Christmas with Croxfords-Put Christmas on ice!

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[dropcap type =”circle”]T[/dropcap]he festive season is a busy time for anyone who is entertaining. In the first in our Christmas Countdown series, Suzan Croxford shares some hints and tips to make sure even the cook gets to enjoy Christmas this year.

[dropcap type =”circle”]I[/dropcap]t’s the most wonderful time of the year – allegedly, but all too often the pressure surrounding the yuletide season can take its toll on those of us providing the all-important feasting element.

With just four free weekends to go before the big day, take some advice and put Christmas on ice! Preparing and freezing lots of specialities needed for the twelve-day festival is the only way forward. Yes it takes a little bit of pre-thinking and preparation time but just imagine that great feeling when you smugly produce your delicious homemade sausage rolls, mince pies, canapes and a plethora of other delicacies from the depths of your freezer.

I always freeze my desserts in advance since this is usually the last course I feel like preparing after all the other goodies have been made. Eschewing traditional Christmas pudding I prefer to make a delicious chocolate chestnut roulade which is as light as a feather and well received after all the turkey and trimmings.

I also make a chocolate log which simply needs coating in lightly whipped double cream and some melted chocolate on the day of serving. A cinnamon and apple cake which I serve with Crème fraiche is another wonderful standby and of course homemade meringue baskets last a good two weeks in an airtight container – top with some marron glace and cream or seasonal fruits and you have a showstopper pudding.

For some delicious canapes ideas that can be made and/or frozen ahead of time see below.

Mini Yorkshire Puddings with Roast Beef and Horseradish Cream

(makes 24 using a small hole baking tray) – You will need a food processor for this recipe

Batter Mix:
75g plain flor
1 egg
75ml milk
55ml water
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 tablespoons beef dripping (for the roasting tin)

1kgs sirloin of beef roasted and cooled
Horseradish to taste
3 tbsps double cream

Pre-heat oven to 200 dg c
Grease your tin with the beef dripping and place in the oven to get hot prior to adding the batter mix.
Prepare the batter mix and use to fill the tin – you should get 24 mini Yorkshire puddings from the mix. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool.
Meanwhile cut the beef into manageable chunks, removing any fat and sinews. Place in food processor and blitz until quite finely diced – be careful not to overdo it – you don’t want a mush. Tip the beef into a mixing bowl and add the cream and as much horseradish as you prefer. Season well and stir the mixture to combine.
Now simply take each Yorkshire pudding and using your fingers make a hold in the top and spoon some of the mixture in. Don’t worry if the mixture is standing proud of the pudding. Make sure everything is cooled sufficiently before starting this last process.
Now all you need to do is load the filled puddings into a Tupperware box or freezer bag and freeze.
When you want to serve them take them out of the freezer and leave in fridge to thaw overnight. Then simply pile onto baking sheets and re-heat in a pre-heated oven at 200 dg c for about 7-10 minutes. Sit back and wait for the accolades.

Parmesan Lollipops

(makes about 24 lollipops)
These will keep for a week in an airtight container and are perfect to have with drinks served them in a glass. You will need wooden lolly-sticks for this recipe.

500g Grand Padano Cheese – coarsely grated

Simply line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or a silicone liner (which is better). Place 6-8 lolly-sticks fairly well spread apart on the tray and place about 1 heaped teaspoon of grated cheese at the top of each stick.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg C for about 7 minutes or, until lightly golden. Leave on the tray to cool for about 5 minutes then remove to cool before placing the lollies with their golden discs of cheese attached, into an airtight container.

Parmesan Lollipops-the perfect accompaniment for a festive tipple or two.

Sweet Potato and Goat’s Cheese Samosas

(makes about 24 pcs)

1 tsp cumin seeds, plus 1-2 tbsp more to sprinkle
400 g sweet potato diced small
200 g soft goat’s cheese chopped
3 spring onions chopped
Coriander leaves
1 whole red chili de-seeded and chopped finely
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
125g unsalted butter
270g filo pastry
Rock salt, to sprinkle

Place 1tsp cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and toast until golden and fragrant. Remove to a mortar and crush with a pestle. Put the sweet potato in a pan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for six to eight minutes until tender. Drain and cool. Place in a bowl and mix with the cheese, spring onions, coriander, chili, chili flakes, crushed cumin, cinnamon and garlic.
Melt the butter. Lay a sheet of filo on a work surface and brush with butter. Place a second sheet on top to fit over the first. Brush this with butter too. Cut into strips about 5cm wide, spooning 1 heaped teaspoon of the filling into one corner. Fold the right corner of the strip over to the left side to create a triangle. Continue to fold the triangle along the strip to the end, cutting off any surplus pastry. Repeat to use all of the pastry and filling. Brush liberally with butter and sprinkle with cumin seeds and rock salt. These can now be frozen on baking trays, covered with cling film and a double layer of foil.
When you want to serve, they can be cooked from frozen in a pre-heated oven at 200 dg c for 20-25 minutes.

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