Archive for December, 2009

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Christmas Desserts

December 27, 2009


I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day, and for those of you who do it, a relaxing Boxing Day as well. Or for those of you brave enough to face the crowds, some excellent bargains at the sales.

We had a lovely Christmas here this year, we were down some people this year with part of the Clan in the UK and my mum and brother on the otherwise of Australia! we did some creative skype webcam goodness though, ate breakfast together (they did pancakes and ham & cheese croissants; we did pancakes (GF) with rhubarb and soy yoghurt, poached egg & bacon and choc chip waffles) and then moved on to opening presents together. The Husband got creative and used our TV to show them, which was nice. The technology wasn’t brilliant of course, but better than nothing right?

We then of course had the main affair with the remainder of the Clan. Food was kept fairly simple, what with my injury and well, the Clan traditionally doing cold spreads! so MIL cooked the Husbands favourite Christmas dish Gammon (studded with pineapple and cherries), and I made Silverside (as requested by my Puppa) with Mustard Sauce and Cranberry & Macadamia stuffed Chicken. We also roasted vegetables and steamed others. It was yummy.

However, this post is about the desserts! The 2 I created anyway – there was a choc-orange pudding as well, but this was purchased, and I already posted about the GF pudding (which went down a treat, with GF & DF custard) but these 2 were my favourites!

On the left we have a vanilla bean creme brulee made especially for the Husband who will not eat Christmas Pudding to save his life. It didn’t turn out perfectly, I think I may have slightly over cooked the custard base but it still tasted delicious, and looked so good speckled with vanilla and then with its gorgeous burnt sugar top (thank you Husband for my birthday present!) and the Husband ate 3 of the 4 created so it can’t have been to bad hey?

The Pudding….oh the Pudding! I wanted to eat all of it too myself, I ate a huge slice as it was, and everyone went back for seconds. Even MIL who usually only likes a “slither” because she says she doesn’t really like Christmas Pudding that much. I served mine floating in custard (just the way I like it) all warm and toasty, others just had a small dollop of custard (cold….) and still enjoyed it. The fruitiness was just right, texture, moist and perfectly pudding like. Oh if I do say so myself it is one of the best puddings I’ve ever had! there was half of it left at the end – I fear I went a little overboard, this I provided to our neighbour because he was unfortunately having a lonely Christmas with just a flyby visit from his daughter and her husband before they went on to their main event. I did not know this until half way through my day though, otherwise I would’ve invited him over. He keeps me supplied with fresh eggs all year round from his chickens! And, I saw him on boxing day and he informed me he ate half of it in one sitting because it was that good – gosh these wonderful ego boosting things!

Anyway, below are the recipes for the two desserts. Both were adapted from recipes I originally got from BBC Food

Christmas Pudding – made at least 2 months in advance

225g caster sugar
225g butter (frozen and grated)
955g mixed fruit
60g candied peel
110g plain flour
110g breadcrumbs
55g flaked almonds
zest of 1 lemon
5 eggs beaten
1t ground cinnamon
1t mixed spice
1t nutmeg
150ml rum (I use white rum)

Lightly grease 1 x 2L pudding basin (or multiple smaller ones)
Mix together all the dry ingredients
Stir in the eggs and rum, mix well
Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin, cover with a circle of baking parchment and foil secured with string.
Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the water up from time to time. The water should cover the sides of bowl up a third of the way. I always use my pasta pot so I can just lift out the steamer at the end.
Cool. Change the baking paper and foil. Store in cool cupboard for Christmas Day, feeding it every now and then.
On Christmas Day steam as before for 2 hours.

Vanilla Creme Brulee


300mL cream
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup of caster sugar (plus extra for top)
3 egg yolks

Combine cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk the sugar with egg yolks until thick, remove the bean from the cream and stir cream into egg yolk mixture.
Transfer to a heavy based saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over a low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, do not boil.
Remove from the heat, divide equally between 4 ramekins and cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours if not overnight.
To Serve, sprinkle the surface with extra caster sugar to form a layer about 3mm thick. Use torch to caramelise sugar – or you can use a hot grill. Allow to cool before serving.

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Gingerbread house

December 24, 2009


The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Due to the fact that I believed (pre-injury) that this month was going to be a crazy one full of baking different things, and well because I’d always wanted to make a gingerbread house I jumped on this challenge immediately. I was in the kitchen almost as soon as I read what the challenge was.

We had two choices for the dough and I followed the Great Scandinavian Baking Book’s recipe just because the ingredients required were those I had on hand (seriously, I jumped on the challenge as soon as I read it, going to the shop was not an option) I also made the simply syrup and royal icing for my decoration.
Now, I should quickly add that icing is a bit of a problem for me. I can make it fine, it tastes great, but the actual art of decorating?

Well……I’m abysmal (ergo recent purchase of: Essential Cake Decorating Cookbook) which fits in nicely with my Flavour of the Month Essential Christmas Cookbook ok side track done.

I had a lot of fun with this all the same, even if when I look at everyone else’s wonderful decorating I feel inferior! I did get my house to stand though so I feel that was an accomplishment for me and oh my word did it taste good! Oh it was so good, I was so glad of the left over dough because I just kept nibbling and nibbling as I was going. If I could pick at it some more (and you always can) it could have probably done with being rolled out a little thinner, but having said that I do prefer my gingerbread men fat, so it was just a default thing for me I think. And I made plenty little ginger bread men to give away as well, so many people benefited from this challenge.

Thank you very much! And I will start working on those decorating skills for next year!

Daring Kitchen

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Reindeer Shortbread (and Speculaas)

December 24, 2009


This no movement (and ergo no baking business) is really not cutting it. Especially not this close to Christmas, not when I’ve been planning on making cookie goodness for giveaways this week for the last few months. I like to do it last minute, as close to Christmas as I can. And alas….I can’t. However, I can post about two lots of biscuits I made earlier in December before injury for a work Christmas function we had to bring something too.

Of course, seeing as this month’s Flavour of the Month is Essential Christmas Cookbook the biscuits are from there.

I love Christmas, as I may have mentioned. I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a white Christmas in 2004 (in Scotland) but I’ve always wanted to experience Christmas in mainland Europe. One day I will, along with Hogmanay in Scotland!

What attracted me to these two recipes though were that desire and that memory. The reindeer is care of SIL for my birthday!

To quote the book: in Germany, preparations for Christmas start weeks before the day. Things such as advent wreaths, candles and calendars put everyone in the mood. The enduring tradition of the Christmas tree began in the 16th century but is said to have been popularised much later by the Germans, to whom it symbolised eternal life. In the 19th century they decorated their trees with fruits and biscuits which couldn’t be eaten until after the Twelfth Night when the tree was taken down.

Speculaas (German/Dutch) – a biscuit from the Rhine area in Germany and neighbouring Holland.
405g plain flour
1t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
¼ t ground cloves
¼ t ground cardamom
160g softened butter
310g brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
45g ground almonds

Preheat oven to 200C Cover baking trays with paper.
Sift flour, spices together in a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg mixing well and then the milk. Fold in the almonds then the sifted flour mix. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 45minutes.
Take from fridge and roll out into 4mm thick – can cut into shapes if you want or bake directly on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 minutes (mine take closer to 10 due to my oven!)
Cool the biscuits on wire racks. When cold, store in airtight container.

Scottish Shortbread
250g butter, softened
160g caster sugar
210g plain flour
90g rice flour
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a tray with baking paper
Beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and add the flours. Mix to a soft dough with a flad-bladed knife. Lift onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Transfer to the tray (the recipe suggested a pizza tray so you can flute and cut into segments….which would be more traditional but I didn’t) Bake in middle shelf for approximately 35minutes or until firm and lightly golden, cool on the tray.

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Flavour Mixture!

December 19, 2009


I have been a bit slack with my Flavour of the Month Essential Christmas Cookbook I actually thought I’d been doing ok, I thought I’d been baking and making a lot. But, I went a bit all out to begin with and suddenly have dropped off.

And, now…I’ve sustained an injury and am not allowed to walk until Christmas really. It’s an issue! But anyway, I can write about the things I have done still – I’m not stopped from doing that.
I am going to do a bit of a bulk post though, minus recipes – I feel a bit slack with that, but there is pain associated with my above injury. And, well I am slowly sipping my peppermint laced hot chocolate and watching Top Gear at the same time, so I am a little distracted.

First off is the Raised Pork Pie delightfully tasty! I could’ve devoured the whole thing too myself, the sage with the apples were delightful. Of course it’s not surprising to say the least that these worked well with Pork. It’s a quintessential combination isn’t it? However, as you can see……my pastry failed! Oh how it failed. Texture and taste wise it was good, but it wouldn’t hold its form, and it just fell to pieces as it cooked? Pastry continues to bother me!

Next up is the Raspberry Miroire I made this for a family gathering, minus the white bark on the outside. It was well received, I was a little worried about the texture but it actually turned out very well. My SIL was the person who I was concerned about in relation to this texture thing, and she enjoyed it so must’ve been ok yea? I had to pass on the recipe to the Husband’s aunt the next day so it worked out! And didn’t really take a good photo, because there was not really a lot of time for me to fiddle around between it being ready and it being taken to be eaten!

Then the Spicy Nuts were a hit with my grandmother, she loves nuts (as long as there were no hazelnuts) and she devoured them in half a moment. The original recipe just called for pecan, cashew and almonds but I just used a natural nut mix that included macadamias and walnuts as well. These are actually her favourite nuts so I really needed to include them didn’t I! I also, did not have any garlic powder so I substituted it with nutmeg, it worked well.

Finally Roast Sirloin with Mustard Sauce….saved the best for last! Oh my word it was divine! Perhaps it was the good quality meat I happened to get my hands on? Well it probably helped, but the recipe would’ve had something to do with it definitely! Oh it was moist and juicy and so perfect for the food to celebrate my 4th year wedding anniversary! I should actually stipulate that I didn’t make the mustard sauce, because I didn’t use a 1.5kg roast sirloin, I used 2 pieces of sirloin that I covered liberally with the mustard, honey and garlic mix they used as the crust. Oh it was good! My mouth waters as I remember it. Will have to do it again soon I think, and maybe take better photo’s because I was so busy wanting to eat it this time!

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GF & DF Scones

December 16, 2009


I have this great scone recipe that can be used with multiple substitutions and additions depending on peoples dietary needs. And today at work, we are having a lunch for a person who’s turning 40 on the weekend. And, as I believe I’ve previously mentioned one of the lovely ladies at work is GF and often doesn’t get catered for at these sorts of events. So combine this with my grandmother being around and what else could I make but something Gluten Free?

I discovered this recipe in my first year of marriages whilst the Husband was still not allowed to eat a plethora of things. The draw card? The name of the recipe was “gluten free, dairy free, egg free scones”! I can’t remember where I got this recipe but I am forever grateful for it because I adapted it in many ways for the Husband and gave him sweet scones to have with honey or (for whatever reason) sugar and margarine and made him savoury scones he could have with cheese or even with a meal instead of some sort of rice noodle/plain rice dish. Obviously at that time I was using a rice flour base because he wasn’t allowed the corn or potato found in many GF friendly flours, but I would also add a little almond meal and/or buckwheat and that worked well as well.

Variations have included ¼ cup of nuts + ½ cup of raisins or dried cranberries, plain or ¼ cup of cheese; ½ cup mashed pumpkin and once with just a few spices to make it “Christmas-y”….I think its pretty endless really just start with the base and add things if you want
This time around because of my grandma being here I used Nuttelex Olive Oil instead of margarine/butter and I also used soy milk (though you can also use rice milk if you want – or of course buttermilk if you don’t need to go dairy free). They also don’t puff up as much as normal scones, but that’s not too surprising is it?

GF & DF Scones


2 ½ cups GF flour mixture
1t xanthin or guar gum
3T sugar (optional)
2t baking powder
½ cup cold nuttelex (or margarine)
1 cup soy milk + 2T of lemon juice

Sift flours together, stir in cum, sugar and baking powder. Cut in the margarine (I used my KitchenAid for this). Once mixed dump into a bowl and stir in any additions you’re going to add (nuts etc) and then stir in buttermilk, mixing well (they won’t get tough). Turn out onto a board (floured) and gently knead for about 2 or 3 minutes. The dough should be soft but hold a shape.
Drop large spoonfuls of the dough directly onto a baking sheet and pat into the shape you want.
Place in pre-heated oven at about 180C and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
They don’t stay fresh for more than a day, so you can freeze them successfully when wrapped well and gently reheat them in a low microwave!

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Coke in Ham

December 16, 2009


In fairness of the “baked ham” mentioned in my Daring Kitchen post I thought I best give it it’s own entry. I have been using my Flavour of the Month cookbook, I promise, I just haven’t written all the entries yet, slack I know! That’s the plan for the weekend.

Anyway, so I’ve always wanted to try Nigella’s Ham in Cherry Coke from Feast so because the Clan decided to have a bit of a combined birthday/Christmas last Friday before BIL, SIL & Little E went away I thought this occasion called for something a little festive. So, Salmon en Croute from the Daring Kitchen and this ham seemed perfect!

I made a few adaptations from the normal recipe. I could NOT find cherry coke anywhere, so it became just ham in coke, but I did add far more cherry jam then the recipe called for in a little hope of adding some more of that flavouring. The end result to me, was delightfully soft, moist and tasty ham that I had to keep restraining myself from picking it before dinner was served! It didn’t win the Husband over in quite the same way as his usual Gammon Christmas Ham does (recipe for this will follow closer to Christmas, care of MIL!) but he did like it a lot and was happy to munch away on left over’s for a couple of days post meal so it wasn’t a failure either.

Ham in Coke


2.25kg boneless mild cure gammon
Approx. 6 cans of coke
1 onion
Glaze
Approx 16 whole cloves
8 T cherry jam
1 t smoked paprika
½ t red wine vinegar

Put the ham snugly into a large saucepan and fill with cold water. Put the pan on the heat and bring to the boil, then drain the ham into a colander, wash the ham under the tap and rinse the saucepan before putting the ham back in (this is to get rid of some of the saltiness)
Add the coke and the onion to the ham and if the liquid doesn’t cover the ham add some water. Put back on the heat and bring to the boil, turn this down to a simmer partially cover the pan and cook for about 2 hours.
When you are ready to glaze the ham, preheat the oven to 230C. Remove the ham from the liquid, reserving it for later and sit the ham on a board. Strip off some of the rind and a little of the layer and stud with cloves. Put the jam paprika and red wine vinegar into a saucepan and whisk together over the high heat, bringing to the boil and simmer until it reduces to a syrup consistency.
Sit the ham in a roasting pan pour the glaze over and put into the oven for 15minutes. Take the oven out of the oven, remove the cloves and rest before you carve it.

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Salmon en Croute

December 14, 2009


The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

This month facing the Daring Kitchen I thought I’d try and be a little bit clever. My grandmother is up visiting for the various events of December and she is a gluten and dairy free ‘vegetarian’ which presented a challenge. However, as salmon is her favourite thing to eat I felt I needed to give it a go! So for a Clan event I ran quickly to the kitchen to commence.

Firstly, I needed to make the pastry – gluten free. Now, pastry alone is a bit of a challenge for me. I’m not sure why, but it never turns out exactly the way I want it. It’s not bad, but its not perfect either. So adding this extra layer of complexity sure was fun! I followed a basic shortcrust recipe, just adding a touch more butter and a little bit of xanthium gum to try and create some elasticity. I made this a day in advance and chilled it overnight.

Next challenge, no dairy – answer Tofutti better than cream cheese , not exactly the same, but actually not so bad.

Apart from those adaptations I followed the recipe to the letter. And the result? It was ok. The pastry was gluten free and you could taste it, normal pastry gets enough after a little while, this….got enough after half that amount of time. It also failed miserably at being happy to be rolled out without crumbling. I ‘cheated’ and rolled it out between two sheets of baking paper and then used the bottom sheet to roll the pastry over the salmon, which whilst effective, wasn’t enough really. The insides were divine though, and quite well received. We had option of baked ham or Salmon en Croute, and half the table had a bit of both, which surprised me.

And, in fairness my grandmother did keep some for leftovers the next day – so it couldn’t have been all bad right?