Our Second Annual Christmas Buffet of Joy

Both this year and last year Elix and I have hosted a Christmas buffet for our friends. Both years I have set out to keep it simple with mulled wine, cheese and biscuits and both years I have gotten carried away (inspired by all the Christmas recipes in my magazines) preparing hams, baking bread and serving a few sweet things so we send everyone away with doggy bags and have days worth of leftovers for us to snack on!

our xmas buffet
I thought I would share with you a couple of things which have gone down well and which I love to make :

Apricot, Poppy Seed and Walnut bread wreath from Good Food.

500g White Bread Mix
100g Chopped Walnuts
140g Dried apricots chopped
25g Toasted Poppy seeds
400ml milk
a little oil
1 egg beaten

Mix the bread mix and walnuts together, add the apricots and half of the poppy seeds until all incorporated together.

Add the milk and knead for 10 minutes or so until smooth and springy. Leave in a bowl with some oiled cling film for an hour until risen.
After this, stretch into a roll and make into a wreath shape. Leave on a baking tray covered with cling film and leave for another 30 minutes. Cover with the egg wash and sprinkle the rest of the poppy seeds on top. Use scissors to make snip the top which will give a lovely rustic finish.
Put in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees or until browned on top and sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped.
Best served with cheese and chutney.

apricot bread

Sweet Glazed Ham
I did intend to use another Good Food recipe but made the last minute discovery that we didnt have any maple syrup or demerara sugar in so i improvised and made up the following :
1.4kg unsmoked ham (not on the bone)
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 onion quartered
1tbsp black peppercorns
20 cloves
4tbsp honey
2tsp dijon mustard
1tsp allspice
4tbsp dark muscavado sugar
Rinse and soak the ham in cold water. Place the onion, cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns in the bottom of a roasting dish and fill 2cm deep with water. Place the ham on a rack on top and cover and seal with foil and heat in the oven at 180degs for 90mins (this will change depending on the weight of the ham).
Meanwhile heat all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan until thoroughly mixed and a glossy glaze remains. The liquid should be the consistency of syrup and no thicker than jam. I make ham every christmas and you can make a glaze with loads of flavours, maple syrup, apricot jam, ginger, worcester sauce – just mix together over heat with sugar and some mustard to cut through the sweetness and you will be sorted!
After 90 mins, remove the foil and cut any fatty skin off the ham and score in a diamond pattern the remaining fat on the outside, stud with cloves along the lines.
Brush the ham with two thirds of the glaze and place back in the oven, covered in foil for 10-15minutes. Remove the foil, baste with the remaining glaze and place back in the oven, uncovered for 10 minutes.
This sort of ham is lovely served hot as part of Christmas lunch with veg and mash potato but is just as good serves cold with bread, cheese and chutney. My mum has asked me to cook a ham with a memberillo glaze this Christmas so i’ll let you know how I get on!

glazed ham

Chocolate & Ginger Brownie Cake (my friend Jen who is a fantastic baker and made amazing flapjacks for this year’s buffet requested this recipe) from Olive (Dec 2011) :

175g butter
225g dark chocolate (chopped)
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs (separated – obviously i forgot to do this and had to use twice as many!)
75g plain flour
50g preserved ginger plus 2tbsp syrup (i used 50g ginger preserve which I know isn’t right but Tooting didn’t have any preserved ginger and the cake came out just fine!)
300ml double cream
cocoa for dusting

Heat the oven to 180 degs and butter a 20cm cake tin. Put 175g of chocolate with the butter and sugar in a pan and gently melt until all mixed together – leave to cool. Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, fold in the flour, ginger and the remaining chopped chocolate. Separately whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed and then fold in the chocolate mixture. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-40mins until a crust has formed on top.

Whisk the cream, fold in the ginger syrup (or just some more ginger preserve if you are me!) and spoon/dollop on top of the cake dusting with cocoa.

chocolate ginger cake and cookies


And thats it….until next year – sorry its taken me over a month to get this post up but it took me a while to find the recipe for the brownie cake – seeing Jen last night reminded me I have slacked on this – now i have found it though my New Year’s diet will well and truly come to an end as I intend to make this again at the weekend!


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