Got a crowd coming round for Christmas drinks? You don't have to spend hours in the kitchen, slaving over fancy canapes
Each of these snacks is designed to serve four, so if you need to make a larger batch, just multiply the quantities. And if you've a big crowd, why not make them all? There's very little work in any of them.
Pumpkin frittata with gorgonzola
Creamy blue cheese, sweet pumpkin and rich eggs combine to make a mouthful with real oomph. Serves four.
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
300g roasted pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 handful parsley leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g gorgonzola, broken into chunks
Heat a touch of olive oil in a large frying pan, and gently sweat the onion until soft; you don't want it to take on any colour. Once soft, stir in the cooked diced pumpkin and parsley, season to taste and mix well.
Whisk the eggs, pour them over the contents of the pan and stir gently, to combine. Cook over a low heat, until it's almost cooked through from the bottom up - about 15 minutes - then place the pan under a hot grill, to flash the top.
Turn out the frittata on to a board, cut into neat squares and top each with a small chunk of gorgonzola. Serve while still warm.
Potato skins with creme fraiche and smoked salmon
Who can resist a bit of smoked salmon in a creamy sauce, especially at Christmas; even more so when it comes on crisp potato skins? Serves four.
12 charlotte potatoes
1 small bunch chives, chopped fine
100g creme fraiche
Rock salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g smoked salmon, cut into short, thin strips
In a hot oven (200C/390F/gas mark 6), bake the potatoes until soft. Once done, remove the spuds from the oven (leave it on: you'll be using it again later), cut in half lengthways and scoop the flesh into a bowl, leaving the skin intact.
Mash the potato flesh, stir in the chives and creme fraiche, and season. Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins and return to the oven for 10 minutes, until crisp on top. Remove, top each potato half with a strip or two of smoked salmon, sprinkle with rock salt and serve hot.
Glazed chicken wings
These are finger-lickin' good, even if I do say so myself. Serves four.
16 chicken wings
1 heaped tbsp honey
1 heaped tbsp course-grain mustard
2 tsp HP Sauce (or other brown sauce, if you must)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper
1 handful coriander leaves, chopped, to serve
In an oven tray, use your hands to mix together all the ingredients bar the coriander, making sure the chicken wings are well coated, then set aside to marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6, then pop in the tray and roast for 30 minutes, turning the wings every now and then, so they colour and cook evenly. Remove from the oven, arrange on a warmed platter, sprinkle over the chopped coriander and serve hot.
Chicory with spicy crab and almonds
This really is as simple as they come, with no cooking involved at all: it's just an assembly job that won't take more than a few minutes. It's also incredibly tasty and fresh - just what the tastebuds need at a party. Serves four.
2 small heads chicory
250-300g cooked white crab meat
½ tsp finely chopped red chilli
½ tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp chopped basil leaves
30g chopped salted almonds
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Olive oil, to serve
Cut the root off each chicory, then separate them into individual leaves.
Mix the crab with the chilli, ginger, basil and nuts, then stir in the lime zest and juice. Spoon a little crab mix on to the wide end of each chicory leaf, leaving the root end free: this acts as a handy handle with which to pick them up. Dribble a dash of olive oil over each one, and serve.
Photo: 'A mouthful with real oomph.' Photograph: Georgia Glynn Smith for the Guardian. Click for full image