Easy Peasy Oriental Style Salmon Fillets

Only 4 days until Christmas, and it is all starting to get a bit hectic in my house.  Don’t think I have been to bed before midnight this last week, but finally the mince pies are made and the presents are wrapped.  Can’t help wondering if I have forgotten something though.  It worries me that in my haste to perfect things down the smallest detail that I will have forgotten something major. It only occurred to me not so long ago that my guests are staying for more than Christmas day and so will also need feeding in addition to their Christmas dinner!  The challenge here has been to think of things that are quick and easy but also keeps up the ‘domestic goddess’ appearance!  I also like to cook a meal at some point over this time that is fairly light and not as calorific as all the other foods typically eaten at Christmas.  I always end up craving a bit of green veg, just to make me feel a bit more normal.  This is particularly the case this year with all my baking in recent weeks.  Every time I get a glass out of the cupboard the mince pies on sitting beautifully on a plate on the side shout my name, and when I open the fridge the ‘spare’ truffles look longingly at me.  What is a girl to do??

This recipe is perfect for Christmas eve, and ticks all the ‘boxes’ I mentioned above.  You can prepare the salmon earlier in the day to marinate, and then at dinner time just pop them in the oven, get your rice coking and don’t forget the steam a bit of green veg to go with it!  It is a recipe which I have been doing for years and is totally my own creation.  I just tried a bit of this and a bit of that, and over time I think it has really become perfected.  This is a great time to share it with you.

What you will need:

  • 1 salmon fillet for each person eating
  • Basmati rice
  • Green veg
  • Foil to wrap parcel up each salmon fillet

For each salmon fillet add to following to make marinade:

  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1tsp tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Sprinkle of  fresh coriander
  • Sprinkle of fresh ginger chopped
  • Sprinkle of dried chilli flakes

How to make:

  1. Place each fillet of salmon on a piece of foil large enough to cover it and seal together at the top.  Wrap the foil around the salmon but don’t seal together so that the salmon is still exposed
  2. Add all the marinade ingredients onto the salmon and seal the foil together.  Put in the fridge for at least an hour, if not more
  3. When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4 and bake for 20 mins
  4. Whilst the salmon is cooking, prepare your rice and vegetables
  5. Take salmon out of oven and carefully out of foil wrapper.  Serve with rice and vegetables and pour the juice over the salmon, (this is one of the best bits especially when mixed with a bit of rice)

All that is left for me to say is I hope you enjoy your baking, thanks for your support, and I wish you all a fabulous Christmas! I’ll be back in the new year 🙂

Advertisements

20/12/2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Christmas baking, Savory Baking, Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Christmas Biscuits Special Part Two – Chocolate Covered Orange Lebkuchen

Well, as my current bit of male eye candy Michael Bublé likes to say, ‘it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!’ As I write it is snowing, the children break up from school later and we are off to see a Christmas movie this afternoon. I’ve been preparing for Christmas this year since October, but it still seems to have come round very quickly. I’m feeling relatively under control though. My list for the next week is long but manageable. I’ve only got the truffles to make for my Christmas hampers and then I can wrap them up and make them look pretty with lots of ribbon and sparkle. Looking forward to that. Also, my freezer is now full of yummy seasonal treats and dinners. It has certainly been a bit of a mission to achieve this but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

For this recipe I got my children totally involved. It lends itself perfectly for the assistance of little ones. I baked the biscuits and then one day after school this week I melted the chocolate, got all the sprinkles out of my cupboard, and let them decorate. My girls have now proudly dispatched their biscuits to a number of lucky recipients. I love to watch their little faces as they get thanked for their thoughtful gift.

Lebkuchen is a traditional German biscuit and I see it as the ‘adults gingerbread’. It is just a little bit more sophisticated than its child favoured cousin. Children will still love this but adults especially might enjoy lebkuchen. Something different to have with a mug of steaming mulled wine maybe?

I have taken the basis of this recipe from the book ‘Gifts from the Kitchen’ by Annie Rigg, but as you might expect, have added a couple of little extras. The main one being a larger quantity of orange zest to give these a lovely citrus kick. I have also covered mine in chocolate rather than an icing glaze. The reason for this is because I think melted chocolate is a bit easier for the children to use and because we just love chocolate in our house.

What you will need:

  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 4 tbsp black treacle
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark muscovado sugar
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground allspice
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • zest of one orange
  • 50g of dark and white chocolate for covering the biscuits
  • 1/2 tsp orange essence
  • Selection of sprinkles

Makes about 30 biscuits but depends on size

How to make:

  1. Melt the honey, treacle, butter and sugar in a pan over low heat. Stir until smooth and leave to cool
  2. Measure all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, make a well and add the orange zest then add the egg and the melted mixture
  3. Stir briskly with a wooden spoon until a dough forms
  4. Wrap dough in cling film and chill in fridge for about 2 hours until firm
  5. Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gas 4 and line two baking trays with parchment paper
  6. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out dough to about 1cm thickness. Cut out Christmas shapes and place on baking tray a little distance apart
  7. Bake for between 10-15 mins until firm and even in colour
  8. Cool on wire rack
  9. Melt both dark and white chocolate in separate bowls over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the orange essence to the dark chocolate to make it chocolate orange flavour
  10. When biscuits are cooled, ‘paint’ on the chocolate. We used a silicone pastry brush and it was really easy for the children to use and also for me to clean afterwards – LOVE the silicone pastry brushes!
  11. Sprinkle what decorations you have over the biscuits and cool in the fridge

The final thing to say, but by no means least is that this blog post with the inclusion of chocolate and orange makes it a perfect entry into the “We Should Cocoa” blog challenge run by Choclette from the blog Chocolate Log Blog and Chele from Chocolate Teapot.

16/12/2011. Tags: , , , . Christmas baking, Homemade for the kids, Sweet Baking. 6 comments.

Christmas Biscuits Special Part One – Ginger and Aniseed Shortbread

Because it’s Christmas, and I’m really getting into the swing of blog writing, this will be the first of two Christmas Biscuit special’s this week. 🙂 Look out for part two a little bit later in the week!  I also ought to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gives me encouragement and tells me that they enjoy my blog.  It’s your feedback that makes writing this so rewarding.

Getting back to biscuits, let me tell you why just one blog post on these seasonal treats would not be enough.  Once a week on a Thursday morning I volunteer at a local drop in clinic for new mums.  When they walk though the door sleep deprived and emotional, one of the first things I offer them is a cup of tea and a biscuit.  The effect this small act has is quite amazing.  Not only does it tell them immediately that they have come to a welcoming and caring place, but it helps them to relax, which is key in order for them to feel like they can stay and chat.  I too will try and find 5 mins each day just to sit down with a cup of something hot and a biscuit.  In fact, I’m not sure I could get through the day without this!  I see it as recharging the batteries ready for either the school run or bath and bedtime!  I guess what I am trying to say is that a good biscuit can work wonders, and it is for that reason that they make especially nice gifts.  This week both my daughters finish school/nursery for Christmas, so I will be busy baking biscuits and filling little cellophane bags to give to the teachers.  They don’t need lots, just 3 or 4 to feel like a treat and to share if they wish.

In keeping with the theme of Christmas, this shortbread is sweet and spicy.  One bite into them gives you crunch, followed by melt-in-the-mouth butteriness, followed by the warm spice of ginger and aniseed.  These really are a biscuit to savour and to eat slowly.  The addition of aniseed into this recipe stems from my own love of it.  When I was a child we were only allowed sweets once a week, so every Saturday morning I would go into the sweet shop, spend ages looking at all the sweets in jars stacked on shelves right up to the ceiling, but always end up choosing either a quarter of aniseed twists or a quarter of aniseed balls!  The aniseed I used for this recipe were actual seeds and I found them in my local health food shop.  They are a very welcome addition to my spice cupboard and I’m sure I will be trying to sneak them into my baking for a long time after Christmas.  The combination of ginger and aniseed together was, if I’m honest, a bit experimental.  It made sense to me in theory as they are both hot and spicy, and I was thrilled with how they actually tasted once baked.  I think the flavours compliment each other beautifully, but mostly I like the fact that these are just a little bit different and unique.  Anyone you might make them for is bound to take notice of these, and that makes the baking of them totally worthwhile.

I used the Great British Bake Off Cookbook for the main shortbread recipe, just adding the extra ingredients as below.

What you will need:

  • 200g unsalted butter softened
  • 100 g caster sugar (plus a little extra for sprinkling)
  • 260g plain flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50g chopped crystallised ginger
  • 1 tsp aniseed seeds (I used green)

Makes about 20 biscuits

How to make:

  • Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a electronic mixer until pale and creamy.  Add the caster sugar slowly beating well after each addition.  The mixture should be looking lighter and fluffy in texture when ready
  • Sift in flour, cornflour, ginger and salt into the bowl.  Add chopped ginger and aniseed
  • Mix together using hands until combined and a dough is formed
  • Take dough out of the bowl and shape dough into a log shape about 20cm long.  Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins until firm
  • Preheat oven to 170c/325f/gas 3
  • Unwrap the dough and cut across the log to form discs.  Place discs on a greased baking sheet slightly apart
  • Bake for about 20 mins or until firm but not coloured.  Take out from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar straight away.  Then leave on the trays for a few mins before transferring to a cooling rack
  • Eat slowly with a cup of tea, or wrap and give as presents

If you can’t find the aniseed there are plenty of other things that you could use instead.  These include chocolate chips, orange zest, hazelnuts, raisins, cranberries, ground cinnamon, and pistachios to name a few.

These shortbread biscuits also fall nicely into Karen and Kate’s Christmas tea time treats challenge.  Hope you like it ladies!

https://i1.wp.com/i146.photobucket.com/albums/r271/copperhorse58/Lavender%20and%20Lovage/mosaic712700d24fe0afe2333710d36dc7f0c50312ac8e.jpg

And I can also enter these into Vanessa’s Let’s Make Christmas challenge too!

12/12/2011. Tags: . Christmas baking, Homemade gifts, Sweet Baking. 4 comments.

Cranberry, Hazelnut and Honey Granola

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and at Christmas time it is even more essential, especially if you have the task of cooking the Christmas dinner.  Energy will definitely be required.  However,  if your house is anything like mine, we get through cereal like it is going out of fashion.  I would hate to add up how much we spend a year on the stuff!  The grand total would no doubt cause my husband to choke on his mulled wine,  so I’m not going to actually add it up, but hopefully you get my point.  The other problem is that shop brought cereal often contains hideous amounts of sugar which is obviously not good for anyone, and most of all my children, who on Christmas day will have already eaten numerous chocolate coins and such like before 6.30am!  On Christmas day chocolate at what is effectively the middle of the night has to be allowed, but seeing them eat a healthy breakfast would certainly make me (and them) feel better.  Well, luckily for those of you reading my blog and empathizing with the cereal issues I have outlined above, I have a proposition for you.  The perfect solution is to make some homemade granola.  How can I say that so flippantly I hear you ask?  Well do read on as it will all start to make sense.

This fabulously versatile cereal hits the spot for a number of reasons.  Firstly, oats which are the main ingredient are as David Dickinson likes to say, ‘cheap as chips’ which is good news for your budget, and might actually help you save a few extra pennies towards the cost of Christmas.  Oats are also healthy and give ‘slow release’ energy, which is more likely to get you through to lunch without a sugar crash and the inevitable ‘Mr Tickle’ arm into the biscuit barrel that follows.  I’ve been there and done that many a time, especially after a bad night with the kids, so anything that might help kick this biscuit related habit is surely worth a try.  The other thing to say about granola is that is absolutely delicious, and can be used in a variety of ways including with milk, on top of yogurt, in the children’s snack box to nibble on and as a gorgeous unique gift to a loved one this Christmas.  Do what I did, make double the quantity and bag some up to give away, but keep the remainder for yourself :-).

The recipe I have used is taken from Nigella’s Christmas Cook Book.  A few minor alterations means that it has the, ‘homemade by Fleur‘ stamp, making it even more enjoyable I hope.  I have swapped the blanched almonds in the original recipe to chopped hazelnuts as I prefer them.  Feel free to do the same and make your own swaps too.  Add dried fruit or nuts that you like or have in the cupboard, go with what is in season or what is on offer.  The other change I made is to replace some of the honey for agave syrup.  Agave syrup is a little gem to have at hand, it is a substitute to sugar and honey but has lower GI and slower release sugars.  Most supermarkets or health food shops should sell it.  Here is what it looks like.

The last but by no means least point to make about this granola is that it will be my first ever blog challenge entry.  The Forever Nigella challenge hosted by Sarah at the brilliant Maison Cupcake blog has certainly caught my eye, and I am very excited to be submitting this blog post.  One of many more I hope.

So all that is left to say is put the ingredients on your shopping list and get baking.  This is a wonderful treat which the whole family will enjoy and appreciate.  Be careful though, if Santa finds out you have some of this in the house, you may have an extra guest for breakfast!

What you will need

  • 225g rolled oats
  • 60g sunflower seeds
  • 60g white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75g runny honey
  • 75g agave syrup
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 60g chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • 60g flaked almonds
  • 50g raisins
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 150g dried cranberries

Makes enough to fill a 1.2 litre tin or jar, (3-4 small gift bags or 2 large gift bags)

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c/355f/gas 3
  2. Put everything into a large bowl expect the dried cranberries and mix well with a wooden spoon
  3. Spread the mixture onto a couple of lined baking trays and bake for about 40-50 mins
  4. The mixture should be turned over about half way though, and even more if you think it needs it towards the end.  I set my timer for 20 mins then 10, and then 10 and turned it each time.  Keeping an eye on it like this should prevent it from burning, and instead result in a lovely golden crunchy cereal
  5. Once cooled mix in the dried cranberries.  My daughter actually helped me do this so I could take the picture!
  6. If using for gifts this will keep for several weeks bagged up and then placed in an airtight container.  If you have made it for yourself, keep in an airtight tin or jar

05/12/2011. Tags: , , , , , . Christmas baking, Homemade gifts, Sweet Baking. 5 comments.

Party Canapés

The party season is well and truly here folks!  Although for me this ‘party season’ seems to have run all year!  I’ve had 4 birthday parties, 1 christening, 1 housewarming/royal wedding celebration and my latest party this week was a ‘Jamie at Home’ party! Our local Christmas party is being held at the neighbours house, (phew) but I’m really looking forward to it!!  What I love about having a party is that it is an excuse to make mini food!  Or in other words canapés.  My little bit of research on canapés resulted in me concluding that the only canapés you can buy from the shops are items such as sausage rolls, stilton puffs or something similar.  Once you have seen these items a few times at various different events, the sight of any more puff pastry, (no matter what form) can make one feel, well somewhat queasy! This is of course just one of the reasons to make your own canapés.  Another reason is because they are lots of fun to do. The more adventurous you are the better.  They are like little pieces of artwork and require you to be as creative as you can, thinking outside the box.  It’s all about presentation and finishing touches.  You might find like I did that once you start thinking about these little wonders, new ideas pop into your head at random times.  My spin class is a popular time for me, when I’m trying to ignore the fact that gear 18 on a hill climb is actually about to make my legs drop off!

So this post is a collection of my favorite savory and sweet canapé recipes which I hope will help make your party a roaring success!  Your guests will certainly be appreciative that there is not a cocktail sausage in sight!  They will require a few hours of your time, but in my opinion homemade canapés are well worth the investment.  Some of them can be made in advance, or frozen and I have highlighted which ones as for me this is a must.  I like to do as much as possible before hand so I can enjoy the party too.  All these recipes include my own ideas, making them just a bit more unique 🙂

Lime, mango and prawn thai spiced mini skewer

What you will need

  • Medium pack of cooked tiger prawns
  • 1 mango peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 limes
  • 1 chopped chilli
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 25g grated ginger
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp teriaki sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • cocktail sticks
  1. Put one prawn and one cube of mango on the cocktail sticks and put to one side on a baking tray
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and mix together with a mini whisk or fork.  This will make your marinade
  3. Drizzle the marinade over the prawn and mango sticks, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to soak up the flavour
  4. Remove from the fridge when ready to serve and place on your choice of bowl or serving platter

Sticky butternut squash

I did these the day before, put the cooked squash in the fridge and then popped them back in the over for 10-15 mins before I needed them to heat and serve.

What you will need

  • 1 butternut squash peeled and cut into squares
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Cocktail sticks
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c, and place the cubes of butternut squash on a baking tray
  2. Mix the honey, soy sauce and sesame oil together and drizzle over the butternut squash
  3. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds, giving the squash a good shake half way through so all sides are covered
  4. cook for 30 mins or so until tender
  5. Once cooled put 2 cubes of squash onto each cocktail stick and serve.

Onion, cheese and olive mini scones

These can also be baked before hand, frozen and then defrosted on the day you need them and heated up in the oven for 10 mins to serve warm.

What you will need

  • 1 med onion chopped finely
  • 40g (1 1/2 oz) strong chedder grated
  • 6 pitted black olives – chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g (60z) self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 25g (1oz) butter cubed
  • 1 large free  range egg
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • Grinding of black pepper
  • Small round scone cutter
  • Pastry brush
  • Rolling pin
  • Lightly greased baking tray
  1. Pre heat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6
  2. Fry the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden, set to one side
  3. Add flour salt, mustard, cayenne pepper and black pepper to a mixing bowl, and gently mix with hands
  4. Add the butter and rub in with fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  5. Add the cooked onions, olives and 2/3 of grated cheese, using hands again to mix together
  6. Add the egg and mix together with hands, adding some milk if too dry (you might not need all the milk) until a soft dough is formed
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until 2 cm thick.  The trick here is not to roll out too thinly
  8. Use your cutter to stamp out the scones and place on baking tray with even distance between them
  9. Lightly knead together and re roll any trimming and cut out more scones
  10. Brush the top of the scones with milk and top each one with a bit of the reserved cheese
  11. Bake near the top of the oven for 10-12 mins

Goats cheese on toast with chilli jam

With these I made on the day but placed in the fridge until I needed them.  They don’t need to be served warm, despite their title.

What you will need

  • 1 thin baguette, I used a long, thin sour dough loaf.  You could also use ciabatta bread and once toasted stamp out rounds of bread with a small round pastry cutter
  • 125g soft goats cheese
  • 3tbsp chilli jam
  • fresh chives
  • Slice your bread and toast both sides for a few mins each under the grill
  • Spread some of the goats cheese over one side of the bread
  • Place a small dollop of chilli jam in the middle of the bread on top of the cheese (the chilli jam I used was quite hot so you don’t need too much)
  • Place two short chive strands on top of the jam to finish

Mini sponge cakes with marmalade and orange butter cream

To make these little bite sized beauties, I baked a victoria sponge cake as normal and then used my trusted small scone cutter to stamp out circles of cake.  I did not put two little stamped out circles of cake together like a normal sponge cake but just cut one circle across to make the two halves as it was thick enough for me to do this.  You will end up with some trimming of cake, I just put these in a bowl and served with custard as a quick and easy pudding for my children.

I baked these cakes the day before, and kept them in an airtight box over night.  I then filled them on the day I needed them.

What you will need

Cake

  • 225g (8oz) unsalted butter
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g (8oz) self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 20.5 cm sandwich tins greased and lined
  • Small round pastry cutter

Filling

  • 3-4 tbsp marmalade
  • 1 orange peeling
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 125g  (4oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 400g (14oz) icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • Dust with icing sugar and grated orange chocolate
  1. Put your milk in a bowl and place the orange peeling in the bowl, cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour
  2. When you are ready to bake the cake pre heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.  Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add sugar and beat until fully incorporated.  Mixture should have a light and fluffy texture
  3. Gradually add eggs beating after each addition.  Sift in flour and add milk then fold in with a large metal spoon
  4. Once the flour is almost folded in put even amounts of the batter into the sandwich tine, gently smooth over and bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden brown and a knife comes out clean
  5. Meanwhile, mix the butter, icing sugar and orange zest together with an electronic mixer adding the orange flavoured milk (with orange peeling removed) bit by bit until it is a smooth and creamy consistency.  Then mix in full power for 4-5 mins until light and fluffy
  6. Cut out your little cakes, cut in half and fill with marmalade and orange buttercream.  Place on a cake stand and sprinkle with icing sugar

Individual blackberry meringues

For this you can bake the meringues a few days before and keep in an airtight container.  Top with the cream and fruit maximum of an hour before they are needed and keep in the fridge until served.

You will need

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 250 ml of whipping cream
  • 150g (5oz) blackberries (I used blackberries I have frozen from my garden and just defrosted before I used them)
  • 4-5 tbsp Creme De Cassis
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • Fresh mint to garnish
  • Large piping bag an star nozzle
  • 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper
  1. Preheat the oven to 140c/275f/gas 1
  2. Whisk egg whites together until white and frothy.  Add the sugar bit by bit, mixing well after each addition until a stiff meringue is formed.  This should pass the test of staying put if the bowl is tipped upside down.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the piping bag and pipe out small meringue nests onto the baking tray leaving an even space between them.  Bake for 1 hour and then turn off the oven and leave in there overnight or until the oven has cooled down
  4. When you are ready to decorate, whip up your cream, and mix the Cassis with the icing sugar in a cup.
  5. Place a teaspoon of cream on each meringue, add two blackberries, a drizzle of the Cassis mixture and a small mint leaf to garnish
  6. Dust with icing sugar just before serving

28/11/2011. Christmas baking, Party. 4 comments.

Apple and Red Onion Chutney

For Christmas this year I have decided to make some homemade food hampers for a few unsuspecting special family members.  I’ve not attempted anything like this before, but it makes perfect sense for me.  First and foremost it is a great opportunity for me to be creative not only by making the items but also packaging them all up to look really special.   Our garage is currently full with lots of different sized boxes that I have been collecting,  but it feels good to be able to reuse them!  This little project is also a way for me to give gifts that will hopefully mean something to the people receiving them.  I just could not bring myself to buy another pair of socks!  However, if the thought of creating a hamper fills you with terror along with all the other Christmas preparations, maybe consider just giving one homemade item along with another gift. I’m sure this would be thankfully received, especially if you make them something scrummy!

Red onion and apple chutney

I will be putting this red onion and apple chutney in my hampers.  There are two main reasons why I have been inspired to include it and I hope some of you may identify with these.  They are:

  • My love of cheese at Christmas time – I’m thinking now of roquefort and chutney on a nice crisp cracker and trying eat it in one piece without dropping crumbs down the sofa whilst watching the Christmas day evening film!

And

  • The pot of similar shop brought chutney in my fridge which I just knew I could make a better version of and for much less cost.

Alternatively, you could just make it to have at Christmas time with your family and friends.  How wonderful to be able to offer homemade chutney with your after dinner cheeseboard!  Then after Christmas you can try using this chutney on pizza.  Spread it on top of your tomato base, sprinkle mozzerella and goats cheese over it, cook and serve with fresh rocket.

The ingredients list looks long, but most of it should be things that you have already got.  They may be hidden at the back of the cupboard but I bet some of them will be there. So make sure you have a good hunt before you write your shopping list.  I actually found my apples when I parked next to an apple tree at my local gym.  Freshly fallen but perfectly ripe and otherwise going to waste I’m sure.  However, the best bit about this recipe is that once you have chopped and measured everything you just leave your saucepan full of ingredients to work its magic over the hour and a half it takes to cook.  It just needs a stir every time you walk past.

What you will need

  • 1 kg apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • 250g white onions – peeled and chopped
  • 250g red onions – peeled and chopped
  • 25g fresh grated ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 200g seedless raisins
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250ml balsamic vinegar
  • 50ml cider vinegar
  • 300g cane sugar
  • 100g preserving sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Good grinding of pepper
  • A large saucepan
  • 6 250ml jars with lids
  1. Put all the ingredients into the saucepan, and mix together.  Cook over a low heat for 1 hour with the lid on and half an hour with the lid off
  2. Whilst cooking stir regularly to stop the chutney from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan
  3. Sterilize your jars by either putting them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher or washing them in hot soapy water by hand and then putting them in a low oven for 30 mins or so until hot and dry
  4. Once cooked fill the jars with the chutney.  Use a long thin implement like a chop stick to push the chutney down and push away any gaps of air
  5. Place somewhere cool and leave for at least a month to mature and improve.  Just in time for Christmas!

22/11/2011. Christmas baking, Homemade gifts, Savory Baking. 2 comments.

Festive Cranberry, Pistachio and Toblerone Traybake with a Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to cake, I can rarely say no.  In fact the same can be said for desserts, biscuits and anything involving chocolate!  I blame my dad for my sweet tooth and for also passing it onto my eldest daughter, who can’t say no either.  I’m convinced it is passed on through the genes!  Well it makes me feel better to think that!  I remember my dad always having a bit of dark chocolate hidden somewhere in the house…just for emergencies!  On his yearly Christmas ‘booze crusie’ to France he would never disappoint, and on his return he would rummage though all the bags and boxes whilst my brother and I eagerly waited and then present us with an enormous golden bar of Toblerone each.  We used to eat a triangle a night and lick it for hours until we were left with sticky hands, dried out tongues, and chocolate just about everywhere!  It’s funny how those large bars of Toblerone don’t seem so big anymore, and they certainly don’t last as long!  I wonder if it because I have grown up or they have shrunk?!

This traybake recipe is inspired by my Christmas Toblerone memories and also because I wanted to bake something that would be suitably festive but which I can freeze ahead of the day.   I have found the most fabulous disposable traybake moulds from Lakeland, (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/15782/12-Traybake-Moulds)  which mean that as soon as your traybake has cooled you can pop it in the freezer without a second thought and tick it off your list in a very satisfactory fashion.  What I mean by that is, super quick and easy but highly impressive!  The red and green from the pistachio and cranberry along with the warm sweet cinnamon spiced frosting bring a wonderful Christmas colour and flavour to this cake.  The Toblerone is a little touch of magic making it some what luxurious.  Perfect to serve on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day with a lovely cup of tea on the side.  Be warned though…your guests might not want to leave when planned if they think there is more of this to come!

Ingredients

Cake

125g unsalted butter softened

125g caster sugar

2 large free range eggs, beaten

150g self raising flour

1 tbsp milk

50g dried cranberries,chopped

50g pistachios, chopped

50g milk or dark Toblerone, chopped

Frosting

50g unsalted butter at room temp

125g cream cheese

300g icing sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Lakeland disposable traybake moulds or a traybake tin approx 25.5.cm x 20.5cm x 5cm (tin greased with the bottom lined. No need to grease and line the Lakeland moulds)

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.  Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add sugar and beat until fully incorporated.  Mixture should have a light and fluffy texture
  2. Gradually add eggs beating after each addition.  Sift in flour and add milk then fold in with a large metal spoon
  3. Once the flour is almost folded in add the cranberries, pistachio and Toblerone, leaving a little bit of each on the side to scatter on the top once baked and iced
  4. Pour mixture into either one traybake tin, or two Lakeland moulds and gently smooth down.  Pop in the oven for about 20 mins until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean
  5. Let the cakes cool in the moulds or remove from the tin and cool on a rack
  6. If you are freezing do so without the frosting on
  7. To make the frosting, mix the icing sugar and butter together then add the cream cheese and cinnamon.  Beat together for about 5 mins, until it is light and fluffy
  8. Spread frosting on top of the cake and sprinkle with the saved cranberries, pistachios and Toblerone

14/11/2011. Christmas baking. 10 comments.