Thursday, 23 December 2010

Ginger biscuits (0 colours)


Ingredients
Plain flour - 350 g
Bicarbonate of soda - 1 tsp
Ground ginger - 2 tsp
Butter - 100 g
Light brown sugar - 175 g
Egg - 1
Golden syrup - 4 tbsp

Methods
1) Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until it forms small crumbs.
2) Add the sugar, egg and golden syrup and again mix with your hands until it forms a dough.
3) Roll out the biscuit dough to the desired thickness - between 0.5 and 1 cm should be about right. Cut into shapes.
4) Place the shapes on a greased baking tray, being careful to leave some space between them as they will get larger in the oven. Bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes.

5) Leave to cool for a minute and then remove from the tray. We found that leaving them any longer than this made them really difficult to get out whole because once the biscuits cool they can become quite brittle.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Aubergine and goat's cheese parcels with cranberry sauce (2 colours)

Aubergine parcels, served with Christmas cous cous.

Ingredients
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Aubergine - 1 small, sliced
Filo pastry - 2 sheets
Melted butter for brushing
Goats cheese - 60 g

For the cranberry sauce:
Cranberries - 150 g
Caster sugar - 50 g
Clementines - juice and grated rind of 2.

Methods
1) Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine slices until golden brown on both sides, in batches if necessary.
2) Leave the aubergine slices to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the pastry. Cut each pastry sheet in half, giving four large pastry squares. Brush each with butter and then layer in pairs with the corners offset.

3) Meanwhile, place the cranberry sauce ingredients in a small pan and cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly. When all the cranberries have popped open turn the heat down to low and cook until the aubergine parcels are ready.
4) Place three slices of aubergine in the centre of the pastry square and top with half the goats cheese. Fold the pastry upwards around the aubergine and pinch at the top. Brush with butter and then repeat for the other parcel.
4) Cook in the oven at 200°C for about 10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve and pour over the cranberry sauce. Serves 2.

Christmas cous cous (2 colours)


Ingredients
Cous cous - 200 g
Dried apricots - 5, chopped
Dried cranberries - small handful, chopped
Pomegranate seeds - small handful
Unsalted pistachios - small handful, shelled
Vegetable stock - 250 ml

Methods
1) Place the cous cous in a large bowl.
2) Make the stock and pour into a small saucepan. Add the dried apricots and cranberries. Bring to the boil again and pour over the cous cous. Add the pomegranate seeds and pistachios to the bowl and stir.
3) Cover the bowl with a large plate and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff up the cous cous with a fork before serving. Serves 3-4.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Iced clementine cake (1 colour)

The original recipe for this called for a square tin, the cake to be divided into small cubes and for these to be covered in marzipan and iced individually. Not being particular fans of marzipan we decided to skip it, but that proved a bad idea as without it the cakes were very difficult to ice - the soft cake mixture just crumbled into the icing. After a couple we gave up and just iced the top of the cakes. Next time I shall make a round cake and simply ice the top as described below.

Ingredients
Caster sugar - 225 g
Self-raising flour - 225 g
Ground almonds - 55 g
Butter - 225 g, softened
Eggs - 4
Clementines - 4
Icing sugar - 2 tbsp
Royal icing sugar - 400 g

Methods
1) Place the sugar, flour, ground almonds, butter and eggs in a large bowl.
2) Grate the zest of three of the clementines and add to the bowl with the juice of one of the clementines. Reserve the remaining clementines for making the syrup.
3) Beat the mixture well with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4) Line a 7 inch round tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the mixture and bake at 180°C for 45-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
5) Leave the cake to cool for a few minutes and then prick the top all over with a skewer. Make the syrup by placing the juice from the remaining 3 clementines and the icing sugar in a small pan and heating until dissolved.
6) Pour over the syrup. Remove the greaseproof paper and leave to cool completely.
7) Make the royal icing according to the instructions on the pack and then ice the top of the cake. Leave to set. Serves 12.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Mince pies

Okay so we cheated and bought the pastry mix and the mincemeat in a jar, but we'll make the pastry from scratch for the next batch and I hope to have a go at making mincemeat myself next year.

We didn't have enough mincemeat so we also made some with lemon curd.

It's been a long time since I rolled out pastry and cut it into shapes - we had a lot of fun :-)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fruit and nut Yule slice (2 colours)

The first Christmassy cake I made this year was the yule slice from the BBC Good Food website. I added a couple of ingredients and changed the quantities a bit and it was lovely. It's also dairy free.

There's a reason that it's sliced thinly in the photo on their website - this cake is deceptively filling because of all the nuts.

Ingredients
Nuts - 310 g (I used 150g walnuts, 100g hazelnuts, 60g blanched almonds)
Dried fruit - 680g (I used 200g dried apricots, 200g raisins, 100g stoned dates, 40g dried cranberries, 140g glace cherries, halved)
Plain flour - 100 g
Mixed spice - 2 tsp
Baking powder - 0.5 tsp
Dark muscovado sugar - 175 g
Eggs - 3
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Icing sugar for dusting

Methods
1) Mix together the fruit and nuts in a large bowl.

2) Sieve the flour, baking powder, sugar and mixed spice into the bowl and stir well.
3) Mix the eggs together with the vanilla essence in a bowl and add to the fruit and nut mixture. Stir until well combined and no dry ingredients are visible.
4) Line a loaf tin with grease-proof paper and pour in the mixture. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 150°C for 1.5 hours. Remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin.
5) When cool, dust with icing sugar. Serves 16.