Thursday, 16 December 2010

Easy Christmas party food - a compilation of ideas

Photo credit: DontBblu
So, the Christmas party season is upon us. In little over a week, kids everywhere will be ripping paper off obscenely expensive toys and the cooks of the household will be panicking about getting the big event that is Christmas Dinner just so. It can be a lot of work - although most of the work is getting it all ready at the same time without spoiling.

With Christmas lunch the star of the show, most people don't want to be spending hours making food for Christmas parties, whether it is just a few friends round for drinks and nibbles, or a whole houseful that leave your house looking like a plague of locusts has been and gone. (Or is that just our families that do that?). I know the answer for some will be to go to the supermarket but it works out pretty darned expensive and I find it a bit samey. Obviously, if it's after the big day, there's a possibility of leftover turkey etc - but this starts to wear thin quite quickly and it's nice to make something slightly different.

I have a few ideas that I use for parties, although I often resort to an oven full of jacket potatoes and a slow cooker full of chilli con carne to pad it out. I had an idea that I would put it out to the good people of Twitter to tweet me some nice but easy ideas for party food for Christmas time. I got tons of replies and am going to try and mention as many as possible.

Let's start with mine:

  • Philly and Chilli (also suggested by @grealis) - put a tub of soft cheese on a large plate, pour sweet chilli sauce over it and surround with tortilla chips or kettle chips for dipping into the cheese. It is delicious!
  • Pesto Palmiers - lay ready rolled puff pastry out flat and spread with pesto, then roll the pastry up from each of the short ends so that they meet in the middle. Wrap in cling film, chill for 20 mins. Unwrap then brush with beaten egg yolk and slice into 1cm slices and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 10 mins or golden brown. Grate over a little parmesan as you remove from the oven. Serve warm or cold. 
  • Christmas Crispy Squares - melt 4tbsp unsalted butter, 2 cups marshmallows and 100g white chocolate chips in a pan over a low heat, using a spatula to stir them together. Add 100g rice krispies and 125g dried cranberries and stir until well combined. Quickly spoon into a baking tin lined on bases and all sides, and press flat with spatula or fingers. Leave to set for 20 mins. Lift out of the tin using the paper and cut into squares.
Moving on to ideas from other tweeters:
  • Mummy Limited - Goat's cheese and fig wrapped in parma ham were a hit last year.
  • Soggous - Bruschetta - lightly toast slices of baguette, rub with garlic clove, top with chopped tomatoes & basil, drizzle with oil. Or spread tapenade on toasted baguette slices. Another fave is smoked salmon on triangles of brown bread.
  • @Jannism - brush tortillas with oil, place on baking sheets in a hot oven (200C/400F/Gas 4) for 5 mins so they puff up. Also, horseradish added to hummus is good.
  • English Mum - Chicken tikka skewers! Marinate chicken in mixture of yoghurt, tikka paste and squeeze of lemon. Thread, grill, serve with raita. Also, I'm doing mince pies with a piped meringue top as little puds.
  • @ebabeelikes - Italian breadsticks wrapped in parma ham, yummy and very easy.
  • sezi13 - Honey and Mustard Cocktail Sausages. Mix together 2tbsp wholegrain mustard, 3tbsp runny honey, 1tsp white wine vin & 1tsp olive oil. Pour over cooked sausages and put in medium hot oven for 15 mins. (@Wholovesmecouk also suggested honey and chilli sausages)
  • @Tracytid - Cheese Stars. Mix together 50g flour, pinch cayenne, 25g softened butter, 80g finely grated red leicester, and 20g grated parmesan by hand or in a food processor. Knead together. Roll out thinly and stamp out star shapes. Bake at 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 10 mins. 
  • @Tracytid - cubes of beef on a stick with horseradish dip. (Sounds great for leftover roast!)
  • @Tracytid - cut flattened slices of bread into circles, dip into melted butter and garlic, bake until crisp, top with cream cheese and salmon.
  • DomesticJules - Mini Toad in the Holes. Make a usual recipe but make individual ones with chipolatas or cocktail sausages in a bun tin. Bake for 15 mins. 
  • AFCband - Butter slices of bread and lay a slice of ham on top. Roll each slice longways, wrap and chill overnight. Slice into rounds. 
  • TheMummyLife - Party Mini Pizzas. Mix 1 cup of flour (100g) and 1tsp baking powder in a bowl. Beat an egg lightly and add to the bowl with 3/4 cup/160ml of milk, whisking thoroughly. Add 60g grated cheese and 2 pepperami cut into bite sized pieces to the mixture. Leave to stand for 10 mins. Pour into muffin or cake tins and bake at 160C/320F/Gas 3 for 20-30mins until golden brown. Can be eaten hot or cold. (The veggie side of me would want to do this with peppers and mushrooms instead!)
  • @putajumperon - Blinis with sour cream and lumpfish caviar or cream cheese and smoked salmon. 
  • imperfectpages - Popcorn with paprika. Melt 2oz butter in a pan, add 2 tsp each of ground cumin, ground cinnamon and ground paprika, mix and pour over popped corn. Shake together with some salt and sugar.
Let me know if you try any of these and what you think of them. If you have any quick and simple ideas you'd like to share, then let me know by leaving a comment below. Thanks to everyone that tweeted ideas or emailed me recipes. Sorry if I've missed you out, but I had to stop somewhere - this post could have gone forever. 

May all your parties be fun-filled and stress-free. And most importantly, filled with lots of lovely food.

(Oh and as an afterthought, I've just thought that the ideas on my Tapas Tea might also be relevant. Russian salad, in particular, is great for parties and it's easy to make.)
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