New Year’s Eve Party Food
Having grown up in a household where everything is made from scratch and produce is pulled up from the garden, buying ready-made anything always fills me with serious pangs of guilt.
Even with the best-made plans, life sometimes just gets in the way or there just aren’t enough hours to make everything from scratch. This is where M&S comes in for me. Rather than making excuses that I’m too busy to host a party, I’ll head down to an M&S Food Hall to make things easier.
Time-poor? Here are some M&S festive goodies I’ve tried out recently and recommend for a hassle-free New Year’s Eve party:
Jaffa Cake Cocktail, £10
I live for food but I also love boozy cocktail; I just don’t have the room in my pad for a well-stocked bar. Thankfully, this is not essential for me (or you), because this year M&S has created a brand new range of ready-to-drink cocktails. All that’s required is ice and a cocktail shaker – plus some fresh fruit for garnishing if you like to do things properly.
I’m recommending the Jaffa Cake Cocktail because I tried it and the bottle didn’t last 5 minutes, but there’s a whole range to work your way through including:
- Spiced Apple Pie (with apple vodka, cinnamon, vanilla pod & clove)
- Let it Slow (with gin, sloe berries, plums & orange peel)
- White Christmas (with rum, vanilla & lemon)
One bottle will make four cocktails so I would stock up if you don’t want to run out.
Perfect Pairing Cheese Box, £25
This cheese box comes with almost everything you need to create a well-rounded cheese board, with four different kinds of cheese, alongside four flavoured chutneys for pairing – all you need to remember are the crackers and fruit!
For £25, your box will include:
- Apple & Fig Chutney best paired with the rich and creamy Stratford Blue.
- Countryside Chutney (traditional style) best matched with the Cornish Cove, a mature strength Cheddar that’s rich, tangy and exclusive to M&S.
- Chilli Jam to be enjoyed with the Vintage Red Leicester – a little dryer and bolder in flavour than you’d expect from a Red Leicester but one I found ever-so moreish.
- Sweet Beetroot Chutney (my guests favourite) designed to go with the creamy, nutty, Ravens Oak Goat’s Cheese.
Free Range British Turkey Crown, from £32.60
I’ve never understood why people only ever eat turkey on Christmas Day because I love it. Cold or hot – as long as it is moist and not over-cooked. And that’s the reason I’m suggesting it because it’s also a dish you can prepare ahead of your guests’ arrival and serve hot or cold. It’ll also go down nicely with the cheese and chutney.
The M&S Turkey crown comes in a foil tray ready to pop straight in the oven with a pork, sage and onion stuffing and a lattice of streaky bacon and a bay leaf on top. All I had to do was slather it with a bit of extra butter (there was a lump already – but the more the better I say), then cover with foil and baste the bird every 30 minutes, removing the foil towards the end to crisp up the skin. After 2 and a bit hours (plus 30 minutes resting time) it was done – perfectly moist and deliciously juicy.
The Collection Chicken Liver Parfait, £12
Chicken Liver Parfait from the supermarket is nearly always a disappointment and it’s something I usually make myself as it’s very easy, but this one was rather good. There was absolutely no pork fat in ingredients – which is often the case with parfait and makes it taste awful. It was just chicken liver, plus cream and brandy. The only thing that was a bit shocking to me was the price – £12. Especially considering it’s a rather small jar and chicken livers are not expensive to buy – but that’s the price you pay for quality and convenience! The little pot will serve 4 people who like a generous portion.
Handcrafted Sausage Roll Garland, £8
This sausage roll, shaped in a festive garland not only looks the part it also tastes it too – made with all-butter puff pastry and filled with a delicious pork, sage and caramelised onion stuffing, topped off with shortcrust pastry stars and poppy seeds for decoration. Again this is a pop-it-in-the-oven-job and take it out – simple – it’s big too so will easily serve a large party of 10+ people.
The Collection Belgian Chocolate & Toffee Sponge Pudding, £12
Finally, don’t forget to pick up something sweet to end on. Being a big chocoholic I was drawn to the star-shaped Belgian Chocolate & Toffee Sponge. The sponge was incredibly light with a rich, gooey molton chocolate centre, topped off with hazelnuts and a dusting of shimmering gold lustre. This will easily serve 8.
Home-cooked food almost always tastes better than anything pre-packed (unless you’re a disaster in the kitchen) but M&S is one of the few places I will rely on for a tasty and convenient option. So, if you’re after a little help ahead of tomorrow tonight, pop along to your local M&S and check out the party food aisle – there are loads more on offer then I’ve mentioned above that I wanted to try out.
Also, I’m interested to know what you think of M&S food? Do you ever buy their pre-made meals and did you try anything out this Christmas/New Year? Let me know in the comments below.
*Disclaimer M&S sent me samples from their party food in exchange for an honest review. But rest assured, when things aren’t up to scratch I still say so.
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