I am writing this in the throes of a brutal hangover from one of the many festive get-togethers that happen at this time of year, always inevitably involving gin. And more gin. Christmas is the only time of year that I seem able to drink on consecutive evenings – culminating in the all day booze-fest that is Christmas Day.
On the day itself, it is perfectly permissible, verging on mandatory, to start consuming something with an ABV of above 10 before 10am. Along with some poor excuse for breakfast, such a Lindt chocolate and a stale mince pie. These nibbles would be an ideal thing to wash down with copious amounts of booze all throughout the day, safe in the knowledge that you haven’t really eaten anything. And anyway they’re vegetables. This leaves ample room for a large roast later in the day, followed by the obligatory Christmas pudding. At which point all pretense of sobriety goes out the window, and the Baileys is poured directly on to your pudding.
These nibbles can be easily made in advance, then just whacked in the oven to cook on the day. I chose to make my own mayonnaise (it really is a doddle) but you can just mix mustard into some bought stuff if it’s too much hassle.
For the carrots:
(serves 4 – about 4 sticks per person)
3 large carrots
1 tbsp runny honey
juice of 1 orange
2 tsp sesame seeds
50g butter, melted
1 packet of filo pastry (approx. 270g)
For the mayo:
1 egg yolk
½ tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
50ml olive oil
50ml sunflower/rapeseed oil
First, put the carrots in to roast. Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the carrots and cut them into batons. Arrange the carrots on a baking tray. Mix together the orange juice and honey and pour over the carrots. Roast for 20 mins, until just starting to soften and brown. Meanwhile, make the mayonnaise. In a medium- sized bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the vinegar until it starts to thicken slightly, then whisk in the mustard. Mix together the two oils, and very slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking all the time. The mixture should emulsify, and you will have mayonnaise.
Remove the carrots from the oven. Brush another baking tray with butter. Lay a single sheet of filo on a clean dry worksurface and brush with melted butter. Put a carrot stick at the bottom edge, then cut a strip of pastry a little wider than the length of the carrot. Roll up the carrot in the pastry, then lay on the baking tray. Repeat with all the carrot sticks. If you’re making them in advance, cover the tray with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until ready to use. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for 10 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with a dollop of mayonnaise.