Christmas focus: Peggy's Festive Fare

Related tags Cheese

I had the girls from our Tuesday morning mother-and-toddler group in to book their Christmas dinner the other day. That's a bit scary. Not only...

I had the girls from our Tuesday morning mother-and-toddler group in to book their Christmas dinner the other day. That's a bit scary.

Not only because I haven't even started working on my festive menu yet, but also because of the trouble they caused last year. They invented a drink called a 'snowball extreme' - advocaat, vodka and pear cider. If we left one of those out for Santa, he'd never get back up the chimney.

I've had to make the ladies promise to tone down their language and keep their buttons done up this year - it was the first time I've ever seen the boys in the darts team blush. But first things first - I'd best have a trawl through the Christmas catalogues to see what's new.

Brakes Cheddar Cheese Soufflè

I did have a try at making a soufflè for the WI Christmas do last year. The less said about that the better, although I think we found the last bit hidden in a plant pot in April. They could have just sent it back… This year, I'm going with Brakes Cheddar Cheese Soufflè, as a starter. It's quick and foolproof to serve, I'm told. Sounds like just what we need, and if the WI don't like it they can go to the Dog & Duck next year.

Brakes: 0845 606 9090,

3G Mini Buffet range

It's a sad day for the pub trade when a cheese and pineapple hedgehog isn't sophisticated enough, but the general consensus around here is that my buffets need sprucing up a bit. I'll be laying in stocks of the buffet lines from 3G. The range includes part-baked beef & horseradish mini Yorkshire puddings, mini Yorkshire puddings with turkey and cranberry, and mini shepherd's pies. There are also mini buffet desserts - mini black forests, tiny treacle tarts and mini Christmas puddings. I'll still find room on the table for a hedgehog, though.

3G: 0870 850 5213,

Alveston Kitchen Cranberry and Orange Brûlée Cheesecake

The days when my Nan used to boil up the Christmas pud in her knicker leg have long gone - mainly due to the very valid hygiene concerns raised by the environmental health officer. This year, Nan can keep her knickers on, and she and the rest of the OAPs' can have Alveston Kitchen's cranberry and orange brûlée cheesecake instead.

The biscuit base is layered with cheesecake and topped with a caramelised brûlée topping. That'll keep the old dears busy, and hopefully cut down their sherry intake.

Alveston Kitchen: 0800 575755,

Brakes Butternut Squash & Cashew Nut Roast

There was a time when our vegetarian option was just that - veg. These days, every office party has at least one tree-hugger, so I'll stock up on Brakes butternut squash & cashew nut roast with redcurrant & orange sauce. It's a mix of peanuts, almonds, cashew and pine nuts with butternut squash, topped with French brie.

You can serve the redcurrant & orange sauce separately, or poured all over it. I might even try it with a gin.

Brakes 0845 606 9090

Jus-Rol filled Bouchée

I wasn't sure what a bouchée was, but one of my regulars tells me it's French for mouth - trust them to state the bleedin' obvious. Even so, Jus-Rol's filled Bouchées look pretty good - bite-sized puff pastry treats in three exciting flavours: chicken, pesto and regato cheese; smoked ham, goat's cheese & basil and creamy chicken, mustard seed & chive. Ideal for buffets or with a bit of salad as a starter.

Jus-Rol: 0800 626 893,

3663 Whites chicken breast stuffed with haggis, neeps and tatties

We have very peculiar group of gents who always book a Hogmanay dinner with us. I can't think why, since none of them are Scottish - maybe they just like dressing up. Whites chicken breast stuffed with haggis, neeps and tatties is a skin-on chicken breast, filled with haggis, swede and potatoes, and comes with a separate whisky sauce. I can slosh some of the cooking whisky into a decanter to go with it, and they'll be sorted.

3663: 0870 3663 100,

Maggi Golden Gravy

I often get complimented on my gravy - in fact, it's one of the few things I do get complimented for these days. My secret is Maggi Golden Gravy - easy to prepare and adding an authentic flavour to enhance the turkey. I may try dabbing a couple of drops behind my ears and standing under the mistletoe. It must be worth a try.

Nestlé Professional: 0800 742 842,

Essential Cuisine Lobster Bisque

My home-made fish soup always goes down well as a starter, but this year I'm doing to give myself a helping hand by using Essential Cuisine's Classic Lobster Bisque as a base. You just add it to milk and water to make up, and then I'll just chuck in a few prawns and a bit of red snapper for a real festive feast.

Essential Cuisine: 0870 050 1133,

Whites British cheeseboard

It's not just cheesy Christmas songs around here, we do like a cheeseboard to top off the turkey and pud. New from Whites, and exclusive to 3663, is a British cheeseboard hand-picked by Nick Hodgetts of Malvern Cheesewrights - and I'm sure he washed them first. It includes wedges of Hereford hop, Cheshire with figs and honey, red Leicester, double Gloucester with chives, Cheddar and Wensleydale Creamery Wensleydale cheese with cranberries. Maybe I'll skip the pud…

3663: 0870 3663 100, n

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