It's always a nice touch when you make your own starters (and pull it off) - you know that no nasty preservatives have gone into the dish, you can style them how you like and you can add in or take away any ingredients depending on allergies or intolerance. Guests love homemade goods, so putting in that extra little bit of effort can make your Christmas meal into a game changer in no time.
Don't worry if you've got a busy schedule; you can make these a couple of days in advance and store them in an airtight container for freshness (keep the pork tarlets in the fridge; the cheese straws can be left in a cool, dry place).
400g ready rolled puff pastry
80g Parmesan (freshly grated)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk (beaten)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Cut the pastry into inch wide strips and brush with egg.
2. Sprinkle the cheese over the eggy strips.
3. Take two strips, place one on top of the other, seal each end by pressing the pastry together and folding over, then twist! Sprinkle over the paprika and cayenne pepper.
4. Lay on a baking sheet cook for 15 mins or until golden.
400g block of ready made shortcrust pastry
200g sausage meat
80g cheddar cheese
Butter for greasing
Mini tartlet tray
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cut pastry block into cubes of about a square inch.
2. Grease the mini tartlet tray. Roll each cube into a ball and place into each well of the tartlet tray. Dab the pastry into the wells to form the cup for the tartlet.
3. Divide up the sausage meat using a teaspoon and roll into balls, then place into each well.
4. Bake in oven for 20 mins.
5. Pull the tartlets out of the oven, then sprinkle with cheese and put back in the oven for another 5-8 mins or until the cheese has melted