Although these recipes are great for any occasion, they have been compiled with Christmas in mind. Most of these recipes can be cooked ahead and frozen, freeing up valuable time during the festive season. Thanks to all those who contributed recipes. Happy Christmas! E.L.
PRUNE & BACON ROLLS (Makes 27 rolls)
Delicious when you have a special party to cater for.
1 x 375g / 15oz sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
27 pitted prunes
12 rashers streaky bacon, rindless
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 210ºC / Gas 7.
Roll the pastry out to make an oblong measuring 36cm x 24cm / 9½ x 14 inches, then divide into oblongs 4cm x 8cm / 1½ x 3 inches, making 27 pieces. Cut each piece of bacon in half and wrap each half around a prune. Place on a piece of pastry and roll up, sealing the open end with a little beaten egg. Place the rolls on a baking tray, brush with the remaining egg and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
* Freeze uncooked, defrost thoroughly before cooking. Judith Bowden.
FETA & MINT CAKES (Serves 4)
A great non-meat dish that everyone will enjoy.
500g / 1lb King Edward's potatoes, peeled
Salt and pepper
1 x 200g / 8oz feta cheese, drained and crumbled
1 tblsp chopped mint
Plain flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), for coating
1 egg, beaten
100g / 4oz breadcrumbs
2 tblsps butter
2 tblsps olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6.
Cook the potatoes in boiling water, then mash without any butter or milk and allow to cool. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the crumbled feta and chopped mint. Divide the mixture into eight cakes. Dip each cake into seasoned flour, followed by beaten egg, then finally the breadcrumbs. Lay out on a tray and freeze or chill until ready to cook. To cook, heat the butter and oil together. Drizzle half this mixture over a baking tray, arrange the cakes on top then drizzle the remaining mixture over the cakes. Cook for 15-20 minutes (25-35 minutes from frozen) or until crisp and golden and hot through. Serve with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce (see recipe) or garlic mayonnaise, and a crisp green salad.
* Freeze uncooked, defrost thoroughly before cooking.
MINCE PIE TIPS
* Karen Wilson suggests adding a small piece of tinned pineapple to each mince pie before topping with pastry.
* Stir a grated Bramley apple and a couple of tablespoons of flaked almonds into a jar of mincemeat.
* Add the grated zest of one large orange together with 2-3 tablespoons of Orange Liqueur (Cointreau) to the mincemeat.
* For a lighter mince pie top each pie with a small cut out pastry star instead of a whole lid of pastry. Think how many calories you'll save!
SPICED COLESLAW (Serves 8)
This mildly spiced salad goes brilliantly with cold meats, cheese and even a simple baked potato.
1 medium-sized white cabbage, finely shredded
450g / 1lb carrots, peeled and grated
4 celery sticks, thinly sliced
For the dressing:
150ml / ¼pt mayonnaise
4 tblsps olive oil
4 tblsps wine vinegar
1-2 tsps chilli powder, or to taste
2-3 tblsps mango chutney (the small chunk variety)
To finish: 75g / 3oz pecans or walnuts (optional)
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the dressing with the salad ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Just before serving sprinkle over the nuts. Susie Rampton.
SNOW QUEEN (Serves 4-6)
A great dessert to have if any of your family or friends don't like Christmas Pudding. It tastes so good it is hard to believe that it is so simple to make. Shop-bought meringue is equally good as home made in this recipe.
½ pint double cream
2 tbsps brandy
1 tbsp caster sugar
100g / 4oz meringue, roughly broken
300g / 12oz frozen raspberries, defrosted
caster sugar, to taste
Lightly oil a 600ml / 1 pint pudding basin. Whisk the cream, until it stays in soft peaks, then stir in the brandy and caster sugar. Fold the meringue pieces into the cream. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Pour the mixture into the prepared pudding basin. Cover with cling film and freeze. Dip the dish in warm water, then unmould onto a serving place, decorate with a sprig of holly berries and serve with raspberries sprinkled with caster sugar to sweeten.
* Make in advance and freeze.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO SAUCE (Serves 4)
Serve with the Feta & Mint Cakes or with any type of pasta.
Gently fry one small onion, peeled and chopped, until soft. Add a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes and four chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Season with salt and pepper then blend the sauce until smooth. Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Add sufficient vegetable stock to make the sauce the desired consistency. Test and adjust the seasoning.
* Suitable for home freezing. Judith Bowden.