This festive yule log will really get the party started

Soft cheese yule log with blush tomatoes and potato 'tinsel'
Soft cheese yule log with blush tomatoes and potato 'tinsel'

If you’re entertaining this Christmas, be gentle on yourself with a simple starter that’s guaranteed to bring a sparkle to the table, says David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel.

Christmas parties are well under way at the Sofitel and it is great to hear such good feedback on our menu.

David Woods

David Woods

Vegetarians and meat eaters alike love our starter of soft cheese yule log topped with potato `tinsel’.

We serve it as a starter with fresh bread rolls, but you could slice the yule log thinly and place on toasted brioche to create a delicious canape. Or, if you are not planning to kiss under the mistletoe, lace it with a crushed clove of garlic for an extra kick.

It is easy to make and can be prepared ahead, so perfect if you have guests over for dinner while you’re still juggling Christmas shopping, wrapping, tree decorating and carol singing. Once you have tried it, I can guarantee it will be one of those `go-to’ recipes that you come to rely on at this busy time of year. Enjoy and Happy Christmas!

Forgotten to book your Christmas party? The team at Sofitel can help. There are still some dates left in the run up to Christmas. Packages start from £29.50 per person. Call 01293 567070 or email

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Soft Cheese Yule Log with Blush Tomatoes and Potato ‘Tinsel’

Serves six as a starter

400g full fat soft cheese

150g semi-dried tomatoes

Bunch of chives, finely chopped

Bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

4 slices of gluten free bread

100ml of olive oil

Salt and pepper

One large potato

Rapeseed oil for frying

Baby button onions and sundried tomatoes


Reserve some of the semi-dried tomatoes for decoration and chop the rest. In a bowl, mix the soft cheese with the tomatoes and half the chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe thick cylinders of cheese (8-10cm in length) onto a tray. Place in freezer for 30mins to firm.

Lightly toast the bread and blitz into breadcrumbs in a food processor. Stir in the remaining herbs and olive oil. Sprinkle onto a plate. Roll each of the cheese cylinders in the herb crumb to coat the outside fully. Leave in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the tinsel, peel the potato, then use a julienne peeler to create thin strips. In a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 170 oC and drop in handfuls of potato strips. Fry until they are golden and crisp.

To serve, put a cheese log onto each plate. Place some potato ‘tinsel’ on top of the log and decorate the plate with baby onions and the reserved semi-dried tomatoes.

Chef’s tip

You can buy semi-dried tomatoes, but they are easy to make and will last in the fridge for two weeks covered with oil. Preheat the oven to 60 oC. Halve yellow and red baby tomatoes and place, cut side up, on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little caster sugar. Bake for two to three hours until they are shrivelled slightly but still holding their shape.

This tasty chicken dish has a touch of the Mediterranean. Read David Woods’ previous column here.