I am super excited because here we are with the First Make for Christmas and it is not even approaching December! This is a very easy one to begin with and has a strong St Helena inspiration.
In St Helena food is definitely a big part of every festivity. If you go to a concert or a coffee morning or even a parents' evening, you will be given 'a plate of eats'. This is a paper plate crammed full of a mixture of sweet and savoury titbits - little sandwiches, jam tarts, mini quiches, cheese straws, cakes, biscuits and something called 'bread n dance' - slices of soft baguette-style bread topped with a spicy tomato paste. Not being the world's biggest tomato fan I was extremely sceptical to start with, but it is delicious - sweet and savoury all at once.
So for our first make I have combined two of these elements to make some party snacks that are extremely moreish with a festive feel. Cheese stars and dance dip...
(Do you like that? It's a sort of pun on dancing stars. Ooh I do amuse myself sometimes!)
Difficulty: Easy peasy. No specialist equipment or skills required.
1 tin of tomatoes
1 chilli or a dash of tobasco
Chop the onion and gently fry in the oil for a few minutes until softened and transparent.
Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Add the finely chopped chilli or tobasco to taste.
Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Allow to cool then blitz in a food processor or with a blender to form a smooth paste.
6oz/150g plain flour
1 1/2oz/40g butter or margerine
1 1/2oz/40g cream cheese
3oz/75g mature cheddar or similar hard cheese
milk to glaze
paprika to decorate
This makes three trays of about 24 stars - a good big bowlful, but you could halve the recipe...
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
Rub the butter and cream cheese into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Add cold water a splash at a time until the mixture forms a soft dough.
Roll out onto a floured work surface. Sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Fold in half and roll out again. Sprinkle with another third of the cheese. Fold, roll, sprinkle and fold again.
Roll out to 1/2 cm think and cut into star shapes.
(At this point I had a minor panic when I could not find the star cutter - for a moment we were going to have christmas flowers or dinosaurs or something but then the star cutter was located in the play dough box, scrubbed and stars were on the menu again!).
Put the shapes onto a floured baking tray, brush with milk and sprinkle with a little paprika.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Attempt not to eat the lot before your guests arrive.
Now, I know what you are going to say: Rolling pins and star cutters, I thought we didn't need specialist equipment. Well, use a bottle to roll and a knife to cut out diamonds - et voila!
I hope you have as much fun with this little make as I am having putting them together.