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Indulge your seasonal senses in the magical run-up to Christmas with festive foods that delight

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Catherine Devaney, who runs Harper & Lime catering company, shares a recipe from her kitchen in Fife

As December days darken thoughts turn to the flavours and scents that are quintessentially Christmas. Cinnamon, star anise, orange and cranberry… they all belong to this time of magical darkness, breathing warmth and celebration into frosty days and winter nights.

Whether it’s the cinnamon sticks and orange slices thrown into the simmering mulled wine, the bowl of oranges studded with cloves decorating the hall or the cinnamon cream topping our hot chocolates, it’s a time to fill the house with the aroma of Christmas.

Everyone has their favourite part of Christmas Day. Mine is the bit in between the presents and the lunch, when there are nibbles to feast on and fizz freshly poured. But whether you’re going to be cooking for a crowd or keeping it small, no one wants to be fussing over canapés on Christmas Day.

It’s handy to have something up your sleeve to pop in the oven for a quick festive bite. Pork, cranberry and orange sausage rolls are perfect.  The day before, mix 500g pork sausage meat with three heaped tablespoons of whole cranberry sauce, the zest of one orange and the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Roll into a long sausage shape, place on a sheet of puff pastry (store bought is perfectly fine, it’s Christmas after all!) and roll tightly to encase. Brush with beaten egg where the pastry overlaps, trim off the excess (leaving an inch overlap) and brush the join with more egg to seal.

Brush all over with more egg, sprinkle the tops with black poppy seeds, then cut to your preferred size and bake at 200C/Fan 180C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Let them cool and store in the fridge, then simply re-heat on Christmas Day.

To go with them, indulge your seasonal senses and make your own red onion jam. Finely slice two red onions and sauté gently in a knob of butter and a little oil, and two cloves of sliced garlic.

Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar, stir and keep the heat low. When the onions are soft and have begun to caramelise, add 175g redcurrant jelly, a cinnamon stick, one star anise, one crushed juniper berry and a bay leaf.  Let the mixture bubble and simmer for about half an hour until it is a jammy consistency.

Take out the whole spices and the bay leaf, then let it cool and keep the relish in the fridge until you need it. This would also be moreish accompaniment for toasted goat’s cheese and hazelnuts for a simple Christmas Day starter.

More in this series:

Apple crumble muffins are so moreish and best eaten warm, straight from the oven

November is the time for comfort eating – and a recipe to achieve the perfect brisket

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