Three easy, elegant starters to serve on Christmas Day

Get your festive feast off to a stunning start with these simple but stunning first courses

The big day is approaching rapidly. Annoyingly, it now starts at the end of summer when the Christmas shops open, then really kicks into gear when the TV ads and festive cookery programmes pummel us from the beginning of November. I’m almost burnt out from it all by mid-December.

The dragging out of Christmas almost takes the good out of it. . . almost. But then, my thoughts are dominated by twinkly lights, baubles and glitter. It’s almost unbecoming for a man of my age. I constantly think of menus, recipes, parties and people. My lists give birth to more lists. The social butterfly in me has been curtailed these past couple of years, and looks likely to be in hibernation again this year. I need to go to parties again and get back to normal before I become a recluse, like Howard Hughes except without the money.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be concentrating on all things Christmas in these pages, beginning today with a few nifty starters. Not everybody has starters on Christmas Day. Lots of us are content with a few nibbles as we steel our selves for the onslaught of calories. These easy dishes can, of course, be served anytime you wish. They are elegant, yet not difficult, as who needs complication when your oven is stuffed to the gills and the stress levels are stratospheric.

Goatsbridge Trout is a heartwarming Irish producers’ success story. Its delicate subtlety and gentle smoke has enamoured me. Trout roe adds the glamour that is required this time of year. Be not afraid, it’s just a little salty pop that can quickly become addictive. The trout is available in specialist shops. Use smoked salmon if you can’t find it.


These little goat’s cheese pots are perfect for small gatherings. You can make them the day before to make life easy, and serve with some toasted baguette on the side.

The prawns are a bit of a riff on the Spanish dish pil pil, but a bit more gentle and nuanced. I’m serving them with toasted brioche on the side so you can mop up the precious juices once the prawns are gone.

Recipe: Goatsbridge trout, cucumber, butterhead and clementine dressing

Recipe: Whipped goat’s cheese and cranberry pots

Recipe: Prawns with smoked paprika and rosemary butter