What I love most about the lead-up to Christmas (as well as the day itself) is that you're almost always surrounded by some of the most important people in your life. For me, that means when I'm planning my festive food itinerary, I always get overexcited and want to treat my guests to something amazing. The reality of life, though, is that I never have enough time and I am often exhausted by the time the party actually arrives.
For me, all Christmas cooking needs to be quick and easy, as well as looking great, and the last thing I want is to be stuck in the kitchen. So, the rule I stick to – the one that means I can also host, and more importantly drink, with my guests – is: keep it simple, keep it foolproof, and keep it seasonal.
Canapés are a great way to get creative in the kitchen – serve a few knockout nibbles alongside a chilled glass of fizz and your party is onto a winner. This year I am championing the retro revival, and for my parties I'll be rolling back the years with a fun take on a prawn cocktail. Mix pre-cooked king prawns with a tasty lemon crème fraîche, serve on baby gem lettuce and garnish with a pinch of dill. Because, let's face it, it wouldn't be Christmas without a prawn cocktail, right?
Beyond that, a trusty dish I always revert back to is a classic mix of roquefort cheese with chopped walnuts and hazelnuts, add a little double cream, season to taste, and serve on top of something you love. It's very simple, but damn delicious.
My ultimate dish, though, is honeyed goat's cheese. Dear god, I love it. All you have to do is mix it with a dash of honey and double cream with crumbled goat's cheese – blitz in a blender if it's easier – and serve on a rye cracker or piece of cucumber.
Recipes you can cook with a drink in your hand? That's what it's all about. Bring on Christmas.