Merry Christmas

Christmas Countdown 22 Recipes for a Merry Christmas

If you have been. Thank you for reading. This concludes the 22 recipe Christmas Countdown. All thats left for me to say is “I hope you have found these recipes useful & you have enjoyed, reading these blogs.

Click the photos below to take you to the individual recipes. OR the blue link below will take you to all the recipes, mentioned below in the drop down menu of Christmas Countdown.

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HEALTHY & HAPPY NEW YEAR

Christmas Get Aheads

Time saving Christmas Tips.

Christmas Countdown. The big day is nearly here. Could you be interested in any time saving tips, on the run up to that festive feast. No. Of course not, you are not worried, or panicked, no doubt you are sitting down, with your feet up watching your favourite Christmas movie. Or, maybe you are tearing your hair out, bitting those finger nails & wondering how you are going to cope? Have a read, you might find something to assist you.

Lots of things can be prepared, ahead of the big day, saving you time & allowing you to demonstrate just how good a hostess you are:

  1. Laying the festive table, the day before is alway a good idea. Delegate the task to someone else and check that all is in order, with nothing forgotten. Make sure you have enough glasses for all those festive drinks. Don’t stress if they are mis-matched. No one will notice, as long as they have a drink.
  2. Peel the spuds & par boil them. place in a bowl, & toss in whichever hot oil you are using, on the day.
  3. If you are serving mash, invest in a potato ricer. No only can you have your own, cheap, cauliflower, brocolli or carrot rice. It saves time trying to mash those lumps out. Start a new trend, to impress your guests. Place the rice potato in a serving dish, & hand butter or oil seperately. (will satisfy all dietry requirements!)
  1. Of course, if you have chosen a cold starter, this can be prepared the day before. Was salad veg ready & wrap in kitchen towels & store in the fridge.
  2. Slice carrots & celery sticks into chunky strips. Plave in a casserole or roasting tin. Sprinle with chopped parsley & pop in the oven to cook. Drain, reserving the stock for the gravy. & serve. (Any root veg can be cooked in the same way)
  3. Make your gravy the day before, thicker than usual. when the Turkey is cooked pour some of the juices from the roasting tin, into the made gravy to add more flavour & thin it down. If lumpy, pass it through a sieve.
  4. If you need a quick extra pud. Keep a shop bought pastry case to hand. Spread mincemeat over the base & arrange apple slices on top. Grate over some marzipan & bake. Sprinkle with icing sugar & serve.

Hope you find some of this useful. Just remember, delegation is the key. This is after all, just another roast dinner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Above all. ENJOY. It is your Christmas too.

Glace fruits, nuts, vegan Christmas Cake

Veg & Leftovers

Vegetarian Recipes

Afternoon foodies from a gloomy, wet, Wiltshire. Veg & leftovers are the topic for day 16 of Christmas Countdown. From a warming Cauliflower dish with a twist, to what to do with those leftovers.

We are all familiar with cauliflower cheese, but have you thought about using different cheeses & turning it into a soup? Below you will find my, lighter,  adaptation of that classic french soup Creme Dubarry. (Creme of Cauliflower Soup). Experiment away with different cheeses, use up those leftover bits of mousetrap from the Christmas Cheese board & if cauliflower is not your thing, substitue it for broccoli.

Cauliflower & Blue Cheese Soup.

Serves 4. Time taken 45mins.         G/F. Vegetarian.  Allergens: Milk. Nuts.

Ingredients:

Large Cauliflower, broken into florets.

Large potato, peeled & chopped into chunks.

2 Bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed

600ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock

175g Blue Cheese, crumbled

150ml Milk

White pepper & a little grated nutmeg 

200g Walnuts, Toasted & chopped.

METHOD:

In a large saucepan, place the cauliflower, potato, stock, bayleaves & garlic. Bring to the boil & simmer for 30mins, until tender.

Take off the heat, remove the bay leaves & using a stick blender, blend until smooth.

Add the crumbled cheese & stir over a low heat, until the cheese has melted.

Season with pepper & grated nutmeg

If you prefer a thinner, soup add the milk.

Serve, sprinkled with the toasted, chopped walnuts.

Thats the left over cheese & some nuts dealt with.

You will find another vegetarian recipe using cauliflower in a previous blog:  Cauliflower & Canellonni Burgers

Veg, burgers, beans, cheese, healthy eating,
Veggie Burgers

Left overs

If you have left over roast potatoes & bacon wrapped sausages, make yourself a breakfast fritatta.

Slice the left over potatoes & fry over a medium heat until golden, add the bacon & sausages & fry for a few minutes longer.  Turn up the heat.

Preheat the grill on high.

Beat together, 6 large eggs with seasoning & quickly pour over the potatoes, bacon & sausages in the pan. Lifting the edges, to let the egg run under the veg & set.   While the top is still slightly runny. Sprinke with some more of that leftover cheese & place under the grill, until the cheese is melted. Serve with those soft leftover tomatoes.

leftovers, fritatta, roast potatoes, cheese, pigs in blankets
Left overs. Breakfast Frittata

Thats all for today foodies.  Any comments or requests will be answered tomorrow. Enjoy your evening.

A little knowledge

Cookery Tips & recipes

Day 14 of the Christmas Countdown. Do hope you are all enjoying the daily recipes & hopefully trying them out. All have been tried & tested in various households, during my 40 years as a cook.

Today I am going to give you a recipe & a few food tips, which you may find useful. Also a couple of excellent suppliers which I can highly recommend.

The little cheese biscuits in the photo are so easy to make, they really melt in the mouth & are great for those Christmas drinks parties. You can sandwich them with cream cheese, either on its own, or with the addition of chopped herbs, garlic or some chopped ham & mustard. They can also be used as the base for a canape. Pipe pate, creamed cheese etc  on top & decorate with smoked salmon, caviar, chopped sundried tomatoes. The choice is yours.

To make the biscuits, mix together, equal amounts of butter (real, not a spread) grated cheese, & plain flour together. Season & chill in the fridge for 30mins. When ready to use, roll out & bake at 200c 400f Gas 6 for 7-10mins. DO WATCH THEM AS THEY BURN QUITE EASILY.  Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes, before removing to a cooling rack.

The raw dough will keep in the fridge for 1 week. Store cooked biscuits in an air tight container for 1 week.

Whilst on the subject of cheese, you will be needing some Chutneys or pickles to go with it. You can do no better that POT OF WHAT 

Delicious home made tracklements from the Cotswolds

This lovely company, home makes the most delicious, Jams, Marmalades, Chutneys & Pickles, with many of their fruits & veg, being grown by themselves. Their Hot Chilli Jam is to die for. Add a couple of tablespoons to a casserole to give it some extra Omph! or spice up a salad by using it as a base for a chilli dressing. Its usefulness has no limits.

Gin, pink gin, botanic, tipples, party time,

To go with the Canapes (Alcohol) GIN 

Wicked Wolf Gin is a small batch, handcrafted Gin, made in Devon on Exmoor. It’s light pepper notes, layers of citrus with juniper & corriander, make it, to me, a Queen of Gins. Try it with a slice of orange & a sprig of fresh Rosemary.  The perfect libation, at any time of the year.

sharon fruit, recipes, persimmon, healthy eating

Persimmon a delicious, versitile fruit

Also know a Sharon Fruit, these fruits originate from Japan & are pentiful at this time of the year. The fruit is high in antioxidants & is brimful of fibre & nutrients. There is no need to peel, as like all fruit, most of the nutrients lurk, just under the skin, which also provides more fibre. If you like a baked apple, try baking this filled with dried cranberries & pistachio nuts, for a low calorie, winter dessert. Served with yoghurt, of course. It is also delicious gated into a salad with chopped celery & walnuts. Serve with a blue cheese dressing. YUM.

Have a browse of the websites I have given you the links for & give them a try.  

Thats all for today. Be with you all again tomorrow, for day 15 of Christmas Countdown.

A change from Sage & Onion

Stuffing recipes

Day 11 of The Christmas Countdown is STUFFINGS. Below you will find three different recipes to help you “Stuff that bird”. If you fancy a change from good old sage & onion, then read on. You will find a gluten free & vegetarian option.

Always keep in mind that stuffing can be used in numerous ways.   Try stuffing different vegetables & baking them.  A good hearty stew, either with meat, poultry or vegetables can be turned into a flavoursome dish with the addition of some homemade stuffing balls, dropped into the pan 30 mins before the end of the cooking time. A healthier option to dumplings.

APRICOT & PISTACHIO STUFFING  *

50g Butter or Olive oil

1 Large Onion, peeled & finely chopped

2, Stalks Celery, Finely chopped

150g Dried Apricots, chopped

200g Breadcrumbs,

Grated rind & juice of 1 Orange

150g Pistachio Nuts, Shelled & chopped

Chopped, Fresh Parsley & Thyme

Chicken Stock or White wine.

Seasoning.

METHOD:

Heat the oil & better in a pan & fry onion & celery until golden.

Put the remaining ingredients in the pan & mix well until all ingredients are combined.

If you fell the mixture is to dry, add a little stock or white wine.

SWEET POTATO & LIVER STUFFING   *

1kg Sweet Potato, freshly cooked

50g Butter Softened

1 Large Onion, peeled & finely grated

Liver from the Turkey, chopped

2 Eggs, beaten

2 Tbspns Chopped fresh, Parsley

1 Tbspn Chopped fresh Sage

Sprinkle of Chilli Flakes, or more according to taste,

Seasoning

METHOD:

Mash the potatoes finely, add all remaining ingredients & mix well. Leave until cold before using.

SAVOURY RICE STUFFING.  *

1 Large Onion, peeled & chopped

1 Large Yellow Pepper, deseeded & finely chopped

100g Smoked bacon lardons

1 Tbspn Olive oil

2 Large Tomatoes, skinned & chopped

Finely chopped Basil & Oregano

200g boiled brown basmatti  Rice (cooked weight)

Seasoning to taste.

METHOD:

Heat the oil in a pan & slowly fry the onion, bacon & pepper until the onion is golden.

Remove from heat & stir in the rest of the ingredients until well combined.

Leave until cold before using.

*   Food Hygiene. Always remember when making stuffing in advance, to cover & store in the fridge until needed, especially those containing raw meat or rice. Always stuff the turkey, just prior to cooking, not in advance.

As always, if you have a question about any of the recipe, or you have a particular recipe request, please leave your comment in the box below.

Until tomorrow, enjoy your evening.

The Christmas Starter

Smoked Trout & Avocado recipe

There’s a touch of vintage to day ten of the Christmas Countdown. 

If you want a nod to the 70’s you could fill the centre of this ring -when you have turned it out-. with good old Prawn Cocktail. This would make a substantial starter, or a fishy addition to the Boxing day Buffet. You could even serve Melba toast as an accompaniment.

For myself, I would fill the centre with some fresh leafy shoots & herbs, in a light lemon dressing.

This recipe can be make a couple of days ahead & kept, covered in the fridge. When the time comes to serve,  dip the mould in hot watet for a few seconds, place a plate on the mould & quickly turn over, to release. Place back in the fridge, until ready to decorate & serve.

avocado, smoked trout, greek yoghurt, mascapone, dill
Smoked Trout & Avocado

Smoked Trout & Avocado ring.

Serves 6.  G/F, V.  Allergens:  Dairy, Fish      Equipment: 800ml ring mould

Time taken:  45 mins + chilling time 

INGREDIENTS 

200g Pack Smoked Trout         

2. Ready to eat Avocado’s  Peeled & chopped 

Fresh Dill to decorate

225g Mascapone Cheese

225g Greek Yoghurt

1/2 level tspn salt

White pepper

1 Tbspn Creamed Horseradish

150ml Cold Water

15g powdered gelatine (Vegetarian)

METHOD

Measure the cold water into a small saucepan, add the salt & sprinkle over the gelatine. Allow to soak for 5mins, & heat gently, stiring, until the gelatine has dissolved. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL Remove from the heat & allow to cool.

Rinse out the rind mould with cold water & line,  with the smoked trout slices.

Place the Mascapone, 1/2 the yoghurt, horseradish & pepper to taste into a bowl & mix well to blend.

Stir in the cold gelatine & chopped avocado & gently fold in the remaining yoghurt.

Spoon the mixture into the fish lined mould. Cover with cling film & place in the fridge until set.

When ready to serve, turn out, see above. Decorate & serve.

Variations: 

Substitute the trout, for thinly sliced parma ham, & the avocado for diced sundried tomatoes & olives.  Fill the centre with rocket leaves, dressed in olive oil & shaved parmesan.

For a vegan option. Line the mould with thinly sliced cucumber. Replace the cheese & yoghurt with vegan substitutes.

I am sure you can all get your creative caps on & experiment with many different variations on the above recipe.

That all for today. As always, if you have any questions about your festive cookery. Please ask, by leaving a comment in the box below. I will answer tomorrow.

Have a great evening.

The Icing on the cake

Recipe for Fondant Icing

Day 9 of the Christmas Countdown. On day 7, you had The late Cake recipe  on day & Marzipan & today Home made fondant icing, for covering.

Must just say, I am feeling very lucky today, the lovely Emma Coleman from BBC Radio Wiltshire visited my little Stable kitchen, last week, to interview me.  That was luck in itself, but just imagine my feeling of elation when my recorded interview appeared not just on one, but both the Rachel Houghton’s morning show & the lovely James Thomas afternoon show.

I will also be talking about Truffleicious & my blog on The Social, with Sue Kinnear & Tim Weeks. BBC Radio Wiltshire, Mon 17th December 2018 at 7pm 

Now. If you heard the programmes & read my previous blog on store bought icing  – link in red below – you may wish to make your own Fondant Icing (Ready rolled). The recipe follows:

FONDANT ICING. Covers 1 x 10cm cake.

1, level dessertspoon powdered gelatine, mixed with 3 dessertspoons of cold water.

100gm Granulated Sugar

6.Tbspns hot water

1.Tbspn Fresh Lemon Juice

2.tspns vanilla essence

25ml Vegetable oil

1/2 – 3/4 kg Sifted Icing Sugar.

METHOD

Place granulated sugar, hot water & lemon juice in a small saucepan & bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve.

Cover & boil for 2mins, uncover & boil for a futher 5mins until a little of the syrup forms a soft ball when dropped into very cold water.

Add the gelatine mix, essence & oil & stir to dissolve. Cool until luke warm.

Put half the icing sugar in a large boil & add the syrup mixture,stir well to combine. Gradually work in the remaining icing sugar, with the fingers, kneading until the mix becomes, smooth & pliable.

Place in a plastic bag & leave at room temperature overnight.

Roll out on a board dusted with sifted icing sugar & use to cover your cake. At this stage you can knead any colourings into the icing. This icing is also suitable for moulding. See the little snow men in the photo above.

You will also find my original blog, regarding the nasties in store bought icing, by clicking the link below:How do you like your icing

If you have any questions on your Christmas cookery please feel free to ask.

Just leave your question in the comment box below.

If you have been. Thank you for reading & possibly listenening.

Marzipan or Sugarpan?

Make your own Marzipan

Day 8 of my Christmas countdown, as promised yesterday in my Late Christmas Cake recipe  today’s recipe is for home made Marzipan.

Although I personally do not favour a traditional Christmas Cake, preferring something lighter & less sugary, I know, for a lot of people, Christmas would not be complete without one. The cake in yesterdays recipe is a variation on the good old traditional theme. Today’s marzipan recipe is prepared using fresh natural ingredients & also makes you aware of the additives & preservatives used in most store bought Marzipan or Almond paste, as it is also known.

Do you head to the super market & grab a pack of ready -made Marzipan? Have you read the small print on theback?  It should really be called Sugarpan, because the main ingredient is, guess what, SUGAR!!  OK, most recipes call for half ground almonds & half sugar, but even in the more respected stores, ground Almonds only account for 25% of the product, the rest being made up with the afore mentioned sugar & other additives. So here goes:

HOME MADE MARZIPAN

. G/F. V. Low Fodmap  Allergens: EGG. Cooking Time Nil. Covers 1 10cm Cake or smaller cake with enough left over to make chocolate marzipans.

Ingredients:

450g Ground Almonds (Good Quality)

225g Icing Sugar

225g Caster Sugar

2 Small Eggs

Juice of half a lemon

1. Tbspn Rum or Sherry

1.Tbspn Orange Flower Water

Few drops Almond Essence

METHOD

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl & mix together well.

Pour in the lightly beaten eggs & add the other liquids, mixing with your hands, to form a smooth paste.

DO NOT USE A FOOD MIXER. When the ingredients have bound together, forming a smooth paste, wrap in cling film & chill for a couple of hours. Over working the paste will result in an oily paste, caused by the oil being released from the almonds. Ifyou do not wish to use alcohol in the recipe, replace with Elderflower Syrup.Use fresh, free range eggs, as the rich yellow yolks, produce a good coloured Marzipan.

Use as required, rolling out on a board which has been dusted with icing sugar, to prevent sticking.

Any left- over Marzipan can be rolled onto balls or cut into shapes & dipped in melted chocolate & used for decoration. If you are feeling creative, you can always whip up a boozy Christmas Stollen with your lovely home made Marzipan in the centre.

Until tomorrow, when the recipe will be “The Icing on the Cake”. Have a lovely evening

Ground Almonds,Marzipan,Marzipan recipe,Cake covering,Icing
Christmas Stollen with Home made Marzipan

The late cake recipe

Christmas cake recipe

Day 7 of my Christmas Countdown is the cake, especially for all you budding cooks, that haven’t we got round to making your Christmas cake yet. This recipe is a little different from the traditional cake recipe, but if you make it this weekend, you will find the recipes for the Marzipan (Day 8) & Fondant icing (Day 9) for covering the cake on the Christmas Countdown, this weekend.

Of course I can hear you cry, “I haven’t got the time for cake making”, Well let me suggest to you. Once you have felt the satisfaction of making your own cake, I very much doubt you will resort to a shop bought one again. Just think of all your friends & family, congratulating you, on your culinary skills. Apart from the feel good factor, you can be sure you are feeding your family an additive & preservative free cake, containing real butter, free range eggs & no nasty palm oils.

Well here we go:

Jan’s late Christmas Cake recipe.

Makes 1. 20cm cake, or 3. 8 cm cakes.  Time taken 45mins + cooking

Equipment: 1. Deep 20cm cake tin, side & based lined & lightly oiled.

Allergens: Dairy, Egg, Nuts

INGREDIENTS

120g Dried Cranberries

120g Dried Cherries

120g Chopped blanced Almonds

120g Dried Apricots chopped

120g Dried Dates

120g Sultanas

250g Spelt Flour

5 level tspns Baking powder

1/2 level tspn Salt

175g Unsalted Butter, not spreadable type.

175g Dark Brown Sugar

Finely grated rind of 1 orange

3 Large Free range eggs

1 tspn Almond essence

3 tbspns Brandy

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 325f, 170c, Gas 3.

Place the dried fruits, orange rind & nuts in a bowl & set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder & salt together & set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter & sugar together until very soft & light.

Lightly beat together the eggs & essence & beat into the creamed butter & sugar a little at a time. With the last additions of the egg mix add a couple of tablespoons of the flour.

Fold the remaining flour, alternatley with the brandy & then fold in the fruit & nut mix.

Turn the mix into the prepared tin, lightly level the top & slightly hollow out the centre.

Place in the preheated oven & bake for 1 hour, lower the heat to 300f 150c Gas 2 & bake for a futher 1 1/2 – 2hours. 

Test cake by pushing a warm skewer into the centre,  it should come out clean with no traces of uncooked mixture.

Allow cake to cool in tin. When cold, wrap in foil & store in an air tight tin for a few days, until ready to almond paste.

Its as easy as that. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments box below & I will answer them tomorrow.

Enjoy your evening.

Top those pies with veg

Vegetable topped pie recipes

Day six, of twenty two daily recipes, posted in this, my Christmas Countdown. Don’t forget, if you would like to see any particular recipe or need some advise on your festive cookery, just leave a comment at the bottom of the post & I will be happy to help.

Today, we are talking pies. Not pastry pies, but vegetable topped pies, a cunning  way of getting extra veg into the kids & also a little bit healthier for us all.   You can use a variety of different veg to top your pies & a lot of different fillings, to go under that veggie thatch. See my variations at the bottom of the recipe.

The pie in the photo, (find the recipe below) is topped with an equal mix of white potatoes & celeriac. The sauce is made with the addition of a couple of tablespoons of Pernod, which enhances the flavour of both the fish & celariac, although you can omit the alcohol if you wish. 

potatoes, celariac, sweetcorn, fish, pies
Part of you 5 a day

Haddock & Veggie topped Pie

Time: 40mins + cooking.  Equipment: Oven proof baking dish, 2 saucepans, frying pan. Allergens: Fish, Milk

INGREDIENTS:

225g Smoked Haddock, or fish of your choice

500ml Milk

 2 Stalks Celery, 1 Carrot chopped.

Parsley + 2 Bay leaves

4 Hard boiled eggs, peeled & halved.

150g Frozen sweetcorn or mixed veg.

40ml Olive oil, for the sauce

2 Tbspns Plain Flour.

450g White Potatoes. Peeled & chopped into chunks

400g Celariac, Peeled a chopped into chunks

40ml Olive oil for the topping

Seasoning.

METHOD

Place the potatoes & celariac into a large saucepan, cover with water & salt, bring to the boil & simmer until tender. (About 20mins)

Place the skinned fish in a large frying pan, add the carrot, celery, parsley & bay leaves. Pour over the milk. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 5mins. Add the frozen veg & let stand while you are making the sauce.

In a medium saucepan, place the olive oil & flour, over a medium heat, stir until the mixture binds together & bubbles, lightly, do not brown.

Remove pan from the heat & strain the milk from the fish, into the pan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the seasoning & Pernod.

Flake the fish into a oven proof baking dish, add the veg & eggs.  Pour the sauce over the top.

Drain the potatoes & celariac, place back on heat, to briefly dry. 

Add remaining olive oil & sesonings & mash well, until smooth

Pile on top of the fish & sauce & make a decorative pattern with a fork.

Place in a preheated oven 180c 350f Gas 4 & bake for 20-30mins until golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Cooking up a feast.

Although not as rich & creamy as butter, olive oil is far better healthy option. Generally speaking, any root vegetables can be used mashed, for the topping, either on their own or mixed with potato.

Variations: Try a mix of potato & beetroot, mashed with a tablespoon of creamed horseradish. Replace the fish with cooked smoked mackerel. Omit the eggs & sweetcorn, replacing with 2 Tbspns Capers.

Cheats way.  Omit the haddock & use 1 tin of Tuna Fish, mixed with 1 can Cambells Condensed Tomato Soup & 2 Tbspns pitted Black Olives. Top with potato & grated parmesan.

If you have been. Thank you for reading.

Until tomorrow.