05 Dec // It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas


Tis the season for platters and barbecues and overdosing on pre-dinner nibbles with a gin in your hand. And so I was asked to talk easy christmas entertaining to the nation, on TV One’s Breakfast on Wednesday morning, so thought I’d round up some super simple yet impressive snack ideas for the festive season on this here humble blog. 

Putting together a platter doesn’t have to be difficult. Keeping it simple is a very good mantra! These honey thyme walnuts with a couple of cheeses, some sliced pear, and maybe some grapes is a perfect little plate. 

This smoked fish dip (recipe below) works with whatever toast you have on hand (seriously, vogels cut into strips will do the job!) or crackers, but it’s also good on slices of cucumber as a canapé. If you can’t be bothered making the dip? Creme fraiche and smoked salmon on cucumber rounds, with a squeeze of lemon and a crack of pepper is a great passaround too. Keeps those of the gluten free persuasion happy too. Don’t forget the dill garnish. 

When catering for a vegetarian a couple of years back, I cut asparagus into 4-5cm lengths, quickly stir fried them, then put 2 pieces at a time into a large toothpick/skewer. Served with store-bought truffle mayonnaise as a dip, they were an unexpected HIT. 

These quince paste and goats cheese filo cigars from Claire Aldous at dish magazone are glorious. For a fancy Christmas dinner a couple of years ago I served two per person on a small bed of salad greens as an entree. 

Ceviche is another good one for non meat eaters or gluten free people. Here is one with coconut milk, and here is one without. It’s so so good, especially if you have fishing enthusiasts in your life. Serve with natural corn chips (blue ones look good!) as either a canapé or in a bowl.

This pea dip can miraculously be whipped up when you think you have nothing (peas in the freezer! Mint in the garden! Yoghurt in the fridge! Lemons in the fruit bowl!) and you can make your own sumac pita chips if you’re really feeling fancy.

If you have a glut of tomatoes, and feel like making fritters, these greeky tomato fritters with a feta yogurt dip are so good. They do require you to stand at a pan of oil and fry them though, so if store bought hummus and chopped up carrot sticks is more your thing, no one is going to blame you.

And lastly, a throwback to a cooking class in Tuscany a few years back, where I learnt the true joy of crostini - not the dry stuff of parties in the early 2000s, but Italian style, garlicky, and well thought out crostini. This was the result: a salty, fatty, sweet and delicious passaround snack featuring salami, pecorino cheese, and honey. Recipe here! 

Smoked fish dip

This is a very slightly adapted version of a recipe I originally created for the NZ Herald (available here on bite: http://www.bite.co.nz/recipe/15123/Smoked-fish-spread/)

250g cream cheese (I used zany zeus, it’s the best) 

200g (approx) smoked white fish (I used warahou)

2 gherkins, chopped

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

Small bunch of fresh dill, chopped

Juice of one lemon (and more to taste) 

Sea salt and a little pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve on a platter with crackers or toast, or on cucumber rounds for a canapé (garnish with lemon juice and dill and sea salt)