Great minds think alike.
We have enjoyed every moment from start to finish of our Christmas collaboration with the delightful Sophie Hansen.
We could not think of a more perfect person to encapsulate the Binny brand.
And no better Christmas present than her book, our tableware, pyjamas & a lovely new Christmas dress to go with it all.
“When styling my Christmas table I love to use lots of colour!
I love throwing in different patterns, I think handmade decorations are really sweet (like our paper hearts) and always have fresh flowers from the garden up and down the table. Plus of course candles if it’s for dinner, lots of them.”
Danish Paper Hearts.
My mother’s family was Danish and we hold their Christmas traditions quite closely at this time of year. Especially these gorgeous little red and white plaited paper hearts.
We make loads every year to hang on the tree and use as place holders, just writing in the person’s name on the white part and popping on the napkin.
To make your own, the easiest thing is to google Danish Paper Hearts and you’ll find loads of printable templates on the good old inter webs. Print out a few times on white and red paper (not too thick).
Using the template, cut a strip of red paper and a strip of white paper for each heart. Cut a smaller strip from the red paper for the handle. Cut along each dotted line (don’t cut all the way across), then, holding the red paper in one hand and the white in the other so they are at right angles to each other, start plaiting the strips together so you have a red and white check pattern.
Continue until all of the strips have been woven together. Adjust so that all the strips are sitting neatly and you can open up the paper to make a basket.
Cut the straight edges to make a heart shape and finish by glueing on a handle.
Roasted Cherry Tomato,
Salmon & Yoghurt Salad
SERVES 8 | PREP TIME: 20 MINS | COOK TIME: 20 MINS
This is my take on that fabulous and famous Ottolenghi recipe where he piles roasted cherry tomatoes on cold yoghurt. Here we are adding hot smoked salmon (or you could use poached or slow-roasted salmon) and nigella seed. And, when served with a crunchy warm loaf of bread and the potato salad, it becomes a very easy and elegant lunch that I’d happily serve on Christmas or any other special day.
700g (1 lb 2 oz) cherry tomatoes
4 Tbsp olive oil
Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
1 cup (300 g) thick, full-fat Greek-style yoghurt
About 500g (1.5 lb) hot smoked salmon, flaked
3 Tbsp nigella seeds
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the lime zest. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roast for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are collapsed and beginning to char on top (but no longer or they’ll turn to mush and not look as pretty!).
Meanwhile, spread the yoghurt over the base of a serving bowl or platter. Top with the hot cherry tomatoes, then the salmon chunks. Sprinkle with the nigella seeds, squeeze the lime juice over the top and serve.
Potato Salad with Salsa Verde
SERVES 8 | PREP TIME: 20 MINS | COOK TIME: 15 MINS
This recipe is adapted for one given in the Christmas pages of In Good Company, in the book I suggest you add leftover turkey or chicken to this recipe but here we’ve served it as a simple but delicious potato salad to go with the salmon.
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) baby potatoes
1 cup (250 ml) Salsa verde
3 cups (135 g) mixed rocket (arugula) and baby spinach
1/2 cup (50 g) flaked almonds, toasted
A few mint leaves
A handful of marinated feta
Steam or boil the potatoes until completely tender when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool a little. Toss the warm potatoes with the salsa verde, rocket and spinach, almonds and mint leaves.
The “Original” Visitor Cake
SERVES 6-8 | PREP TIME: 15 MINS | COOK TIME: 35 MINS
This is one of the most useful ‘basic’ recipes I can think of. Pretty much bomb-proof, it’s based on the traditional French butter cake ‘quartre-quart’ recipe so the quantities are easy to remember and the method is tres simple.
Plus its delicious and, as my notes below, you can take this one in lots of different, seasonal directions so it’s a great basic cake recipe to have up your sleeve. If you need a chocolate birthday cake, just add some cocoa, or if you’d like a fruit slice, spoon the batter into a high-sided roasting tin and dot the top with fresh fruit. And so on.
1 cup butter, softened
250g caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 2/3 cups self raising flour
Preheat the oven to 180 oc. Grease a 20cm (8 inch) spring-form tin.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and then the eggs once at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for about 35 minutes. The cake is ready when the side is just beginning to pull away from the tin and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool.
The Outfit.“My daughter Alice and I are all about having a ‘Christmas Day’ dress! I think it’s pretty fun to have a nice, new frock to save for the big day. Nothing tight or uncomfortable to wear! Something cotton and fun with lots of colour…like this gorgeous dress!
I think a beautiful top with jeans and slides or white sneakers is also great, especially when the Christmas cricket match gets started! Much easier to take those runs in jeans!”
“One of our family’s most-loved traditions is that everyone gets new pyjamas on Christmas Eve. I wash, wrap and leave a pair under all our pillows so everyone has something nice for the big morning!
These would be an excellent early Christmas present to yourself in among buying things for everybody else at this time of year.”
“Remember to pace yourself and make sure you have a few quiet nights at home to play carols, tinker with the tree, wrap presents and cook things without rushing around too much.