The festive season is upon us, and often we’re called on, at short notice, to cater for guests or perhaps bring something to share.  That’s the time to reach into your handy bag of tricks and produce something spectacular, with minimum effort, maximum effect.   You’ll give the impression you’re a great cook who can handle anything.  The best part is you’ll believe it too.

Usually I keep my bag of tricks to myself.  But just for you, I’ll let you in on a couple of my secrets.

Secret number 1 is to keep some basics in the pantry or fridge.  I recommend olives, gherkins, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, chutney, crackers, rye bread, cheese, fresh tomatoes, dried fruit, eggs, fruit cake, nuts and mayonnaise.  Add a few special ingredients, like smoked salmon, a huge ham and some Continental biscuits, and you’ll be able to produce anything from a grazing platter to Danish-style open sandwiches to afternoon tea.

Secret number 2 is to think simplicity.  A simple bowl of walnuts and a nutcracker will keep hands busy.  Gorgeous brimming bowls of fresh cherries, strawberries, grapes or cherry tomatoes look festive and are healthful too.  Most folks these days are conscious of healthy eating and will thank you for keeping the calorie-count down.

Tomorrow I’ll share some quick and easy entertaining recipes to make the festive season stress-free.

  1. Roz Howland 14 years ago

    Thanks Angela,

    I love the tip about a bowl of walnuts with nutcracker. Great dieting tip! The busier hands are – the less one eats!

    Keep up the great posts.
    Roz Howland

  2. Janet Barclay 13 years ago

    I’m getting hungry just reading this! Great suggestions on the nibbles. Most of us will eat whatever’s put out, and it’s just too easy to fill up on heavy snacks like shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, etc. before we even sit down to dinner!

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