Buy a very elegant, narrow baguette to make these crostini. If you can only find larger baguettes, cut the slices in half to make bite-size toasts.
Healthier to nibble on than crisps and sweets, cashew nuts, along with other nuts, are high in omega 3 fatty acids and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc.
These sophisticated bites make an irresistible nibble with aperitifs or as a more formal appetizer. You can prepare everything ahead, then simply pop them in the oven when your guests arrive.
Whether you serve this tasty pâté as an elegant starter or as a sandwich filling, you’ll enjoy the pungent, earthiness of the mushrooms. Portabella mushrooms are used here for their strong flavour, but there are many mushrooms to choose from. Just pick your favourite.
Slow cookers are ideal for cooking pâtés, which need a long, slow cooking time in a water bath. Serve slices of pâté on salad greens with melba toast and cranberry sauce.
To take a prawn cocktail from ho-hum to wow involves just a little more work on the part of the cook. Get the best flavour by starting with whole, head-on prawns and cook them yourself. Mix up classic cocktail sauce in a few seconds, then serve it all chilled.
Break the ice with this great dish to share. It looks impressive, but is so easy to make.
The ultimate quick-fix starter designed to impress. For the best results, be sure that figs are in season, when they are ripe and tasty.
Such a classic! Serve as a starter for six or a family meal for four. If you like your pecans sweetened, add a couple of pinches of brown sugar just before the nuts have finished toasting.
A twist on the classic Waldorf salad, this crisp, crunchy salad with sweet–tangy apple, wholesome walnuts, and a creamy, flavoursome dressing is hard to beat.
Quinoa is a super food — a grain native to South America that has become popular not only for its nutty flavour and crisp texture, but because it is rich in complete protein. This salad is terrific for a buffet family meal or you can bulk up the recipe and take it to a potluck supper.
A great vegetarian all-in-one sharing meal. Don’t be put off by the word ‘prune’ – after they have been slow-cooked they barely resemble their raw state and become soft, rich and incredibly sweet. If you are not convinced, use dried apricots, dates or pears instead.
Portobello mushrooms, filled with a mixture of shallots, mushrooms, blue cheese and breadcrumbs, are baked in the oven until the cheese just starts to brown. You can prepare them ahead of time and bake just before needed.
This is a wonderful dish, perfect for a party as you can prepare the salmon in advance and pop it into the oven when needed; for simplicity, serve with a green salad instead of spinach. The recipe works well with other fish such as halibut, tilapia and cod.
Melt-in-the-mouth venison steak is never better than when complemented with port.
You can use pheasant or grouse, depending upon your personal preference and what is available.
This mildly spiced meat pie is traditionally enjoyed by French Canadians on Christmas Eve.
Roast turkey is the traditional main course for Christmas and this recipe is easy to follow for a delicious centrepiece that everyone will enjoy.
Not everyone chooses to serve turkey on Christmas Day. Roast beef makes a wonderful alternative and you can still enjoy all the Christmas trimmings - plus yorkshire puddings of course.
This rich and nutritious vegetable is fantastic roasted, which brings out its earthy richness. Choose evenly sized Brussels sprouts so that they cook at the same rate; the smaller the sprout, the better the flavour.
This is very quick to throw together, and the result is a really interesting and different way of enjoying carrots.
This tasty but light dish is made all the more special when drizzled with a little truffle oil. Celeriac brings an unusual freshness of flavour to the gratin, cutting through the richness of the cream.
Cabbage has bad press and is commonly associated with bad institutional meals. When lightly cooked, however, it is utterly wonderful with complementary flavours such as salty ham, tart lemon and sublime dill. This simple dish is finished in minutes and will convert the most reluctant.
This Mexican-style salsa adds a zesty and intriguing note to the simply grilled turkey.
Using turkey, roasting the aubergine and using a low-fat sauce cuts down the calories.
Although this chili is made with turkey, which is healthier, I like it to taste as much like beef as possible, so I use beef stock rather than chicken and add some Worcestershire sauce. Turkey is quite a bland tasting meat, so lots of spices and cranberries add a good depth of flavour.
Said to have been introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, Christmas Pudding is traditionally made on 'Stir-up Sunday', the last Sunday before Advent. Every family member took a turn at stirring because everyone who stirred the pudding was granted a wish. If you want to you can add charms or money to the pudding (silver sixpences were traditional). Boil them first to remove any germs.
A trifle makes any occasion special but it should definitely be on the menu at Christmas. This is an easy recipe that won’t hold you up from other Christmas preparations.
Roulades make impressive and popular desserts and are ideal for parties because they can be made ahead and need no last-minute attention.
These fun and festive little cakes will look superb on your Christmas dessert table. You can find ready-rolled fondant icing at cake decorating and baking supply shops.
This light, fruity cake, which combines the delicate flavour of pear with the sharp tang of cranberries, makes a wonderful alternative to a traditional fruit cake.
A miniature version of the classic Christmas log, and an ideal accompaniment to a cup of hot chocolate.
Not a drink to make just for yourself, but one that’s guaranteed to ensure a warm welcome for Christmas carolers or New Year party guests. Overheating will cause too much of the alcohol to evaporate, so allow the mix to just come to a simmer. Once made, the best way to keep the mulled wine warm is in a slow cooker where it will stay hot but not boil.
So what is mincemeat? Homemade mincemeat is a traditional sweet preserve consisting of a mixture of dried fruits, tart apples, brown sugar, suet, spices heavily doused in rum or brandy. The mincemeat is brought together and spooned into all-butter pastry cases, topped with a pastry lid and baked until crisp.
Lebkuchen are German spiced cookies and are the perfect Christmas treat. You can make them in any shape you want - Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes, letters, gingerbread men and women - and decorate with icing or just use a traditional glaze. If you do want to decorate, reduce the quantity of lemon juice to get a thicker icing.
This dessert is best when served chilled, with a generous spoonful of lightly whipped cream on the side. You can prepare the pears two days ahead if you wish. Just keep it chilled in the fridge.
There's nothing more Christmassy than clementines and these are delicious, indulgent, incredibly easy to make and can be prepared weeks in advance. They also make a wonderful homely gift.
What would turkey be without cranberry sauce? This also goes brilliantly with rich cheeses and cured meats.
Egg yolks, vanilla, brandy, and sugar make up the liqueur Advocaat — almost a breakfast in a bottle! In the 1960s the Snowball cocktail was the height of chic drinking and though its star may have waned a little it still has tons of retro cool and tastes delicious.
Originally a punch made with milk and wine or sherry, eggnog became a popular tipple in English taverns during the eighteenth century when it was served in small, carved mugs known as noggins. The drink later became associated with Christmas, with many Victorians believing the celebrations hadn’t properly begun until they’d downed a glass of eggnog — which no doubt helped cure the effects of over-indulgence the night before. When the drink crossed the Atlantic to America, rum replaced the sherry and became so popular that even George Washington created his own recipe, which included rye whisky, rum and sherry.
'Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s', goes the old nursery rhyme. Here's a simple, classic combination with a citrussy tang.
Serve these crisp, smoky nuts the Spanish way, with a glass of chilled sherry or a long cool glass of beer.
These delicious starters can be made in minutes using ready-made blinis.
This sweet vegetable pickle hails from India, and the combination of really fresh vegetables and spices makes this a truly delightful preserve.
Smooth rich chicken liver pâté is utterly irresistible and perfect for entertaining because you can make it in advance, then forget about it until you’re ready to sit down to eat.
There is nothing better than a warming bowl of spicy soup on a chilly day in the autumn. Even the colour reflects the season.
Rich and toothsome, this elegant quiche makes a fabulous brunch or lunch. You can use miniature pre-baked tartlet shells to make bite-sized appetisers.
Rich and succulent, this classic French casserole takes on the flavour of the red wine you choose, so make it a good one!
This wonderfully fragrant Middle Eastern–inspired loaf owes its origins to the spicy minced lamb dishes of the region, but is given a lighter twist by using minced turkey. Using left-over turkey, minced or finely chopped, it makes a wonderful post-Christmas meal.
Beetroot are colourful and exciting to eat, especially when their sweetness is balanced by the acidity of vinegar. They work particularly well alongside oily fish such as mackerel or with a piece of beef. If you buy beetroot with greens, wash and use them in a salad.
Super coleslaw has rainbow colours, bursts with flavour and is lower in fat than your standard coleslaw.
A refreshing fruit salad that brings the flavours of Morocco to your table. The oranges are served in a simple syrup that can be adapted and used for other fruits, making this a versatile recipe, too. Traditionally, a little orange flower water would be added to the syrup but this is not essential. However, if you happen to have some, it adds a touch of authenticity.
Calories have been slashed from this classic recipe by using the low-fat crust, cutting the number of egg yolks and being economical with the sugar. Using brown sugar adds a richness to compensate for fewer egg yolks.
Serve with pan-fried mackerel or salmon with a side salad and sweet potato fries.
This curd has a fabulous colour. It’s deep red and goes well with croissants or spiced raisin rolls with lots of butter and a very strong coffee.
Without the eggs, this is like a spiced pumpkin butter. Excellent for a weekend breakfast.
These truffles are delicious at the end of a meal or can be boxed, wrapped and given as a delightful gift.
If you're lucky you can find sloes in a farmer's market but it's way more fun to go foraging for them at the end of summer. You can also use damsons, plums, currants, elderberries or even raspberries. Dark, sweet and aromatic, sloe gin is the perfect after-dinner drink.
Plum brandy is delicious Somehow so much more than the sum of its parts. And you wouldn't believe how good the plums are to eat when you've finished the brandy! Perfect in cocktails, on its own, or used in baking.
The original Buck’s Fizz, made by mixing two-thirds champagne with one-third freshly squeezed orange juice, was created after the First World War by a Mr. McGarry, the bartender at the time of Buck’s Club in London’s Mayfair. Very specific about the proportions of his drink, he would no doubt have frowned on any upstart adding a dash of Grenadine, but the resulting pink glow makes this cocktail the ultimate romantic tipple, perfect for Valentine’s Day or a special evening in.
If you’re feeling under the weather, this should have you back to your old self in no time. Use a clear honey and stir it into the other ingredients over a low heat until it dissolves.
This stunning cake makes a lighter alternative to the traditional dark Christmas cake.
There is nothing like the smell of gingerbread baking to make your house Christmassy! You can use this recipe to make any shapes you want - men, women, stars, snowkflakes, trees, angels - and if you make a small hole in the top you can put a ribbon through and use them as decorations. Double the recipe
The easiest way to remove the seeds from a pomegranate is to cut the fruit in half, hold it over a bowl and bash the back with a wooden spoon. The seeds will simply pop out.
This is a very similar dish to beef bourguignon. The main difference is the use of herbes de provence – a combination of thyme, marjoram, savory, rosemary, sage and basil. Either mix your own or buy it in the supermarket.