Christmas Parcels of Goats Cheese & Cranberry
It's the simple things that make Christmas, right? Well, you won't get much simpler (or tastier) than these Christmas Parcels. They're pretty easy to make, but harder to make pretty... I've worked hard to make these parcels look as if they were wrapped by a three year-old (ahem).
I wanted a starter for Christmas dinner that would be different from the norm (prawn cocktail, anyone?), light enough to leave room for the courses to follow, yet still satisfying... and above all, tasty!
I believe I've ticked all the boxes with these!
2 sheets of ready-made Filo Pastry
125g Goats Cheese
This is enough to make 6. I'd recommend serving only one or two per person. You know about me and excess, but remember the point of this was to not fill up before the main!
1. Cut the pastry into 12 squares (about 5inches square).
2. Brush one square with melted butter, place another on top, and brush that with butter too.
3. Repeat 5 times, so that you have 6 double-layered squares.
4. place a generously heaped teaspoon of goats cheese in the centre of each square, and top with roughly the same amount of Cranberry sauce.
5. Bring the corners of each square into the middle , and press the edges together, to create the parcels. Now some people wrap presents beautifully, and are likely to be able to create filo parcels that are just as beautiful. I don't, so my parcels didn't look quite as perfect as others. But it's all about what's on the inside! Make yours as pretty or as rough as you like!
6. Brush with some more butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Pop in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 220ºC (or 200ºC fan assisted).
8. Stick the parcels in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until golden and crispy.
Just a few ingredients this week made it a very close competition. So close, in fact, that we have a draw! ASDA & Tesco tie in first on £6.40. ASDA were cheaper on three items, and they matched on one, but Tesco's price for the Sesame Seeds was so good that it brought them in evens over all.
Sainsbury's did really well too, coming in at third with £6.65. They were cheaper than anybody on filo & cranberry sauce, but the price of their goats cheese cost them dearly.
Morrison weren't far behind on their £6.67.
If you want to split your shop across the four (well only the top three, actually) you could get these ingredients for £5.78 - a much bigger saving than picking even the winning stores over the last placed. Is it worth the effort, though, for 62p?
OK, so the filo is non-negotiable. I can be swayed on everything else, though. You could use a different cheese in here, but be careful of anything that will be too oily when it melts. Feta might work, or maybe Wensleydale? Something crumbly is good!
I originally made batches with and without the cranberry sauce, as I wasn't sure if it would make the pastry too soggy. It's fair to say that where the sauce directly touched the pastry, it didn't crisp up, but it was still tasty enough. The ones with the cranberry in were far superior in taste, so although you can do some without for guests who don't like cranberry sauce, I'd recommend including it for those who do. It really is far tastier than just spooning some up on the side. The cranberry sauce seems to bring out a buttery flavour in the goats cheese. If I wasn't such a glutton, I'd have put it down to the butter in the pastry, but me being me I ate a spoonful of each on their own when prepping, and can confirm the absence of actual butter making a buttery taste!
Maybe a different preserve could be used? My reason for using Cranberry was a nod towards more traditionally Christmassy meals - I'd originally considered a cranberry & pear chutney, but who's going to have time to cook that with all the other cooking required at Christmas time? I'd consider trying it another time, though. Maybe it could be cooked and stored in advance.
You could also play a bit of a roulette game here, with different cheeses with or without preserves (which could also differ). You could also literally spice things up (mildly).