Create the wow factor!

Or at least that’s what I try to do. Each year it has to be bigger and better than the previous… so it probably helps that I have acquired more serving vessels!

This year I added a couple of new dishes to the pile – an apple, sumac, red onion & pomegranate salad, some mustard & parmesan cheese straws, and some peppadew & chèvre crostini. Courtesy of some lovely new books I was given for my birthday.

 

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Apple, Sumac, Red Onion & Pomegranate Salad

If you want to start thinking festive then this salad will definitely look the part! With gorgeous reds from the pomegranate and sumac you will draw the eye in a heartbeat. And it tastes delicious. By adding the lemon juice it preserves the apple so you can happily have the leftovers the next day too… if you have any! Dead easy to prepare with just a matter of chopping and mixing. Yet to all your guests it really does look special. You can find this recipe in Sirocco – Fabulous flavours from the East by Sabrina Ghayour.

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Mustard & Parmesan Cheese Straws

Again, so simple! I made 40 of these… and they were polished off in one evening! The mustard really does give the pastry a great dark colour, which, when you watch them rise and turn in the oven is so satisfying. The only issue you can face with these is the pastry becoming too warm and stretchy. Although you make them so quickly it’s not a big problem. They were a particular favourite for dipping in the camembert! You can find these, and the following recipe in Mary Berry’s Cook Now Eat Later.

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Peppadew & Chèvre Crostini

Mixing goats cheese with double cream is divine! It’s so smooth and creamy you’ll want to eat spoonfuls of the stuff… but try to resist as these little crostini are a wonderful addition to the table. I would advise to be generous with the goats cheese so that it doesn’t dry out under the grill. And they are even nice cold – a somewhat sophisticated mini pizza!

Plate these up with the gourmet sausage rolls and the smoked salmon, horseradish and cress toasts from last year… with all your lovely cheese and crackers, decorated with grapes and other berries, and you’ll be on to a winner. A night to remember… depending on how much wine you have!

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