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How to make a Pesto Christmas Tree centrepiece for parties

Pesto Christmas Tree (c) Sam Ellis-Cosgrove
Pesto Christmas Tree (c) Sam Ellis-Cosgrove

For me, December is the best month of the year, although I have to admit my tree goes up in November! I just love everything about Christmas and, as my favourite pastime is entertaining, I love filling the house with friends and family and creating some deliciously festive food and drinks. So, mulled wine at the ready, turn those fairy lights on and dance around the kitchen to Mariah as you try some of my delicious canapés and party food. Oh, I wish it could be Christmas every day

 

Great British Life: Pesto Christmas Tree (c) Sam Ellis-CosgrovePesto Christmas Tree (c) Sam Ellis-Cosgrove

Pesto Christmas Tree recipe

This stunning festive centrepiece is a real showstopper, and very easy to make. It uses shop bought puff pastry and, although I love to fill it with pesto and cheese, you can change the fillings to suit your taste.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry

2 tbsp fresh pesto

20g grated gruyere cheese

1 egg, beaten

2 tsp sesame seeds

Method

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200/180c fan. Cut both sheets of pastry into the shape of a tree (saving the offcuts to make cheese twists or savoury croissants). Spread the pesto onto one of the trees, sprinkle with the cheese and place the second sheet on top, creating a sandwich.

2. Cut slices across, leaving the ‘trunk’ down the middle uncut. Twist each branch, brush the tree with egg wash and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Goes well with…

2018 IDUN L’Intemporelle Brut Sparkling, £32.00

Great British Life: 2018 IDUN L’Intemporelle Brut Sparkling2018 IDUN L’Intemporelle Brut Sparkling

Elgin is the coolest wine region in South Africa. This chillier climate allows for the perfect ripening of grapes, creating wines that have freshness, flavour and balance. L’Intemporelle Brut is a true reflection of Elgin’s unique terroir. An explosion of golden delicious apples, lime, caramel, vanilla spice and hints of nuts and biscuits. Clean and fresh with firm acid, crispy and lingering. Loaded with mousse on the pallet flavoured with apples and light toasty flavour. Perfect to pair with tasty pastry.

Great British Life: Seafood Blinis (c) Sam Ellis-CosgroveSeafood Blinis (c) Sam Ellis-Cosgrove

Seafood Blinis recipe

I love the deep fuchsia colour the beetroot juice gives to the salmon and, although you can use any seafood you like, I think it adds a special festive touch. I have also used crayfish here, but you could use prawns if you prefer. You can of course buy the blinis ready made if you want to save some time.

Ingredients (makes 10)

110ml soured cream (plus extra for topping)

130ml whole milk

1 large egg, separated

5g dried yeast

30g spelt flour

100g strong bread flour

½ tsp salt

20g unsalted butter

150g smoked salmon slices

4 tbsp pickled beetroot juice

3 quail’s eggs

Dill to garnish

Method

1. In a pan, gently warm the soured cream and milk (to just warm to touch, not hot). Remove from the heat, whisk in the egg yolks and yeast and leave to activate for 5 minutes. Mix together the flours and salt in a bowl, add the yeast mixture and combine well. Cover and leave in a warm place for an hour.

2. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks then, using a metal spoon, fold into the yeast and flour mixture. You can then transfer to a piping bag, or squeezy bottle.

3. Heat a frying pan, add a little butter and cook a blini by adding a small amount of the mixture, about 4cm in diameter. After 2-3 minutes, bubbles should appear in the mixture, then it is ready to turn. Cook for 1 minute on the other side then set aside to cool. Repeat until you have used all of the mixture, they will store in the fridge for up to 3 days. If making in advance, warm the cooked blinis through for a couple of minutes before adding the toppings.

4. Cover the smoked salmon with the pickled beetroot juice and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes until it has turned a beautiful fuchsia.

5. Place a dollop of soured cream on a blini and top with the salmon or you can use cooked crayfish or prawns (I like a mixture). Garnish with soft boiled (2 min) quail’s eggs and dill.

Goes well with…

2015 Hans Herzog Cuvee Therese Brut Rosé, £46.00

Great British Life: 2015 Hans Herzog Cuvee Therese Brut Rosé2015 Hans Herzog Cuvee Therese Brut Rosé

Pair this beautiful, fuchsia-coloured dish with an equally colourful sparkling wine to wow your guests. This dry and crisp cuveé (Pinot Noir & Chardonnay) shows seductive aromas of ripe strawberries and raspberries, juicy blood oranges, zest of a pink grapefruit, undertones of freshly baked brioche and vanilla. Impressive in its opulence, the finish is refined and refreshing. The style is extra brut with less than 4g/l of residual sugar, sure to compliment the rich salmon and highlight the earthy beetroot undertones.

Great British Life: Gochujang Chicken Skewers (c) Sam Ellis-CosgroveGochujang Chicken Skewers (c) Sam Ellis-Cosgrove

Gochujang Chicken Skewers recipe

I love the earthy heat the gochujang gives these little kebabs, just enough spice to get the tastebuds going. The marinade can also be used with fish, aubergine or cauliflower pieces if you’d prefer.

Ingredients (makes 20)

500g skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

3 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tsp sesame seeds

20 small canapé skewers

For the marinade

2 cloves garlic, grated

3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tbsp gochujang

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp clear honey

1 tsp sesame oil

Method

1. In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, add the chicken and stir well to coat. Cover and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 200/180c fan. Put 2 pieces of the marinated chicken onto a skewer, place on a lined baking sheet and repeat until you have used it all. Cook for 10-12 minutes and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and sliced spring onion.

Goes well with…

2021 Bratanov Symbiose, £19.95

Great British Life: 2021 Bratanov Symbiose2021 Bratanov Symbiose

Hailing from South Sakar in Bulgaria by the Bratanov Family in the Thracian Valley, where wine has been made for 7000 years. A dry, fruity and aromatic blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Tamianka. It is unoaked and crisp but with a very slight off dry twist with peach and floral notes which will highlight the slight sweetness from the honey. This style of wine suits the more aromatic foods so well due to its tropical and exotic appeal.

Great British Life: Glazed Salmon Skewers (c) Sam Ellis-CosgroveGlazed Salmon Skewers (c) Sam Ellis-Cosgrove

Glazed Salmon Skewers recipe

These teriyaki style salmon skewers are a real crowd pleaser – you can also swap the salmon for chicken, prawns, beef or even tofu if you prefer.

Ingredients (makes 20)

500g skinless boneless salmon fillets, cut into 20 pieces

2 tsp black sesame seeds

20 small canapé skewers

For the marinade

2 cloves garlic, grated

3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tbsp lime juice

5 tbsp Japanese soy sauce

4 tbsp clear honey

1 tsp sesame oil

Method

1. In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, add the salmon and stir well to coat. Cover and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 200/180c fan. Remove the salmon pieces from the bowl, saving the marinade. Put 1 piece of the salmon onto a skewer, place on a lined baking sheet and repeat until you have used it all.

3. Put the leftover marinade into a small saucepan and reduce on a medium heat until thickened slightly. Cook the salmon for 10 minutes, drizzle with the thickened marinade and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Goes well with…

2020 Moorooduc Estate Garden Vineyard Pinot Noir, £35.00

Great British Life: 2020 Moorooduc Estate Garden Vineyard Pinot Noir2020 Moorooduc Estate Garden Vineyard Pinot Noir

It’s not possible to party without a Pinot! Moorooduc Estate serve up some of the best in our selection; the ‘Garden Vineyard’ Pinot Noir is the fuller and more characterful of their wines. Deeper, more intense, and spicier, to pick up those lovely rich notes of the salty, sweet, tangy, umami glaze on the salmon. Packed with Pinot’s classic red berries, but with a savoury and almost earthy finish.

HAMPSHIRE LIFE OFFER

Enjoy 10% off our featured wines from Caviste by scanning the QR code or entering FESTIVE-DEC23 at the checkout. Valid until the end of December, while stocks last. Free delivery on orders over £120. caviste.co.uk

Great British Life: Enjoy 10% off our featured wines from CavisteEnjoy 10% off our featured wines from Caviste



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