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A Time for Togetherness

Welcome to the pre-Christmas season where foodies the world over are testing recipes to make sure they and their guests have a wonderful time this year! I confess I'm just as guilty for early recipe testing - I guess you'd like to hope so. Also, it's all an excuse. I love Christmas and it bugs me that it starts to hit as soon as Halloween is over (sometimes even before). There is something special about the first of December when it's acceptable to play Christmas songs all day and trees can start going up.

My favourite thing about Christmas is guests - yes I love presents too but I also love guests. Whether I am one or whether I'm hosting them, I love that at Christmas, people come together a lot. You have staff Christmas parties, family Christmas parties, church nativity plays, carol concerts, light switch-ons and friends coming together to catch up after who knows how long. Sometimes, like us this year, you have family coming to visit from miles away. It's wonderful. And it makes for a fun Christmas.

One thing that, thanks to the ever persistent media, has become almost synonymous with Christmas is food. You really can't talk about Christmas without talking and thinking about food. Which, let's be honest, is a good thing for me. But we always think of typical types of food: mince pies, turkey, stuffing, christmas pudding... but what about snacks? There is an awful lot of snacking that gets done in the Christmas period, especially at parties.

I once visited a friend after Christmas whose dad made roasted buttered almonds and I swear, the pair of us ate a whole tupperware container's worth in one sitting. The thing with Christmas on this side of the world is that it's in winter, so snacks are very fat heavy: biscuits, chocolate, nuts... we all need a bit of extra padding to keep warm! But nuts are also good for you - in moderation. So let's use that. Let's steer your guests away from the shiny individually wrapped chocolates and towards a bowl of spicy, sweet roasted nuts. I promise they won't look back.

Spicy Honey Roast Nuts

  • 200g almonds

  • 200g cashews

  • 100g shelled pistachios

  • 150g pecans

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp chilli powder

  • 1 tbsp mixed spice

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp runny honey

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Mix all the nuts together and lay them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Mix all the spices and salt together. Sprinkle the spice mix over the nuts and then drizzle the honey over them.

Place the tray in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring them every 5-8 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool they'll feel a bit like granola. Crackle them up and serve them in a bowl or keep them in an airtight container for 5 days.


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