Annabel Langbein's Christmas party hacks
No matter how hard you plan or try and be organised, life in the lead-up to Christmas always seems to funnel into a frenetic rush of deadlines and social events.
The trick to throwing a party that you can enjoy at this time of year is to find some quick tricks. If you haven’t headed into kitchen hack mode before, now is the time.
I have three favourite recipes (see below) for easy dips that transform inexpensive, everyday ingredients into something far more exotic and incredibly moreish.
Here are a few other idea for putting on a spread that looks – and tastes – as though you’ve gone to much more trouble than you have!
Hummus in a Hurry
There are so many options you can buy and tart up. Store-bought hummus is a perfect example. Take it out of the plastic container and put it into a nice bowl. Use the back of a spoon to press out a little hollow. Drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with dukkah, toasted sesame or pumpkin seeds, or a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Serve it up with pita crisps and bite-sized vegetables, such as carrot, celery sticks and cauliflower florets. Job done.
Pop a packet of dukkah in a bowl and fill another bowl with good-quality extra virgin olive oil with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Serve with slices of fresh, crusty bread. Dunk the bread into the oil and balsamic mix and then into the dukkah.
Fresh Asparagus Platter
Cook up a big pot of asparagus spears (three minutes in boiling water then cool under icy water and drain well) and serve them with a good-quality store bought hollandaise sauce or thinned pesto.
Cook frozen store-bought dumplings in a stack of bamboo steamers. Serve from the steamer with a dipping sauce made with two parts of soy sauce to one part of either rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar.
Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers
Skewer cherry tomatoes with mozzarella balls, arrange on a platter and drizzle with pesto.
Devils on Horseback
Simply wrap a pitted prune with a strip of streaky bacon (cut bacon in half lengthwise so it goes further). Secure with toothpicks. Fire into a hot (220˚C) oven for 8-10 minutes until the bacon is crispy, then let them stand for a few minutes before serving as they’ll be super hot.
With avocados hitting rock bottom prices an avocado bar is a great party option that makes people feel treated. Halve avocados and place on a tray with spoons and little plates. Accompany with bowls of diced tomatoes, spring onions, olives, crumbled feta, coriander, chilli, lemon wedges olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper so everyone can help themselves.