OLIVE MAGAZINE - Christmas Edition

''Plenty to get your teeth into, but little to inspire'' is the way I would sum-up the Christmas edition of Olive Magazine.

The festive Olive arrived yesterday along with a pretty recipe calendar for 2015, but while it contains all the classic Christmas recipes, showing you how to carve a turkey, cook perfect roasties and bake mince pies, there is little to challenge the accomplished cook. My wife suggested we should cancel our subscription as she could find 'nothing new to inspire her' for this coming festive season. Olive boasts '89 seasonal recipes' on its cover - well fine, if you want to continue having ham on Boxing Day! M&S and Waitrose score highly in 'Christmas Winners Taste Tests' but again that is not unusual and for the price you pay for mince pies, fudge and Christmas cakes in those stores, they should be the best. However, the buyers guide to the Christmas cheeseboard introduced me to some new cheeses, I'll probably try this December. Again, they are quite pricey, but I loved the sound of Old Winchester and Young Buck Blue, but sadly Olive does not tell you where you can buy them off-line. Equally, the magazine's 'Gift Guide' -  a common feature in many Christmas publications - suggests presents in five price ranges from £5 and under through to 'Blow the Budget'. An interesting selection - I found Carluccio's Struffoli at only £2.95 for 80g, Daylesford's Organic Blue and Toasted Walnut Biscuits at £5.99 and an elegant and stylish olive oil dispenser from Alessi at £33. As for the budget blowing gadgets, there is nothing unusual if you already have a mixer, an ice cream makers and a kettle, and as for an £80 ceramic cruet set, I'll give that a miss!

Obviously 'In Season' this month features everything that makes up a good festive feast - swedes, scallops, potatoes and mandarins. The Rib of beef roasted over potatoes looked drastically under-cooked to me (above), while the Scallop wonton soup recipe seemed to spoil a lovely scallop by submerging  it in broth. However, the St Clement's breakfast pancakes looked yummy. Christmas menus abound throughout the edition and take us from Christmas Eve recipes to Boxing Day. Though I think I want more on the eve of the special day than a variety of hotdog - Smokey bacon bangers with cranberry salsa and I don't want my mojito in a jam jar with a straw! The Pancetta and sage stuffing cakes seem a great accompaniment to turkey and I liked the recipe for Creamed sprouts with brown butter walnuts.

If you want ideas for canap├ęs or 'bites' as we call them, then there are four pages of ideas that range from Chilli devil eggs to Prosciuttio, pear and gorgonzola rolls. As for the Sesame prawn toasts - nothing special, we had those last night! Amazing bakes' are disappointingly un-amazing - the Cranberry stolen looks unappetising and the Chocolate hazelnut log a disaster (above). A step-by-step photo guide on how to make Spiced mince pies (below) is useful if you are an inexperienced cook, but I am spoiled by my wife's amazing mine pies and they don't need the perforated pastry tops to look and taste wonderful.

The Olive team goes 'Table Hopping around the corner from their office, this month, with three eateries in London (maybe they are looking for a venue for their office Christmas party!).  ''Made By Bob'', an excellent restaurant-cum-deli in Cirencester is highlighted in 'Anywhere but London' and I can say it is a stylish and buzzing place to eat and buy great food (below). It added interest to the fine six page feature on places to eat-out this Christmas. Entitled ''Satisfaction guaranteed'', the article selects five experts to pick their recommended restaurants for family outings, office parties and tables for two. Manchester, Bristol, London, Belfast and Glasgow get three treatments each, but why no Birmingham- second only to the capital for Michelin-starred eateries?

'Pro v Punter' is back in London again this month with Tom Parker-Bowles and Philippa Mols at Mission in Bethnal Green and ''Bitesize Breaks'' offers four alpine resorts for refuelling with fondue, raclette and fine wine. 'Weekender' takes readers to Manhattan - quite a weekend trip, I would say, but nevertheless Olive provides a list a places to eat snacks and fine food. Flights start at £350 return!

The magazine's last few pages offer us advice on choosing a turkey, pictures on how to carve it and gadgets to making Christmas lunch easier. There is a fool proof  Christmas Day time plan and you can learn how to make the perfect Bread Sauce and Advent biscuits. And finally, there's a page on 'Using Up Christmas Left-Overs' - what more do we need this festive season?                  


  1. Truly, this Christmas edition of Olive Magazine is stunning. I would love to get this for my daughter that loves cooking. Well, I am quite busy these days in finding some interesting corporate holiday party ideas for Christmas celebration in my office. Could you suggest such helpful party planning magazines too?

  2. Sorry Donna, but I cannot suggest a helpful party planning magazine but I can recommend a very useful book called 'Entertaining' which covers all kinds of parties and party preparation from buffets to picnics including menus, table decorations and even a 'count down to the event'. 'Entertaining' by Malcolm Hillier is published by Dorling Kindersley at £7.99 (ISBN 07513 0741 6). I will review this book in detail in my blog on Tuesday 17 November 2015.


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