Serves 6 for nibbles
Time 40 minutes
Per portion: 149 Kcal, 9.9g fat (2g saturated)
Rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers 10–12
Melon 6 x 2.5cm (1in) cubes
Large pimento-stuffed olives 6
Pitted black olives 6
Ready-to-eat dried prunes 6
Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil 6 x 2.5cm (1in) pieces
Olive oil for brushing
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Using the back of a knife, stretch the bacon rashers out thinly.
2 Cutting to fit, wrap a piece of bacon round each piece of melon, olive, prune and sun-dried tomato, securing each one with a wooden cocktail stick. Place on a baking tray, brush with olive oil and season with pepper. Cover and chill until needed.
3 Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°fan/Gas 7. Cook the bacon wraps for 7–10 minutes until hot and slightly crisp. Serve hot with pre-dinner drinks.
Cook’s tips. Make in advance and store in the fridge until your guests arrive. Then all you need to do is pop them in the oven before serving. They’re particularly good served with chilled Prosecco.
Chicken Liver Pate
Serves 6 as a starter
Time 30 minutes plus chilling
Per portion: 218 Kcal, 16g fat (9.8g saturated)
Butter 50g (2oz)
Onion 1, peeled and finely chopped
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Chicken livers 400g pack, trimmed and chopped
Bay leaves 2
Dried thyme ½ tsp
Brandy 2 tbsp
Double cream 3 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sliced gherkins to serve (optional)
Toasted French bread and rocket to serve (optional)
1 Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the chicken livers, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes until the livers are tender and no longer pink.
2 Remove the bay leaves and spoon the mixture into a food processor or blender. Add the brandy and blend until smooth. Stir in the double cream and season to taste.
3 Pour into ramekins or a large serving dish and chill for 2–3 hours until firm. Garnish with sliced gherkins, if wished, and serve with lightly toasted French bread and a few rocket leaves, if you like.
Cook’s tips. The tops of the pâté can also be covered with a thin layer of melted butter flecked with chopped chives and tarragon then chilled until set for an attractive finish.
Turkey en Croute
Time approx. 2½ hours
Per portion: 584 Kcal, 36g fat (12g saturated)
Butter 25g (1oz)
Onion 1 small, peeled and finely chopped
Good-quality herby pork sausages 3, skinned
Orange 1, finely grated zest
Dried cranberries 2 tbsp
Pine nuts 50g (2oz)
Dried ready-to-eat apricots 50g (2oz), chopped
Chopped fresh sage 3 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Egg 1, beaten
Sliced turkey breast 2 x 425g (15oz) packs
Cranberry sauce 2 tbsp
Shortcrust pastry 500g (1lb 2oz)
Plain flour to dust
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°fan/Gas 6. Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with non-stick baking paper, leaving extra paper overhanging the top of the tin.
2 Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until softened. Transfer to a large bowl and add the sausagemeat, zest, cranberries, pine nuts, apricots and sage. Season with salt and pepper then add half the egg and mix together.
3 Line the base of the loaf tin with one third of the turkey slices then spoon over half the cranberry sauce. Spoon half the sausagemeat mixture on top and press into an even layer. Repeat with another layer of turkey then the rest of the sauce, then the stuffing and top with the last of the turkey. Fold the paper over the top then cover with foil. Bake for 1¼ hours or until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Cool in the tin.
4 Increase the oven temperature to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas 7. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 40 x 30cm (16 x 12 in). Take the turkey out of the tin and peel off the paper, place on the pastry so that the long edges of the turkey are parallel with the short edges of the pastry. Brush the pastry edges with egg, fold the short edges up and over the turkey to enclose then fold in the ends.
5 Transfer to an oiled baking sheet, brush with egg and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.To check it’s hot, insert a skewer, hold for 30 seconds then remove – the tip of the skewer should feel hot.
Cook’s tips. Decorate with pastry leaves, if wished. Check the pastry after about 20 minutes; if it’s browning too quickly, cover with foil. Serve hot with all the trimmings for Christmas dinner or cold as part of a buffet.
Frozen Christmas Pudding
Time 30 minutes plus soaking and freezing
Per portion: 372 Kcal, 24g fat (14g saturated)
Suitable for freezing
Suitable for vegetarians
Ready-to-eat dried apricots 65g (2½oz), chopped
Ready-to-eat dried figs 65g (2½oz), chopped
Ready-to-eat dried prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
Maraschino or glacé cherries 65g (2½oz), halved
Orange ½, grated zest plus 3 tbsp juice
Orange liqueur, brandy or sherry 2 tbsp
Double cream 300ml (½ pint)
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Icing sugar 90g (3½oz)
Dark chocolate 110g (4oz), roughly chopped
Unsalted butter 20g (¾oz)
1 Soak the fruits with the orange zest, juice and liqueur for 2 hours. Line a 1.5 litre (2½ pint) pudding basin with cling film.
2 Whisk the cream, vanilla and icing sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in the fruits and spoon into the basin. Cover and freeze.
3 Put the chocolate, butter and 3 tablespoons of water in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Leave to cool.
4 Line a plate with non-stick baking paper. Carefully dip the pudding basin into a bowl of warm water and unmould onto the plate. Remove the cling film and pour the chocolate over to cover. Freeze uncovered, then wrap in cling film and foil and return to the freezer until needed.
5 Remove from the freezer 25 minutes before serving.
Cook’s tip. For a gingered pudding, omit the vanilla extract and stir in 4 tsp finely chopped crystallised or glacé ginger.