Christmas

Christmas Pud Revisited

Following on from the Christmassy theme started properly yesterday, it’s not too late to rustle up a rather lovely Christmas Pudding to grace your festive table in just over one month. Rich, boozy and another great recipe inspired by Delia Smith (have yet to take a good picture with the flaming brandy – will try again this year!)

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

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside but this soup is a real winter warmer! It’s also simplicity itself and is absolutely lovely, exuding the deep, rich flavours of the Stilton which are beautifully foiled by the broccoli – simply lovely and ridiculously simple to make. If you’ve got any leftover Stilton, this is definitely the way to go. I’m going to make sure that we regularly have some leftover Stilton!

Serves 4

What you need…

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

1 onion, chopped finely

2 sticks celery, sliced

1 leek, sliced

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 knob butter

1 litre boiling water from the kettle

2 x chicken stockpots (I use Knorr)

1 head broccoli, roughly chopped

140g Stilton, roughly chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the celery, leek, potato and a knob of butter; stir everything together until the butter has melted. Pop on the lid and let the lot sweat for 5 minutes.

In a jug, use a balloon whisk to dissolve the chicken stock pots into the boiling water to create a litre of chicken stock.

Remove the vegetable saucepan lid and pour in the stock and any tough, chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

Add in the rest of the broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes. Tip your soup into a blender and whizz until smooth. Return the soup to your saucepan and add the Stilton, stirring it gently over a low heat until the cheese has melted. Taste, season, taste again and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Divide between 4 bowls and enjoy this wonderful winter warmer treat of a soup! (Or share between two of you and freeze the rest for another day)

Inspired by…

BBC Good Food

How easy…

Dead easy! I carried on unpacking shopping and sorting out admin whilst it cooked itself!

Frozen Coffee Baileys Kick-Offs

I know these little naughties are called something else but I’m calling them Frozen Coffee Baileys Kick-Offs – ideal dwinkies to kick off or round off a New Year’s Eve sesh I’d say. Dead easy to make, even easier to enjoy and quite simply rather gorgeous!

Serves 1

What you need…

60ml Baileys

20ml vodka

1 drop of vanilla essence

3 coffee ice cubes made from frozen espresso

What to do…

Choose a pretty glass. Add the coffee ice cubes. Pour over the Baileys and vodka and then drop in the vanilla essence.

Walk away for about 10 minutes to allow the coffee ice-cubes to start to melt. Give your lovely drink a quick swirl to mix up all the ingredients and then either 1) sip elegantly or 2) down it and demand another one! Either way, enjoy!

Tip…

Most recipes that I’ve seen for this use Vanilla Vodka – I used what I had available!

Inspired by…

I saw them in a magazine and then googled the recipe.

How easy…

Dead easy. Just remember to make the coffee ice cubes in advance.

 

 

 

 

Right Royal Christmas Cake Icing

The final finishing touches to my Christmas cake, I love rough royal icing: it’s so forgiving of any patchy marzipan application and also of my total lack of ability to cake-decorate beautifully. My approach, as you can see, is instead to invest in pretty pre-made decorations (I forgot to buy ribbon though!)

Makes enough for a rough snow scene for a 20cm round cake

What you need…

500g icing sugar

3 egg whites from happy eggs

1 teaspoon glycerine

What to do…

Dump the icing sugar and egg whites into a large bowl and whisk together until stiff peaks form, using an electric handheld whisk. Add the glycerine and whisk until evenly incorporated.

Apply to your cake using palette knife, spreading the icing evenly around the sides and across the top. Use the back of a teaspoon to ‘whip up’ snowy peaks!

Wodge in your chosen figurines or holly leaves and pop some ribbon around the side, securing with a pin at the back of the cake. Sit back and admire your handiwork! Your Christmas cake is now complete! A glass of fizz would go down nicely now! Merry Christmas!

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

As about as simple as it gets!

 

 

Christmas Chocolate Log

This cake is truly luscious – spectacularly rich and chocolatey, totally naughty and perfect for Christmas. Inspired by Mary Berry, her cake is of course beautifully presented as well. Mine however…..well, I had a few obstacles to overcome with my icing bag and nozzle; this cake, as delicious as it is, is evidence as to why I’m booked onto a cake decorating course in the New Year! Never judge a book by its cover or indeed a cake by its icing – another hit from Mary!!!

What you need…

 1 x 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin, lightly buttered and lined with greaseproof paper

4 large, happy eggs

100g caster sugar

65g self-raising flour

40g cocoa powder

for the chocolate icing and topping

300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chunked

450ml double cream

4 tablespoons apricot jam, melted

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

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

For the sponge, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is really pale, light and frothy. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and use a metal spoon to cut and fold into the mixture, until they are both fully incorporated.

Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until the sides are just shrinking away from the edge of the tin.

Place a piece of greaseproof paper bigger than the Swiss roll on your work surface. Invert the cake onto the paper and gently peel off the bottom lining of greaseproof paper.

Make a score mark 2.5cm in along one of the longer edges. Roll up (from the scored edge) using the paper, rolling with the paper inside. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally to evenly mix in the melted chocolate. Cool and then pop into the fridge to firm up.

Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and discard the paper. Spread one third of the chocolate icing over the surface and then re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from one end on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of the cake to a serving plate and then angle the cut end to the side of the larger cake to look like a branch. Cover the cake with melted apricot jam.

Now it gets really interesting. Mary put the chocolate icing into an icing bag fitted with a star nozzle and beautifully piped thick lines along the cake, covering it completely to look like bark. When I attempted this however, the nozzle flew off the end of the bag and the icing dumped onto the cake, looking somewhat like poo!!!!! I used my fingers to spread the chocolate all over the cake and then used a fork to try and recreate the bark effect….luckily the cake tastes amazing, which is just as well as it’s appearance leaves rather a lot to be desired!!!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

The cake was easy but I struggled with the decoration – I think that might just be me though!!!

 

Christmas Cake Marzipan

 

So, I made the Christmas cake one month ago and have duly been feeding it brandy. Onto stage 2: the marzipan layer to ‘seal’ the cake before the decorative icing goes on. Until last year, I always made my Christmas cake but then bought ready-made marzipan. I also wasn’t a great fan of the stuff. However, last year I made Simnel cake and followed Lisa Faulkner’s recipe for the marzipan: complete convert! I now LOVE marzipan (possibly slightly addicted) and also I cannot believe how ridiculously easy it is to make such wonderful stuff. Lightly fragranced and flavoured with almond and vanilla essences, beautifully emphasising the natural gorgeousness of the moist ground almonds, marzipan is a wonder all by itself. Take just a few minutes (that really is all it takes) to make your own: you won’t look back!

Makes enough for the 20cm round Christmas cake already blogged and a large handful left over for general mucking about with.

What you need…

500g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

250g icing sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon almond essence

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon lemon juice

What to do…

Chuck all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use and handheld electric whisk to beat everything together. When marble-sized balls have been formed, discard the whisk and use your hands to knead the marzipan together into a dough.

Roll the dough out to your personal desired thickness (I do mine just a little thicker than a pound coin but I know some people prefer more and there’s certainly enough marzipan here to accommodate a greater appetite!)

Measure the height of your cake and cut a long strip of marzipan wide enough to wrap around the cake and deep enough to go from top to bottom.

Brush apricot jam all over the side of the cake and stick your marzipan strip to it.

Likewise with the top. Use the original cake tin that you cooked the Christmas cake in as a template to cut out a circle. Brush the top of the cake with the jam and pop on your marzipan circle. Use your fingertips to blend in the sides and top of the marzipan covering.

Pop in a cake tin and leave to dry out for a couple of days before having fun with icing (blog to follow).

Inspired by…

The cake was Delia’s and the marzipan is inspired by Lisa Faulkner.

How easy…

Just a quick mix of ingredients: couldn’t be easier!

Scrumptious Christmas Stuffing

I made this for the first time last year, but it was for our actual Christmas lunch and I figured it would be a bit pointless blogging it after the effect. But so very, very luscious was this stuffing that I vowed to blog it this year. Duly, I made the stuffing last week, freezing all but a single portion which I figured I’d cook with Sunday lunch so that I could photograph it. All good planning but then I forgot about my little portion of stuffing and burnt the edges – no way was I going to photograph that so you’ve got this image instead: not remotely relevant I know! Back to the recipe: I know it works because I did it last year and I would urge you to take the time to give it a go: make this stuffing and you’ll never buy the packet stuff again – it’s sooooo very yummy: juicy and succulent inside; crispy on the outside; delicious throughout! And, like I said, you can freeze it raw and just defrost it Christmas morning! Merry Christmas! (from the beach!!!)

What you need…

50g stale bread, roughly chunked

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

200g vac-packed chestnuts

1 kg shoulder of pork, trimmed and chunked

A large handful of sage, leaves picked

3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

1 whole nutmeg, freshly grated

Zest of ½ lemon

Zest of ¼ orange

What to do…

If you’re preparing the stuffing to cook the same day, preheat your oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Tip the bread into your food processor (with the blade fitted) and whizz to create breadcrumbs. Tip them out of the food processor and into a large mixing bowl.

Tip the onions into your food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl.

Tip the chestnuts into the food processor and whizz into little chunks. You guessed it: add them to the bowl.

Into your food processor now add the pork, sage, bacon and season well with the salt and pepper. Add in the nutmeg as well as the lemon and orange zest and pulse the whole lot until you have some chunky stuffing and some mushy – it doesn’t take long.

Tip the pork mixture into the bowl with the other ingredients. With your hands, scrunch the whole lot together to make sure that all the ingredients are well mixed.

Divide into 2: half for inside your bird and the other half to be cooked in an oven-to-tableware baking dish. Wodge the stuffing firmly into the dish and then pop in the oven to cook for 50 minutes or so until bubbling and crispy.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

A festive whizz I’d say!!!

 

Perky Porky Sausagemeat

For the latest batch of sausage rolls, I couldn’t get to my favourite butchers to acquire really flavoursome sausagemeat and ended up just throwing a carton of the stuff into my trolley at the supermarket. It looked dull. I knew it was going to taste dull. I can’t be doing with dull sausage rolls so I had a rummage around the fridge and came up with the following addition to transform your bog-standard sausagemeat into something rather lovely, really tasty and quite Christmassy.

What you need…

700g sausagemeat

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated

A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt and black pepper

1½ teaspoons cloves, crushed

What to do…

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then make your sausage rolls as per normal (recipe already blogged). Bloody lovely: transforms very ordinary supermarket sausagemeat into something quite delish!!!

Inspired by…

A rummage around the kitchen and the motivation to distance my sausage rolls from dull!

How easy…

Couldn’t be simpler!

 

 

Brandy Alexander Cocktail

Peculiarly, Christmas provides me with the excuse to try out all sorts of cocktails that under normal circumstances I would deem OTT. Of those tried most recently (we now have a bar extremely well stocked with all sorts of unusual liqueurs and mixers) Brandy Alexander is my favourite. I have no idea whether this is authentic and quite honestly, I don’t care – it’s lovely: a real Christmas treat!

Serves Just 1 Lucky Person

What you need…

1 x cocktail shaker

A large handful of ice cubes

60ml brandy/cognac

40ml crème de cacao

30ml single cream

Nutmeg, freshly grated (optional) to garnish

What to do…

Into your cocktail shaker, tip in all the ingredients except the nutmeg. Pop on the lid and shake like mad. Pour into a very grown up glass created especially for cocktails. Sprinkle with nutmeg if using. Sit back, relax, sip and enjoy. Repeat until glass is empty. Consider making a second one!

Tip…

Crème de Cacao seems to be difficult to find in supermarkets. In the end: Amazon!

Inspired by…

Too long flipping through cocktail books writing very long short lists!

How easy…

You just need enthusiasm!

 

 

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