You can’t go wrong with a cheese and charcuterie board. Photo: Evelyn Semenyuk

Top tips for home entertaining

December is a busy time for everyone – finishing projects, gift buying, decorating the house festively and of course catching up with family and friends.

I love making time for friends and either entertaining at home or going for lovely meals. In case you are planning to invite people over for a get-together, I have some ideas for some easy fingerfood options – I prefer platters of food to share rather than cooking a sit-down dinner that depends on timings etc.

You can of course buy ready-made canapés – Dunnes, SuperValu and Mark & Spencers have some great offers at the moment (stunning looking food if you believe the brochures). There is nothing wrong with buying in – a lot of restaurants and hotels do the same thing, so don’t feel guilty about it.

The presentation is important so get some nice platters and decorate the food with some fresh foliage and some mini baubles and you have the most festive looking festive dining table.

When serving fingerfood, aim for about 5-7 different ‘courses’ with 1-2 pieces per person to make sure that you have enough food for everyone, butnot too much so you don't have to worry about food waste.

I like to serve food that is a combination of warm and cold bites – the warm ones need a bit of attention but otherwise you as the host would be free to mingle as all of the food can be prepared in advance.

I like to spruce things up a bit and a few years ago prepared a savoury afternoon tea which went down well (apart from the tomato jelly with onion cream – I liked it but I stood alone in my opinion!).

Savoury scones with cream cheese and chives are easy and tasty. I like to roast some red grapes with balsamic vinegar, slice a baguette into 2cm slices, slightly toasted. Then I take some nice Ardsallagh goats cheese, whip it up nicely, pipe it onto the slices, place the roasted grapes on top and sprinkle some fresh thyme over it.

I served it once at a cookery class and converted a lady who hated grapes!

Another easy to prepare treat are aubergine rolls – simply slice an aubergine lengthways into half centimetre slices, sprinkle some salt over the top and leave for a few minutes. You will see water seeping out, dab it dry and repeat on the other side. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the slices in a single layer until just slightly browned but not crisp.

Take some garlic cream cheese and place it on the aubergine slices, top with some chopped hazelnuts (toasted) and rocket leaves. Roll up tightly and place on a platter.

But at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a cheese and charcuterie board with some tasty chutneys and fresh bread or crackers.

The English Market is the perfect spot for getting everything you need to wow your guests and enables you to sit down with your guests and enjoy the evening – your friends and family come to see you and spend time with you, so stay out of the kitchen for the evening and relax!