Christmas

Spiced Poached Pears with Stilton

An absolute stunner this one: the combination of the sweet, festively spiced pears with the rich, creamy flavour of a fine Stilton is quite simply eye-rollingly, tastebud-partyingly good!!!!! Give them a try – spectacular – and yes, very easy and can be made ahead – my kinda recipe!

What you need…

300ml ‘robust’ red wine (I used Chianti)

300ml water

110g caster sugar

1.5cm cinnamon stick

3 cloves

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

6 firm (but not rock-hard) pears

A rather exuberant wedge of good quality Stilton

What to do…

Tip all the ingredients except the pears into a large saucepan and place over a moderate heat, occasionally stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and place upright in the pan – they should fit snugly.

Pop the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, spooning the red wine syrup over the pears a couple of times.

Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon and cloves. Spoon the syrup once more over the pears and then pop into the fridge overnight.

Take the Stilton out of your fridge at least an hour before you want to enjoy it and then, when you’re ready to indulge, remove the pears from the syrup and cut a thin slice off the bottom to ensure they will stand upright on the serving plates. Cut yourself a nice, fat slice of Stilton and serve with a pear drizzled with just a little of the the spicy syrup:  del-ic-ious!!!!

Tip…

Use 3 pears with the Stilton and follow by serving the remaining 3 pears with cinnamon ice-cream!!!!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy!

Christmas Tear ‘n’ Share Soda Bread

This little number is scheduled for breakfast on the morning of Christmas Eve. Straight from the oven, it’s fabulous on it’s own or with a festively unhealthy slathering of fridge-cold butter. The lovely Christmas fruit and spices work wonderfully in this sweet bread that is ridiculously easy to make.

What you need…

1 x baking tray, dusted with flour

350g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

25g golden caster sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

30g pitted dates, chopped

30g dried cranberries

30g sultanas

30g raisins

30g pecans/walnuts, chopped

300ml buttermilk

½ tablespoon vanilla bean paste

A sprinkling of candied peel

A sprinkling of demerara sugar

A sprinkling of icing sugar, for decoration

What to do…

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

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt, spices and fruit.

Mix the vanilla paste into the buttermilk and then pour the whole lot into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to bring the ingredients together to create a dough.

Tip the dough out into the centre of your baking tray and use floured hands to roughly flatten it out a bit into a circle. Use your spatula to cut the dough into even slices, making sure you cut all the way through (the number of slices is up to you).

Sprinkle with candied peel and demerara sugar and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave the bread on the baking tray for 10 minutes before sprinkling with icing sugar. Pop your Christmas soda bread onto a festive plate and put in the middle of the table for much tearing and sharing!

Tip…

If you can’t get buttermilk, mix full fat milk with 3 tablespoons lemon juice instead.

Inspired by…

I watched Nadiya Hussain make a chocolate soda bread recently and substituted the chocolatey ingredients for Christmassy ones – had to make a couple before I got the recipe just right but we persevered (tough job – someone had to do it!!!!)

How easy…

Dead easy and really quick. For a bread it requires very little attention.

 

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

Mincemeat, Apple and Panettone Pudding

So, I checked this recipe out last week, having just enough mincemeat and panettone left from Christmas – a good way of using it up I thought. As you can see from the image, this pudding is not the most glamorous. However, on tasting the first mouthful, both John and I were blown away. Underneath that brown topping is a pudding that is simply and lusciously sensational. It’s that good, that I’m doing it again this Sunday after a roast dinner with friends but…am going to have to make more mincemeat and have been donated a spare panettone to complete the task! It’s worth it!!!

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 x baking dish, liberally buttered

500g sharp eating apples

3 tablespoons water

200g mincemeat

60g butter, melted

250g panettone, processed to course crumbs

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Peel, core and chunk the apples and tip them into a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, leaving the apples to collapse into a purée (I left my quite lumpy as I like finding little chunks of apple in amongst the mixture).

Remove from the heat and gently stir through the mincemeat – don’t mix it altogether to a brown mush but rather leave it unevenly mixed – looks and tastes better. Tip the whole lot into your baking dish.

Pour the melted butter into the panettone crumbs and mix thoroughly to create a loose, moist jumble of crumbs and dried fruit.

Tip the crumbs over the mincemeat and apple, leaving the surface rough and rustic! Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serve with custard, double cream or ice-cream. Watch how fast this glorious pud is demolished!!!!

Inspired by…

Nigel Slater

How easy…

Sloth like effort required. Perfect for a leisurely Sunday lunch.

New Year’s Eve Dinner

I always think that a New Year’s Eve dinner with family and friends should be a wonderful relaxed indulgence, even though the excesses of Christmas are still lingering. So, our menu for tomorrow evening marries indulgence with ease: tried and tested dishes that can be mainly prepared in advance, assuring me that I can be chatting, sipping and merrymaking rather than glowing over a hot stove. Cheers and an early ‘Happy New Year’!

What we’re having…

Gambas Pil Pil

~

Just Gorgeous Beef Casserole with Red Wine and Cinnamon

Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes, Broccoli Sautéed in Garlic and Pancetta

~

Anglo Italian Trifle

Coffee and Kahlua Ice Cream

Preparation…

The raw prawns are marinating in oil, garlic and chilli in the fridge, prepped this morning.

The beef is marinating in red wine, garlic, bay leaves and cinnamon in the fridge, prepped this morning. The casserole will be finished off tomorrow afternoon and left to create its magic in the oven for 2 hours, 30 minutes.

The potatoes will be prepared tomorrow morning and then popped in a plastic bag into the fridge before being tossed onto a baking dish and oven-roasted for 40 minutes.

The broccoli will be boiled to al dente tomorrow morning, cooled and popped into the fridge. I’ll sauté them just before serving main course.

I’m going to turn my hand to the trifle in a minute and will then pop it into the fridge to gather flavours (or marinate!) overnight.

The ice cream was whipped up in 15 minutes this morning and is now in the freezer.

Job done! Looking forward to a lovely relaxed evening and a brand spanking new year! xx

 

Gambas Pil Pil copy

 

 

 

Beef Casserole with Red Wine and Cinnamon copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anglo Italian Trifle 2 copy_1     Coffee & Kahlua Ice cream 1 copy

 

Scrumptious Christmas Stuffing (revisited and tweaked)

Honestly, if you make this, you’ll never revert to the packet stuff again!!!! And, there’s still plenty of time – I made mine this morning. I know it works because I’ve done it for the last two years and I would urge you to give it a go: it’s sooooo very yummy: juicy and succulent inside; crispy on the outside; delicious throughout! And it has two further benefits: 1) it can be made in advanced and frozen raw, simply to be defrosted and popped in the oven on Christmas day and 2) it’s festively easy – there’s literally just a little whizzing in the processor and then diving into a bowl to mix with your hands (deeply satisfying). Merry Christmas!

What you need…

50g stale bread, roughly chunked

2 large red 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!!!

Baked Glazed Gammon (Revisited)

OK, so normally we hold off until Christmas Eve but this is soooooo lovely that we’ve already had this luscious gammon twice this month already. A wonderfully easy recipe that is incredibly tasty – the best gammon recipe I’ve come across and the only one that we cook in the Duffield household!

Serves 8 with left overs

What you need…

1 x unsmoked gammon joint, weighing about 4 kg

1 carrot, cut in half

1 onion, cut in half at root

1 celery stick

1 bay leaf

10 peppercorns

for the glaze

8 tablespoons good quality marmalade

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

2 tablespoons black treacle

A handful of cloves

What to do…

Soak the gammon overnight if you’re having it for lunch or all day if you are having it in the evening. Discard the soaking water before starting.

Put the gammon in a large saucepan, cover with water and add the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, cover and then turn down the heat to a low simmer for 2¾.

Pre heat the oven to 180°c / 350f / gas 4

When the gammon is cooked, remove from the cooking water and set aside to drain.

Make the glaze by mixing all of the ingredients (except the cloves) together in a bowl.

Cut the rind off the gammon, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat diagonally in a criss-cross pattern and then stud with cloves all over. Put the gammon in a roasting tin, brush/spoon over the glaze and bake for about 30 minutes until sticky and golden. The smell will make you swoon! Serve your Baked Glazed Gammon with warm gorgeous doorstep bread and salted butter. Yummy!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

The easiest baked gammon recipe I have tried and soooooo delicious!

Proper Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Shortbread

Utterly delicious, delectable and delightful is this recipe for buttery, sweet shortbread! And also, they are a doddle to make and take only 10 minutes to cook. First batch was made on Sunday with the grand kids and I feel that we will be on at least our third batch by the end of week!

Makes 8 – 12 slices in a 23cm tin or numerous Christmas trees or stars!

What you need…

175g plain flour

125g butter, cubes and at room temperature

50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

A good pinch of salt

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

Christmas tree or star-shaped cookie cutters and a lightly buttered baking sheet (or 1 x 23cm lightly buttered tart tin for more traditional shortbread slices)

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 190˚c / 375˚f / gas 5.

Chuck all the ingredients into your food processor and pulse until a dough is formed. Roll out and cut your chosen shapes out. Roll out again and repeat (you can probably only roll out twice as you don’t want to be fiddling around with the dough). Alternatively, roll it out to fit the tart tin, press the mixture in and fork the edges.

For the shortbread biscuits, bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until they are just starting to turn golden at the edges. If your cooking the big one in the tart tin, bake for 30 – 35 minutes and then cut it into 8 – 12 segments as soon as it comes of out the oven.

When cool, sprinkle with caster sugar (or spray with edible gold in Sophia’s case!)

That’s it! Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or just by themselves – seriously yummy!