Ridiculously easy. Ridiculously delicious.
Forgot you were meant to bring a Christmas dish?
Shake things up with these non-traditional Christmas puds.
The Lazy Hostess Babe Scott shares her favourite easy finger food recipes – plus they’re a great way to use up leftovers (your guests will never know!).
Excerpt from The Lazy Hostess by Babe Scott. Published by Random House, RRP $29.95.
12 fresh jalapeño peppers, cut in half
250g Philadelphia cream cheese
12 thin slices streaky bacon, cut in half crosswise
1. Place toothpicks in a small bowl, cover with water and soak for 15 minutes to prevent them from burning.
2. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Cut stems off peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and ribs.
4. Fill each pepper half with cream cheese. Wrap each pepper half in a half-slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
5. Arrange on the baking sheet, seam side down. Bake for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven, flip, and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through.
You can assemble these the day before the party and keep them in the fridge, covered. Bake them just before the party.
Paris Stilton Crostinis
1 long baguette
80g (2 tbsp) apricot jam
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
24 dried figs, coarsely chopped
250g cream cheese, softened
60g pecans, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut baguette into ó cm slices and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Brush the top of the crostinis with oil and bake for around 10 minutes until they are lightly toasted.
3. In a small saucepan, stir apricot jam and vinegar over low heat until blended. Stir in figs and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat.
4. Mix cream cheese and Stilton with a fork or in a blender.
5. Spread a generous layer of cheese mixture on the crostinis. Top with 1 heaped teaspoon fig mixture and ó teaspoon chopped pecans.
6. Bake 3 to 5 minutes in the oven.
You can prepare these the morning of the party and bake just before your guests arrive. Serve warm.
Tip: An easier but still yummy option is simply to spread fig jam on a crostini. Put some blue cheese on top and serve cold.
Bourbon Beef Sliders
680g minced beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
250ml barbecue sauce
1/2 jar (200g) jalapeño slices
6 hamburger buns
1. Season beef with salt and pepper and form into 24 small patties.
2. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the patties and cook until just about done in the middle: approximately 3 to 4 minutes each side. Remove the patties from the pan and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat and return the pan to the stove.
3. Add diced onions to the frying pan and stir to cook: about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat before pouring in the bourbon (so it doesn’t catch fire).
4. Return to the heat and stir, reducing the bourbon by half: about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the barbecue sauce and jalapeño slices.
5. Reduce heat to low and place the patties in the bourbon barbecue sauce to simmer, turning to coat, for a few minutes to absorb the flavour.
6. Flatten the hamburger buns with a rolling pin and cut each into four pieces. Place each patty on a piece of bun, spoon on some sauce and top with another piece of bun.
You will need to cook these just before the party. Serve warm.
Tip: You can use turkey or chicken if you don’t want to use beef.
What are your go-to finger food recipes?
These luscious maple-infused chocolate truffles are easy to whip up and look so impressive on the Christmas table. Serve after dinner with coffee or cocktails.
¼ cup ground Gloria Jean’s Coffees Maple Whole Beans
500g dark chocolate, chopped
1 heaped tbsp glucose
1. Bring milk and coffee to a simmer in a saucepan. Strain through a coffee filter or clean tea towel.
2. Melt 500 grams of chocolate and place in a large bowl.
3. Bring coffee-infused milk, cream, butter and glucose to the boil and pour over chocolate. Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny.
4. Allow to set in the fridge until well chilled.
5. Cover a tray with the cocoa.
6. Use a teaspoon to shape into small balls and place on the tray.
7. Gently shake the tray so that truffles roll around and become covered in cocoa.
8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
What are you cooking for Christmas? Share your Christmas menu in the comments!
This macadamia-crusted ham will be the centrepiece of your Christmas table (you may want to get a bigger ham as everyone will want seconds!).
7-8kg leg of ham on the bone
1/2 cup ginger marmalade
100g brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup macadamia butter*
1/4 cup Davidson Plum chili sauce (or sweet chilli sauce) 150g macadamias, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 180°C, fan-forced. Position an oven shelf in the lowest position and remove all the other shelves.
2. Use a small sharp knife to cut around the ham shank (end of the leg) in a zigzag pattern 10cm from the end. Carefully remove the skin from the ham in 1 piece by running the knife and score the fat in a diamond pattern. Place the ham in a baking dish lined with several layers of non-stick baking paper.
3. Combine the marmalade, sugar, mustard, macadamia butter and chilli sauce in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the marmalade melts. Brush the ham with half the marmalade glaze to evenly coat. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Press the macadamias firmly onto the ham and brush with remaining glaze. Bake for a further 15 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes to rest before carving.
*Macadamia butter is available at some farmers markets, specialty stores or it is easy to make your own, see the recipe at australian-macadamias.org
What are you cooking for Christmas this year?
If you’ve ever wanted to make your own Christmas fruit cake but been too intimated, this is the recipe for you, from Sheraton on the Park’s Head Chef David Watson. Simply marinate fruit and nuts, then let the batter sit overnight and you’re ready to bake. This Christmas fruit cake recipe is not dense like the fruit cakes you’re used to, but lovely and light and ideal served with homemade custard or ice cream.
150 gm almonds, cut in half
200 gm dried apricots
100 gm pistachio
100 gm macadamias
250 gm raisin
250 gm sultanas
150 gm dried fig
100 gm dates
250 gm black currants
200 gm red wine
150 gm green apple peeled and diced
30 gm honey
250 gm brown sugar
200 gm eggs
250 gm unsalted butter yellow
300 gm flour
2.5 gm baking powder
2.5 gm mixed spice powder
2.5 gm cinnamon powder
1. Mix the apples with all the dried fruits and nuts. Soak overnight with red wine.
2. Melt the butter, then add to all the remaining ingredients and the marinated fruit and nuts and refrigerate overnight.
3. Bake in your desired cake mold at 175C for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the cake. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean but moist.
Fruit cake? Pavlova? What’s your favourite Christmas dessert?
Save this recipe for Christmas: celebrity chef Matt Moran shares an elegant summer entrée of citrus-cured Yarra Valley salmon with caviar and baby beetroot from his show Paddock to Plate. Curing your own salmon is really straightforward, and is sure to impress guests around your table.
1 small side of salmon (about 900g), belly trimmed
150 g white sugar
100 g table salt
20 black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
20 coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
1 lemon rind, finely grated on a microplane
1 lime rind, finely grated on a microplane
1 orange rind, finely grated on a microplane
½ cup dill, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons white sugar
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
500 ml water
8 baby beetroot, small tender leaves trimmed and reserved
2 oranges, segmented
Handful of endive leaves
50 g Yarra Valley salmon caviar
Juice of ½ lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper
1. Mix sugar, salt, crushed peppercorns and coriander seeds, citrus rinds and half the dill in a bowl to combine well. Spread half the curing mixture in the base of a tray large enough to fit the salmon snugly. Place salmon, skin-side down, in tray, then spread remaining curing mixture over the flesh, rubbing in as you go. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to cure (you’ll need to cure for at least 12 hours for a light cure and up to 24 hours for a more intense cure).
2. To cook the baby beetroot, stir the sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and then bring to the boil. Add the beetroot and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. To check if ready, pierce with a skewer, then set aside to cool in the liquid. Drain beetroot and peel (use disposable gloves if you want to avoid stained hands), cut into halves and set aside.
3. Rinse curing mixture off the salmon under cold running water, pat dry thoroughly with absorbent paper. Remove pin-bones with fish tweezers, then spread mustard over salmon flesh with the back of a spoon. Scatter remaining dill over and press to cover.
4. To slice the salmon, starting at one end of the salmon fillet, cut straight down through the flesh with a thin sharp knife until you hit the skin, slicing at 2mm intervals (don’t cut all the way through, the flesh should still be attached to the skin). To remove the skin, cut down through the first incision then slice between the skin and the flesh, keeping your knife flat and cutting along to remove the skin in a single piece (discard skin).
5. To serve: arrange six or seven salmon slices on serving plates, divide beetroot among plates and scatter the orange segments, endive and baby beetroot leaves over the top. Dollop with crème fraiche and salmon caviar, then squeeze the lemon over the top, drizzle with olive oil, season to taste and serve.
Paddock to Plate airs on Wednesdays at 8.30pm, The Lifestyle Channel on Foxtel.
Get the kids involved on Christmas morning making these irresistible peppermint chocolate truffles to serve with coffee or a glass of eggnog.
250g pure cream (not thickened cream)
275g dark chocolate, finely chopped
20ml (1tbs) Queen Natural Peppermint Extract
crushed pistachio nuts
1. Pour cream into a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add all chocolate and stir until melted and combined.
Add butter, stir until melted. Add peppermint essence, stir until combined.
3. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
4. Line a tray with baking paper. Place spoonfuls of chocolate mixture on tray.
5. Dust your hands with crushed pistachio nuts or cocoa powder, and gently form spoonfuls into balls. Roll each ball in either nuts or cocoa powder.Refrigerate until firm. Store in fridge until ready to serve.
What’s on your Christmas menu?
1 Tbsp honey or caster sugar
20 fresh lychees, peeled and deseeded
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup of ice
750ml bottle of sparking wine, or lemonade for mocktails
Blend honey/sugar, 10 lychees with mint leaves and ice. Place into a large jug and top with sparkling wine (or lemonade if using). Halve remaining lychees and add to the mix. Serve in chilled glasses.
To make a frappe, place honey/sugar, 15 lychees, mint and 2 cups of ice in a blender for 1 minutes. Pour into a large jug and top with lemonade or sparkling wine.
What’s your favourite cocktail to serve at Christmas?
Most finger foods go well with sparkling wine or Champagne. Our tip? Have a few extra bottles of bubbly in the ice bucket as it always goes down quicker than you plan.
Try a refreshing riesling or sauvignon blanc.
Creamy pasta and chicken
Verdelho or viognier have lovely textures that match white meat and cream-based entrees.
A buttery chardonnay that’s not too heavy on the oak is a great partner for sweet, succulent ham.
Roast pork or turducken
Merlot or tempranillo pair well with roasted white meat.
Open up a bottle of Shiraz before the meal and let this heavy hitter breathe, then sit back and enjoy the feast!
Vegetarian dishes and salads
Rose is amazing with summer vegetables, herbs and stir-fried greens.
Young ports aren’t as cloying as more mature vintages, but still allow you to relish the sumptuous fruit and spice flavours of traditional pudding.
Gewürztraminer has lovely aromatics that pair beautifully with the richness of cheese.
Pavlova and summer desserts
A dry Champagne goes hand-in-hand with summer fruit, light pastries and pavlova.
Ingredients 500g pork skin 4 Tbsp SAXA cooking salt Cooking oil Method 1. Score pork skin with a sharp knife about 2/3 of the way through the skin. Then rub skin with the salt. Store uncovered in the fridge overnight. 2. Wipe off the excess salt and place between two heavy trays and bake in oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven before the skin becomes crisp. 3. Allow to cool slightly then slice with the score into strips. 4. Deep fry skin at 200°C in cooking oil until light, crunchy and puffy. Sprinkle with a little SAXA cooking salt and serve. Try Justin’s recipe for Pork Roast with Perfect Crackling!