Christmas time is a time for celebration and perfect festive home decor.
I have always loved a good wreath. Fresh ones are always best as they give off those beautiful pine smells. When Sharm (my son) was a baby, I had a wreath business. I sold wreaths at a market stall in Christchurch by the cathedral.
I would dry all the roses and lavender myself and wrapped the wreaths around a mostly straw base - I still bear the scars from the hot glue gun!
It was a magical time in that square, very rewarding to make someone’s door or hall look fabulous for the festive season, and although I made wreaths all year round the Christmas wreaths were my favourite.
If I ever did a design book it would be on dining settings. I just love a great dinning setting. I was raised in the hotel industry and from the age of 12, my job was to set up the dining room at the pub.
My mother was a tremendous cook, we had many regular guests and continuously hosted dinner parties for large families and local sporting clubs. It was always a challenge to set up the room & tables for wedding anniversaries, the golf or cricket clubs or birthday celebrations.
For my brothers 50th birthday last year, I used his and my late fathers small vintage matchbook cars as the table setting decorations. It’s important to be personal & thoughtful with the table setting decorations to honor the occasion.
Christmas stockings were never a big thing for me growing up in New Zealand. We had the kiwi equivalent - a pillowcase at the end of the bed! A big deal for us was to get an orange in that pillowcase (Stone fruit, not citrus was the thing in Central Otago where I grew up).
We now have the pleasure of collaborating with the prestigious ‘Fig & Dove’ - the best looking Christmas Stockings you can ever lay your eyes on! Fig & Dove have opened up an entire ‘can of designs’ for me from our 20-year design library. It has been such a fun collaboration with their stocking designs, tree skirts, table runners and napkins to match. www.figanddove.com
FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS TREATS
Our favourite holiday treats to make for Christmas that taste and look amazing!
Spiked Apple Cider
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup apple brandy
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
6 apple slices, for garnish
1. Chill cocktail glasses in freezer.
2. Fill a tall cocktail shaker half full of ice. Add cider, brandy, lemon juice and maple syrup. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
3. Pour mixed and chilled ingredients through a strainer of a cocktail shaker and into chilled cocktail glasses.
4. Cut a thin slit into each apple slice and perch onto the rim of each glass for garnish
4 oz. champagne (reasonably priced non-vintage champagne is fine)
1/2 oz. cognac
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
dash of Campari
orange wheel (garnish)
1. Fill a large chilled wineglass with crushed ice.
2. Add the following in exactly this order:
3. Garnish with an orange wheel.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 egg white, beaten
8 ounces candied orange
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar together until just incorporated.
2. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and salt. Add to butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl.
4. The dough will clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice-cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clumps.
5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough into an oblong disc between the papers with a rolling pin.
7. Transfer dough — wax paper and all — to a large cookie sheet. Wrap dough tightly onto the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
9. Remove top sheet of wax paper and roll dough a little thinner (Image 1). It should not be sticky. You may dust the surface lightly with flour if it is sticky, but not too much.
10. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thickness.
11. Cut dough into 3-inch squares using a cookie cutter (Image 1) and place on parchment–lined baking sheets.
12. Lightly brush squares with egg white (Image 2).
13. Evenly divide candied orange between the cut dough squares (Image 3).
14. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden around the edges and fragrant. Let cool completely.
All of us at the Bandhini team wish you a relaxing holiday season!
Blog by Tai Schaffler