The Perfect Christmas Picnic Basket

 Ahhh summer...

The days get hotter and hotter, and the nights feel like they last forever as the sun sets later each day. People are found in the local swimming baths late at night, and the sound of people talking and laughing continue into early hours of the morning. With Christmas just around the corner, the festive cheer and holiday buzz is in the air.

We all know the feeling of a scorching hot Christmas summer's day; it is over 30 degrees, there is no air-con and the fan is swirling around burning hot air with no relief. It has just hit 6 o'clock at night and yes, it is still over 30 degrees outside. Friends are coming over for dinner in one hour, and turning the oven on is the last thing you want to do. Oh what to do!

This is where I step in - it is the perfect time of year for a Christmas picnic! Refreshing salads, cold meats, assorted cheese and crackers, summer fruits, chilled beverages...and what's best? No cooking! Here are some ides for you to get creative this Christmas.

Christmas Waldorf Salad

Ingredients; * 1 Cos lettuce, finely chopped * 1 Green apple, thinly sliced * 1 Pomegranate * 1 Cup of feta cheese, roughly chopped * 1 Cup of walnuts * Balsamic & garlic dressing to serve

Method; * Mix together - then top with more walnuts, pomegranate and feta cheese.

Chilled Meats Platter:

Ingredients; * Honey glazed ham, thinly sliced * Roast beef, thinly sliced * Salami, thinly sliced

Method; *Roll up into individual pieces and arrange as desired. (If you like, some dried muscatels or a small fresh bunch of red grapes would look great in the center of this dish).

Assorted Cheese & Stuffed Olives Platter:

Ingredients; * Vintage cheddar cheese * Triple creamy brie cheese *Green stuffed olives (your choice) *Mixed nuts *Assorted crackers

Method; *Place the cheese and crackers on one of your favourite serving boards. Then fill two small bowls with the olives and nuts - position them on your serving board to accompany the cheese.

Summer Fruits Platter:

Ingredients; * Watermelon * Cherries * Blueberries * Mulberries * Strawberries

Method; * Cut the watermelon into 2cm triangular slices, then place the fruit onto a plate in your chosen design.

Summer-Berry Flavoured Water:

Ingredients; * Raspberries, left as whole * Strawberries, sliced * Lime, sliced into thin wedges (slice extras to serve) * Mint leaves

Method; * Add all ingredients into your favourite jug, and then fill with water or soda water. Serve in glasses with wedges of lime on the rim of each cup.

Classic Aussie Pavlova:

Ingredients; * 1 Meringue base (store-bought) * Whipped cream (fresh or store-bought) * Blueberries * Strawberries * Raspberries * 1 Block of Cadbury’s milk chocolate * 1 Block of Lindt milk chocolate

Method; * Spread the whipped cream around the top of the pavlova. Mix the berries in a bowl and add them to the top of the pavlova. Grate the block of Cadbury’s chocolate and sprinkle over the berries. Cut the Lindt milk chocolate into triangular shapes and position them into the middle of the pavlova facing upright, ready to serve.

I hope this inspires you to create your very own Christmas Picnic!

Written by Monique Henderson