So now we're in November I can talk about Christmas, right?
I'm not sorry to say that I'm fully in the festive spirit after John Lewis invited me to an evening of canapés and cocktails at the Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley.
The cookery school has long been one of my favourites in town - possibly because a selection of Christmas inspired cocktails were ready and waiting for us at the bar - but also because of the huge variety of classes they have on offer.
When I first heard we'd be making up to 5 different canapés in just a few hours I was pretty intrigued as to what was on the menu and how much cooking we'd actually do. I'm not one for fiddly bits and finesse but Chefs Gerry and Shauna expertly guided us through each step and added a whole heap of new recipes to our festive repertoire. So if you fancy some confit duck samosas with spiced pear puree or maybe parmesan risotto balls, I'm your girl. And cocktails? I'm a dab hand at a spiced gin and tonic and my new favourite, the spiced blackberry fizz.
S P I C E D B L A C K B E R R Y F I Z Z
(Recipe from Waitrose Cookery School, serves 1)
For the spiced blackberry cordial (easily doubles)
200g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
peel of 1 orange
200g punnet of blackberries
- Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon and orange to a gentle simmer before adding the blackberries, cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool fully before straining the juice through a fine sieve, pressing out the juices from the berries.
white/spiced/dark rum or vodka, your choice
tonic water or sparkling water
freshly sliced ginger
- Fill your glass with ice and pour over a measure each of your preferred spirit and blackberry cordial. Top with equal amounts of ginger beer and tonic water. Add a slice each of ginger and orange and a blackberry to finish.
H A Z E L N U T & C H O C O L A T E O R A N G E B I S C O T T I
(Recipe from Waitrose Cookery School, makes up to 30 biscuits)
50g blanched hazelnuts
120g plain white flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp cream of tartar
35g dried cherries
25g orange dark chocolate, roughly chopped
zest of 1/2 an orange
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes until just golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Place all of the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix to form a biscuit dough, adding a few drops of water if needed to bring the mixture together.
- Upturn onto a floured work surface and knead until soft. Roll out the dough into two sausages the length of your baking tray.
- Place the dough sausages on a tray spaced apart and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm to the touch, but still soft in the centre.
- Remove from the oven and reduce to oven to 140 degrees.
- Leave to cool slightly before diagonally slicing into 1cm thick pieces. Place on the tray once more and bake for a further 12-15 minutes until crisp.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool fully before serving.
And now we're all feeling super festive, I'm off to have a peak at John Lewis' Christmas gift inspiration. Thanks for inviting me guys, I learnt so much and would seriously recommend the cookery school classes to all.
I have not received payment for this post - just some canapés, which I greatly enjoyed. All opinions genuinely my own.