or pumpernickel rounds with crème fraiche and trout or lumpfish caviar
  • Croustades filled with DipNation Chunky Dip with Cashew Nuts & Parmesan (we have either Sweet Thai Chilli or Spinach & Feta flavours), finish with a garnish of snipped chives
  • Duck or Chicken Liver Mousse with Tracklements onion marmalade on canapé oatcakes.
  • Pidy mini pastry cases with Venison Salami, Crowdie cream cheese & cranberry sauce.
  • Ready-made bruschetta toasts with good quality Artichoke or Tomato Bruschetta Topping (from a jar)
  • Peppersweet mini peppers stuffed with soft cheese – buy from the deli counter, drain off the oil and they’re ready to go.  If you want to be posh, stick them on a cocktail skewer
  • Cooking Chorizo & Piquillo Pepper skewers – slice up cooking chorizo, fry until it has good colour and pop on a skewer with a slice or piquillo pepper (available ready cooked and sliced in tins)
  • Mini Cooking Chorizo on a sick - dead simple but yummy
  • Bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), Cherry Tomato & Basil skewers

One of my go to resources for canape ideas is the Tracklements recipe pages.  Really imaginative and super easy, I've pulled off my top three to save you looking!  Click the links to go straight to the page. 

  1. Mustardy Bacon-wrapped Cocktail Sausages with Prunes & Apricots – we recommend using chipolatas & streaky bacon from Puddledub
  2. Camembert Parcels with Hazelnuts and Tracklements Christmas Spice Chutney
  3. Cranberry & Brie Tartlets – save time and use Pidy mini pastry cases

Drinks For Your Canapes

For Christmas Day it has to be champagne and you’d be hard-pushed to beat Charles Heidsieck.  From the original Champagne Charlie, and the smallest of the Grandes Marques, these wines are elegant, beautifully balanced and captivatingly complex.  They’ve also won a shower of awards over the years, often seeing off the better known champagne houses.  BUY Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne HERE>>>

Christmas Day Starter Ideas

Prawn Cocktail may be traditional - and we do love a bit of Marie Rose Sauce - but you really should try these amazing ready to use options from Inverawe Smokehouse.  I'm a big fan of the Salmon Terrine - guaranteed to get the meal off to a great start!

  • Inverawe Salmon Terrine – A triple terrine of smoked salmon, roast smoked salmon flakes and smoked salmon mousse. It looks spectacular and tastes fantastic. Just turn out onto a dish with some seasonal garnish or trout caviar to impress your guests. It come in two sizes - 500g serves 5-6 and the 170g serves 1-2.

  • Inverawe Smoked Salmon Mousse with caviar - Individual pots of luscious, delicate, smoked salmon mousse laced with bubbles of trout caviar. Makes an easy but stunning starter for grand dining and I promise everyone will love them. To serve, just add garnish, light melba toast or French bread.
  • Pear, Date & Walnut Salad with Stilton Dressing - perfect if you're catering for vegetarians or would just like something a bit lighter.  I find the BBC Good Food website a great resource for recipes and that's where I found this one - recipe HERE>>>

Wine For Your Starter: 
No question about this one. It has to be the Martin Codax Albarino  £ 13.99 which is tasting sublime at the moment. In fact it's what all the Spanish are drinking whilst consuming our Scottish fish! 

The Best of British Turkey Trimmings

We may not be the place to go for a bird, but we can do all the trimmings with plenty of style! I'm a big believer in keeping things simple - I know Nigella would be scowling at me right now, but sometimes I just don't have time to be making stuffing and cranberry sauce from scratch - especially when Puddledub and Tracklements have created such tasty alternatives!  Remember the Goose Fat for perfect roast tatties and your family will hold you in the highest esteem forever!  You can find all these in the deli.

  • Puddledub stuffing – cranberry & orange or chestnut.
  • Puddledub Chipolatas - the popular 'Just a plain pork sausage' in miniature version, made with 70% pork, salt and pepper. Approx 20 chipolatas per pack.
  • Puddledub Streaky Bacon – smoked or unsmoked
  • Tracklements Cranberry, Port & Orange Sauce
  • Clement Faugier vacuum packed cooked chestnuts
  • Pancetta – smoked or unsmoked
  • Goose fat – for the tastiest, crispiest roasties
  • The Shropshire Spice Company Bread Sauce Mix

Wine For Your Main Course
Winemaker, Fiona Turner’s, roots are in Kingussie and her Pinot has just the correct balance of complexity and finesse to compliment the dinner table at Christmas. Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir  £16.99 - a firm favourite in our house for sure! 

If you prefer something more traditional with your turkey, then I recommend Chateau Santenay Saint-Aubin ‘En Vesvau’ 2014.  A classic white Burgundy and Silver Award-winner, from the Côté d’Or, which at £27.99 is extremely good value.

Cheese Board Heaven!

The choice is yours but this is my favourite mix. Make sure to top it up with plenty of Tracklement’s Spiced Christmas Chutney and some Dardimann's dried apple or tomato slices and, of course, Peter’s Yard Sourdough Cripsbreads (my favs), Fine Cheese Company Toast for Cheese and your favourite oatcakes. Complete with a scattering of nuts, grapes and fresh figs and everyone will think you’ve morphed into Nigella!

  • Colston Bassett Stilton – is there any other?!  (But if you fancy a Scottish alternative, I’m delighted to say that Dunsyre Blue is back and has just won a Silver Award at the World Cheese Awards)
  • Minger – new this year but has quickly become a PB favourite, this small square shaped cheese from Tain, has a soft and oozing centre.  A bit like an Epoisse but sweeter and creamier.
  • Godminster Cheddar – another best-seller; sweeter and a softer in texture than a traditional farmhouse cheddar
  • Corra Linn – a hard ewes’ milk cheese with a characteristic nutty flavour with sweet notes, from Errington Cheese.  The one we have at the moment is extra mature and has developed a gorgeous caramel flavour - grab it while it lasts!
  • Monte Enebro – a delicious semi-soft goats milk cheese with a slightly lemony flavour, very white paste and blue moulded rind

Pair with Port
A great way to finish would be with a Tawny port from Sandeman - either the Fine or the if you want something special, go for the 20 year old, or the Offley LBV. The decision is normally helped by how long you wish to keep your port.  Tawney lasts much better in the opened bottle due to its oxidative process. So if you intend to nurse your bottle go for tawny or if it’s gone by 2019 try the Offley LBV, both are fantastic examples of the different styles.  See my Portugal blog for more information.

Sandeman Fine Tawny Port, £11.99

Sandeman 20 Year Old Aged Tawny Port, £39.99

Offley LBV Port 2011, 75cl, £17.99

And Then Later....

Does anyone actually ever have room for more come this point? No... But we'll always stuff in a wee mince pie or slice of cake! Campbells Bakery in Crieff are traditional bakers and I adore their festive treats - choose from either of these and you won't be disappointed!

  • Campbell’s Mince Pies – either full sized or mini from a traditional, family-owned bakery in Crieff
  • Campbell’s Christmas Cake slab – for those who don’t have the time, inclination or need to make their own, full-sized cake.

…and if anyone still feels like eating on Boxing Day, we have no shortage of goodies to supplement your leftovers with pies stuffed dull of Game, Turkey & Cranberry, Pork, Chicken & Ham and large sized portions of ham, smoked salmon or trout.  

Now, where did I put those elasticated trousers!