Thursday, 5 December 2013

Alternative Christmas Eve

As I'd decided to host 'Christmas Day' for my friends and their children it only seemed sensible to have an alternative Christmas Eve the night before.

A group of the girls and I had already planned a night out starting at my house so I made some mulled cider to warm us up in the afternoon, followed by a selection of cocktails with plenty of nibbles, nachos and a warming chilli con carne to soak up the alcohol before we headed out for a few more grown up lemonades! 

The cocktails were all served in different ways with glasses and decorations to suit the drink. Everyone seemed to have a favourite but they all seemed to go down well! 

Most of the nibbles I bought but I did make the mini rosemary roasted potato canapés. 

The chilli con carne is a recipe I've been perfecting over the years, originally based on one my mum made us as children but spiced up over the years until it has now become (in my humble opinion) near perfect! This time I made it with just minced beef but I do also like to use just stewing beef or a mixture of stewing beef and minced beef. 

In the morning I served my favourite pikelets with a variety of jams and Buck's Fizz made from the leftover Prosecco. 


Mulled cider
Serves 8

2 litres of cider
10 cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
5 cardamom
1/2 nutmeg
5 whole peppercorns 
1 tbsp honey
1 whole orange cut into quarters
1/2 lemon cut into quarters

1. Earlier in the day place all of the ingredients into a large pan and place over a medium heat to warm through
2. Bring to a very gentle simmer for 2-3 minutes and turn off the heat
3. Leave the mixture to infuse for at least an hour until your guests arrive
4. When your guests arrive bring the cider back to just below the boil and strain into festive mugs
Top tip: for an extra kick add one shot of Cointreau or I used this Arancello I always like to make for Christmas. 

Roast potato canapés
Serves 8 as part of a selection

500g mini new potatoes (the smaller the better)
2 springs of rosemary
Rock salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
1 tbsp water

1. In a saucepan place all of the ingredients and put over a medium heat with the lid on
2. As the potatoes start to make a noise and brown turn the heat low
3. Every few minutes shake the pan trying to leave the lid on as much as possible as you want to collation of steam to cook the potatoes. 
4. After 15 minutes use a sharp knife to test if the potatoes are cooked through. If they aren't pop the lid back on for a bit longer, continuing to shake every so often. If they aren't golden brown turn up the heat slightly, shaking occasionally, until they are. 
5. Sprinkle with a little more salt and serve with cocktail sticks. 

Cocktails - Pomegranate Sparkle
Serves 4

1 tbsp pomegranate seeds
100ml vodka 
200ml pomegranate juice drink
A bottle of your favourite pink fizz
Hundred and thousands sprinkles (optional)

1. Best served in a flute, take each flute and first dip the rim in a little water or egg white followed by a plate of the sprinkles to create a fun rim. 
2. In each glass put a few pomegranate seeds 
3. In a cocktail shaker place the vodka, pomegranate juice and a scoop of ice and shake well. Carefully share between each glass being careful not to disturb the decorate rim
4. Carefully top each glass with pink fizz and serve

Cocktails - Winter Mojito
Serves 4 

8 blackberries
200ml dark rum
4 springs of mint 
2 limes
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 limes cut into wedges
Soda water

In a cocktail shaker muddle the blackberries, mint, lime and sugar. Add the rum and ice and shake well

Pour into tall glasses, top with soda water and ice. I used some ice cubes which were in a long 'stirrer' shape and as they melted from the bottom they actually started to look like icicles!

Cocktails - Gingerbread
Serves 4

200ml vodka
100ml apple cider
100ml ginger ale
1 tsp vanilla extract or the seeds from a vanilla pod
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Cinnamon mixed with granulated sugar for the rims (optional)
4 slices of apple (optional)

In a cocktail shaker add the vodka, ice, cinnamon and vanilla and shake well.

Take 4 glasses and dip each in egg white or water and then into the cinnamon sugar mix.

Carefully pour the vodka mixture in, top each with the cider and ginger ale and place a slice of apple on the side of each glass.

Cocktails - Caribbean winter warmer
Serves 4

100ml dark rum
100ml coconut rum
200ml coconut milk
A pinch of nutmeg

Place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Decorate the rims of the glass with cinnamon sugar as above and then carefully pour the rum mixture into each of the glasses.

Chilli Con Carne
Serves 8

1kg beef mince
3 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin kidney beans
2 beef stock cubes
1 green pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder (or more or less to taste)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
250 ml red wine

Start by browning the beef in large lidded pan, add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the spices and continue to cook for about 5 minutes
Add the red wine and scrape all of the goodness off the bottom of the pan.
Add the tinned tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato purée, stock cubes and cocoa along with a tin full of water. Stir well and turn the heat down. Put the lid on and cook for 1-2 hours stirring occasionally. If it starts to stick add some water.
Add the chopped green pepper and cook for another 20 mins.
Serve with boiled rice and shredded iceberg lettuce.


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