24 Dec 2012

Catch A Falling Star Christmas Cake


This years Christmas Cake is perhaps one of my easiest.  I used a large star shape to cut through to the marzipan layer, carefully lifted out the fondant star and filled with small silver dragees.  The silver beads around the base of the cake and the rope of silver stars I used as a cake topper are Christmas tree decorations.

Why Catch A Falling Star?  The silver star cake topper wouldn't stay on top of the cake whilst I was trying to arrange them and I had to keep catching the falling stars!

Happy Christmas!

22 Dec 2012

Chocolate and Redcurrant Christmas Cupcakes


The sharpness of redcurrants and the richness from chocolate go beautifully together. I made chocolate cupcakes and added some redcurrants to the batter. After baking and cooling they were topped with my favourite cupcake chocolate fudge icing.

To make the frosted redcurrants all you have to do is whisk an egg very lightly and brush the fruit with the egg white, dip the fruit into sugar and leave to dry overnight on baking paper - frosted redcurrants are delicious.

18 Dec 2012

Sage Sausage Rolls - Recipe


These well dressed little beauties are filled with good quality sausage meat from my trusted butcher, I then add a grated apple, a few breadcrumbs, chopped sage and parsley.  Decorate with fresh sage leaves.  The recipe is from Delicious Magazine and because I have never found a recipe to upstage this one, I use this time and again!  I use my Stellar Eazistore trays because the sausage rolls don't stick whilst cooking.

Open freeze the uncooked sausage rolls on trays and when frozen pop into ziplock freezer bags ready for cooking - easy!


16 Dec 2012

Chocolate Truffles


Home made chocolate truffles are fun to make and I just love getting into a chocolaty mess. I'm not sure how it's possible to make truffles without getting sieved cocoa powder and icing sugar everywhere, most things in my kitchen were coated with a fine dusting of both, including me.

I find the best way to deal with edible gold lustre spray is to place the rolled truffles onto cling wrap and carefully spray directly onto the truffle,  also spray the clingwrap surrounding the truffle.  Take the cling wrap and wrap around the truffle and roll the truffle back and forth until totally coated - this also prevents lustre spray coating all of your kitchen gold, which is fine for Christmas, but not such a bright idea when the New Year arrives.

Despite the mess they are well worth making, they can be flavoured to your own taste with Baileys, Cointreau, Brandy to name a few ideas. The chocolate truffles can be rolled in a variety of coatings - I coated mine with icing sugar, cocoa powder and sprayed some of the truffles with edible gold lustre - they can be coated with toasted desiccated coconut, chopped pistachios or dipped into melted chocolate. After you have made them place into gold petit fours cases. They will make a lovely Christmas gift too.

Keep in the fridge or they can be frozen.  They taste fabulous chilled......

The recipe is from the BBC GoodFood website.


9 Dec 2012

Chocolate and Vanilla Berry Pavlova - Recipe


The cream filling is softly whipped double cream mixed with natural yogurt - this lightens the cream and also gives a subtle tang.  The fruit is a pack of good quality frozen summer berries mixed with a few frozen redcurrants from my garden.  Tip the frozen berries, with the exception of the raspberries, into a sieve and allow the berries to thaw and release some of their juices, otherwise the cream will become stained with fruit juice.  I used the reserved frozen raspberries to decorate the top, this enables them to keep their shape for longer.

The adapted Nigella Lawson  pavlova recipe is one I have used many, many times and always works.

You will need:  large oven tray - draw a 20cm diameter circle on a sheet of baking paper (I use a plate). Turn the baking paper over and place onto the oven tray. TIP: Take some of the vanilla meringue and place blobs at each corner of the tray, place the baking paper on top, the meringue will secure the baking paper.

Ingredients:

4 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp sifted cocoa powder
300ml double cream
150ml natural yogurt

Method:

1.   Preheat the oven to 180ºC
2.   Whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until they reach the stiff peak stage.
3.   Gradually add the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time, whisking well in between.  Keep on whisking until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
4.   Whisk in the cornflour, vanilla extract and white wine vinegar.
5.   Remove a third of the meringue mixture to a bowl.  Add the sieved cocoa powder and stir in to combine.
6.   Take alternate blobs of vanilla meringue and chocolate meringue and place onto the marked out circle on the baking paper.  Swirl the two together.
7.   Turn the oven temperature down to 150ºC and cook for one hour.
8.   Leave the pavlova in the oven overnight.
9.   Remove the pavlova and place onto a large plate.
10. Whip the cream into soft folds and gently fold in the natural yogurt.
11. Decorate.

5 Dec 2012

Judge Thermal Gravy Pot - Review

Images courtesy of Judge Cookware
The Judge Cookware Thermal Gravy Pot has arrived at my home in time for the Christmas frenzy. This fabulous pot has a 500ml capacity, double wall insulation to keep liquids either hot or cold, a hinged lid, pours well (no drips), and will earn its place on the dining table.

Keeping extra gravy hot is always a struggle and the thermal gravy pot will be used over the Christmas holiday, alongside my regular Sunday roast, and at other times when I need to keep liquids hot.

After Christmas Dinner the gravy pot will be washed and then filled with custard, to serve with my Christmas pudding. Later in the day the thermal pot will make another appearance, but this time as a cream chiller.

RRP £15 Available from Amazon.

Thank you Pam and Judge Cookware for the review sample.




1 Dec 2012

Christmas Mini Mince Pies


I love a good mince pie, made with a buttery flaky pastry and lots of mincemeat inside. The filling can't have any peel, nuts of any description and definitely not a fresh cranberry in sight. My mince pie has to look home made too, I don't want it to look as though it came off a production line. The mincemeat must have lots of Brandy added to it - this is essential because I need to eat lots of mince pies in the run up to Christmas.

The mincemeat recipe is by Delia Smith and I make this every year without fail, I exclude the nuts and peel. The pastry recipe is from Women's Institute Complete Christmas.

Makes 18-20

225g plain flour, 115g butter, 50g lard, 25g icing sugar, 1 egg, 2 teaspoons iced water, 450g luxury mincemeat.

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sift flour into a bowl and the butter and lard. Rub fat into flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in icing sugar and then the beaten egg and water. Bring together to form a smooth dough. Place in plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out just over half the pastry to 3mm thickness and cut out circles large enough to fit the base of tart tins.
3. Fill with mincemeat.
4. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out the tops. Brush the tops with water and place on top of the mincemeat, lightly press the tops onto the base pastry.
5. Bake in oven for 15-20 mins.
6. Cool in tin for a few minutes then transfer to wire rack to completely cold.
7. To serve dust with icing sugar.
8. The cooked and cooled mince pies can be frozen and defrost at room temperature.