• Jo Watkinson

My favourite recipes for your perfect Christmas

Food plays a big part at Christmas and I love getting a crowd of people round a table but it's a busy enough time of year for everyone as it is, and by the time we get to Christmas I already feel like I've spent way too much time in the kitchen, so these are my go-to recipes for the perfect festive food without the hassle.

These recipes are either quick, or they can easily be made in advance, or both! Either way, you can feed your family and friends some seriously impressive food without spending the whole time in the kitchen.

Starters and canapés for easy entertaining

Parmesan, goats cheese and red onion canapés

These are great because you can make the biscuits and the red onion jam ahead and freeze them both. They are really quick and easy to assemble and are always the first to go!

Chicken liver parfait

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe and he does a great job of simplifying food. This pate is wonderful because it's actually better if you make it the day before.

For something informal, serve it in a large bowl in the middle of the table surrounded by toast. For canapés, slice great bread, toast and top with pate. For a more formal starter, pour the pate into small glasses or espresso cups, one for each guest.

It's also great to just have in the fridge for a quick lunch when you're busy!

Yorkshire pudding canapés

This is one of my recipes and, as a girl from Yorkshire it pains me to say it... but use frozen Yorkshire puddings. It saves you work and they are a guaranteed shape, making them easier to fill. Roast a small joint of beef and keep it warm, heat up your puddings, then all you have to do is put a dollop of tomato chutney in the base of the Yorkshire, add thinly sliced beef and top with horseradish cream. You'll love them!

Amazing but easy lunches and dinners

Asian chicken salad

After a heavy Christmas day, this is the perfect salad for boxing day. It's a great way to use up the left over turkey, but it's crisp, crunchy, spicy and packed full of flavour so it'll make you feel great after the richness of Christmas and before the excesses of New Year. If you have a food processor, this is also insanely quick to make.

Chicken and apricot tagine

This is another great way to use up left over turkey. Easy to prepare and you can leave it in the oven on a low heat for ages until you're ready to eat. The spicy, fruity flavours are great on a cold day when you just want to stay cosy.

Venison in Guinness and Port casserole

This casserole does take a smidge more prep, but you can do it ahead of time and it's absolutely worth it. This is my go-to dinner for Christmas eve. It's easy to leave in the oven while you dash about, and then it's rich, warm and comforting. I serve it with piles of mash and kale. And maybe a glass of port or two. And if your guests have proved to be troublesome already, just tell them that they've eaten Santa's Reindeer!

Winter quinoa salad

I love this salad and I eat it all year round, but it's especially good around Christmas - Just look at those pomegranate seeds against the cheese and spinach. Classic festive colours! It's also packed full of things that are really good for you and will give you an energy and vitamin boost.

I like to make a couple of changes. I use standard quinoa but i cook it with half a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder in the water. I also use pink lady apples instead of opal apples, and I make my own vinaigrette using a good olive oil and a lighter, fruitier vinegar like mirin or a raspberry vinegar. I'm using a pomegranate vinegar at the moment. Yum!

Vegetables and sides

Braised red cabbage with cranberries

This is so good that I make this in big batches and freeze it into smaller portions so that I can eat it all the time. It freezes beautifully so it's ideal to make ahead of time. This goes so well with Christmas dinner, but it's also lovely with the venison casserole and it's delicious served chilled on Boxing day as part of a left overs buffet.

Butternut squash, feta and dried cranberries

This is another all-purpose vegetable side dish. Serve it straight from the oven, with the cheese and cranberries tossed through it at the last minute, to go with your roast or to sit alongside a casserole or tagine. It also works beautifully served warm or chilled as part of a buffet or as a way of perking up your leftovers. Finally, I've served this warm on top of a bed of baby spinach as a lunch time winter salad.

It's has the added advantage of being really easy to prepare, but looks like you've made a lot of effort. And that really does make all the difference.

Bombay new potatoes

This is another of those dishes that your guests will think you've spent lots of time on and be wow-ed by, when in fact it's super easy to knock together.

I love this on boxing day. Our family always do jacket potatoes, but I much prefer this instead. Warm, comforting and very lightly spiced to give your digestion a kick start after all that food the day before! It's also full of fresh, zingy flavours that will cut through all the rich, fatty foods. It takes a few minutes prep, but get all of the component parts ready ahead of time and it's easy after that.

Honey glazed roast carrots

Good quality sides can really make a difference to a meal, and these carrots are so good. They are easy to prepare, easy to cook and absolutely delicious.

I use baby carrots so that I don't even have to peel them. Peeling the veg used to be a family tradition on Christmas eve and I'm not sorry to see the back of it!


Fallen chocolate souffle

This is one of my favourite Delia recipes. You can always rely on Delia at Christmas! This is a great alternative to Christmas pudding. It's rich and chocolatey, with a hint of fruitiness but it's nowhere near as full on as a Christmas pudding. You can also make this ahead of time to make your life even easier. If you have any leftovers, store them in a cake tin and eat them like a cake with coffee between Christmas and New Year.

Petit monts blanc

This year, I'm serving these as dessert on Christmas day but these are also wonderful on New Years Eve. It's another tried and tested Delia recipe, and you can prepare it all in advance so that once your guests arrive you're not stuck in the kitchen. It's also very easy to assemble so if you've had a couple of drinks by the time you get to dessert, don't worry! I add a sprinkle of edible glitter to make it really special.

Mincemeat scones

These are really easy to make, but a unique alternative to mince pies that your guests probably won't have seen before. Bake in advance and freeze them, then defrost over night and warm in the oven for a delicious treat. I serve mine with clotted cream and brandy butter on Christmas eve afternoon. It's also a great way to use up mincemeat once you're sick of the sight of mince pies!

Christmas wreath Pavlova

This is great as you can make the meringue ahead. It works right through the festive season. It's great for parties and even as an alternative to Christmas pudding. It's light, it's fruity but it's definitely festive! And add edible glitter. You won't regret it!

Have a wonderful Christmas full of love, joy and delicious food!

#Christmas #Cooking #Easyfood #Recipes

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