Rosie Sykes’ recipes for Christmas cocktails and canapes | Cocktails and canapes

Cocktails and canapes: Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs edible treats with a perfect festive pick-me-up

Some days demand a stiff beverage and a bite to eat, whether it’s a cosy night on the sofa, or the bright lights of Christmas. In this extract from her new volume, Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs each edible treat with a perfect festive pick-me-up …

Terrazzo…

Cooling like marble, almost flinty and savoury. Decorated with diced lime, lemon, orange and a zigzag of bay leaf to create a jazzy terrazzo impact, this fizzy aperitivo employs Cocchi Americano- a bitter Italian aperitif wine with citrus and herbal flavours- stimulating it the perfect start to any party.

Terrazzo Terrazzo with anchovy-stuffed eggs. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
Small segments of lime, lemon, orange
1 part gin
2 parts Cocchi Americano
4 proportions sparkling wine
Paper drinking straw
Bay leaf

1 Half fill a highball or other tall glass with ice, adding small segments of lime, lemon and orange as you go.

2 Pour in the gin, Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine and stir well.

3 Top up with ice and citrus segments. Add a newspaper straw. Finish with a bay leaf garnish, decoratively cut with a pair of scissors to a design of your selection- we ordinarily go for a zig-zag.

… with anchovy-stuffed eggs

A throwback dish of unassuming style, stuffed eggs give immense quantities of pleasure. My dear friend Peter and I once met in a bar in Manhattan to drink martinis and share a couple of plates of their famous devilled eggs, bringing to mind this quote from Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Herb Caen:” Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many .” In my volume, it’s a sentiment that applies equally to stuffed eggs. The most delicious stuffed eggs I have eaten in recent memory- and the inspiration for this recipe- were at a supper cooked by the amazing chef James Ferguson.

Makes 1
2 eggs
2 tbsp tinned anchovies, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
1/ 2 tsp dijon mustard
A generous pinch of smoked paprika
2 tbsp mayonnaise
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Cornichons or small pickled onions, to serve

1 Put the eggs into a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the hot so the water is only simmering. Cook for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, put the anchovies in a bowl with the petroleum and mash to a paste, then add the lemon zest, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise and mixture until smooth. Stir in the parsley.

2 Lift out the eggs and cool wholly in cold water until totally cold- this will take a good few minutes. Then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and add them to the anchovy concoction, then mash softly together- I like a little bit of texture. Savor the stuffing concoction; season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

3 Depending on how many cocktails you are planning to have, it might be worth taking a tiny slice from the bottom of each egg-white “boat” so they sit steadily on the plate. Spoonful or, if you’re feeling super-fancy, pipe the stuffing back into the egg-white boats, then serve at room temperature with a few cornichons or little pickled onions.

Light-emitting diode…

A variant of a whiskey sour that nearly incandescences in the dark that will alleviate any excess of dinner and have you jumping around in no time.

Light-emitting Light-emitting diode with a squash and truffle brandade. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
3 portions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
1 part lemon juice
A dash of Pernod- or pastis or ouzo, if that’s all you can get your hands on
2 tsp egg white
Ice cubes
Frond of fennel or dill

1 Combine the whiskey, syrup, lemon juice, Pernod and egg white in a shaker, or a jar with a lid and add plenty of ice.

2 Shake vigorously until well chilled and the egg white is foaming.

3 Strain into a cocktail glass, ideally a stemmed one, utilizing a mesh sieve or sieve – you may wish to spoon some of the egg-white foam from the shaker on to your beverage if too much gets left behind.

4 Delicately garnish with a frond of fennel or dill- a little bit of green foliage sitting atop the frothy head of this drink is most appeal. Sip and perform a backwards somersault.

… with a squash and truffle brandade

Strictly speaking, brandade is a Provencal dish of salt cod pureed with garlic, olive oil and sometimes potato, but I have utilized ithere because the texture of the end result is similar. We’re so spoilt these days with the wide range of squash and pumpkins available to us. In their many guises, they make such aIf you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little parmesan as well.

Makes 6
1 small squash- about 680 g
Salt and black pepper
A small grating of nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
60g( 4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
3 pitta bread or flatbreads
A few shavings of fresh truffle( optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas 4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds of both halves with a spoonful. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg.

2 Put each half on to a large sheet of oiled foil, skin-side down, then splashing over the rest of the olive oil and a good smattering of water. Wrap up the squash halves to form two parcels and bake for 50-60 minutes or until altogether soft, but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out. If it seems waterlogged, tip into a sieve decide over a saucepan and drainage for about half an hour, or until the squash appears dry. Then put the pan over a medium hot and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy.

3 Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the fluid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.

4 Put the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.

5 Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle oil( now is the time for a few shavings of truffle, if you have one tucked away somewhere ), then surround with the strips of bread.

Trainwreck…

This will either cause an incident or resuscitate those at the scene. For this drink, crushed ice is best, as it helps to cool the ingredients quickly and melts in such a way as to soften the harshness of the alcohol. But if you don’t have an ice-crusher or a powerful blender, ice cubes will do.

A A’ trainwreck’ is the perfect period for a croquette, says Rosie. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
2 portions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part Campari
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
2 components orange juice- or, if in season, blood orange juice
Orange slice, for decoration
Paper drinking straw

1 Half-fill a small metal Julep cup or short tumbler with ice. Pour in the rye whiskey or bourbon, the Campari, syrup and orange juice and stir well.

2 Top up with enough ice to give your drink a bountiful appearance. Garnish with half-moon-shaped slicings of orange and add a newspaper straw.

… with white bean croquettes with herby mayonnaise

A few stints of living in the south of Spain have induced me a croquette aficionado. I like this type for home cooking, because it doesn’t involve making a bechamel sauce, so it’s relatively simple and very tasty.

Makes 8
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120g baby spinach leaves
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
100g panko or other breadcrumbs
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
75g mayonnaise
1 egg
6 tbsp illuminated olive oil

1 Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and rosemary. Cook very gently until soft and sweet, then add the garlic and stir about for a minute.

2 Add the spinach and mixture well, stirring until it wilts. Add the beans and warm through.

3 Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste. Add 20 g of breadcrumbs. Pulse to combine. The mixture should be quite stiff- if it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Scrape into a bowl and transfer to the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, stir the mint, parsley and chilli flakes into the mayonnaise.

4 Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Set the remaining breadcrumbs into another. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the croquette concoction, roll into balls and then flattened into pucks. Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Double-dip the croquettes to give them an extra-crisp shell, if you like.

5 Heat the light olive oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the croquettes in batches of three to keep the oil hot. Keep turning them until they are golden all over, then drain on kitchen newspaper. Eat while hot, dipped in, or drizzled with, the herby mayo.

Rosie Sykes is a freelance chef and menu consultant. She is the author of The Sunday Night Book( Quadrille) and co-author of the Kitchen Revolution( Ebury) This is an extract from Rosie’s latest volume, The Sunday Night Book- Short Recipes to Construct the Weekend Feel Longer( Quadrille, 10.99) out now

Rosie Sykes’ recipes for Christmas cocktails and canapes | Cocktails and canapes

Cocktails and canapes: Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs edible treats with a perfect festive pick-me-up

Some days demand a stiff drink and a bite to eat, whether it’s a cosy night on the sofa, or the bright lights of Christmas. In this extract from her new book, Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs each edible treat with a perfect festive pick-me-up …

Terrazzo…

Cooling like marble, almost flinty and savoury. Decorated with diced lime, lemon, orange and a zigzag of bay foliage to create a jazzy terrazzo impact, this fizzy aperitivo employs Cocchi Americano- a bitter Italian aperitif wine with citrus and herbal flavours- stimulating it the perfect start to any party.

Terrazzo Terrazzo with anchovy-stuffed eggs. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
Small segments of lime, lemon, orange
1 part gin
2 proportions Cocchi Americano
4 parts sparkling wine
Paper drinking straw
Bay leaf

1 Half fill a highball or other tall glass with ice, adding small segments of lime, lemon and orange as you go.

2 Pour in the gin, Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine and stir well.

3 Top up with ice and citrus segments. Add a newspaper straw. Finish with a bay foliage garnish, decoratively cut with a pair of scissors to a design of your choice- we ordinarily go for a zig-zag.

… with anchovy-stuffed eggs

A throwback dish of unassuming style, stuffed eggs give immense sums of pleasure. My dear friend Peter and I once met in a bar in Manhattan to drink martinis and share a couple of plates of their famous devilled eggs, bringing to mind this quote from Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Herb Caen:” Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many .” In my book, it’s a sentiment that applies equally to stuffed eggs. The most delicious stuffed eggs I have feed in recent memory- and the inspiration for this recipe- were at a supper cooked by the amazing chef James Ferguson.

Makes 1
2 eggs
2 tbsp tinned anchovies, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
1/ 2 tsp dijon mustard
A generous pinch of smoked paprika
2 tbsp mayonnaise
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Cornichons or small pickled onions, to serve

1 Put the eggs into a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the hot so the water is just simmer. Cook for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, set the anchovies in a bowl with the petroleum and mash to a paste, then add the lemon zest, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise and mixture until smooth. Stir in the parsley.

2 Lift out the eggs and cool entirely in cold water until totally cold- this will take a good few minutes. Then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and add them to the anchovy mixture, then mash softly together- I like a little bit of texture. Savor the stuffing concoction; season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

3 Depending on how many cocktails you are planning to have, it might be worth taking a tiny slice from the bottom of each egg-white “boat” so they sit steadily on the plate. Spoonful or, if you’re feeling super-fancy, tube the stuffing back into the egg-white boats, then serve at room temperature with a few cornichons or little pickled onions.

Light-emitting diode…

A variant of a whiskey sour that nearly incandescences in the dark that they are able to alleviate any excesses of dinner and have you jumping around in no time.

Light-emitting Light-emitting diode with a squash and truffle brandade. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
3 components rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
1 part lemon juice
A dash of Pernod- or pastis or ouzo, if that’s all you can get your hands on
2 tsp egg white
Ice cubes
Frond of fennel or dill

1 Combine the whiskey, syrup, lemon juice, Pernod and egg white in a shaker, or a jar with a eyelid and add plenty of ice.

2 Shake vigorously until well chilled and the egg white is foaming.

3 Strain into a cocktail glass, ideally a stemmed one, using a mesh strainer or sieve – you may wish to spoon some of the egg-white foam from the shaker on to your drink if too much gets left behind.

4 Delicately garnish with a frond of fennel or dill- a little bit of green foliage sitting atop the frothy head of this drink is most appealing. Sip and perform a backwards somersault.

… with a squash and truffle brandade

Strictly speaking, brandade is a Provencal dish of salt cod pureed with garlic, olive oil and sometimes potato, but I have use ithere because the texture of the end result is similar. We’re so spoilt these days with the wide range of squash and pumpkins available to us. In their many guises, they make such aIf you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little parmesan as well.

Makes 6
1 small squash- about 680 g
Salt and black pepper
A small grating of nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
60g( 4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
3 pitta breads or flatbreads
A few shavings of fresh truffle( optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas 4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds of both halves with a spoonful. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg.

2 Put each half on to a large sheet of oiled foil, skin-side down, then splash over the rest of the olive oil and a good handful of water. Wrap up the squash halves to form two parcels and cook for 50-60 minutes or until wholly soft, but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out. If it seems waterlogged, tip into a sieve set over a saucepan and drainage for about half an hour, or until the squash seems dry. Then set the pan over a medium heat and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy.

3 Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the liquid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.

4 Put the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.

5 Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle oil( now is the time for a few shavings of truffle, if you have one tucked away somewhere ), then surround with the strips of bread.

Trainwreck…

This will either cause an incident or resuscitate those at the scene. For this drinking, crushed ice is best, as it helps to cool the ingredients quickly and melts in such a way as to soften the harshness of the alcohol. But if you don’t have an ice-crusher or a powerful blender, ice cubes will do.

A A’ trainwreck’ is the perfect day for a croquette, tells Rosie. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
2 components rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part Campari
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
2 proportions orange juice- or, if in season, blood orange juice
Orange slice, for decoration
Paper drinking straw

1 Half-fill a small metal Julep cup or short tumbler with ice. Pour in the rye whiskey or bourbon, the Campari, syrup and orange juice and stir well.

2 Top up with enough ice to give your drink a bountiful appearance. Garnish with half-moon-shaped slicings of orange and add a paper straw.

… with white bean croquettes with herby mayonnaise

A few stints of living in the south of Spain have induced me a croquette aficionado. I like this type for home cooking, because it doesn’t involve making a bechamel sauce, so it’s relatively simple and very tasty.

Makes 8
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120g baby spinach leaves
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
100g panko or other breadcrumbs
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
75g mayonnaise
1 egg
6 tbsp illuminated olive oil

1 Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and rosemary. Cook very gently until soft and sweet, then add the garlic and stir about for a minute.

2 Add the spinach and mix well, stirring until it wilts. Add the beans and warm through.

3 Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste. Add 20 g of breadcrumbs. Pulse to combine. The mixture should be quite stiff- if it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Scrape into a bowl and transfer to the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, stir the mint, parsley and chilli snowflakes into the mayonnaise.

4 Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Set the remaining breadcrumbs into another. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the croquette concoction, roll into balls and then flattened into pucks. Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Double-dip the croquettes to give them an extra-crisp shell, if you like.

5 Heat the light olive oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the croquettes in batches of three to keep the petroleum hot. Keep turning them until the objective is golden all over, then drain on kitchen paper. Eat while hot, dipped in, or drizzled with, the herby mayo.

Rosie Sykes is a freelance chef and menu consultant. She is the author of The Sunday Night Book( Quadrille) and co-author of the Kitchen Revolution( Ebury) This is an extract from Rosie’s latest book, The Sunday Night Book- Short Recipes to Attain the Weekend Feel Longer( Quadrille, 10.99) out now

Rosie Sykes’ recipes for Christmas cocktails and canapes | Cocktails and canapes

Cocktails and canapes: Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs edible treats with a perfect festive pick-me-up

Some days demand a stiff drink and a bite to feed, whether it’s a cosy night on the sofa, or the bright lights of Christmas. In this extract from her new volume, Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs each edible treat with a perfect festive pick-me-up …

Terrazzo…

Cooling like marble, nearly flinty and savoury. Decorated with diced lime, lemon, orange and a zigzag of bay leaf to create a jazzy terrazzo consequence, this fizzy aperitivo employs Cocchi Americano- a bitter Italian aperitif wine with citrus and herbal flavours- inducing it the perfect are beginning to any party.

Terrazzo Terrazzo with anchovy-stuffed eggs. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
Small segments of lime, lemon, orange
1 part gin
2 parts Cocchi Americano
4 portions sparkling wine
Paper drinking straw
Bay leaf

1 Half fill a highball or other tall glass with ice, adding small segments of lime, lemon and orange as you go.

2 Pour in the gin, Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine and stir well.

3 Top up with ice and citrus segments. Add a newspaper straw. Finish with a bay leaf garnish, decoratively cut with a pair of scissors to a design of your option- we usually go for a zig-zag.

… with anchovy-stuffed eggs

A throwback dish of unassuming style, stuffed eggs give immense amounts of pleasure. My dear friend Peter and I once met in a bar in Manhattan to drink martinis and share a couple of plates of their famous devilled eggs, bringing to mind this quote from Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Herb Caen:” Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many .” In my volume, it’s a sentiment that applies equally to stuffed eggs. The most delicious stuffed eggs I have eaten in recent memory- and the inspiration for this recipe- were at a supper cooked by the amazing chef James Ferguson.

Makes 1
2 eggs
2 tbsp tinned anchovies, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
1/ 2 tsp dijon mustard
A generous pinch of smoked paprika
2 tbsp mayonnaise
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Cornichons or small pickled onions, to serve

1 Set the eggs into a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the simmer, then lower the hot so the water is just simmer. Cook for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, set the anchovies in a bowl with the oil and mash to a paste, then add the lemon zest, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise and mixture until smooth. Stir in the parsley.

2 Lift out the eggs and cool completely in cold water until altogether cold- this will take a good few minutes. Then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and add them to the anchovy mixture, then mash gently together- I like a little bit of texture. Savor the stuffing mixture; season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

3 Depending on how many cocktails you are planning to have, it might be worth taking a tiny slice from the bottom of each egg-white “boat” so they sit steadily on the plate. Spoonful or, if you’re feeling super-fancy, tube the stuffing back into the egg-white barges, then serve at room temperature with a few cornichons or little pickled onions.

Light-emitting diode…

A variant of a whiskey sour that almost incandescences in the dark that they are able to relieve any excesses of dinner and have you jumping around in no time.

Light-emitting Light-emitting diode with a squash and truffle brandade. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
3 proportions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
1 part lemon juice
A dash of Pernod- or pastis or ouzo, if that’s all you can get your hands on
2 tsp egg white
Ice cubes
Frond of fennel or dill

1 Combine the whiskey, syrup, lemon juice, Pernod and egg white in a shaker, or a jar with a eyelid and add plenty of ice.

2 Shake vigorously until well chilled and the egg white is foaming.

3 Strain into a cocktail glass, ideally a stemmed one, use a mesh strainer or sieve – you may want to spoon some of the egg-white foam from the shaker on to your drinking if too much get left behind.

4 Delicately garnish with a frond of fennel or dill- a little bit of green foliage sitting atop the frothy head of this drink is most appealing. Sip and perform a backwards somersault.

… with a squash and truffle brandade

Strictly speaking, brandade is a Provencal dish of salt cod pureed with garlic, olive oil and sometimes potato, but I have utilized ithere because the texture of the end result is similar. We’re so spoilt these days with the broad range of squash and pumpkins available to us. In their many guises, they make such aIf you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little parmesan as well.

Makes 6
1 small squash- about 680 g
Salt and black pepper
A small grating of nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
60g( 4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
3 pitta breads or flatbreads
A few shavings of fresh truffle( optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas 4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds of both halves with a spoonful. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg.

2 Put each half on to a large sheet of oiled foil, skin-side down, then splashing over the rest of the olive oil and a good smattering of water. Wrap up the squash halves to form two parcels and cook for 50-60 minutes or until entirely soft, but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out. If it seems waterlogged, tip-off into a sieve define over a saucepan and drain for about half an hour, or until the squash seems dry. Then put the pan over a medium heat and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy.

3 Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the liquid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy concoction. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.

4 Put the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.

5 Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle petroleum( now is the time for a few shavings of truffle, if you have one tucked away somewhere ), then surround with the strips of bread.

Trainwreck…

This will either cause an incident or resurrect those at the scene. For this beverage, crushed ice is best, as it helps to cool the ingredients quickly and melts in such a way as to soften the harshness of the alcohol. But if you don’t have an ice-crusher or a powerful blender, ice cubes will do.

A A’ trainwreck’ is the perfect period for a croquette, tells Rosie. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
2 portions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part Campari
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
2 portions orange juice- or, if in season, blood orange juice
Orange slicings, for decoration
Paper drinking straw

1 Half-fill a small metal Julep cup or short tumbler with ice. Pour in the rye whiskey or bourbon, the Campari, syrup and orange juice and stir well.

2 Top up with enough ice to give your drink a bountiful appearance. Garnish with half-moon-shaped slicings of orange and add a newspaper straw.

… with white bean croquettes with herby mayonnaise

A few stints of living in the south of Spain have made me a croquette aficionado. I like this type for home cooking, because it doesn’t involve making a bechamel sauce, so it’s relatively simple and very tasty.

Makes 8
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120g baby spinach leaves
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
100g panko or other breadcrumbs
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
75g mayonnaise
1 egg
6 tbsp light olive oil

1 Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and rosemary. Cook very gently until soft and sweet, then add the garlic and stir about for a minute.

2 Add the spinach and mix well, stirring until it wilts. Add the beans and warm through.

3 Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste. Add 20 g of breadcrumbs. Pulse to combine. The concoction should be quite stiff- if it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Scrape into a bowl and transfer to the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, stir the mint, parsley and chilli flakes into the mayonnaise.

4 Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Put the remaining breadcrumbs into another. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the croquette concoction, roll into balls and then flattened into pucks. Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Double-dip the croquettes to give them an extra-crisp shell, if you like.

5 Heat the light olive oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the croquettes in batches of three to keep the oil hot. Keep turning them until the objective is golden all over, then drain on kitchen paper. Eat while hot, dipped in, or drizzled with, the herby mayo.

Rosie Sykes is a freelance cook and menu consultant. She is the author of The Sunday Night Book( Quadrille) and co-author of the Kitchen Revolution( Ebury) This is an extract from Rosie’s latest volume, The Sunday Night Book- Short Recipes to Build the Weekend Feel Longer( Quadrille, 10.99) out now

14 Holiday Gifts For People Afflicted With Wanderlust

Many of us wanderers have that passionate travelling gene we need to feed every now and then.

To satisfy this longing, I’ve put together a listing of unbelievable presents to give that extraordinary person in their own lives with a sense of adventure, whetherhe or sheisa significant other, spouse, best friend, sibling or even you.

Some of these are once-in-a-lifetime dreams, and others are close-to-home itineraries to fit everyones budget and wanderlust dreams.

1. Meditation retreat in Assisi, Italy

Travel& Leisure Magazine named Simple Peace one of the top 10 retreat centers in the entire world. This gorgeous destination is located on a serene hilltop town in Italy. It offers an incredible retreat to detect and celebrate your inner peace.


2. Cooking class vacation in Provence, France

This exceptional, week-long escapade is comprised of hands-on cooking classes and group snacks to savor the scrumptious finished products. Visits to local vineyards, marketplaces, stores and eateries make any food connoisseurs fantasy a reality.


3. Sleep like a mermaid underwater in Dubai

Atlantis The Palm hotel is simply drenched with luxury. Every Underwater Suite features floor to ceiling windows seeming out deep into the lagoon.


4. Skiing and wintertime frolic in the French Alps

The French Alps are mind-blowing. From skiing down and snowshoeing across the sparkling slopes, to relaxing in the sauna and steam room, that really is the ultimate present for the winter lover in your life.


5. Wine and hiking West Coast adventure

This hiking journey embraces the gorgeous San Francisco Bay area into the wine country. The adventure includes hiking, kayaking on Tomales Bay, and exploring winery estates.


6. Yachting in the Maldives

Rent the yacht of your selection and cruise along the water of the Indian Ocean. Relish this beautiful country while diving, shelling and snorkeling. This paradise in South Central Asia attains for an unforgettable experience.


7. Spa revival on Luacala Island, Fiji

Enjoy Fijian treatments and organic conveniences in tranquil surrounds. Relax in the Spa Garden, where handpicked herbs, flowers, spices and fruits are integratedinto massage oils and lotions used for spa therapies. Rejuvenate your intellect, body and soul in a spectacular setting.


8. Glamping in Australia

Take your glamping experience to an entirely new level of luxury in the heart of Australias breathtaking Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The glamorous tents are located on red sand dunes, complete with plush, custom-designed furniture, a cozy hearth and floor-to-ceiling windows. This vacation spot is truly unprecedented.


9. Hot air ballooning in Colorado

Take inunparalleled positions of the Rocky Mountains over Boulder, Colorado while savoring pleasures and toasting with champagne.


10. Kayaking in Kauai, Hawaii

Kayaking in Kauaishould be one everyone’s pail list. The Na Pali Coast has stunning cliffs and makes for a breathtaking memory.


11. Snorkeling and scuba diving in Bora Bora

Bora Bora is bordered by a lagoon and obstacle reef, and is known for some of the best water extravagances in the world. If you have any intention of snorkeling or scuba diving, Bora Bora is the perfect destination.


12. Boat party in Ibiza, Spain

Get into the club scene on the Mediterranean. There is actually no other place to party that will compare.


13. Replicate a serene Swedish spa in the convenience of your own home

Complete with body scrubbing, plush bathrobes, exfoliating face masks and cucumber water. The perfect music, essential oils, candles and all of the finest luxurious amenities will transform your home into a tranquil spa.


14. Travel to the moon and back with a romantic rooftop galactic picnic

Star gaze with that special someone under a handcrafted lighted canopy on the rooftop. Order the finest foods for your dining experience, and surround yourself with throw pillows, an abundance of candles, a telescope and the finest champagne.

Extravagant gifts such as many listed above may seem outrageous and out of reach. Maintain in mind that you merely live once, and an unforgettable dreaming experience will last a lifetime.

Read more:

Rosie Sykes’ recipes for Christmas cocktails and canapes | Cocktails and canapes

Cocktails and canapes: Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs edible treats with a perfect festive pick-me-up

Some days demand a stiff drink and a bite to eat, whether it’s a cosy night on the sofa, or the bright lights of Christmas. In this extract from her new book, Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs each edible treat with a perfect festive pick-me-up …

Terrazzo…

Cooling like marble, nearly flinty and savoury. Decorated with diced lime, lemon, orange and a zigzag of bay leaf to create a jazzy terrazzo consequence, this fizzy aperitivo employs Cocchi Americano- a bitter Italian aperitif wine with citrus and herbal flavours- stimulating it the perfect start to any party.

Terrazzo Terrazzo with anchovy-stuffed eggs. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
Small segments of lime, lemon, orange
1 part gin
2 parts Cocchi Americano
4 components sparkling wine
Paper drinking straw
Bay leaf

1 Half fill a highball or other tall glass with ice, adding small segments of lime, lemon and orange as you go.

2 Pour in the gin, Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine and stir well.

3 Top up with ice and citrus segments. Add a newspaper straw. Finish with a bay leaf garnish, decoratively cut with a pair of scissors to a design of your choice- we usually go for a zig-zag.

… with anchovy-stuffed eggs

A throwback dish of unassuming style, stuffed eggs give immense quantities of pleasure. My dear friend Peter and I once met in a bar in Manhattan to drink martinis and share a couple of plates of their famous devilled eggs, bringing to mind this quote from Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Herb Caen:” Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many .” In my book, it’s a sentiment that applies equally to stuffed eggs. The most delicious stuffed eggs I have eaten in recent memory- and the inspiration for this recipe- were at a supper cooked by the amazing cook James Ferguson.

Makes 1
2 eggs
2 tbsp tinned anchovies, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
1/ 2 tsp dijon mustard
A generous pinch of smoked paprika
2 tbsp mayonnaise
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Cornichons or small pickled onions, to serve

1 Set the eggs into a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat so the water is just simmer. Cook for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, set the anchovies in a bowl with the petroleum and mash to a paste, then add the lemon zest, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise and mixture until smooth. Stir in the parsley.

2 Lift out the eggs and cool completely in cold water until entirely cold- this will take a good few minutes. Then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and add them to the anchovy concoction, then mash gently together- I like a little bit of texture. Savor the stuffing concoction; season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

3 Depending on how many cocktails you are planning to have, it might be worth taking a tiny slice from the bottom of each egg-white “boat” so they sit steadily on the plate. Spoon or, if you’re feeling super-fancy, tube the stuffing back into the egg-white boats, then serve at room temperature with a few cornichons or little pickled onions.

Light-emitting diode…

A variant of a whiskey sour that nearly incandescences in the dark that they are able to relieve any excess of dinner and have you jumping around in no time.

Light-emitting Light-emitting diode with a squash and truffle brandade. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
3 proportions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
1 part lemon juice
A dash of Pernod- or pastis or ouzo, if that’s all you can get your hands on
2 tsp egg white
Ice cubes
Frond of fennel or dill

1 Combine the whiskey, syrup, lemon juice, Pernod and egg white in a shaker, or a jar with a lid and add plenty of ice.

2 Shake vigorously until well chilled and the egg white is foaming.

3 Strain into a cocktail glass, ideally a stemmed one, using a mesh sieve or sieve – you may wish to spoon some of the egg-white foam from the shaker on to your drinking if too much gets left behind.

4 Delicately garnish with a frond of fennel or dill- a little bit of green foliage sitting atop the frothy head of this drink is most appealing. Sip and perform a backwards somersault.

… with a squash and truffle brandade

Strictly speaking, brandade is a Provencal dish of salt cod pureed with garlic, olive oil and sometimes potato, but I have employed ithere because the texture of the end outcome is similar. We’re so spoilt these days with the wide range of squash and pumpkins available to us. In their many guises, they make such aIf you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little parmesan as well.

Makes 6
1 small squash- about 680 g
Salt and black pepper
A small grating of nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
60g( 4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
3 pitta bread or flatbreads
A few shavings of fresh truffle( optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas 4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds of both halves with a spoonful. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg.

2 Put each half on to a large sheet of oiled foil, skin-side down, then splashing over the rest of the olive oil and a good smattering of water. Wrap up the squash halves to form two parcels and cook for 50-60 minutes or until wholly soft, but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out. If it seems waterlogged, tip into a sieve situate over a saucepan and drain for about half an hour, or until the squash looks dry. Then set the pan over a medium heat and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy.

3 Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the liquid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy concoction. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.

4 Put the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.

5 Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle oil( now is the time for a few shavings of truffle, if you have one tucked away somewhere ), then surround with the strips of bread.

Trainwreck…

This will either cause an incident or resuscitate those at the scene. For this beverage, crushed ice is best, as it helps to cool the ingredients quickly and melts in such a way as to soften the harshness of the alcohol. But if you don’t have an ice-crusher or a powerful blender, ice cubes will do.

A A’ trainwreck’ is the perfect period for a croquette, says Rosie. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
2 portions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part Campari
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
2 parts orange juice- or, if in season, blood orange juice
Orange slicings, for decoration
Paper drinking straw

1 Half-fill a small metal Julep cup or short tumbler with ice. Pour in the rye whiskey or bourbon, the Campari, syrup and orange juice and stir well.

2 Top up with enough ice to give your drink a bountiful appearance. Garnish with half-moon-shaped slices of orange and add a newspaper straw.

… with white bean croquettes with herby mayonnaise

A few stints of living in the south of Spain have induced me a croquette aficionado. I like this type for home cooking, because it doesn’t involve making a bechamel sauce, so it’s relatively simple and very tasty.

Makes 8
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120g baby spinach leaves
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
100g panko or other breadcrumbs
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
75g mayonnaise
1 egg
6 tbsp light olive oil

1 Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and rosemary. Cook very gently until soft and sweet, then add the garlic and stir about for a minute.

2 Add the spinach and mix well, stirring until it wilts. Add the beans and warm through.

3 Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste. Add 20 g of breadcrumbs. Pulse to combine. The concoction should be quite stiff- if it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Scrape into a bowl and transfer to the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, stir the mint, parsley and chilli flakes into the mayonnaise.

4 Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Put the remaining breadcrumbs into another. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the croquette mixture, roll into balls and then flattened into pucks. Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Double-dip the croquettes to give them an extra-crisp shell, if you like.

5 Heat the light olive oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the croquettes in batches of three to keep the oil hot. Keep turning them until they are golden all over, then drain on kitchen newspaper. Eat while hot, dipped in, or drizzled with, the herby mayo.

Rosie Sykes is a freelance chef and menu consultant. She is the author of The Sunday Night Book( Quadrille) and co-author of the Kitchen Revolution( Ebury) This is an extract from Rosie’s latest volume, The Sunday Night Book- Short Recipes to Attain the Weekend Feel Longer( Quadrille, 10.99) out now

Rosie Sykes’ recipes for Christmas cocktails and canapes | Cocktails and canapes

Cocktails and canapes: Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs edible treats with a perfect festive pick-me-up

Some days demand a stiff drink and a bite to eat, whether it’s a cosy night on the sofa, or the bright lights of Christmas. In this extract from her new volume, Rosie Sykes cleverly pairs each edible treat with a perfect festive pick-me-up …

Terrazzo…

Cooling like marble, nearly flinty and savoury. Decorated with diced lime, lemon, orange and a zigzag of bay leaf to create a jazzy terrazzo effect, this fizzy aperitivo utilizes Cocchi Americano- a bitter Italian aperitif wine with citrus and herbal flavours- constructing it the perfect start to any party.

Terrazzo Terrazzo with anchovy-stuffed eggs. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
Small segments of lime, lemon, orange
1 part gin
2 portions Cocchi Americano
4 components sparkling wine
Paper drinking straw
Bay leaf

1 Half fill a highball or other tall glass with ice, adding small segments of lime, lemon and orange as you go.

2 Pour in the gin, Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine and stir well.

3 Top up with ice and citrus segments. Add a newspaper straw. Finish with a bay foliage garnish, decoratively cut with a pair of scissors to a design of your selection- we usually go for a zig-zag.

… with anchovy-stuffed eggs

A throwback dish of unassuming style, stuffed eggs give immense amounts of pleasure. My dear friend Peter and I once met in a bar in Manhattan to drink martinis and share a couple of plates of their famous devilled eggs, bringing to mind this quote from Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Herb Caen:” Martinis are like breasts: one isn’t enough and three is too many .” In my book, it’s a sentiment that applies equally to stuffed eggs. The most delicious stuffed eggs I have feed in recent memory- and the inspiration for this recipe- were at a supper cooked by the amazing chef James Ferguson.

Makes 1
2 eggs
2 tbsp tinned anchovies, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
1/ 2 tsp dijon mustard
A generous pinch of smoked paprika
2 tbsp mayonnaise
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Cornichons or small pickled onions, to serve

1 Put the eggs into a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat so the water is only simmering. Cook for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, put the anchovies in a bowl with the oil and mash to a paste, then add the lemon zest, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise and mix until smooth. Stir in the parsley.

2 Lift out the eggs and cool entirely in cold water until totally cold- this will take a good few minutes. Then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Scoop out the yolks and add them to the anchovy mixture, then mash softly together- I like a little bit of texture. Savor the stuffing concoction; season with lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

3 Depending on how many cocktails you are planning to have, it might be worth taking a tiny slice from the bottom of each egg-white “boat” so they sit steadily on the plate. Spoon or, if you’re feeling super-fancy, tube the stuffing back into the egg-white boats, then serve at room temperature with a few cornichons or little pickled onions.

Light-emitting diode…

A variant of a whiskey sour that almost incandescences in the dark that will alleviate any excesses of dinner and have you jumping around in no time.

Light-emitting Light-emitting diode with a squash and truffle brandade. Photo: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
3 portions rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
1 part lemon juice
A dash of Pernod- or pastis or ouzo, if that’s all you can get your hands on
2 tsp egg white
Ice cubes
Frond of fennel or dill

1 Combine the whiskey, syrup, lemon juice, Pernod and egg white in a shaker, or a jar with a eyelid and add plenty of ice.

2 Shake vigorously until well chilled and the egg white is foaming.

3 Strain into a cocktail glass, ideally a stemmed one, use a mesh strainer or sieve – you may want to spoon some of the egg-white foam from the shaker on to your drink if too much get left behind.

4 Delicately garnish with a frond of fennel or dill- a little bit of green foliage sitting atop the frothy head of this drink is most appeal. Sip and perform a backwards somersault.

… with a squash and truffle brandade

Strictly speaking, brandade is a Provencal dish of salt cod pureed with garlic, olive oil and sometimes potato, but I have employed ithere because the texture of the end result is similar. We’re so spoilt these days with the wide range of squash and pumpkins available to us. In their many guises, they make such aIf you’re feeling extra-decadent, you can grate over a little parmesan as well.

Makes 6
1 small squash- about 680 g
Salt and black pepper
A small grating of nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
60g( 4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
3 pitta breads or flatbreads
A few shavings of fresh truffle( optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas 4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds of both halves with a spoon. Season the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper, then grate over a little nutmeg.

2 Put each half on to a large sheet of oiled foil, skin-side down, then splash over the rest of the olive oil and a good handful of water. Wrap up the squash halves to form two parcels and bake for 50-60 minutes or until entirely soft, but not brown. Scrape all the flesh out. If it seems waterlogged, tip into a sieve decide over a saucepan and drain for about half an hour, or until the squash lookings dry. Then set the pan over a medium heat and let the liquid simmer and reduce until syrupy.

3 Meanwhile, mash the squash. When the liquid has reduced, add the squash to the pan to warm through. Now gradually beat in the butter, bit by bit, until you have a lovely rich and glossy concoction. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in three-quarters of the truffle oil.

4 Set the pitta breads or flatbreads under a hot grill to warm through, then cut into bite-sized strips.

5 Scrape the squash brandade into a warm bowl and sprinkle with the rest of the truffle oil( now is the time for a few shavings of truffle, if you have one tucked away somewhere ), then surround with the strips of bread.

Trainwreck…

This will either cause an incident or resurrect those at the scene. For this drinking, crushed ice is best, as it helps to cool the ingredients quickly and melts in such a way as to soften the harshness of the alcohol. But if you don’t have an ice-crusher or a powerful blender, ice cubes will do.

A A’ trainwreck’ is the perfect time for a croquette, says Rosie. Photograph: Patricia_Niven/ Patricia Niven/ Quadrille

Makes 1
Crushed ice
2 components rye whiskey or bourbon
1 part Campari
1 part simple syrup, ideally infused with orange or grapefruit zest
2 components orange juice- or, if in season, blood orange juice
Orange slicings, for decoration
Paper drinking straw

1 Half-fill a small metal Julep cup or short tumbler with ice. Pour in the rye whiskey or bourbon, the Campari, syrup and orange juice and stir well.

2 Top up with enough ice to give your drink a bountiful appearance. Garnish with half-moon-shaped slice of orange and add a newspaper straw.

… with white bean croquettes with herby mayonnaise

A few stints of living in the south of Spain have stimulated me a croquette aficionado. I like this type for home cooking, because it doesn’t involve making a bechamel sauce, so it’s relatively simple and very tasty.

Makes 8
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
120g baby spinach leaves
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained
100g panko or other breadcrumbs
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
A generous pinch of chilli flakes
75g mayonnaise
1 egg
6 tbsp illuminated olive oil

1 Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and rosemary. Cook very gently until soft and sweet, then add the garlic and stir about for a minute.

2 Add the spinach and mix well, stirring until it wilts. Add the beans and warm through.

3 Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and whizz to a smooth paste. Add 20 g of breadcrumbs. Pulse to combine. The mixture should be quite stiff- if it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Scrape into a bowl and transfer to the fridge for an hour or so. Meanwhile, stir the mint, parsley and chilli snowflakes into the mayonnaise.

4 Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Put the remaining breadcrumbs into another. Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the croquette concoction, roll into balls and then flattened into pucks. Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Double-dip the croquettes to give them an extra-crisp shell, if you like.

5 Heat the light olive oil in a small frying pan and, when hot, fry the croquettes in batches of three to keep the petroleum hot. Keep turning them until they are golden all over, then drain on kitchen paper. Eat while hot, dipped in, or drizzled with, the herby mayo.

Rosie Sykes is a freelance chef and menu consultant. She is the author of The Sunday Night Book( Quadrille) and co-author of the Kitchen Revolution( Ebury) This is an extract from Rosie’s latest volume, The Sunday Night Book- Short Recipes to Build the Weekend Feel Longer( Quadrille, 10.99) out now

Berlusconi Learns New Tricks as Italy Braces for Shock Comeback

One Monday morning just before Christmas, Silvio Berlusconi walked into an elegant salon at his home near Milan to complete the preparations for a major switching in political strategy.

Beneath a grand oil painting of the Italian aristocrat who once owned his villa in Arcore, long-time advisers and outside experts were huddled round a table discussing Facebook and Twitter, according to senior members of his campaign squad. Projecting laptop data onto a large screen, the team talked the 81 -year-old TV mogul through likes, adherents and potential lines of assault as they put the finishing touch to a three-month project to transform his campaign.

Six years after he was forced from office at the height of the financial crisis, Berlusconi is back. And though the four-time premier is banned from public office himself, he could still control the next administration from behind the scenes, after leveraging the social media that helped bringing Donald Trump to power in the U.S.

” We have to reach as many people as we can ,” said 50 -year-old Sestino Giacomoni, who’s worked for Berlusconi throughout his time in government and opponent.” And that entails social media as well as Tv .”

Berlusconi is changing his approach after almost a quarter century in politics to take on a new force-out. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement didn’t even exist when he won his last election in 2008. Now it’s resulting polls for the March 4 referendum after an Internet-based campaign that mobilized disaffected voters and the young.

Poll Position

Berlusconi is set to be kingmaker after Italy’s election

Source: Bloomberg Composite of Italian Polls

” It’s true that Five Star beat us to the web ,” Giacomoni said.” But we’re catching up fast .”

Berlusconi has about a million likes on Facebook and 20,000 followers on Twitter, compared with about 1.2 million and 265,000 respectively for Five Star candidate Luigi Di Maio. Beppe Grillo, the comedian who co-founded Five Star in 2009 and is still politically active, has 2 million likes and 2.5 million followers.

All the same, the strategy is starting to pay off. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party has gained about 4 percentage points since relaunching his Facebook page in October, in agreement with the Bloomberg Composite of election polls. As a outcome, he’s edging aside Northern League leader Matteo Salvini as leader of the Italian center-right.

Playing Catch-Up

Five Star’s leading figures have large numbers of Twitter adherents

Source: Twitter

Five Star still results Forza Italia by 27 percentage to 16 percentage, but the three-party center-right alliance Berlusconi has forged is on track to become the biggest bloc with 35 percent. His campaign team calculates it could claim a working majority if it exceeds 40 percent.

” Berlusconi is unbeatable at aggregating everything that can be aggregated ,” said Roberto Weber, chairman of pollster Ixe Institute.” He is the best campaigner and the most effective communicator .”

His appeal against a ban on holding public office stemming from a 2013 tax-fraud sentence most likely won’t be decided on in time for the election. Instead, he aims to influence events from behind the scenes, to deliver tax cuts and new jobs, and to push back against European Union rules.

Even if the center-right doesn’t win a majority, Berlusconi could well have the biggest say over who becomes prime minister. Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, has been touted as Berlusconi’s preferred choice, though he might also accept the current center-left “ministers “, Paolo Gentiloni, as a compromise.

” If anything, from outside, I’ll be able to be the director ,” he said last week in an interview on Canale 5, a television station that is part of the Berlusconi empire.” That’s a big word–I’ll make suggestions and above all maintain a close watch to ensure the center-right government carries out our program .”

Berlusconi remains in his component on TV and supplements his social media presence with several talk demonstrate appearances a week. When his three-car motorcade arrived at the Canale 5 studio near Rome’s Colosseum last week, he’d already had his make-up done.

On air, he joked about how students and seniors visiting the botanical museum at his summertime villa in Sardinia had stolen his entire harvest of a Viagra-style herb.

” They took it all ,” he grinned.” They didn’t leave even a blade of grass .”

Silvio Berlusconi

Photographer: Sean Gallup/ Getty Images

But the campaigner who used to draw crowds so large he’d block traffic has cut back on large-scale public events. His advisers, who asked not to be named discussing his strategy, said his age and health, as well as new limits on party financing, were behind the shift. Berlusconi had a pacemaker since 2006 and had heart surgery in 2016.

Nevertheless, he’s been working for 16 to 18 hours a day since campaigning began in January and sleeping only 3 or four hours a night, according to Giacomoni.

Although he doesn’t use a cellphone–aides say his phone has been tapped thousands of days during past tribunal probes–Berlusconi’s team uses iPads to indicate him draft posts for Facebook and Twitter as he looks to posture himself as the antithesis of Five Star. He wants to know which posts made the most interest–good or bad–and offers feedback on both text and graphics. Everything that goes out has had his personal input, Giacomoni says.

” People are going for Berlusconi as a moderate ,” Weber said.” He’s the best-known, calmest, most coherent and most reassuring leader .”

I Expended The Entire Holiday Season Sober And This Is What Happened

I ruined Thanksgiving last year.

I got entirely smashed while drinking wine and making dinner with my mother. I ended up blacking out before dinner and passing out in an extremely unflattering position just after dessert. Clearly, it wasn’t my best night.

Looking back, I can see that it was the tipping point of what had been a very emotionally unstable and tumultuous year for me.

My favorite thing to do in the evenings used to be drinking a bottle of wine and watching my narratives. But this kind of lifestyle was taking its toll. I was genuinely sick of being hungover and feeling sluggish. I also very much wanted to quit smoking. There is nothing cute about a 25 -year-old woman who smokes cigarettes. But when I drink, I am incapable of resisting cigarettes.

So around November of this past year, I genuinely wanted to cut back on drinking. I chose the best place to start was by get completely sober.

With the holidays speedily approaching, this was probably the worst time to try to trench the bottle. But I’m a person who gets off on extremes, so I went with it. I decided to stop all drinking and smoking for the 2015 vacation season. I knew if I could survive the holidays sober, I could survive anything.

Here’s how it ran 😛 TAGEND

Thanksgiving

The common denominators in the times in my life that I’ve become a violent person are overindulgence in alcohol and the presence of my family.

When I’m drunk with my friends, I usually have a good time. But nearly every time I’ve gotten “angry drunk, ” it’s been with their own families. I have the type of household that calls each other on our sh* t, to the point of rudeness.

Not be reminded that drinking around their own families always have contributed to disappointed looks and harsh words the next morning. My mothers don’t drink at all, so when I drink around them, they treat me like I’m clearly an alcoholic.

So I felt both happy and a little awkward when my parents said how proud they were that I wasn’t drinking.

But when I told them, “I’m not drinking, ” I didn’t mean, “I’m never ever drinking again. EVER.” What I meant was that I was not going to drink like I used to. So now I feel like I’m going to face a whole other various kinds of pressure if I decide to drink occasionally around them again in the future.

My younger friend also made me feel like complete sh* t about drinking. I thought he’d say, “WTF, take this shot now! ” or “No, I am not get drunk alone to deal with our family.” Instead, he told me that I had a serious drinking problem, so it was good I wasn’t drinking. He then added that this “problem” would follow me forever.

My siblings really are my best friends, but I’ll likely never touch alcohol with my brother ever again. I’m wholly fine with that.

I’ve always planned to move closer my family when I decide to start a family of my own. But that scheme isn’t looking so bright right now because I feel like this intense pressure is growing around me to be this perfect, put-together person. And I don’t know if I am that person.

The office holiday party

I get along really well with my squad, so the office holiday party was a lot of fun.

I was drinking seltzers with lime to make it definitely sounds like I had a cocktail in my hand. Only one or two times did someone ask me about being sober.

“You’re not drinking anymore, right? Do you like it? ” one coworker asked me. I wasn’t really sure how to answer this, so I ran with an awkward “Yes! ” and then ran away to get a non-alcoholic beverage.

I danced my ass off and did everything in my power to have a good time. I gorged myself on hors d’oeuvres — calories I wasn’t wasting in alcohol.

The party was on a Wednesday night, and it felt astonishing not to be hungover the next day. I supported all my hungover coworkers, while feeling great. And I’m not going to lie: It was nice.

I also noticed something substantial in the next few weeks I’d given up liquor: I had so much more energy. When I was once so tired from run that all I could do was go home, drink wine and sleep, I was now reaching the gym, grocery shopping and cleaning my apartment. It’s incredible how much your health improves the longer you go without alcohol.

Christmas

Christmas without alcohol was really comfortable, despite the stress of being around family.

Aside from my brief brush with an ill-advised “tea detox, ” being home for those two weeks was actually like a rejuvenating vacation. I even worked out every day. I watched the entire first season of “Outlander” while reaching the treadmill and using my mom’s free weights. I was relaxed, happy and full of energy.

Our Christmas Eve party is always at my cousin’s home. It was a great time. We ate a ton of delicious food and candy. In past years, this party has gotten ROWDY. This year, it was rather pacify. I was alleviated things didn’t get out of control, as I was the DD and needed to wait until everyone was ready to go home.

My boyfriend arrived just after Christmas, and having him around made things even better. He wasn’t drinking either, so it was nice to have some companionship. Being home with my family and bae was perfect because I had all my favorite people in one place.

This Christmas was the best one I’ve had in a long time.

Conclusions

After two months of remaining sober during the holidays, I’ve chose just to continue with it. I’ve never felt so healthy in my life. My sleep has improved dramatically, my abs are actually indicating, and my anxiety is under control. My skin has furthermore drastically improved. My sister even said I’m looking younger than I have in years.

I can say with complete franknes that I’m at a point where I don’t need alcohol to have fun. Seriously.

Whether I’m sober or not, I have a f* cking AWESOME time at any social gathering. I’m the drunkest person at the party even when I haven’t had a drop-off of alcohol. I will dance on tables, rock out to music and talk to every drunk person like a normal human. Because who has day for being judgy? Drink or don’t beverage. I don’t dedicate a f* ck. Just have the best period!

I’ll still have the occasional night out for special occasions, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Drinking on occasion isn’t a bad thing, but drinking all the time is terrible for your health.

As an adult, I’m ready to move into this new phase of my life.

Read more:

Devote The Gift Of Food This Holiday Season With These Tasty Treats

We all have that one person on our Christmas list that is just impossible to shop for.

On my listing, that person is my father. He likes to say that Christmas is just another day and that it has the emotional appeal of watching paint dry, so you can imagine how incredibly difficult it is to pick out gifts for him.

While my father couldn’t care less about Christmas, he LOVES to eat. So instead of purchasing something that he won’t use, I’m going to fill his belly with holiday cheer this year. If you still have a question mark next to someone’s name on your list, check out these 20 gift notions. They’re all 100 percentage edible, and they’ll turning any Scrooge into a jolly old Saint Nick.

1. Give them their favorite cookie recipe in a jar.

2. Warm their heart( and their belly) with these decorative soup mix ornaments.

3. Your friends and family won’t be salty if you give them their very own jar of homemade caramel goodness.

Read more:

Ten of the best Christmas beers

From port-barrel-aged ales to plummy porters, and champagne-corked sparklers to mulled treats, there are plenty of festive brews with which to see out 2016

Relegated to the bottom of the festive booze hierarchy, beer tends to gets a bad rap at Christmas. Unfairly so, because seasonal beers can be so much more than cans of lager that accumulate dust at parties while everyone guzzles eggnog. Belgian breweries have been turning out unabashedly sweet, spicy winter ales for centuries, and now everyone else, from craft breweries to supermarkets, has followed suit.

While anything that tastes like the boozy run-off from Christmas pudding is welcome at my dinner table, the best festive beers should also have a sense of occasion about them. Or at least the potential for pantomime drama, whether that comes from tapping a mini-keg without it detonating, or attempting to mull a bottle of cherry beer (from experience these are activities best attempted before, not after, drinking an 11% stout).

Here are some of the best traditional and not so traditional Christmas beers to enjoy this year.

Christmas
Greenwich ale, Santas Little Helper, Cuve de Noel, Tsjeeses 2015 and plum pudding porter.

Plum pudding porter, Wiper and True

(4.65 for 500ml, hopburnsblack.co.uk)

With a name like plum pudding porter, this generous beer could have rolled straight out of a Dickens novel. It radiates ripe, stone fruit plums and apricots and Christmas spice. In the glass, its a thick, almost impenetrable, Christmas pudding brown, with sugary marzipan and spice on the nose. Juicy and fruity and dark, but with a porters roasted malty backbone of coffee and bitter chocolate.

Santas Little Helper, Mikkeller

(12.50 for 750ml, branches of BrewDog and BottleDog shops)

The innovative Danish brewers modern take on a Belgian Christmas ale has all the booziness youd expect of a strong Belgian beer, without being sickly sweet. Glowing golden amber in the glass, it smells like warmed fruit and berries, and tastes like caramel, with a hint of astringency that could come from the coriander seeds its brewed with. Because it is so full-bodied, the rich, candied orange peel taste lingers and lingers this would be amazing paired with dark chocolate and dried fruit.

Cuve de Noel, St Feuillien

(3.29 (2.77) for 330ml, belgianbeerz.com)

One to enjoy after Midnight Mass, this abbey-style beer (which effectively means its brewed by monks but doesnt fulfil the strict criteria needed to be considered a Trappist beer) is a Christmas classic. Boasting a strong, brandy-like nose, with a slightly sour note, it tastes rich and sweet and has a musty, barrel-aged depth. Brewed with liquorice, theres also a very subtle undercurrent of salt and aniseed.

Port-barrel-aged Greenwich ale, Meantime for Marks and Spencer

(5.50 for 750ml, branches of Marks and Spencer)

Meantimes broody dark ale promises all the fun of popping a champagne cork without the price tag and with a (potentially) milder hangover. Served in a wine bottle with a cork, it smells like dark chocolate and woodsmoke, but tastes like juicy berries. There is a whiff of port from the barrel-ageing process, but not enough to make it taste heavy or winey its more like molten, fizzy, dark cherry chocolate.

Tsjeeses 2015, De Struise Brouwers

(4.75 for 330ml, Beer Gonzo)

A mischievous little beer that packs an extraordinary 10% ABV kind of extraordinary punch. Its thick, dense and orange in look and taste; slightly floral on the nose, with some botanicals. It also has a juicy, mango mouthfeel (so, one for fans of strong IPA) and sticky toffee notes that give way to citrus bitterness at the end think candied orange peel. This is a beer that ages really well, and the 2015 is delicious at the moment. Look out for the 2016 early next year and stash it in the cellar if youve got the self-control.

Christmas
Black Christmas, St Bernardus Christmas ale, Shepherd Neame Christmas ale, Southwold Christmas ale and Glhkriek.

Christmas ale, Shepherd Neame

(20 for 5x500ml, Shepherd Neame)

One for real ale enthusiasts. British hops lend this beer an earthy body thats a welcome break from the sweet fruitiness of a lot of Christmas beer. There is a little spiciness and a touch of sweet candy and raisin, but nothing overpowering and nothing youd object to if you drank it by the pint, or used it to wash down roast potatoes.

Southwold Christmas ale, Adnams for Marks and Spencer

(2.20 for 500ml or 20 for a 5-litre keg, Marks and Spencer)

Adnams ale is usually evocative of summers spent at its seaside brewery and warm afternoons eating fish and chips on the shore. But its Christmas ale available, to my intense delight, in a DIY keg is its wintry, fireside twin. Pouring a mahogany brown, this is a festive beer for drinkers who want to get as far away from nutmeg and dried cherry flavours as possible: it is toasty, caramel and toffee-ish, with all the depth of the brewerys distinctive yeast.

Black Christmas, Weird Beard

(2.55 for 330ml, Beer Gonzo)

Fabulously bitter, this cranberry stout is a great refresher to enjoy at the end of a long night of sweet wine and port. It pours jet black with a thick head and smells like coffee, nuts, chocolates and vanilla. So far, so stout, which means that the taste almost burned, like cocoa nibs and espresso is a welcome surprise. This beer is not as creamy as you might expect and any sweetness comes from the tart cranberries it has been brewed with.

Christmas ale, St Bernardus

(4.50 for 330ml, Beer Gonzo)

With its soft banana and herb notes, this offering from the famous St Bernardus brewery in Belgium is one for fans of wheat beers. It is punchy and strong at 10% ABV. Factor in the cloves and Christmas spices it is laced with and this will keep you positively toasty this winter.

Glhkriek, Liefmans

(7.75 for 750ml, Beer Gonzo)

Mulled beer sounds like the kind of bad idea you might have at the end of a raucous Christmas party. In fact, this warmable cherry beer is an absolute world-beater. Heat it gently, as you would wine and it gives off the most overwhelming rich cherry, spice and marzipan aroma. Like mulled wine it tastes best glugged from a mug all sweet fruit and cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, but with none of the spice detritus to deal with at the end. Dont try to drink this cold, and its probably best not try mulling any other beers you have lying around.

Follow Liz Dodd on Twitter @liz_dodd

Read more: www.theguardian.com