What a busy time of year, eh? I'm not quite sure what I've been doing but I seem to have no time to myself whatsoever. Christmas shopping, festive drinks with friends, work events, wrapping presents... I've had virtually no time to blog! But I have been cooking, at least. In fact, so busy things are, I am currently multi-tasking in a big way: typing at my desk, making mushroom soup for lunch tomorrow, icing my Christmas cake, cooking my supper (bangers and mash) and watching Heston Blumenthal's Ultimate Christmas Meal on the television. Phew!
On Sunday, I hosted a Christmassy lunch for seven friends. We started with some simple yet delicious canapés - blinis with smoked trout and horseradish crème fraîche, red pepper hummous topped with roasted artichokes and red onion marmalade and goats cheese nibbles. None of these took much time - mostly an assembly job as I bought both the hummous and the artichokes. Served with a Tasmanian Sparkling Pinot Noir/Chardonnay, these really looked and tasted the part. We then moved onto the pheasant and cider casserole I made a few weeks ago. This time around I cooked the casserole for longer at a lower heat and used less liquid. I also added smoky bacon and, for the final 20 minutes, some pan-roasted shallots and baby carrots. It was superb! We finished with a divine chocolate and chestnut roulade (more on that later) and my Mother's special mince pies with orange pastry (again, recipe to follow).
I plan to make these nibbles again at Christmas - perhaps to accompany the Champagne we drink as we open our presents before lunch....
Blinis with smoked trout and horseradish crème fraîche (makes 24)
Pack of 24 cocktail blinis (or make your own!)
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 teaspoon good quality horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon chopped dill, plus a little extra to garnish
2 slices smoked trout
1. Mix the crème fraîche with the horseradish and dill.
2. Bake the blinis according the pack instructions (usually around minutes).
3. Blob a teaspoon of creamy mixture on each blini, tip with a sliver of trout, garnish with a sprig of dill.
4. Place the blinis on a serving plate and grate over a little lemon zest. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the lot and grid a little black pepper over the plate to finish them off.
Crostini with hummous and roasted artichoke hearts
1 very narrow baguette or flûte, 1 day old
Flavoured hummous of choice - roasted red pepper works well
Roasted and marinated artichoke hearts in olive oil
1. Make the crostini. Slice the bread into very thin disks (this will be much easier if your bread is a day old!). Place on a baking tray and bake at 200C for around 10 minutes, until crisp.
2. Once the crostini are cool, spoon on a dollop of hummous and top with a slice of artichoke.
Crostini with red onion marmalade and goats cheese
Crostini (make as above)
2 red onions
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Spring of thyme
1. Slice the onions. Melt butter and a little oil in a non-stick pan with a heavy base. Place onions in, sprinkle over sugar and add thyme. Cook on a very low heat for around 40 minutes until sticky and soft. Keep an eye on it to prevent burning.
2. When cool, top crostini with a teaspoon of onion mixture and top with a little goats cheese. If you like, you could pop under a grill until the cheese has melted.
Looks like everyone enjoyed themselves....