Christmas parties don’t have to mean pigs in blankets and mince pies. We like to put twists on classics, such as potted shrimp, which we’ve given a Moorish and Christmassy spin by infusing the nutty butter with spices. This needs to be prepared well ahead, to give the butter time to set, so it’s super-easy for a party: simply spread it on warm toast and serve. The dip, meanwhile, is wonderful for any festive occasion: sweetcorn combined with coriander, sun-dried tomato, garlic and creamy labneh (strained yoghurt), all scooped up with pitta or flatbread.
Labneh with sweetcorn, coriander and paprika (pictured top)
Do not underestimate tinned sweetcorn. This is also delicious as a side to pork or chicken.
Prep 10 minCook 10 minServes 475g butter3 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped1 tbsp roughly ground coriander seeds4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (we use the dehydrated ones and soak them in just-boiled water until soft)5 tbsp chopped coriander½ level tsp hot paprika250g tinned sweetcorn150g cream cheese500g Greek yoghurt, strained2-4 flatbreads or pittas, warmed
Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat and cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until it starts to caramelise (when the white bits of whey turn golden). Add the spring onions, garlic and coriander seeds, and cook, stirring, for three minutes more, until soft and sweet.
Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, fresh coriander and paprika, fry for a minute more, then add the sweetcorn and season. Puree a quarter of the mixture, adding a splash of water to loosen it if it is very thick, then stir back into the rest of the corn.
To make the labneh, combine the cream cheese and yoghurt, season with salt to taste and spread out on a large plate. Spoon the hot sweetcorn mix over the labneh and serve with warm flatbreads or pittas.
Brown shrimps and spiced brown butter
We all know and love potted shrimps, but the addition of spices – nutmeg, black pepper, bay and fennel seeds – to the caramelised brown butter makes this classic even more delicious.
Prep 5 minCook 15 minSet 2 hr +Serves 4
150g unsalted butter2 bay leaves (fresh, ideally)1 whole nutmeg, finely gratedA pinch of cayenne or hot paprika½ tsp ground fennel seeds¼ tsp ground black pepperA squeeze of lemon juice200g peeled brown shrimpsToast or crispbread, to serve
In a small pan, melt the butter with the bay leaves over a low heat – the butter will separate, but carry on cooking it until the white, milky bits of whey start to caramelise and turn golden. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, fennel seeds and pepper, and cook for another minute or so, stirring occasionally to prevent anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Squeeze a little lemon juice over the shrimps, then stir them into the hot butter. Season with salt, cook for 30 seconds, then scoop out the shrimps with a slotted spoon and transfer to four small ramekins (or one larger dish). Press them down with the back of the spoon, then pour over the warm butter and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, until set. This can be done well in advance.
Serve with toast or crispbread.