Christmas Eve Drinks and Nibbles!

It’s so exciting! Christmas is just round the corner, so it is time to think about those drinks and nibbles!!! The first 4 festive drinks come from a lovely book called ‘Cooking for Christmas : Timeless Recipes for the Festive Season‘, Murdoch Books, 2009, which I always consult at Christmas. They are very simple recipes, but excellent value and delicious to boot!

Mulled Wine (6)

Stud 1 orange with 5 cloves and place in a pot with 1.5 litres red wine, 1 cinammon stick, 1 nutmeg, 200 g caster sugar and 200 ml brandy.

Add 250 ml water and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Do NOT boil, as the wine will evaporate.

Strain into a jug and serve warm.

Pear and Ginger Champagne Cocktail (6)

Place 230 g caster sugar, 6 cm piece of peeled, diced fresh ginger and 250 ml water into a pot and cook over a low heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Increase the heat and simmer for 30 minutes till syrup and reduced by half.

Remove from heat, strain and cool. Cover and refrigerate to chill.

When ready to serve, place 185 ml pear juice (100 per cent) and 80 ml ginger syrup in a jug and stir to combine. Share out into 6 cocktail glasses. Top up with Champagne or sparkling white wine (you will need 750 ml) and serve.

Left over syrup can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Pomegranate and Rose Water Martini

Cut 1 pomegranate in half, remove seeds to a bowl and squeeze the juice into a jug.

Place 8 pomegranate seeds and 1 tsp pomegranate juice into each of 6 chilled martini glasses.

Combine 280 ml chilled vodka, 1 tbsp rose water and 135 g crushed ice (1 cup) in a jug or cocktail shaker and stir. Pour over the pomegranate seeds and juice.

Blood Orange Cocktail (4)

Divide 125 ml Campari and 125 ml orange juice between 4 cocktail glasses and top up with Champagne or sparkling white wine and serve.

Now some nibbles before all that drink goes to your heads!!!

Firstly, a delicious pesto recipe from Jamie Oliver : 13.58.09If ever there was a recipe to stimulate your appetite, this one is perfect! I couldn’t wait for lunchtime to spread it thickly on warm wholemeal bread fresh from the oven! It can also be used as a pasta topping or on rice crackers or Jatz biscuits for a delicious accompaniment to drinks.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.47.35We have masses of Basil growing in the garden, just starting to flower, so it was an ideal time to try out this recipe. I will definitely be making a second batch for Christmas! Pick 3 good handfuls of fresh Basil and chop finely.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.31.22Grind half a clove of garlic with a pinch of sea salt in a mortar and pestle. Lightly toast a handful of pine nuts under the griller, but be careful not to burn them!!!BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.31.18BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.39.01By this stage, I had decided to switch from the mortar and pestle to the Bamix (or you can use a food processor if you own one – I don’t!). Grind the garlic, salt, basil and pine nuts together.

BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.43.31Grate a good handful of parmesan cheese. This is where we depart from Jamie’s gentle staged method. We just put all the cheese and a slurp of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil into the mixture and whizzed it up with the Bamix! Because we took this approach , it is not necessary to grate the cheese finally. Season with freshly ground pepper. Scoop into a bowl and top with basil if serving with crackers for Christmas drinks. As I said, it’s divine!!!BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.48.18Our standbys for sweet nibbles every Christmas are Rum Balls and Apricot Balls from my Mum’s old recipe book.  I always double the recipe and often make 2 batches- one lot for Christmas gifts, then a 2nd batch just before Christmas for us! It  is always very useful to have some help with this recipe. My kids used to love making them when they were younger!

Rum Balls

Soak 500 g mixed fruit and 60 g  walnut pieces in 1/2 cup rum or port overnight.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_2441BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_2442Mix in 6 tbsp cocoa, 500 g icing sugar and 250 g melted butter.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.10.41BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.11.36BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.13.00Roll in chocolate decorettes. Always buy at least 2 packets of chocolate decorettes at the time, as they disappear quickly over Christmas. If you cannot source decorettes, roll in dessicated coconut instead.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.17.36BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.38.03Apricot Balls

Mince 500 g dried apricots. It is so much easier if you can buy them already diced!!BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.06.44BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.41.57Add a 395 g tin sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups desiccated coconut, 1 cup chopped almonds. Again using slivered almonds is so much quicker! And 3 dsp brandy or apricot nip (if you can get it- I never have!!!).BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.44.58BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.47.15Roll in desiccated coconut.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.49.43BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 17.55.57Notes

  1. I store these rum balls and apricot balls in the freezer, as I think they taste better if eaten cold.

2. If giving these as gifts, allow 2 of each per person and wrap in red or green (or both!) coloured cellophane, tied at the neck with gold or green metallic curling ribbon.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 18.34.57BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 18.36.28BlogXmasEvedrinks20%Reszd2015-12-14 18.39.17And finally my much celebrated and delicious Lime Cordial, whose recipe comes from Sally Wise’s book ‘A Year in a Bottle’. This recipe makes 3 x 750 ml bottles and only takes 30 minutes to make, so excellent value, except when the limes are expensive that is!!!  It is much more economical if you have your own tree or access to one!!!BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1388BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1389Finely grate the zest of 6 large or 8 medium limes and 1 lemon and set aside, then juice all the fruit.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1390Place zest in a large jug with 1 tbsp citric or tartaric acid, 1 kg sugar (Sally uses 1.5 kg, but I think you can get away with less!) and 4 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve sugar.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1391BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1393BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1394Add juice of the limes and lemon to the syrup and stir to combine.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1395Leave to stand overnight or till cool, then strain through a fine sieve.BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1396Pour into sterilized bottles and seal. The cordial can be used at once. Because there are only 3 bottles, I tend to keep them in the fridge. Dilute the cordial 1:4 with chilled water or soda water. That’s 50 ml cordial and 200 ml water for you mathematicians!!! Enjoy all Summer long! All year really, when it comes down to it!!!BlogXmasEvedrinks20%ReszdIMG_1449Have a great Pre-Christmas Party!!!