FESTIVE PORK AND PISTACHIO TERRINE

 

This terrine is favourite ‘make ahead’ Christmas dish of mine as it freezes very well and I like to have a stash of ready-made meals to whip out when I am too busy enjoying the Christmas festivities to spend too much time in the kitchen. You could have it as a starter or as a light lunch. It’s a poor photo but you can see how to construct the terrine and what it looks like before you cook it in the oven.

The secret of a good terrine relies on plenty of fat and plenty of seasoning. Pressing it down after cooking makes for a more compact terrine in which the juices are well spread through the pate and it is much easier to slice. Leave it for at least a day before serving to allow the flavours to develop.

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MY FESTIVE CHERRY BERRY PECAN CAKE

 

I’m not keen on the traditional Christmas cake so this is my alternative one -my Festive Cherry Berry Pecan Cake. Not surprisingly it is packed with cherries, berries and pecans. It’s also one for marzipan lovers that don’t like icing -me! I only make it a few days before Christmas but it keeps well loosely wrapped in foil and in a cake tin. I love to eat this on boxing day afternoon with a glass of something fizzy or perhaps a sloe gin. Lovely.

Loathe marzipan? -Let me convert you with my homemade marzipan…it’s very different with a more nutty flavour rather than the tongue tingling aftertaste of artificial almond flavour. This amount of marzipan will give you lots of stars, crescents, holly leaves or whatever you have cutters for. If you leave them dry a little they will pack into bags as presents for your favourite marzipan lover.

Have a lovely Christmas and a very peaceful New Year.

 

MY FESTIVE CHERRY BERRY PECAN CAKE

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LUSCIOUS FRUITY MINCEMEAT

 

LUSCIOUS FRUITY MINCEMEAT

This is the smell of Christmas for me, delicious, fruity mincemeat full of plump fruit, zesty orange, apple, nuts & spices. Homemade really is the best there I’ve said it. I’m having none of the pasty, oversweet, sticky ones and if I am going to all the trouble of making my own mince pies it would be a crying shame not to use a good mincemeat. This ‘recipe’ is hardly a recipe just a list (albeit longish) of ingredients that you put together and give a quick stir. If you can bear to give it away small jars make lovely presents. Give it a go please.

Homemade Fruity Mincemeat

 

 

 

LUSCIOUS FRUITY MINCEMEAT Makes 450g (1lb)

100g dried apricots, snipped in half with scissors

50g walnuts (or almonds)

50g seedless raisins

1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and cut up roughly

50g sultanas

1 tbsp. mixed candied peel

1 heaped tbsp. grated suet (vegetarian if you prefer)

50g currants

Zest of 1 small orange and juice

2 tbsp. unrefined caster sugar

1 tbsp. golden syrup

½ teaspoon mixed spice/½ teaspoon cinnamon

A good grating of nutmeg

2 tablespoons brandy/whisky

 

  1. The ingredients can be chopped by hand but it is much easier to use a food processor.
  2. First of all process the snipped apricots and then tip them into a large mixing bowl. Then process the nuts and add to the bowl. Do not over process these as they give the mincemeat some texture.
  3. Now process  the raisins, apple, sultanas and suet together.
  4. Add them to the bowl and then add the currants (which can be left whole), the orange juice, zest, sugar, syrup, spices and brandy.
  5. Mix together and pot up. Makes 24 pies.

CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM PUDDING

Christmas Ice cream Pudding
Christmas Ice cream Pudding

Let’s be honest a traditional Christmas pudding is not every one’s cup of tea and…………………….you are a tad late if you want to make one so here is a spectacular alternative. It is every bit as special (some would say more), much lighter and filled with brandy soaked fruit, juicy cranberries and ginger biscuits. In bid to show off (tick) I have decorated mine with shards of white chocolate, crystallised berries and a fair bit of edible sparkle. It looks gorgeous and there will definitely be a Tah ..da..moment when you carry it to the Christmas table.

Don’t be tempted to …….flame this pud…you have been warned..

LUSCIOUS CHRISTMAS  ICE CREAM  PUDDING WITH SPARKLY WHITE CHOCOLATE SHARDS AND CRANBERRIES

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CHRISTMAS ROCKY ROAD

Christmas Rocky Road
Christmas Rocky Road

Here is a Christmas treat, easy for children to make (with supervision) and a lovely present for them to give (if you can wrest it out of their hands). Best to make two lots I think. Don’t deviate from the recipe-it has to be Rich Tea biscuits and mini marshmallows, good butter and good chocolate…simple and delicious for everybody.

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ZABAGLIONE TRIFLE SLICE FOR CHRISTMAS

Zabaglione Trifle slice

It is all very well Nigella swanning around her Christmas kitchen looking gorgeous and sparkly and I do dream that this could be me….one year but to be honest it rarely (I’ve had my moments….) works out this way.

I love to make delicious food for all my family and friends and not spend all my time in the kitchen (who wants to anyway?). There is only one solution -PLANNING and help from the best Christmas helper of all -THE FREEZER.

Squirrel away some lovely dishes now for Christmas and then you really can put on your sparkly dress, have a glass of champagne, relax and enjoy some delicious meals. I am starting off (as I mean to go on) with a favourite pud-Zabaglione Trifle slice. A trifle is a Christmas must have and this one is based on the Italian zabaglione pudding. It is easy to make and freeze and makes a great alternative to Christmas pudding for those that don’t care for it. Have a go, pop this in your freezer and relax-that’s one ticked off the list-spend the extra time shopping for something sparkly to wear.

ZABAGLIONE TRIFLE CAKE

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HOT CROSS BUNS

 

Hot Cross Buns an Easter tradition

 

I am a traditional girl at heart and Hot Cross Buns-made just once every year-are an Easter treat. I love the smell of them baking not to mention eating them straight from the oven smothered with butter or toasted later on.  A good Hot Cross Bun should have a good volume and texture somewhere between a bread roll and fruit loaf. It should be nice and fruity, with a hint of spice,  a shiny glaze and a cross on top that doesn’t fall off. I piped on the cross with a small icing bag and a thick paste of flour and water. I seem to recall that many years ago, in school domestic science lessons, we cut pastry into strips and put these into a cross shape on the top-they always fell off before home time and this piping worked much better.

I found this a tricky make starting off with a Paul Hollywood recipe and a Delia Smith recipe plus my own ideas and tips and attempted to combine them all……………….a recipe for disaster if ever there was one! Too much fruit/not enough fruit/too much kneading/not enough kneading/2 rises or 3 rises/dried yeast/easy blend yeast/oven too hot or too cool/too much salt/too little salt and countless other variables. I have to admit one batch went in the bin and couldn’t be redeemed even with toasting and liberal amounts of apricot jam. As to kneading the dough by hand or using an electric mixer with a dough hook it’s a personal choice and you get good results with both. Plus it was good to do as I was decidedly ‘cross’ after the episode with the poor ones

Why knead the dough?

·        By kneading you develop the gluten in the flour. The mixture is transformed from a ‘shaggy’ looking mix to a smooth and pliable ball. This will give the bread a better, more even texture. By leaving it to ‘prove’ in a warm place the yeast develops and makes the bread rise to give a lighter end result.

·        The technique for kneading is important but it is easily learnt. Use both hands-use the heal of one hand to stretch the dough away from you and then fold it back on its self. Use the other hand to keep turning it and continue stretching, folding and turning for about 8 minutes. The mixture will, quite miraculously, become soft, elastic and smooth. You will need to do this for at least 8 minutes. It is difficult to over knead but stop if it starts to feel heavy.

·        It is quite tiring to do and you can use a free standing, electric mixer with a dough hook. These work well. Personally I enjoy the hand kneading, it is quite therapeutic and good exercise for your arms!

So give these a go and have a Happy Easter

HOT CROSS BUNS

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NIBBLES FOR A NEW YEAR PARTY!

 

Nibbles for a New Year party

Hello, if you are reading this then you made it through the culinary maelstrom of Christmas, I hope you had a lovely time.  I’m just planning some nibbles to have at a New year party or just to have with friends and a glass of something-in my case, preferably champagne or something with bubbles. I’m not sure why this makes you feel celebratory but it does!

It’s all a question of tops and bottoms with a garnish on top if you are feeling artistic.

The GREAT advantage of these nibbles is that they don’t spoil before your guests have got their coats off-the tomatoes can be made well in advance and kept in the fridge and the toasted bread bases mean they don’t go soggy when assembled. You can make the bases in advance and keep them in a tin until you are ready.

Actually, skip the party etc I am very happy to have these at anytime and eating ‘bitesize’ means you can try lots of different ones in one ‘meal’. Win win I think. Happy New Year to you all.

STUFFED MINI TOMATOES WITH SWEET CHILLI MAYONNAISE AND RAREBIT BITES WITH SPICED CHUTNEY

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CHRISTMAS GIFTS FLORENTINES & MULLED WINE

 

Pretty special gifts, mulled wine kits and florentines

Yikes…I thought all was going swimmingly on the Christmas gift and preparation front but it is a fact (possibly not actually…a fact..) that time speeds up in the week before Christmas so that however you plan you just seem to be dashing around like a headless chicken at the last minute. I’ve tried the list making (always good) and the slow, deep breathing there is still an edge of panic creeping up on me.

I was, of course, planning to make loads of edible gifts for my loved ones and some of the ideas have already been ditched but these  can be made quickly.

The Mulled wine ‘kit‘ can perk up a bottle of wine and usually falls into the gift category of ‘need to get them something but they are difficult to buy for…and I actually don’t want to spend that much’. I know you have lots of these dilemmas.

The Florentines, on the other hand fall in to the gift category of ‘I really want to give them something special that they will love and show that I have spent time (in very short supply at the moment as we have discussed) in lovingly making these gorgeous Italian biscuits. They are a pretty Christmassy mix of dried fruit, candied peel, cherries and nuts held together loosely with caramel and then dipped in plain chocolate. I only make them at Christmas and so are more special because of this. Fortunately they don’t keep very well with a tendency to go soggy so you have to eat them asap-no good for putting under the Christmas tree

MULLED WINE KITS TO MAKE AND FLORENTINE BISCUITS

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PANCAKE RECIPE

Enough of those American Pancakes (with blueberries..for heaven sake!), we love these traditional pancakes ones and who can resist flipping them in the air?  I certainly can’t and, as I say every year on Shrove Tuesday, why don’t we make these more often? They are quick to make, easy, cheap and quite delicious with lemon and sugar, golden syrup, chocolate Nutella type spread, honey, cream………………I could go on. You need a gentle touch to start with, the aim is to get thin pancakes with a frilly edge and to do this you must have a hot pan and only a little batter. Pour it in quickly and move the pan from side to side to distribute the batter.  You should see the little bubbles rising to the surface, flip up the side with a fish slice to see if it is brown enough but don’t get carried away and start batting it down with the slice-you will only make the pancake heavier. A quick flick of the wrist and you should be able to flip it into the air like a pro.  Once you have made one or two you will get the knack of it. They are best eaten warm with whatever takes your fancy.

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