Party Time Food
Christmas is coming towards us very quickly now, and most of you will have done some preparations for your fantastic Christmas spread. If you want to freeze ahead as much as possible to make the day or days go easier on you, the cook, have a look at some of our ‘freeze ahead’ ideas on our blog (Click Here) – or go to sharingourfoodadventures.com and search for “Christmas Made Easy” in the Search box. But the week beyond Christmas Day is often the time for parties, and, of course, party time food. Just taking time to catch up with a few friends in a relaxed setting is important to us all, so I’ve come up with some ideas for nibbles and easy entertaining.
Baked Camembert with Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks Recipe
- 400g strong white flour
- 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 2 tsp English mustard powder
- 1 tsp golden caster sugar
- 2 tsp thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs for the cheese
- 1 tbsp light olive oil plus extra for greasing
- 250g whole Camembert in a box
- 20 slices pancetta
- Fine salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Mix together the flour, yeast, mustard powder, 1½ tsp fine salt, the sugar, thyme leaves and half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
- Stir in 250ml lukewarm water, use your hands to bring together the dough, then knead for 10 minutes on a clean surface until it is smooth and elastic. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, use this instead and knead for just 5 mins. Sit the dough in a large, clean bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave at room temperature for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 190C/170Fan/gas5 and line your largest baking tray with baking parchment. Sit the lid of your boxed Camembert in the centre of the tray.
- Knead the dough back into a smooth ball, then use your fingers to make a hole through the centre. Steadily stretch the doughnut shape into a large ring until the centre hole is large enough to fit around the cheese lid. The best way is to swing the dough around your fingers, then hand, like a hula-hoop. (Make sure your neighbours aren't watching through your window, or you'll be locked up!)
- Sit the dough ring on the tray around the box lid. Use kitchen scissors to snip the dough ring into 20 strips, from the outside in, but leave a fee millimetres of dough still connecting the strips together around the lid in the centre.
- If using the ready to eat pancetta slices, halve each one lengthways.
- Twist one of the 20 dough strips to make it longer and thinner like a breadstick, then wrap a pancetta slice in a spiral around it. Repeat with all the dough strips.
- Your breadsticks might look a little higgledy-piggledy at the moment, so use kitchen scissors to snip off the ends to make them a neater round shape. Brush with a little olive oil and bake for 15 mins.
- Meanwhile, unwrap the Camembert and top with the thyme sprigs. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little black pepper.
- Remove the breadsticks from the oven and sit the cheese inside the box lid, then bake for another 5 mins until the bread is golden and crispy, and the cheese molten.
The recipe above is a great one for sharing with friends and family. The next recipe is a another fun one, for relaxed entertaining.
Ham and Cheese Croquetas With Tomato Chilli Jam Recipe
- Half small onion (or shallot) finely chopped
- 50g plain flour
- 250ml milk
- 140g sliced smoked ham, diced
- 50g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
- 50g Gruyere, finely grated
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp double cream
- For the coating:
- 2 large eggs
- 50g plain flour
- 140 fine dried breadcrumbs
- sunflower oil, for deep frying
- For the tomato chilli jam:
- 300g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 long red chilli, finely chopped & deseeded)
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 100g demerara sugar
- 100ml red wine vinegar
- To make the croquetas:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and gently fry the onion for 3 mins or until lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook over a low heat for 5 mins until thick and glossy.
- Stir in the ham, cheese and mustard and cream, and season to taste. Cook for one minute more until the cheese melts, stirring constantly.
- Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming. Leave to cool, then chill for 4 hours or overnight. The mixture needs to be very stiff to form the croquets.
- When ready, take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and with wet hands, roll into 24 small oval shapes and put on a tray.
- Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, put the flour on a plate and half the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
- Roll each of the croquets lightly in flour, then in egg before coating in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Use the remaining breadcrumbs to top up the bowl hallway through the coating process. Chill for 30 mins (or freeze - open freeze the cooled croquetas until solid. Transfer to a freezer proof container, and layer, interleaving with baking parchment. Cover and freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat on a baking tray lined with baking parchment in a preheated oven at 200C/180Fan/gas6 for 8 mins).
- To make the Chilli jam:
- Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 50 mins - 1 hour, stirring occasionally unit thick and glossy. Leave to cool before serving.
- To freeze the Chilli jam - put in a small freezer bag or tub. To serve, thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for one hour, then stir well before serving.
- To deep fry the Croquetas:
- Fill a large pan one third full with the sunflower oil and heat to 180C (or heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer). No not overheat and don not leave hot oil unattended.
- Using a metal slotted spoon, lover 6 croquets into the oil and cook for 1min 30seconds until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and continue cooking the rest.
- Serve with the chilli jam for dipping.
Party Time Food isn’t just about savoury appetisers and nibbles. Some of us lesser creatures do have a sweet tooth, myself included. And some love mixing sweet and savoury together! So here’s a sweet dish that would be a great one to round off the evening (or afternoon) after eating loads of different mouthwatering party food. It’s refreshing and cool, with gentle hints of cinnamon, cloves and allspice gently floating amongst orange slices, in a warm mixture of a good red wine and brandy. Oh, give me a spoonful right now!
Mulled Wine Sorbet with Clove Biscuits Recipe
- 2 oranges
- 12 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 bottle &750ml) good-quaity red wine
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- Half a cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (60ml) port or brandy
- For the Clove Biscuits:
- ¾ cup (165g) white sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- 2½ cups (375g) plain flour
- Three-quarters of a cup rice flour
- 375g butter cubed
- 60 cloves
- To make the sorbets:
- Cut one orange in half and stud both halves with cloves. Place in a saucepan with cinnamon sticks, wine, mixed spice and sugar. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then cover and cook over very low heat for 10 mins.
- Cool, then strain. Juice the remaining orange and stir juice and port and brandy into the mulled wine. Refrigerate for several hours to chill completely.
- When totally cool, pour the mixture into a shallow container and freeze until frozen at the edges. Remove from freezer and beat with an electric hand beater.
- Pour back into the container and re-freeze. Reheat 2 or 3 times. (Alternatively if you are lucky enough to have an ice-cream machine, follow the manufacturer's directions.)
- Preheat oven to 140C/120Fan/
- To make the Clove Biscuits:
- Whilst the sorbet is freezing, prepare biscuits.
- Place sugar in a food processor with flour, rice flour and 1 teaspoon of salt, add butter and process until just combined.
- Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and gently press mixture with your hands to form a ball. Divide into two. Roll out each piece to 1 cm thick (approximately half an inch thick).
- Use a 4cm plain round cutter to cut into rounds, place on a lightly greased baking tray, sprinkle with a little extra sugar, prick each biscuit with a fork gently and press a clove into the centre of each.
- Cook on lower oven racks for 25 minutes. They should be just lightly coloured golden when cooked. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.
- To serve:
- Scoop sorbet into small glasses and serve with one or two clove biscuits on the side.
I do hope that has given you some ideas for Party Food to share with family and friends. One year I wrote up the details for a Fantasy Christmas Buffet. (It was the year we were moving just after Christmas, so a party was out of the question). But I just wanted to plan one on paper. There are quite a few very easy dishes so if that would be of any help, please click on Fantasy Christmas Buffet and have a look.