Do you like a fancy hors d’oeuvre? Me too. I know Christmas is all about the feast, and you certainly won’t need anything extra to nosh on prior to lunch; it’s just that an impressive little mouthful goes a long way to set the scene for civilized frivolity; I kind of think it encourages people to be on their best behaviour. Besides, it soaks up the pre-lunch cocktail like no one’s business. Here are 15 ideas to add some pizzazz to your Christmas day, and keep the rellos out of the kitchen while you slice the turkey. All can be prepped the day before, with just a few moments needed to serve – even the ones that require hubs to man the BBQ.
Sweet potato with spinach salad
Cut small rounds of sweet potato, roast until crispy in a hot oven. Chop fresh spinach or silverbeet with some feta, shallots and salt and pepper, set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve, quickly pop the sweet potato in the oven to heat up without going crispy, remove from the oven and arrange on a serving tray, top each sweet potato disc with a spoon of salad. Prep the day before, assemble just before serving.
Spoons with an oyster, seaweed salad and flying fish roe.
I first had this in a fancy restaurant and it was amazing, considering it is basically just assembly. Place Chinese spoons on a serving tray. In each spoon place an oyster (use freshly shucked oysters that you get in a jar for this, don’t bother with the half shell.), a small amount of (bought) seaweed salad, and top with a small amount of red flying fish roe, you know the stuff used in sushi. Delicious! Assemble on the day, a few hours before serving.
Marinated prawns on skewers
Peel and remove poop chute from raw prawns, leave the end of the tail on. Place length ways on a skewer so they look like long fingers with tails on the end, and place in a shallow dish. Mix up some lemon juice, turmeric, crushed ginger and fish sauce, pour over the prawns and leave to marinate overnight. When you are ready to serve, send your husband out to BBQ them for a few minutes, turning frequently. Do NOT overcook, they are already cooked a little bit by the lemon juice.
Scallops wrapped in bacon
Wrap a Tasmanian sea scallop in a small piece of bacon, secure with a toothpick or skewer. Continue until all the scallops are wrapped. If you want, marinate in some olive oil, finely chopped fresh rosemary and garlic. Leave overnight, then send Hubs off to BBQ them when you are ready to serve. They won’t take long at all.
Honey lime chicken skewers
Use chicken thigh fillets to make some skewers, marinate overnight in a mixture of lime juice, lime zest, honey and crushed ginger, do this the day before. BBQ when ready to serve. The honey will make them burn quite easily, so warn hubs to set the BBQ to medium.
Rudolph pies (made with venison)
Excellent for shock value! You can make the filling a few days or even weeks earlier, it freezes really well. Saute some chopped carrot, garlic and onion in olive oil until soft. Toss diced venison in seasoned flour, add to the pan and cook quickly to ensure the outside is seared. Stir in half a cup of stock, and half a cup of wine, simmer over very low heat until thickened. This is your filling! Use a well greased mini muffin pan to make the pies, I used shortcrust pastry for the bottom and puff pastry for the lids. Cook about 30 minutes in a medium oven until pastry is cooked, serve with a wicked grin. Make the pies the day before and cook on the day.
Lettuce rolls with spicy noodle salad
Mix cooked udon noodles, thinly sliced red capsicum and bean shoots with some bought satay sauce. Clean and dry iceberg lettuce leaves. Put a large spoon of noodle salad into each lettuce leaf, roll up like a spring roll and refrigerate until ready to serve. Feel free to add chicken, tofu, or whatever you like to the noodles. Make the salad the day before, wrap in lettuce leaves about an hour before serving.Serve chilled!
Pico de Gallo with tortilla chips
Mix together chopped ripe tomatoes, spring onions, red onion, a big handful of parsley and coriander, the juice of 1 large lemon and 1 lime, a drizzle of olive oil, 3 big pinches of salt and one of sugar. Add fresh or jarred chili to suit your taste and let sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to develop, sits well in the fridge overnight as well. Serve with good quality tortilla chips, also tastes great on the Christmas ham.
Sesame duck salad tartlets
Use bought tartlet cases, and fill with a mixture of bought shredded BBQ duck, chopped coriander, parsley, shallots, red capsicum, and some tiny shavings of wombok cabbage. Dress the salad with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds before assembling the tartlets. Drizzle with a little extra sesame oil just before serving, and if you like, a drop of chili jam. Make the salad the day before and assemble just before serving.
In the food processor, mix 500g of chicken mince, 1 chopped spring onion and a teaspoon of crushed ginger. Using wet hands, form into smallish meatball. Place in a frypan, cover with glad wrap and put the frypan in the fridge overnight. On the day, remove the glad wrap and whack the fry pan on the stove over medium heat for 15 -20 mins until cooked. Serve on a fancy toothpick, with some chili jam for dipping.
Corn pancakes with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and chives
Use your favourite pikelet recipe, add a tin of drained corn kernels, dollop a tablespoon at a time into your frypan to make smallish pancakes. You can do this the day before but make sure they are packed in between paper towels in a tightly lidded Tupperware container. On the day, arrange on a platter and when reasonably cool, top with some smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche, and dust everything liberally with finely chopped chives for an impressive presentation.
Mini beetroot rostis topped with smoked salmon and sour cream
In a food processor, grate 1 large fresh peeled beetroot and about 4 large potatoes. Place in a colander and stir through a large pinch of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes then use your hands (wear gloves) or a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Mix through 3 tablespoons of melted butter, form into small patties and place on a lined baking dish, bake approximately 1 hour. Do this the day before and pop them into a hot oven for 10 minutes to crisp up on the day. Cool slightly and arrange on a serving platter, then top with smoked salmon and sour cream, mix some horse radish in the sour cream if you like! sprinkle with shopped parsley or chives.
Bloody Mary gazpacho served in a shot glass
This refreshing soup is much better served cold from the fridge, in individual glasses and is much better made on the day, but it is super easy and won’t take long. Break some sourdough into smaller pieces and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Puree with some chopped ripe tomatoes, a clove of garlic, chopped and seeded red capsicum, a chopped cucumber, chopped spring onions, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, and finally a few tablespoons of olive oil in a thin stream. Add chili if you like! Pour into shot glasses with a small drizzle of vodka, and top with a cooked prawn for extra points.
Individual prawn and avocado cocktail
This is a great way to include prawns in the Christmas feast when your budget needs to stretch. Arrange crisp lettuce, a few peeled prawns, and thick slices of avocado into shot glasses, drizzle liberally with seafood sauce. Serve with cocktail forks if you have them.
Chicken liver pate on Melba toasts
I love pate, and chances are your older relatives will too. You can buy it but it’s super easy and impressive to make your own. Clean, (trim any yucky looking bits) wash and dry the freshest chicken livers you can find. Gently fry the livers in 1 tablespoon of butter until cooked on the outside but pink in the middle. Remove to a plate, then without cleaning the pan saute half a finely chopped white onion until soft, and add to the livers. Deglaze the pan with a quarter of a cup of brandy, then throw the whole lot in a blender with some salt and white pepper. Blend until very, very smooth, pour into a Tupperware container (or something fancier) with a lid and refrigerate overnight. Serve with Melba toasts. SO. YUM.
If your guests arrive super early, a small glass of chopped fruit, Greek yogurt and home made muesli might be appropriate! All of these can be at least partially prepared in advance, leaving you plenty of time to get on with the day; or save them for the afternoon, when your second wave of guests arrive!
Please pop over to the other In The Sack Bloggers, and see what wisdom they have for you when it comes to surviving the Christmas season. We are a varied bunch, and there is sure to be something there to suit everyone!
Merry Christmas to you xx