Christmas is a time for sharing stories, memories and food, lots of food. As you may have gathered Dvir and I love preparing food for sharing whether it's shared plates on long tables at our pop up dinners or grazing platters for parties, we love having a good spread for people to help themselves to.
Platters are great for the Christmas season. We serve them as party nibbles, appetisers or when we’re lucky enough to have leftovers, as a leisurely lunch. Most of the preparation can be done in advance and it can be left on the table for when guests arrive to get stuck in to while you pour the drinks or get the main course ready.
You can easily adapt the platters for your guests. If you have vegan guests or just want to go a bit more plant-based make up a Mezze style platter (photo below). When there are kids over, hummus, pretzels, nuts, crudites and corn on the cob usually go down well. If you have any guests with gluten/dairy/nut allergies keep these on a separate platter or not at all.
See some steps below for building up your platters and recipes below.
Step 1 - Get on board
Invest in a big and beautiful board or platter. Our current favourites are from local craftsmen Copper Coast Woodcrafts & Noel Whelan Design. Or you can use a few dinner plates and boards with one dip/cheese/meat on each and nibbles arranged around each.
Step 2 - Plan the 'mains'
Decide on 3 or 4 dips/ cheeses and/or meats which will be the biggest products on your platter/s.
If you're going for a vegan/ Mezze board our favourite dips are hummus masabkha, mushroom & walnut pâté, red pepper & walnut dip, and ful medames (fava bean dip). The great thing about these is that they are naturally vegan and full of flavour so meat-eaters can enjoy these too! These can be prepared the day before too. Recipes for these are below.
For a cheese board there are some gorgeous Irish cheeses out there. Some of our favourites are pictured below; by Cashel Blue, Knockanore Smoked Farmhouse Cheese, Knockalara Farmhouse Cheese and Wicklow Bán Brie Farmhouse Cheese.
Step 3 - vehicle for your foods
For your gorgeous food you need equally gorgeous breads. Get some of your favourite of our lavosh flatbreads and break up into 2 or 3 pieces so they're easy to load up and eat. Add a baguette or sourdough bread too for different textures.
Step 4 - nibbles
This is the fun part! Buy some nibbles to add to your spread; dried fruits, fresh figs or grapes, nuts, pickles, olives, and pretzels. Crudites are great with dips too; some raw batons of beetroot (get candy striped if you can), carrots and kholrabi are great winter veg. Arrange the nibbles in untidy groups on your board around your bowls or cheese.
Step 5 - garnish
If you have the time, get some garnish on; chopped herbs, a sprig of rosemary, chopped nuts - where it makes sense (e.g. chopped walnuts on mushroom & walnut pate) can look great. A drizzle of honey or honeycomb if you can get your hands on it is great on some brie with rosemary.
And get stuck in! Don't forget knives, forks and spoons to serve and small plates and forks for your guests.
This chunky hummus can be found in hummus restaurants around Israel and is our favourite type. If you want to get really authentic eat this warm served into bowls straight from the pot.
125g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/4 tsp baking soda
125ml ice cold water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
paprika and extra virgin rapeseed oil to serve
Drain chickpeas and add to a large saucepan with the baking soda (this will help them cook faster) and plenty of fresh water. Cook for approximately 40 minutes until soft. Check by trying to squash a chickpea against the side of the saucepan.
Drain cooked chickpeas and reserve some whole chickpeas for the top of the hummus. Mash the chickpeas a little so some remain whole, add the remaining ingredients and stir.
To serve: Spoon the hummus into a bowl leaving a well in the middle. Place whole chickpeas into the well, drizzle a little oil on top, and sprinkle with paprika.
Red pepper and walnut dip
This recipe is based on a Syrian dish called muhammara. The original dish calls for Aleppo chillis but I like to omit these so heat-opposed guests can enjoy it. Feel free to add a tsp of chilli flakes to spice it up.
3 red peppers
50g walnuts, plus extra to garnish
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses**
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp Irish extra virgin rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve
½ tbsp sea salt
Mint to garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 200 degrees and roast whole peppers on a tray for 35 minutes or until skin is blackened. Remove from oven, turn down the heat to 180 degrees and roast 50g of walnuts in an oven-proof dish for 10 mins until lightly toasted.
Place peppers into a box or saucepan with lid to cool a little. When cool enough to touch, peel and discard seeds and stalks.
Place peppers and remaining ingredients (bar the mint) in a food processor and pulse until ingredients just come together. Don’t over process; it should be chunky rather than a paste.
To serve: Spoon into a bowl, drizzle with oil, throw on a few broken walnuts and some mint leaves.
* I usually toast some frozen pita I have in the freezer and then blitz in a NutriBullet or food processor. I’ve used gluten-free pita for this which turns out great.
** You can find pomegranate molasses in spice shops/ethnic food stores. Check that it’s 100% pomegranate and not mixed with sugar.
This fava bean dip may be something new for you and your guests. It’s simple but full of flavour! Traditionally a breakfast food in the Middle East – we eat this at any time of the day!
125g dried fava beans*, soaked overnight
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 small tomato, chopped finely
1 spring onion, chopped finely
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
extra virgin rapeseed oil and parsley to serve (optional)
Drain fava beans and add to a large saucepan with the baking soda (this will help them cook faster) and plenty of fresh water. Cook for approximately 40 minutes until soft. Check by trying to squash a bean against the side of the saucepan.
Drain cooked beans and mash with a potato masher so all beans are mashed. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
To serve: Spoon the mixture into a bowl, drizzle a little oil on top and some parsley.
* You can find fava beans in spice shops/ethnic food stores. Go for the smaller ones if there are a few options. The bigger ones have thicker skins so don’t mash well.
This vegan pâté is our all-time favourite. It’s always on our recipe list for parties!
120g walnuts, plus extra to garnish
4 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil, plus extra to garnish
1 small onion, chopped
450g mushrooms, wiped and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (approx 20g), plus extra to garnish
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Heat the oven to 180 degrees and roast walnuts until lightly browned (approx. 10 mins)
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a pan and cook onions on low heat until soft.
Add the mushrooms, garlic, parsley stalks (add leaves later), thyme leaves (run finger and thumb along stalks over the pan to remove leaves), salt and pepper. Cook on low heat (without a lid), stirring often until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Cool mushroom mix a little and add to a food processor with walnuts, parsley leaves and 2tbsp of oil. Pulse until ingredients come together and is still a little chunky.
To serve: Spoon into a bowl, throw on a few broken walnuts and some parsley leaves.
Sharing is caring! If you have a go at preparing a platter or our recipes please let us know; send us a message or tag us in your photos on social media.
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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Nicola & Dvir xx