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GET THE CROCKERY RIGHT: You have time, you have patience, get your crockery game on point. There is no need to do matchy-matchy but do something fun and quirky even but select and firm up your crockery.
THE MENU: Finalise the menu now, traditional? a little to the left, a wild card. If its a new menu, run test practises on friends and family and yourself, write everything down, shop for your ingredients early and make it easy with a head start.
CLEAN YOUR SKIRTING BOARD: Hire a cleaner to do the job if you can, because skirting boards are the places often forgotten when cleaning, and change your fire alarm batteries.
THE WARDROBE: It’s the holidays, you will have parties to attend dinners and brunches… so pick your outfit and colour palette, walk in those shoes, run in them dance in them; do not wear new shoes to a holiday party. Black is also a colour so don’t be afraid to go dark.
DESSERT: When it comes to dessert, keep it simple silly. Baking is often a tricky thing to accomplish if you just wing it or don’t follow instructions so determine your dessert now so you can ease yourself into it. When it down make a brownie serve with ice cream job done. M&S also has a really good sticky toffee pud.
THANK YOUs: Set some time apart to write your thank you notes. Smythsons have a really wonderful collection of notecards.
THE WINE LIST: One red, One white, One Rose, One champagne. Depending on the menu, stick with the traditional options; red for beef, white for fish or chicken, maybe even lamb, a rose with dessert and champagne to toast. Test these when you test your menu to determine what works well.
A fantastic bottle of red from Lebanon: a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, the softness of Cinsault that tempers the wildness of Carignan, a complexity of fruits and flavours- cherries, plum, blackcurrant, cigar, oak and spices, intense with medium tannins that does not overpower.
Sensational on the palate and full-bodied in flavour. A fabulously solid and long finish.
THE PLAYLIST: Curate a solid playlist; invite friends to send you a song recommendation and make a guessing game of it with your other guests.
- NINA SIMONE– My Baby Just Cares For Me
- LAURYN HILL– Turn Your Lights Down Low
- AUSTIN FARWELL– Magic Moments
- BURNA BOY– Last Last
- SIMON & GARFUNKLE -Old Friend
- FAITH HILL– This Kiss
- GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS– That’s What Friends Are For
- REEKADO BANKS– Rora
- GRANT PABLO– A Message To You Rudy
- NICKODEMUS & QUANTIC– Mi Swing Es Tropica
- LOUIS ARMSTRONG– What A Wonderful World
- IVD & ZLATAN– Bolanle
- PETE EL CONDE RODRIGUEZ– I Like It Like That
- THE CARTERS– Black Effect
- LARRY GAGA– Wonderful
- LAURYN HILL– Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
- TWO HOURS TRAFFIC– Jezebel
- BLACK LEGEND– You See The Trouble With Me
- MIRIAM MAKEBA– Pata Pata
- BEYONCE– Cuff It
- MAVINS, CRAYON ARYA SUPERSTAR- Overloading
SEASON YOUR CHICKEN: Two days to the big day, wash and season your chicken thoroughly there is nothing worse than eating seasonless breast chicken, Bad enough its breast…
- RED ONIONS
- Olive oil
- White pepper
- black pepper
- Pink himalayan salt
Start with the base of really good Olive oil; there is nothing quite like it and every kitchen needs one.
Toss in the herbs and spices WITHOUT the salt, you have to let the aromas get to know each other in the marinade.
Add in the onions and garlic; never powder, I prefer fresh and organic garlic and red onions
Now having mixed it all together, taste it with a teaspoon and if it needs some salt add it in quarter teaspoon increments.
Stuff the chicken with fresh sprigs of rosemary and slather it in marinade before settling in the fridge to soak in the saurces
HOLIDAY COCKTAILS: Have you experimented with Apple soaked in tequila? For the purpose of this recipe, I did and its not bad at all. Its better with scotch I find but it is quite something with tequila; a sharp edge that could knock you to your bottom… get it? 🙂
- 1/2 an apple
- Pineapple juice
- elderflower syrup
- GINGER BEER
Cut the apple into the thin slices, I know, I absolutely hate cutting anything into thin slices, but just do it, now put the slices into the tequila to get it well acquainted. in a tall glass build the cocktail as listed over ice, top up with ginger beer. et voila!
I have made it simple for your by sticking with tequila, the cost of living crisis if you will but we are sticking with tequila for the holidays, if you have a mescal even better but we do the best with what we have.
- Blueberries– HANDFUL
- TEQUILA-50 ML
- elderflower syrup– 50 ML
- ICE LOLLIES– 1 STICK
Muddle the blue berries together with the ice lollies in the cocktail shaker, now, you can substitute the ice lolly for orange juice, but I just have a preference for this particular ice lolly and I have fantasised about using it in a cocktail for a while now, but orange juice is absolutely perfect.
Toss in the tequila and elderflower. Shake, strain and pour. No need for ice because you have the ice lolly to ice it out, If you are using orange juice, the you should add some ice.
Negronis, thanks to Stanley Tucci will forever be icon status, if you know you know, if not look up the video; it was one of those things that gave us life during the height of the pandemic. As you should also know by now, I am something of a cocktail fiend, in my spare time I like to mix drinks and taste them and I believe this is likely my finest work to date. Black Betty demands time and attention, it goes down a storm; none of the harshness of the classic Negroni, I find that too hard, but all the suave of a well worn leather glove that just fits. This fits the holiday feeling.
- BLACKBERRIES– FIVE
- GIN– 50 ML
- CAMPARI– 50 ML
- SWEET VERMOUTH– 50 ML
- ORANGE PEEL
Muddle the blackberry
Add five or six ice cubes in a collins tumbler
Build the cocktail; in the collins tumbler; pour in the gin, campari, sweet vermouth over the ice filled tumbler
Toss in the muddled blackberries
twist the peel of orange over the drink, add in some more blackberries if you have some left.
good to go.
NOTE: The absolutists might turn up their noses at the fact that you will have blackberry residue in this cocktail but here is the beauty of the negroni, you can quite simply play around with ingredients.
TREATS: The holidays can be hard for some, this year will likely be harder for most so look in on your neighbour, bake treats and extend some holiday cheer. if you are not able to bake, by all means buy, we are all just trying to do the best we can.
- BUTTER– 227 G
- DIME CHOCOLATES– 400 G
- CASTER SUGAR– 150 G
- VANILLA– 1 TABLESPOON
- EGGS– 4 EGGS
- SPELT FLOUR– 68 G
- COCOR POWDER– 68 G
- BAKING POWDER– 1 TSP
Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees centigrade
Melt the butter and chocolate in an oven. You can if you absolutely want to, do this over a stainless steel bowl over a milk pot making sure the bowl does not touch the water, its the best way to do this but I always use a microwave because patience is not a virtue I possess.
Stir the vanilla into the chocolate mixture.
Whisk the eggs until it is foamy at the top.
Combine the egg and chocolate until well mixed.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the chocolate mix.
Pour the brownie mixture into a square baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
TAKE A BREAK: Take care of yourself, schedule a weekend for yourself and yourself only, shut the world out, get a good book, open up a bottle of something delightful, run a bath, light candles and enjoy.
Have yourself a very merry Christmas may your days be bright and full of light and laughter.