By Lucy Hoyle
I couldn’t contain my excitement when the fabulous Rebecca of My English Country Cottage fame, (who until now had been my Pilates friend, exchanging grimaces as we were encouraged to stretch our bodies into bizarre positions) asked me to make some Christmas canapés for an actual real life photo shoot at her magical home.
I immediately got to work looking at my canapé menu and working out which ones would be the most mouthwatering morsels through a camera lens.
We chose some savoury classics which are always top of my clients lists, smoked salmon blinis with caviar, tiny Yorkshires with rare beef and horseradish, sesame and anchovy straws and soy glazed belly pork..
Then for the pudding canapés I chose my most popular and sparkly looking ones that knew would be a hit Individual raspberry pavlovas, sticky toffee squares, mendiants and chocolate orange filo parcels
The day itself was an incredible experience. Rebecca’s cottage looked so beautifully twinkly, and I was honoured to be asked to contribute. I loved being in the cottage kitchen arranging and putting finishing touches to the canapés. The very talented Karen of Lifestyle and Flowers by Margot was working her magic with seasonal flowers and stylists Naomi and Rebecca were arranging and rearranging rooms for Rob to welcome in the readers.
Seeing the photos in The English Home magazine has got me really excited about this Christmas when hopefully we can see more family and friends than last year. This also got me thinking about food over those busy Christmas days.
Christmas catering can send people into a bit of a frenzy. The key really is to get ahead. Make a list of the meals you’re planning, and then work out what you can do in advance so that even the chef can actually enjoy the day!
There are a handful of get ahead hints I have. First off mince pies. My recipe is infamous amongst family and friends, handed down from Granny Buckenham. The shortest most buttery pastry, filled with finest mincemeat you can muster. Make these in November and then put them in the freezer. Not only does this mean you’ve always got a delicious homemade mince pie for those dropping in unannounced at coffee or cup of tea time but it also means you have an extra pudding at your disposal. Once defrosted warm them through, make a little hole in the centre and serve with a splash of liqueur (we favour Mandarin liqueur) and a little double cream. Or is you’ve got some brandy butter to hand this is also delicious!
Secondly I always cook up some chicken stock after a Sunday roast leading up to Christmas adding some fresh herbs for extra flavour. Once cooled freeze (labelled!) and then you can make your gravy base Christmas Eve before adding the delicious juices from your Turkey or Goose on Christmas Day.
A third handy hint is for roast potatoes and parsnips in advance. You can peel, par boil, fluff up and cool a couple of days in advance. Once they are cool and dried out put them on baking parchment on a baking tray, cling them and put in the fridge. This just means all you have to do is heat some oil in a baking tray, discard the parchment and transfer them to the oil then pop them into the oven to roast on the day.
My last piece of advice is not just a Christmas one…always warm your plates!! This is especially important at Christmas as there are so many extra side dishes on Christmas Day that by the time everyone has got all the delicious elements on their plates it can be a while! Hot plates and steaming hot gravy and you can’t go wrong.
If you have any specific questions that you’d like to ask me please just DM me and hopefully I can help make your Christmas cooking go smoothly in every way.
Much love xxx