Home and Garden Christmas menu ideas and recipes Lynnette Home & Garden Lynnette Peck cooks up easy, at-a-glance ideas for parties and Christmas dishes with a difference A traditional turkey dinner during the festive season is all very lovely, but at this stage in our lives shouldn’t we be stretching our cooking talents a little further? I propose trying party and Christmas food with a difference that is chic, but doesn’t break the bank, interesting and themed, if you wish. Parties with a twist I regularly hold these. Last Christmas I hosted a Bond-themed gathering where we drank martini (shaken, not stirred of course) wore gold and ate blinis. The effect was fabulously glam, even though these days you don’t have to go to Moscow to get blinis – they’re in the chiller cabinet at your local supermarket. One year I enjoyed a nautical-themed festive dinner complete with rope napkin rings, blue and white crockery and seafood paella on the menu. You get the idea. Here are my festive suggestions you can adapt to suit your tastes and, given the other expenses at this time of year, budget… Christmas with a difference Serve: Spicy Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs (cover the meatballs with cranberry and barbecue sauce mixed together) Sautéed Brussel Sprouts (with onions and pancetta) Goose and Root Vegetable Terrine Turkey Curry Buffet, in homage to Bridget Jones (Mark Darcy: ‘I realise that when I met you at the turkey curry buffet, I was unforgivably rude… and wearing a reindeer jumper.’) Table setting: Ditch the red and green bits and pieces you have had for decades and go modern with metallic bronze candles, crisp grey table linen and slate mats and coasters. Scandinavian surprise Serve: Lucia Bread (named after Lucia the Saint who according to Swedish legend brought food to a gentleman on the longest day, December 13 1764) Sillsallad – Herring and Beet Salad (a Christmas classic) Gravadlax in dill (cured salmon) Aebleskiver – Festive Apple Pancakes Table setting: Red, silver and white are the traditional Scandi Christmas colours. A large red tablecloth with a smaller white one over the top and red berries dotted along the table with silver candle holders in between will look fantastisk (Swedish for fabulous)! Vintage dream Serve: Mini Prawn Cocktails (add petit pois and radishes) Cheese Fondue (use mini bread rolls on sticks to dip in the cheese) Coq au Vin (classic French casserole dish) Slow-cooked Sweet and Sour Pork with Pineapple (modern take on the retro ham and pineapple sticks found at ’70s parties. Marinate the pineapple in vinegar for the sweet and sour taste Table setting: A colour palette of orange and brown will suit all these dishes. Throw in some balloons and party poppers and you are good to go vintage-style. A Lazy Susan is an optional extra, if you can get one for the evening… Vegetarian va-va-voom Serve: Butternut Squash and Chestnut Pie Whole Roasted Cauliflower (with garlic, sherry and almonds) Spiced Strudel (with aubergines and peppers) Honduran Tamales (stuffed with cheese or fruit) Table setting: Green of course. International adventure Serve: Christmas stir fry (use chopped up turkey and ham, plus sprouts, carrots and parsnip) Peking Style Roast Duck (great turkey alternative) Korean Butter Poached Lobster with Kimchi Sauce (Korean food is having a moment in fashion circles for 2016) Creole cassoulet with sausage and bacon (classic warming winter recipe) Table setting: Make your own placemats from printed off maps of the world and have mini globes on the table as decorations.