‘It is the anticipation of Christmas what makes it the most magical time’
The first of December is finally here; it is the season for craftiness, late night cooking, and dark candle light evenings that make a home cosy and warm. My hubby and I have watched a few festive films already and soon it’s time for us to go pick up a tree. Allow yourself not to get pulled into a Christmas rush by being one step ahead of your calendar and make sure to enjoy the days leading up to the 24th, as it is the anticipation of it all what makes it the most magical time. Today I wanted to share a cocktail and appetizer recipe that will without a doubt kick this festive season off beautifully. Hopefully it will spark some inspiration for your Christmas table and give you a little holiday spirit.
Winter Blackberry & Rosemary Cocktail
A simple blackberry and rosemary champagne cocktail is a beautiful way to start any winter evening. The deep burgundy is a sophisticated undertone for any December get together, or simply if you are looking for a little way to treat yourself by escaping the ordinary. Working greatly to our advantage, the blackberry syrup can be made ahead of time, which makes it exceptionally handy in terms of preparation. Additionally, you could switch up the blackberry to any berry you like and for instance, use thyme instead of rosemary. The cocktail looks wonderfully elegant in a 20s inspired crystal glass of different styles, to give that much desired vintage champagne boat, with delicate thin-edges.
In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients (water, sugar, blackberries, rosemary twig) to make the syrup. Bring to boil and reduce heat and cook for under 10minutes so the blackberries start to mush. Stir occasionally and let the mixture intensify into a red colour. Remove from heat, strain and allow to cool. Once cooled, place the syrup into an airtight maison jar and store in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
Rim each champagne glass with a bit of butter between your fingers. Then place some brown sugar onto a plate and press each glass rim into the sugar so it coats all around.
To make the cocktail; add some blackberry syrup to the glass, some ice and pour over some champagne or sparking wine. Give a little mix. Garnish each glass with a bare rosemary branch (except for the ends for visual impact) and pierce a few fresh berries through it. Allow it to gently rest on top of the glass. Enjoy.
Beetroot is a fantastic earthy compliment to a winter menu that is rich in flavour and colour. This winter root does not need much to be classic, simply paired as a salad with blue cheese, figs and walnuts is all you need to make it refined. However, a layered beetroot tartar is an exciting dish to serve at a dinner party, as it tastes wonderful. I have made beetroot tartar before (see recipe here) but this version is much different. The filling is basically made from a beetroot puree and cream cheese that has some blackberries and spinach in between. You could defiantly incorporate slices of cured salmon and play around with the dimensions of flavours. For this recipe, I made the beetroot puree from scratch, but I suppose you could store by this as well.
Begin by roasting the beetroot and sweet potato. Once ready, peel the skin off and roughly chop into smaller pieces.
In a large saucepan, add a generous dollop of butter and grated garlic. Stir and add in the chopped beetroot and sweet potato. Cook for about 7minutes and add in a splash of cream. This part can be left out if you prefer not to use cream, but it does a lovely taste. Let it gently cook so the cream reduces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pulse with a handheld blender into a puree. It does not need to be silky smooth, as it needs to be thick to hold its shape. Place into a bowl and leave it to cool. Refrigerate the puree for an hour before using so it becomes denser.
Tartar ingredients (you need a cooking mould for this)
Press the tartar mould into the rye bread so it cuts out a circle. Leave the rye bread slice into the bottom of the mould, place on a small plate and start adding layers on top. Add a spoonful of cream cheese on top, then a spoonful of puree. Press the mass down and make sure to keep the layering straight. Add baby spinach, then a mixture of cream cheese and puree together (so it forms a lighter colour), halved blackberries, cream cheese, puree etc. Place the mould into the fridge for a good 3 hours to set. Once ready to plate: take the mould out of the fridge and place onto your serving plate. With a knife, go around the edges of the mould and with the help of your hand, press the mass down while you pull the mould up. It doesn’t matter If the surface looses a bit of shape, you can always fix it after by smoothing it with a knife. Garnish the top with fresh black berries and pistachios. Add a sprinkling of Maldon salt and black pepper.