Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake

If you’re planning on making your own Christmas cake this year, then don’t leave it much longer: the cake – which is so easy to make and simply gorgeous – needs feeding (with brandy) every 10 days or so between now-ish and the main event in December. Moist, laden with fruit and festive flavour, this recipe – another one inspired by Delia Smith – is fabulous and again, the smell as it’s cooking is heaven-scent! Enjoy!

What to do…

For the full recipe, type ‘Christmas Cake’ into the search box in the top right hand corner of my home page

Makin’ Mincemeat!

Once you’ve tried homemade mincemeat, you won’t buy the shop versions again – I promise! Made last week, this recipe takes a bit of prep the night before you want to cook it and then you have to be in the house for the 3 hours that it nestles in the oven but…oh what a joy: the whole house is just filled with aroma of Christmas – festively fabulous!

Anyway, get your jars sterilised and make this gorgeous Christmas treat, a recipe that is courtesy of Delia Smith.

For the full recipe, just type ‘mincemeat’ into the search box in the top of the home page and Delia’s recipe of festive deliciousness will appear! Enjoy!

mincemeat uses w

Miso-Marinated Cod with Stir-Fry

A great mid-week family supper that is super-quick to make and has stunning Umami-ish flavours – tangy, tantalising and tasty; it’s gently spicy rather than powerfully hot and so good that I’ve had it three times in two weeks!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with foil

4 x bamboo skewers

650g skinless cod/haddock fillets, cut into cubes

4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

4cm ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

1 teaspoon dried, crushed chillis

2 x 300g packs of your favourite vegetable stir-fry

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

2 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Sea salt and black pepper

Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

for the marinade

2 tablespoon miso paste

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons mirin

4 tablespoons light soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

What to do…

First to the marinade: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season with a little black pepper. Add the fish, then cover and chill for anything between 15 minutes and overnight (I did an hour).

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Thread the fish onto skewers, then arrange on your baking tray.

Drizzle a tablespoon of the remaining marinade over each skewer and pop into the oven until cooked though (10minutes) turning half way through cooking.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the spring onions, ginger and chilli and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Tip in the vegetables, hoisin and sweet chilli sauces and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes, or until just tender. Serve with the fish skewers and extra lime wedges for squeezing over. Absolutely delightful and prepared in minutes!

Inspired by…

Tesco.com

How easy…

Ridiculously!

Blackberry and Blueberry ‘No-Bake’ Cheesecake

Serves 10 -12

An absolute ‘wow’ of a decadent dessert that could take central stage at any dinner as well as a cheeky family lunch! A crispy, rich ‘Oreo’ base is perfect to underpin the light, fluffy and fabulously fruity flavour of the ‘mousse’ that is the mainstay of this delicious cheesecake; and all topped with a glossy, slightly tart yet sweet jelly that is bursting with the Autumnal flavours that are blackberries. Just yummy!

What you need…

1 x deep, 20cm round cake tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

60g butter, melted

250g Oreo biscuits

200g blueberries

350g blackberries

150g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

100ml water

400g full-fat cream cheese

250g mascarpone

300ml double cream

3 sheets fine-leaf gelatine

to decorate

Blueberries and blackberries, (optional)

What to do…

Whizz the Oreo biscuits in your food processor until quite fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and whizz to evenly combine. Tip into your cake tin, spread evenly over the bottom and then use the back of a spoon to press firmly into place. Chill.

Meanwhile, heat the berries, 25g of the sugar, all of the lemon juice and the water in a saucepan until bubbling. Bubble gently for around 15 minutes or until the blackberries are super mushy.

Push the fruit mixture through a sieve, using the back of a spoon to press down hard, extracting as much juice as possible. Either discard the purée or cover it and chill it to make mini blackberry and apple pies or spread on toast (like I did!) Back to the recipe: cover and cool the berry juice.

When you’re ready to assemble, tip the cream cheese, mascarpone, double cream, remaining sugar and all of the lemon zest into a large bowl and use an electric handheld whisk to beat until really stiff. Pour in 150ml of the berry juice (reserving the rest) and whisk again to incorporate. Plop the ‘mousse’ onto the base and spread evenly and level. Pop into the fridge and chill for 1 hour.

To the jelly: soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 275ml berry juice until hot (if you’re a bit short on the juice, just top it up with a little water). Remove from the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the juice. Stir to dissolve. Cool for 15 minutes and then pour over the ‘mousse’. Carefully, pop your cheesecake back into the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight.

To serve, gently release your cheesecake from its tin confines and peel away the parchment paper. Transfer to a pretty serving plate and decorate with blueberries and blackberries. Cut into wedges of gorgeousness and simply savour every delicious mouthful. Go for a second piece!

Tip…

Pick your blackberries, wash them, dry on kitchen towel and then freeze in bags – no need to lay them out flat on trays

Inspired by…

Good Housekeeping

How easy…

It takes time but you can do it in stages and go off and do other things whilst the different elements chill and cool. Other than that, it’s dead easy to make, requires no baking and is sensational. Also, you have to make it the day before you want it, which I love.

 

 

Blueberry and Custard Tart

A delightful little number that is fresh and light and bursting with summer flavours, this sweet tart is a very happy marriage of sweet vanilla custard with ripe and juicy blueberries, encircled in a crisp, light, sweet pastry.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x baking sheet

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

50g icing sugar

A pinch of salt

135g butter, cold and chunked

1 medium, happy egg, beaten

2 – 3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the custard

200 ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

25g cornflour

50g caster sugar

3 medium, happy egg yolks

200ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks

to decorate

375g fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly

1 tablespoon water

What to do…

First to the pastry: sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into your food processor. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and cold water and pulse until the pastry comes together.

Tip the pastry out onto a floured surface and briefly knead into a ball. Wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to roll out the pastry, remove the pastry from the fridge, placing it between two sheets of cling film (each wider than your tart tin). Roll out the pastry until it’s about 3mm thick and wide enough to line the base and sides of the prepared tin.

Remove the top layer of cling film, slide your hand, palm upwards, under the bottom layer of cling film, then flip the pastry over (so that the cling film is now on top) and carefully lower it into the tart tin. (Neat trick this – first time I’ve done it). Press into the edges (with the cling film still attached) and, using your thumb, ‘cut’ the pastry on the edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film, prick over the base with a fork and chill the pastry in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180˚c /gas 4 and pop your baking sheet in. Remove the pastry from the fridge, trim off the excess pastry and line tart with foil, leaving plenty to come over the sides of the tin. Fill with baking beans and bake ‘blind’ on the baking sheet for 15 – 20 minutes or until the pastry feels dry to the touch in the base.

Remove the foil and beans, brush with a little egg white and return to the oven for a further 5 – 8 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

Turning to the custard: heat a saucepan over a low heat and pour in the milk. Add the vanilla pod and seeds, cornflour and half the sugar and gently heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

In a bowl, use an electric hand whisk to beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until creamy and pale. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking as you add it, then pour back into a clean saucepan.

Whisk well and place over a low – medium heat, then cook for around 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla pod and cool the custard; then fold in the cream, using a balloon whisk.

To assemble the tart: spoon the cooled custard cream into the pastry case and top with the blueberries. In a small saucepan, dissolve the redcurrant jelly in the water

and, using a pastry brush, gently coat the blueberries with this glaze, taking care not to move the blueberries or disturb the custard. This will give the tart a lovely finishing gloss.

To serve, remove the tart from the tin (with the base of the tin still attached, if that’s easier), carefully transfer it to a serving plate and cut nice, chunky slices to indulge in – yummy!

How easy…

It takes time and there’s quite a bit of washing up but if you’re relaxed, got some good tunes going on in the kitchen, it’s a pleasure to make and a delightful summer pud!

Inspired by…

The main recipe is Rachel Allen’s but I used my own favourite sweet pastry recipe, courtesy of Camilla Stephens, founder of Higgidy.

 

Mint and Chocolate Chip ‘No Churn’ Ice Cream

Gorgeous – delectably fresh and minty with a generous handful of chocolate chips. Delightfully moreish and it has the most important seal of approval from the grand kids – it must be good!!!!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ of a 397g tin of condensed milk (see tip)

Green food colouring (I use icing colouring which comes as a thick gel)

1½ teaspoons peppermint extract

60g dark chocolate chips

What to do…

Use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Tip in the peppermint extract. Insert a cocktail stick into the icing colouring and then dip it into the ice cream mixture – a little goes a really long way. Use a balloon whisk to gently but thoroughly mix together and add more colouring until you achieve the colour you like. (If you are using liquid food colouring, add ¼ teaspoon at a time until you achieve the colour you like).

Chuck in the chocolate chips and stir in thoroughly. Pour your ice cream into a bowl or tub, cover with cling film and pop into the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Tip…

Working out what ½ can of condensed milk is would clearly be a pain in the neck. When I make ice cream I mix together 600ml double cream with a whole can of condensed milk and then spoon half into a separate bowl to create a different flavour. This works brilliantly and the freezer always has lots of different flavours in (coffee and kahlua, salted caramel with Tia Maria, mango, passion fruit and rum, chocolate and black forest gateau, for instance – all made with the same double cream and condensed milk starting point).

How easy…

These ‘no-churn’ ice creams literally take minutes to knock up!

Inspired by…

The base mixture of double cream and condensed milk is courtesy of the wonderful Mary Berry. From there, I experiment with flavours by chucking in all sorts of combinations!

Black Forest Gateau ‘No-Churn’ Ice Cream

Spectacular! I dreamed up this combination in that lovely time of the morning that is the dawning of the mind as well as the sun in the sky….and this is the type of stuff I come up with!!!! What can I tell you – it’s absolutely bloody gorgeous – the Kirsch-steeped cherries work so well with the sweetness of the base ice cream and the dark chocolate rippling through it. Mount this lovely deliciousness atop shortbread, sprinkle some grated dark chocolate over the top and it becomes quite the elegant dessert!

What you need…

300ml double cream

½ of a 397g tin of condensed milk (see tip)

150ml black cherries, pitted and roughly torn up

3 tablespoons Kirsch (cherry liqueur)

40g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

What to do…

The day before you want to make your ice cream, tip the torn cherries into a bowl, pour over the Kirsch, cover with cling film and pop into the fridge overnight to let the flavours develop.

When you’re ready to make your ice cream, roughly break up the chocolate and pop it into a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water and melt. Remove from the steamer and set aside to cool slightly (to touch).

Meanwhile, use an electric hand held whisk to beat the double cream to form soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in so that it is evenly incorporated.

Use a spatula to scrape the ‘marinated’ cherries and liquid into a bowl and gently but thoroughly mix together. Pour over the chocolate and use a skewer to swirl the chocolate throughout the ice cream, creating a chocolate ‘ripple’ effect.

Cover with cling film and pop into the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Be very excited when it’s ready because it really is spectactular! Salivating as I type!

Tips…

Working out what ½ can of condensed milk is would clearly be a pain in the neck. When I make ice cream I mix together 600ml double cream with a whole can of condensed milk and then spoon half into a separate bowl to create a different flavour. This works brilliantly and the freezer always has lots of different flavours in (coffee and kahlua, salted caramel with Tia Maria, mango, passion fruit and rum, chocolate and made at the same time as this one, mint and chocolate chip, for instance – all made with the same double cream and condensed milk base).

If you want to present the ice cream as per the picture, wrap foil around the bottom of some chef’s rings or cookie cutters and plop the ice cream inside the moulds before freezing, pressing it in to make sure there are no gaps. Use a ring/cutter of the same size to cut out the shortbread bases from the already blogged recipe, ‘Proper Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Shortbread’.

Inspired by…

The base mixture of double cream and condensed milk is courtesy of the wonderful, Mary Berry. From there, I experiment with flavours by chucking in all sorts of combinations!

How easy…

These ‘no-churn’ ice creams literally take minutes to knock up!

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Apple Relish

This delightful slightly tart yet sweet relish is a perfect accompaniment to my ‘New Favourite Chicken Liver Paté’ but would also work brilliantly with a game terrine or pie, spicy sausages or adorning a fabulous cheeseboard (one of my favourite meals all by itself!). It’s easy to make and will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Makes 250ml

What you need…

25g butter

2 eating apples, peeled cored and diced (5mm)

50g caster sugar

25ml sherry vinegar

75ml red wine

Pinch of salt

What to do…

Melt the butter over a moderate heat. When it begins to foam, tip in the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to turn golden around the edges.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes until reduced and jam-like with the apples cooked through but not mushy.

Allow to cool before serving or decanting into a sterilised jar and popping in the fridge, awaiting an opportunity to indulge! (I will make some at the beginning of December for all those casual dates with cheese that we have planned!)

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

No effort at all

 

 

My New Favourite Recipe for Chicken Liver Paté

For years I have been making a truly wonderful chicken liver paté recipe, confident that the recipe couldn’t be bettered. And then….I found this one in Rachel Allen’s ‘Entertaining at Home’. It is absolutely gorgeous – a rich, smooth paté beautifully flavoured with port, brandy and thyme. I am now switching my allegiance and it’s definitely on the ‘favourites’ list for when friends come around for dinner. Give it a go – if you love opulent, rich patés, you’ll love this.

Serves 4 – 6 as a starter

What you need…

250g chicken livers, trimmed

110g butter

50g shallots, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

95ml port

25ml brandy

Sea salt and black pepper

Sweet apple relish to serve, optional

What to do…

Melt 15g butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat and when it starts to foam, tip in the chicken livers. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the livers) ensuring that they are still pink in the middle. Tip into your food processor.

In the same pan, melt a further 15g butter over a moderate heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 6 – 8 minutes until golden. Tip in the thyme, 75ml of the port and all of the brandy and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Tip all the ingredients into your food processor, scraping the pan to make sure you get all the goodness.

Pour the remaining port into the pan, whop up the heat to high and boil for 30 seconds before adding to the food processor. Whizz everything together until smooth. Cut the remaining butter into cubes, plop them in and whizz again to incorporate. Taste, adjust seasoning, whizz and taste again.

Spoon into one serving bowl or individual dishes, smooth over and cover with cling film. Pop in the fridge until about 20 minutes before you want to indulge – the flavours really come to the fore at room temperature. The sweet apple relish is a good accompaniment (as is a lovely little glass of dessert wine) but isn’t vital – this paté is quite happy taking centre stage!

Tip…

The paté freezes really well, so I’m going to double up on the recipe so that there’s always some available for those spontaneous ‘drop-ins’.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Very easy – a bit of frying and a bit of whizzing – job done!

 

 

Coconut Panna Cotta with Caramelised Pineapple

This fabulous dessert bursts with exotic flavours and shouts tropical paradise! Cool, refreshing and rich coconut partying alongside warm, caramelised pineapple – a lovely duo that is equally gorgeous separately!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 dariole moulds, greased with vegetable oil

2½ gelatine leaves

100ml whole/coconut milk

65g caster sugar

450g Rachel’s coconut yogurt

8 wedges fresh pineapple

3 limes: zest of all, juice of 2

A splash of dark rum, optional

What to do…

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

In a pan, bring the milk and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar to simmer. Set aside to cool a little. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and dissolve the leaves in the milk and sugar. Cool slightly, stir in the yogurt and pour into your prepared moulds. Pop into the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. (Love the preparing ahead element of this).

Mix the pineapple with the remaining sugar and zest and juice of 2 limes. Cover and pop into the fridge until you are ready to serve, turning occasionally. (My plans changed when I made this and I left them in the fridge overnight to no ill effect).

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add the pineapple, wiping off the excess marinade. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until caramelised, enjoying the delicious, heady aromas as you go. Add the reserved marinade and rum, if using, and bubble for a couple of minutes, turning the pineapple soft and sticky.

Invert the panna cottas onto serving plates, top with the remaining lime zest (I forgot this part!) and serve with the pineapple and juices – de-lic-ious!!!!

Tip…

To encourage the panna cotta out of it’s mould, just prod the tip of a knife down one side – it releases the ‘air lock’ and out plops the panna cotta.

Inspired by…

Waitrose.com

How easy…

Spectacularly and most of it can be done ahead so it’s ideal for dinner and supper get-togethers.

 

 

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