Thursday, 25 December 2008
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
125g best-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
350g leftover, or freshly cooked and cooled, Christmas pudding
2 x 15ml tablespoons golden syrup
For the decorations:
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
6 red glacé cherries
6 green glacé cherries or 6 short lengths angelica
Line a baking sheet (that will fit in the fridge) with clingfilm, baking parchment, foil or Bake-O-Glide, and set it to one side while you make the bonbons.
Friday, 19 December 2008
You will need a miniature tart tray, each indent 4.5cm/1¾in diameter, a 5.5cm/2¼in round fluted biscuit cutter and a 4cm/1½in star-shaped pastry cutter.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Makes enough to fill a 1.2 litre tin or jar
225g rolled oats (not instant)
60g sunflower seeds
60g white sesame seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
150g (125ml) runny honey
50g soft light brown sugar
60g whole natural almonds
60g blanched almonds
½ teaspoon Maldon salt or pinch of table salt
1 tablespoon rapeseed or sunflower oil
150g dried cranberries
Put everything except the dried cranberries into a large mixing bowl and mix well. Two spatulas are probably the best tools for the job here – or use your own two hands, wearing CSI (vinyl disposable) gloves.
Spread this mixture on a lined baking sheet and bake in a 170oC/gas mark 3 oven, turning over the mixture with a spatula about halfway through baking and redistributing the granola evenly during the baking process. The object is to get the granola evenly golden without toasting too much in any one place. If you have a convection or fan oven, you may need to turn it to a lower heat as well as keeping a sharp eye on it.
This should be ready – golden enough and dried out like a crunchy breakfast cereal rather than the sticky mess that went into the oven – in anything from 40-50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool, taking it off the hot baking sheet, before mixing with the dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
150g fresh cranberries
125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
2 free-range eggs
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice
125g self-raising flour, sifted
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm cake tin and sprinkle over 2tbsp Demerara sugar, then 150g cranberries. Put the 125g each soft butter and caster sugar, 50g ground almonds, 2 free range eggs, the grated zest of an orange and 1tbsp of the juice in a mixing bowl. Sift in 125g self-raising flour, 1 level tsp each baking powder and ground cinnamon. Beat until evenly mixed. Spread over the cranberries. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Serve warm or cold.
Monday, 15 December 2008
Makes about 30, depending on size
90g soft butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or vanilla extract)
200g plain flour, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
Edible gold dust or glitter flakes
Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet or two with baking parchment or Bake-O-Glide.
Cream the butter and sugar together until whipped soft and pale, then beat in the egg, followed by the ginger (or vanilla), flour, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until it all comes together to make a soft dough.
Form into 2 discs, wrap each one in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Then roll out to a thickness of about 5mm.
Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the biscuits a little apart on the lined baking sheet/s. Keep the scraps of the first disc, to mix with the scraps of the second and roll and cut, re-roll and cut, until you’ve used up the mixture. This is wonderfully pliable dough, which makes it an unstressful joy to work with.
Bake in the oven for 18-12 minutes: this depends on their shape, how many sheets are in the oven at the same time, and whether on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after 5 minutes. When they’re ready, expect them to be tinged a pronounced pale gold around the edges; they’ll be softish still in the middle, but will harden on cooling.
Take the sheets out of the oven, remove the cookies, with a flat, preferably flexible, spatula to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Using a small (unused) paintbrush or eyeshadow brush, dip in the edible gold dust or glitter flakes, and give each cookies its gilded coating.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
1 ½ cups powdered sugar (icing sugar)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (digestive biscuits)
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup peanut butter
1 cup white vanilla baking chips or semisweet chocolate chips (6oz)
Festive candy decorations, if desired
In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs. In a saucepan, heat butter and peanut butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Stir into crumb mixture. Press in ungreased 8-inch square pan.
In another saucepan, melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently. Spread over crumb mixture. Immediately sprinkle with candy decorations. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until firm.
Cut into squares. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
This Cranberry Jam is a festive favourite in our home every Christmas. I eagerly wait for fresh cranberries to hit the supermarket at the beginning of December so I can make my jam. This recipe comes from Feast by Nigella Lawson and has to be the easiest jam to make. Most jams have to be boiled carefully with pectin along with the sugar to make the fruit set and turn from being a purée to a preserve. In this jam recipe the cranberry fruit does it all for you, due to its pectin-intensity, that it sets to jam once the berries have burst. I love this jam on toast or warm, buttery croissants or you could use it as a filling for Cranberry muffins/cupcakes.
350gms/12oz caster sugar
Put a film of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and add the cranberries and sugar. Stir patiently over a low heat to dissolve the sugar; this will take a little while. Turn up the heat and boil the pan rapidly until setting point is reached, about 7 minutes. (Alternatively it will have reached a jam-like consistency.)
Pour the jam into a sterilized jar (s) and seal immediately.
Makes approx 350 mls.
I am also entering my Cranberry Jam for the Home Made Christmas Gifts event being held by Happy Cook over at My Kitchen Treasures. If you are you interested in joining, the event is running until the 20th December. Please visit her blog for further details.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
150g (5oz) soft butter
150g (5oz) light muscovado sugar or soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (6½oz) self-raising flour
40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
400g jar of luxury mincemeat
80g (3oz) each of sultanas and raisins
50g (2oz) blanched almonds, chopped
100g packet of white chocolate chips
For decoration (decorate as you wish!)
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/electric 160ºC/fan oven 140ºC.
Line a 20cm (8inch) cake tin (see below for instructions).
Lining the cake tin: One of the keys to success when baking a fruit cake is the preparation of the tin before you start mixing the ingredients. Because of the length of cooking time, you need to use two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment inside the tin.Lightly butter the inside of the tin.Cut out a strip of paper about 2.5cm (1inch) longer than the outside of the tin and 5 cm (2inches) wider. (Measure using a piece of string).Fold in about 2 cm (¾ inch) along the long edge of the strip. Then make diagonal cuts along the folded edge at 2.5 cm (1inch) intervals.Fit the long strip of paper inside the tin with the folded edge sitting flat on the base. If you have a square tin fit the paper tightly into the corners. Place the tin on two sheets of greaseproof paper of baking parchment and draw around the base of the tin. Cut two pieces of paper to fit snugly into the base of the tin. Before baking, tie some thick brown paper or newspaper, which comes above the tin by about 10cm (4inches), around the edge of the tin.
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat together for a minute or two until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1¾-2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. You will probably need to cover the cake with foil towards the end of cooking to prevent the top from browning too much. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
250g (9oz) Plain Flour
25g (1oz) Cocoa
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Bicarbonate of soda
100g (4oz) Butter
250g (9oz) Caster Sugar
A few drops of Vanilla Extract
175 ml. (6fl oz) Milk
2 Cooking Apples or Eating Apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped or grated
25g (1oz) Cocoa
50g (2oz) Butter, softened
90ml. (3fl oz) Milk
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Happy Cook at My Kitchen Treasures is hosting a great event of Home Made Christmas Gifts and she kindly invited me to join. If you are you interested in joining, the event is running until the 20th December. Please visit her blog for further details. My Kitchen Treasures
Makes approx. 600ml – enough for 50 mince pies
60ml ruby port
75g soft dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
30g dried cranberries
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 Clementine/Satsuma
1/8 teaspoon or a few drops of almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 x 15ml tablespoons honey
In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gentle heat. Add the cranberries to the saucepan. Then add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, with the currants, raisins and dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementines.
Simmer for 20 minutes or until everything looks pulpy and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. You many need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of a wooden spoon to incorporate them.
Take off the heat and, when it has cooled a little, stir in the brandy, almond and vanilla extracts and honey and beat once more, with your wooden spoon to encourage it to turn into a berry-beaded paste.
Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars.
Makes about 1 litre
750g cooking apples, peeled, quartered, cored and chopped small
250g dried cranberries
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
350ml cider vinegar
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoon Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
Take a medium-sized (not too big) saucepan and chuck into it all the ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon and then put the pan on the heat.
Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat a little to let the pan cook, uncovered, on a fast simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chutney has thickened slightly and the fruit is soft.
Spoon into your warm, prepared jars and seal them.
Makes enough to fill 1 x 500ml jar
250g good-quality sea salt or Maldon salt
2 teaspoons red/pink peppercorns
2 teaspoons crushed dried red chillies
4 star anise
Sterilize your jar and leave to cool.
Put the salt into a bowl with the peppercorns, dried chillies and star anise.
Toss everything about, then carefully tip into your cooled, prepared jar and seal tightly.
Friday, 7 November 2008
Makes approx. 10 slices
1 eating apple (approx. 180g in weight)
1 small sprig and 1 long sprig rosemary
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon butter
For the cake batter
150g caster sugar plus 1 tablespoon
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Peel, core and roughly chop the apple and put into a saucepan with the small spig of rosemary, the teaspoon of sugar, the lemon zest and juice, and butter. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 4-8 minutes until the apple is soft. How long this takes really depends on the variety of apple you’re using. Coxes cook the fastest, and are good here. Leave to cool, and fish out the rosemary sprig when it is cold.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170oC. Line a 450g loaf tin with a loaf tin liner, or butter and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Put the cooled apple into a food processor and blitz to a pulp. Then add the butter, 150g sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder and process to a smooth batter. Spoon and scrape into the loaf tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and then lay the long sprig of rosemary along the centre of the cake. On baking, the rosemary sheds its oil to leave a scented path down the middle of the cake.
Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean, then leave to cool on a rack. Slip the paper-lined cake out of the tin once it is cool.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
It’s Guy Fawkes Night here in the UK, also known as Bonfire Night and Fireworks Night. It is an annual celebration on the evening of the 5th of November. It celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of the 5th of November 1605 in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England. In the United Kingdom, celebrations take place in towns and villages across the country, they involve fireworks displays and the building of bonfires on which traditionally an effigy of Guy Fawkes is burnt. The 5th of November is a great chance to cook some good old-fashioned comfort food to keep you warm and fill you up. Parkin is a traditional Yorkshire recipe for a Bonfire Night treat. This yummy ginger cake recipe will get you fired up. I love this delicious, sticky parkin served with a mug of hot steaming Horlicks! Happy Bonfire Night!
oil, for greasing
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
115g caster sugar
115g golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2. Grease a 25 x 18cm cake tin and line with greased greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Stir in the egg and then the caster sugar, mixing well. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the golden syrup, stirring to mix. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Gradually stir the milk mixture into the flour and egg mixture. Stir until smooth, then pour into the prepared tin. Bake for about 1 hour or until the mixture starts to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares and serve, preferably after about 3 to 4 days when the parkin will have become nice and sticky.
Hope your night goes off with a bang!