A Slacker's Christmas Standbys

It's been a difficult kind of year and I know that right now we're all supposed to be making huge efforts to feed vast numbers of people in a festive manner but actually I'm longing for simple and quick recipes. So here are two ridiculously simple dishes that are perfect for that bothersome unexpected Christmas guest and are guaranteed to let you get back to the telly without undue delay.

Artichoke Dip

If you were around and reading cookery books or magazines in the 1980s then you'll already know this first little cheat. It seemed to turn up just about everywhere and with good reason - it’s useful, speedy and very tasty.
Slacker's Artichoke Dip
  • Buy a jar of artichoke hearts in oil.
  • Put the contents of the jar in a blender or processor with a squeeze of lemon and a few turns of pepper.
  • Wizz until it's as smooth as you fancy. If the dip is too thick then add a little more oil.
  • Pour into a bowl, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar or dust with paprika. Serve with some fancy breadsticks or flat breads (from the shops, of course). You can add some additional flavours if you wish such as a little sherry vinegar or some Parmesan grated on top. (If you're tempted to use pickled artichokes, please click here first). 

PX Affogato

In recent years the affogato has become the easy standby dessert and why not? Although I can't resist adding a little twist.
PX Affogato
  • Buy some decent quality vanilla ice cream and put a scoop or two in a bowl.
  • Make a good espresso (ideally with a really easy capsule machine to minimise effort) and pour it over the ice cream.
  • At this point I suggest that you add a little Pedro Ximenez too. In case you've been living far from civilisation and haven't heard of PX, then let me explain that it's a gorgeous, sticky toffee sort of sherry. It's not authentic in an affogato but it makes a truly delicious difference.

As I said, it's been a difficult kind of year and I could give you a list of the music I've been listening to by the artists who left us this year but I prefer to offer something soothing. Halfway through the year William Tyler released 'Modern Country', a deceptively simple, understated but hugely satisfying album of guitar led music. Perfectly judged for times such as these, so take a few minutes out to relax, reflect and enjoy if you can.

Just in case this posting hasn't been quite festive enough, I leave you until after the celebrations with a seasonal pic from the local RHS Wisley Garden Christmas Glow Event.

Wisley Christmas Glow 2016

I wish you a happy and soothing Christmas.


  1. Happy Christmas!

    I get lazier with my cooking every year - I think it's an age thing!

    1. Unfortunately, I think you're probably right about the age thing. Although obviously I could also be pretty idle back in the 80s when I first came across the artichoke recipe. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Happy Christmas from me too. Love the Affogato recipe.

    1. The affogato is such a simple and satisfying treat but I must admit that the PX really makes it special for me. I can't believe that I'd been on this earth for nearly six decades before I discovered the joys of PX. What was I doing? Have a very fine Christmas.

  3. Happy New Year Phil, I have enjoyed your blog enormously this year, as always.
    Love these two recipes. Thanks for all your tips and recipes this year.
    I know nobody who feels good about what has happened in 2016, but then I probably wouldn't keep company with those that welcomed some of it.

    1. And the very finest of possible New Years to you too.

  4. These recipes sound delicious. I for one am glad that 2016 is over but the results of what happened are still to appear! Take care and let us hope that 2017 is a better year for us all. Diane

    1. I couldn't agree more about 2016. Let's hope for a good 2017.


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