My Christmas menu & first event

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As I have mentioned before, I have been very busy recently with a Christmas menu I put together. It is a list of treats that I thought would be perfect for people to enjoy over Christmas or to give as gifts. The first items I came up with for the menu was chutneys. As you know I had already made my apple and sultana chutney which I knew was tasty so I decided to include it in the menu. One of my favourite shop bought chutneys is caramelised onion which we love to eat with Camembert so I decided I would like to give it a go and see if mine was as good as ones you can buy. The final chutney I decided to make was Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney – it was a no brainer.

I started making the chutneys back in September because I knew they needed time to mature and get even more delicious. I stared by ordering and making 36 jars of chutney. Once I had started advertising the chutneys to friends and colleagues, it quickly became clear that I needed to order more jars! I was very shocked at how popular the chutneys became and realised last weekend that yet again I needed to order more jars! I’m not going to lie, I hate peeling tomatoes and I have peeled more onions that I would care to imagine, but it is a great feeling to know that something you have made is so popular.

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I wanted to include little treats that would look good displayed in cellophane bags. Fridge cake was an obvious choice as it is so popular when I make it – it lasts 5 minutes at work. I have always referred to it as fridge cake but some people know of it as rocky road.

Cat Fridge Cake 2 copy

 (Photo by Betty)

I decided to put a spin on my cheese straws that are so popular by turning them into chilli cheese stars. I originally saw the idea on Food Network when Jonathan Phang was making them and thought it was a great idea. Instead of using his recipe, I stuck to my usual cheese straw recipe but added fresh and dried chilli powders before cutting them into stars. I didn’t want to make them too hot so didn’t use the West Indian hot pepper sauce that Jonathan used. Mine have a lovely gentle heat that I think is suitable for everyone’s taste.

Cat Stars 1 copy

(Photo by Betty)

I wanted to have some fudge on the menu; one chocolate and one vanilla. I found a lovely dark chocolate and pistachio fudge recipe by Nigella that turned out really well but I had no such luck with the vanilla fudge. I wanted a fudge with a creamy texture and after four failed attempts I gave up. Two attempts made what people told me was very nice Scottish tablet but this was quite crumbly so not what I was looking for. Another attempt tasted lovely and creamy but it just didn’t harden up enough and was very sticky. The final attempt with the 4th recipe was a complete disaster so I finally gave up!

Cat choc fudge 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Mum has a Mary Berry Christmas book so I had a look through there and saw these lovely snowflake shaped iced biscuits. They’re simple to make but really tasty and look very pretty. Someone said to me that they weren’t planning on ordering the biscuits but when they saw the photo they looked so pretty they decided they had to have them.

Cat Star Cookies

 (Photo by Betty)

I had to include mince pies because to me its not Christmas without them – I am a huge fan. My friend Millie told me that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (6th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months. I thought this was a very cute idea and any excuse to eat mince pies is valid in my opinion!

Cat mince pies 2

(Photo by Betty)

For something that wasn’t too sweet I decided to make some fruity biscotti which a lot of people associate with Christmas. The recipe I chose is packed with cranberries, raisins, almonds and pistachios. I find it slightly dry, but it is traditionally drank with black coffee in Italy.

Cat Biscotti 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Finally, I decided I wanted to include some form of sweet. After watching Sweets Made Simple on BB2, I saw how easy cinder toffee was to make. Although it is quite simple, it looks really impressive. I thought you would need all sorts of fancy equipment to make it but liquid glucose is the only ingredient you will need to buy, everything else you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Cat Honeycomb

(Photo by Betty)

The lovely and very talented Betty photographed my Christmas menu for me and made everything look fantastic. She staged the photographs beautifully and gave them a great Christmassy feel. I have had a number of people say to me that the photographs are what made them decide what they wanted to order as they were too tempting to resist! Please visit her website www.greedybetty.com to see more of her fantastic photography.

I initially saw the Christmas menu as a way of friend’s ordering my food, but as the popularity has grown I have put posters up at work and even did my first little event the other day! My friend Tula invited a number of people to her house for what she called her Christmas Extravaganza. I was very excited that she had asked me but also slightly nervous because this would be the first time people that didn’t know me would be trying my food and I would be able to see their reactions.

My Mum came along with me and with her help, I was able to put together a table that I was very happy with and people even commented on how professional it looked. This had a lot to do with my Mum’s help with the food labels and the amazing bunting she made for me. My Mum has spent hours making all of the labels for each item and they would not have looked anywhere near as good if I hadn’t had her help. She is very creative and has been a massive help from the start.

I was nervous about the chutney because although I had tried it once I had made it, I hadn’t tried it when it had matured. I asked my Mum to try it first because I knew she would give me an honest opinion, and luckily she said it was delicious! I was very happy with how many people said how tasty they were and bought them as gifts and for themselves.

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I am so pleased with how successful my menu has become and the upcoming events I have. I am going to have a very busy few weeks!

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