Friday, December 31, 2010

Cranberry Bakewell Tart

I love bakewells, and the minute I saw this recipe for Nigella's cranberry bakewell, I knew it had to be our christmas dessert this year.

For the pastry
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 stick plus 1 tbsp cold butter
1 egg, beaten
1-3 tbsp iced water
pinch salt

Put the flour, almonds and confectioners sugar into a food processor and pulse together. Add the diced butter and process again until the mixture looks like oatmeal.

Beat together the egg, salt and ice water and tip down the funnel of the food processor as it is running, to bind the pastry. Form the pastry into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge.

For the filling
1 stick plus 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
zest and juice of 1 clementine
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 cup cranberry jam
8 oz royal icing
Preheat the oven to 400
Melt the butter and leave it to cool slightly. Beat together the sugar, eggs and zest, then add in the melted butter, stir in the ground almonds.
Roll out the disc of pastry to fit in a 10 inch deep fluted tart pan with a removable base, and prick the base with a fork. Spread the jam onto the pastry and pour over the almond mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes, leave to cool completely on a wire rack. once cooled make the royal icing using the juice from the clementine, work over the top of the tart and decorate with sliced almonds.

Pumpkin Spice Truffles

I made these to send to my father in law and also to take to a friends house on boxing day. I am not the biggest fan of truffles, but these are really very good. I found the recipe over at Annie's Eats.

1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup finely ground gingersnaps
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. icing sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of orange zest
4 oz. cream cheese, softened

For dipping:
about 16 oz. chopped white chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons of crisco
For garnish:
Additional gingersnap crumbs

To make the truffle filling, melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water just until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Add the pumpkin, gingersnap and graham cracker crumbs, icing sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and cream cheese. Mix well until completely blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator or freezer until it has thickened up enough to scoop and roll into balls (about 1 hour).

Scoop the filling mixture and roll into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Transfer to a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and let chill until firm, about 2 hours.

When you are ready to dip the truffles, melt the white chocolate and crisco in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Once completely melted and smooth, carefully dip one of the balls into the chocolate. We prefer the look of twice dipped truffles, so after the first dip we let them cool in the fridge and then re-dip in the white chocolate. After the second dip, sprinkle with additional gingersnap crumbs. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until the coating is set.

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Yet another Nigella recipe! I have made roast potatoes so many times, but I have never added semolina to them before. We all agreed that these were the best roast potatoes I have ever made.

5 pounds potatoes
2 tablespoons semolina
1 cup goose fat

Preheat the oven to 450

Peel the potatoes, and cut each into thirds.

Place the potatoes into salted cold water in a saucepan, and bring them to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 4 minutes. Drain then tip the potatoes back into the empty saucepan.

Sprinkle the semolina over the top of the potatoes. Hold a lid firmly on top of the pan and shake the potatoes around to coat them well and so that their edges fuzz a little.

Place the goose fat into a large roasting tin and heat in the oven until very hot. Then carefully place the semolina-coated potatoes into the hot fat and roast the potatoes in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until they are darkly golden and crisp, turning them over halfway through cooking.

Bread Sauce

I love bread sauce, and christmas dinner really wouldn't be complete without it. This is another Nigella Lawson recipe (most of our christmas dinner came from recipes from her christmas cook book) if you have never made your own bread sauce then this would be the one to try, it's so good and I will definitely be making this again.

1 loaf unsliced white bread
2 pints full-fat milk
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp white peppercorns
¼ tsp ground mace
2 tsp salt
1oz butter
2 tbsp cream
1 fresh nutmeg, for grating

Slice and remove the crust from the bread and leave the pieces out on a wire rack to dry out.

Pour the milk into a saucepan. Press a clove into each quarter of the onion.

Add the onion quarters, bay leaves, peppercorns and the mace along with the salt and bring to the mixture almost to its boiling point.

Remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let the ingredients infuse for at least half an hour.

After the mixture has infused, strain the milk and place the pan back on a very low heat.

Tear the bread into strips and addd to the saucepan and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, by which time the sauce should have become thick and warm.

Just before serving the bread sauce, add the butter, cream and grate over some nutmeg.

Spiced Turkey

I have never brined a turkey before, but I found this recipe in Nigella Lawson's christmas cook book, and really wanted to try it. The only trouble we had was that the seal on the brining bag wouldn't stay closed, so we ended up using christmas ribbon to tie the bag, at least it was festive!

10 pints water
4 1/4-ounces salt
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
4 cloves
2 tablespoons allspice berries
4 star anise
2 tablespoons white mustard seeds
7 ounces caster sugar
2 onions, quartered
1 (3-inch) piece ginger, cut into 6 slices
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons clear honey
Handful fresh parsley
1 orange, quartered
1 12 lb turkey

For the basting glaze:
2 3/4 ounces butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Place the water into a brining bag and add all the turkey ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you add in the pieces.)

Put the turkey into the bag, add more water if the turkey is not completely submerged. Keep refrigerated overnight or for up 1 or 2 days before you cook it. Take it out of the water and wipe it dry 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven.

For the basting glaze place the butter and syrup into a saucepan and cook over a low heat, while stirring, until the ingredients have melted and combined.

Brush the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically throughout the roasting time.

Preheat the oven to 425 cook the turkey for 30 minutes at this relatively high temperature, then turn the oven down to 350 and continue cooking, For a 12 pound turkey, allow 3 to 3 1/2 hours. when the juices run clear, the turkey is cooked.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cranberry Jam

For christmas day dessert I am making Nigella Lawson's cranberry bakewell tart, and the first step of that is to make the cranberry jam. I've never made any kind of jam before, but this recipe is very simple and only took about 15 minutes to make.

4 cups cranberries
1 3/4 cups sugar

Put a film of water in a large pan, add sugar and cranberries and cook over medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved. Turn up the heat and rapidly boil for 7 minutes. Pour the jam into a sterilised jar and seal immediately.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Saltine Toffee Cookies

I thought these would make a great addition to our holiday treats this year, and they are so quick and easy to make, and the end result tastes like a dime bar!
The original recipe calls for sprinkling chopped pecans over the top, but I did half with chopped macadamia nuts and half with crumbled heath bar.

1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 - cup light brown sugar
1 - 12 oz package chocolate chips
1 - cup chopped nuts or heath bar

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer.
3.In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread t cover crackers completely.
4.Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I haven't given this weeks menu a second thought until I started to post this, and as we didn't grocery shop at the weekend and have no plans to until Wednesday, I am making this up as I go. I have no idea if we will even stick to this, but for now, this is it.

Monday: Roast lamb, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, green beans and mint sauce (mum's cooking dinner)

Tuesday: BLT's and soup

Wednesday: Bangers and mash with onion gravy (mum will cook again)

Thursday: No idea, probably eat out

Friday: Our plans for Christmas eve have not yet been finalised

See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Toad In The Hole

I have not had a good old english toad in the hole for a very long time. My mum made this for us, and I have already told her that she has to make it again before she leaves.

4oz plain flour
4 large eggs
½ pint milk
2 tbsp fresh thyme
6 english pork sausages
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and peppr

1. To make the batter, sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper

2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs. Using a wooden spoon, gradually beat the eggs into the flour then slowly beat in the milk

3. Stir in the thyme. Cover and leave to stand for up to 4 hours

4.Preheat the oven 400F

5.Heat a large skillet and cook the sausages until golden-brown all over

6.Place the vegetable oil into an ovenproof dish and heat in the oven for five minutes or until the dripping is very hot

7.Add the sausages to the hot dish and pour in the batter. Immediately return the dish to the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown.

See other recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge, Gooseberry Patch, Eat At Home

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Beef stew with suet dumplings

Thursday: Tilapia with parsley sauce, mashed potatoes and minted peas (didn't make it last week)

Friday: Probably eating out

See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feta Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is one of my mum's favourite meatless meals, and she made them for the hubby and I for the first time the other day. They are very quick and easy to make, but they are so delicious, and we will definitely be making these again.

4 red bell peppers
Grape tomatoes
Fresh thyme
Feta cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Split peppers in half and clean out seeds, rub with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and some fresh tyhme. Fill the peppers with grape tomatoes and roast at 350 for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, sprinkle with feta cheese and return to oven for 5-10 more minutes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Stuffed bell peppers and salad

Tuesday: Toad in the hole, mashed potatoes, peas and gravy

Wednesday: Crockpot red chicken curry with butternut squash and jasmine rice

Thursday: Tilapia with parsley sauce, mashed potatoes and minted peas

Friday: King ranch chicken

See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie