My attitude to Christmas cooking is this: don’t go OTT on making fancy food. Good shopping is the key. This means minimum cooking and more time with fizz in hand chatting to your guests (unless, of course, you want to escape from your guests in which case get busy with your soufflés!)

I would avoid starter altogether and instead have some prepped canapés that can be flung together at the last minute.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Brie and Pastrami Melts


Brie (cheap stuff as it is getting melted); Mini toasts – shop bought – olive ones are nice; Pastrami; Pickled gherkin of dollop or dollop of cranberry sauce for garnish

Put a slice of brie and strip of pastrami on each toast (or half toast depending on size) then put them under a hot grill for about 30 seconds. Remove. Add a pickle/dollop of cranberry sauce to each one and serve.

Pata Negra and Manchego Bites

Ingredients: Pata Negra Ham; Manchego cheese; Rocket leaves

Pata Negra is the Rolls Royce of Spanish Iberico ham. It is produced from lovely piggies that live on a diet of mainly acorns. They have a distinctive black coat and hoofs, hence the name. The ham is cured for up to 2 years, which gives a wonderful flavour and melt-in-the mouth texture. Cut a small triangle of manchego cheese. Wrap it in a rocket leaf and then wrap whole thing in small strip of Iberico ham.  You should see the cheese and the rocket leaves peaking out. These can be prepped the day before, refrigerated and simply served when needed.

Salmon and Horseradish Blinis


Smoked salmon; Horseradish; Blinis – shop bought; Chives

Children (with very, very clean hands) can get this one done as long as you’ve already cut up the salmon into small bites.  Put a bit of salmon and a dollop of horseradish on each blini, scatter chives and serve.  By this time you will have had a few fizzes and the presentation will not be as important. Horseradish can be swapped for cream cheese.

Chopped Egg Salad on Salt and Vinegar Crisps – this one is vegan and surprisingly good with a G & T. Just boil and chop your eggs and mix with vegan mayo in advance. To serve, put a dollop on each crisp and serve. A few strands of cress will give colour.

3 Christmas Canapés