Wren’s Christmas Kitchen: Linda Barker’s holiday recipes

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By Linda Barker

This time of year is all about family, friends – and food! When I step into the kitchen during Christmas time, I instantly want to whip up sweet, rich and traditional dishes with the sort of flavours that epitomise yuletide.

And, as it’s the season for sharing, what better way to celebrate than to pass on my favourite festive recipes?

For the Wren’s Christmas Kitchen project, I’ve revealed my seasonal cooking secrets. Read on to learn how to eat and drink Mrs. Clause-style this holiday time, and then take note of other merry recipes from some of the UK’s top food bloggers.

From my kitchen to yours, I wish you all a Happy Christmas. Now, let’s indulge!

Mocha Espresso Martini

During this time of year, when the evenings are dark and cold, there’s nothing that warms me up at night quite like an after-dinner coffee. Transform it into a martini, and it might just be my favourite drink of the season…

Ingredients

  • 1 shot of chilled Tia Maria
  • 1 shot of chilled vodka
  • 1 shot (75ml) of a good coffee – cooled
  • 1 tbsp of chocolate ice cream

Method

  1. Mix the Tia Maria, vodka and coffee together until you have a creamy, golden coloured combination.
  2. Scoop a spoon of ice cream into the centre of a champagne glass (or two spoonfuls, if you’re really in the mood for mocha).
  3. Pour the martini around the ice cream until you can see the ice cream ‘iceberg’ rise to the centre of the glass.

Linda's Espresso Martini

Snowball Tartlets

As soon as the first snowflakes fall, I get a craving for these Snowball Tartlets! Sweet, sticky and super irresistible, they’re both naughty and nice – the perfect treat to start off the holiday season.

Makes approx. 12 tartlets

Ingredients

  • 12 pre-baked tartlet cases (meringue nests are a good alternative)
  • 2 blocks of white chocolate (150g each)
  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows (150g)
  • 1 pot of vanilla or coconut ice cream (500g)
  • 2 pots of mini pearl cake decorations

Method

  1. Melt the white chocolate and dip the edges of the tartlet cases into it. Coat the inside of the tartlet cases with a little bit more of the melted chocolate. Leave them to set in the fridge.
  2. Once the chocolate has set, half-fill the tartlet cases with marshmallows.
  3. You can never have too much white chocolate… Drizzle whatever is left over the marshmallows.
  4. Scoop a rounded tsp of ice cream from the tub into a small cereal bowl and add the decorating pearls. Roll the ice cream around until it forms a snowball shape – use your fingers if you need to!
  5. Use a spoon to drop the snowball into the tartlet case. Repeat until you’ve added a snowball to each tartlet.
  6. Chill in the freezer until it’s time to enjoy!

Raspberry and Lychee Fizz

Hot cider, eggnog, mulled wine – I always look forward to tasting the nation’s favourite holiday beverages during Christmas time. But why not add a tropical spin to this year’s drinks menu?

Ingredients

  • 1 punnet of frozen raspberries
  • 1 carton of lychee juice
  • 1 bottle of your favourite sparkling wine

Method

  1. Use a fork to crush about 4 raspberries into a soft pulp. Place these at the bottom of a tall champagne flute.
  2. Add about 100ml of lychee juice.
  3. Top up to taste with sparkling wine.
  4. Drop in a couple of whole frozen raspberries – they’re like Christmas baubles in a glass, and they taste just as pretty as they look!

Raspberry Lime Cocktail

Deconstructed Prawn Cocktail

Prawn cocktails are one of my go-to starters any time of year, but this twist on a classic recipe makes them a perfect dish to nibble on with friends and family during the holidays.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 24 prawns (about 6 per person), cooked or uncooked
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 palmful of baby chives or herbs
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 pinch of smoked paprika

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • Oil and apple cider vinegar to thin the dressing
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. If necessary, cook the prawns (grill, shallow fry or steam). If the prawns are pre-cooked, heat them and keep them warm.
  2. To make the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker or jam jar until you’ve achieved a thick, pouring consistency.
  3. Cut the iceberg lettuce into neat pieces. Try for 8 pieces per lettuce if possible, but don’t worry if you end up with less.
  4. Divide the lettuce evenly between each of the four plates.
  5. Stack the cooked prawns on top of the lettuce.
  6. Chop the avocado and mix it with the chopped chilli. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a little bit of olive oil. Spoon a tablespoon onto the side of the dish.
  7. Garnish with a piece of lemon and decorate with your herbs.
  8. Sprinkle smoked paprika, salt and pepper overtop – like a flavourful snowfall!
  9. Serve while the prawns are warm.

Linda's Deconstructed Prawn Cocktail

 Which drinks and dishes get you in the mood for Christmas? Share your recipes and tips using the hashtag #Wren’sChristmasKitchen. I can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up!

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