Change of Plans…

For xmas eve that is. I was going to do salmon, but there seems to have been a world shortage of salmon round here. Either that or it’s all got stuck in the snow. Plus I’ve re-discovered my inner veggie again and the thought of handling, smelling, cooking, eating fish is leaving me cold. So we’re having souffles instead. Yummy, oozingly melting cheese souffles served with new potatoes, tomato salad and salad leaves with a walnut dressing. And before you all gasp in shock and amazement that I am planning to serve souffle to my in-laws it’s not that hard. Honest. But it tastes divine 🙂 The recipe is a Rose Elliot one.

To serve 4 people as a light main or 2 hungry people as a substantial main you need:
50g butter
50g plain flour
225ml milk
150g cheese, preferably gruyere
4 eggs, seperated
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp english mustard powder
1/2 tsp french mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 190c and grease a 1 pint souffle dish.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour to make a roux. Cook gently for a few mins to cook out the raw taste from the flour. Then add the milk a drop at a time and beat till smooth. Leave to one side to cool a little.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff. Mix the cheese and egg yolks and seasoning into the roux. Slacken off the mix with a spoonful of the whites and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared dish and then place in a bain marie in the oven. Cook for 20-40 mins. If you like it runny in the middle then err on the shorter side of cooking time. Serve with a tomato and onion salad, new potatoes and salad leaves with a walnut and sherry vinegar dressing.

Mince Pies

OK OK so you don’t really need a recipe for these given that it’s mincemeat in pastry but OMG I didn’t think I liked mince pies really. I used to force them down out of a sense of misplaced xmas duty, but having finally made my own mincemeat for the first time I am a convert. These truly are delicious.

You need
1 quantity of homemade mincemeat
1 quantity of home made pastry

Roll out the pastry and then line cupcake tins with it. Fill the pastry cases with a scant amount of mincemeat and top with a decorative top (I like my snowflake, xmas tree and star cutters for this!).
Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle on some sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 10-20 mins till done and then leave to cool. Scoff.

The pastry recipe is very easy but is one of those I only know in imperial. You need half the amount of flour in fat and then mix together with cold water. To make 24 mini cocktail mince pies, and about 18 bigger ones along with 8 jam tarts I used 10oz plain flour and 5oz butter.

Mousse au Chocolat

My mum’s friend gave her this recipe yonks ago and I still make it often. It’s an authentic French mousse au chocolate – rich with chocolate, light with airy bubbles and delectably decadent. Just ignore the calories 😉

You need:
6 eggs, separated
300g chocolate. I use a mix of plain and milk if making it for all of us. If it’s just adults then I only use plain
3 tbsp sugar
a good slug of alcohol – usually grand marnier or cointreau

Begin by melting the chocolate slowly over a saucepan of simmering water. Meanwhile whisk the egg whites till floppily stiff. Don’t over beat or it’s hard to mix them into the chocolate mix. Mix the yolks with the sugar and booze. Once the chocolate has melted let it cool for a few mins then combine with the yolk mixture. Slacken it off with a spoonful of the whites and then carefully fold in the remainder of the whites. Pour into serving glasses and leave to chill for a couple of hours.

Nut Koftas

Another miracle meal tonight – something we all ate and enjoyed! I am so relieved that Lex’s fussier days are behind him and we can all sit down to one meal! These nut koftas are a piece of cake to make and good for you too. Plus they’re very very speedy 🙂

You need:

1 onion, diced
4 coves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tin cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
125g ground almonds
75g salted peanuts
1 egg

Fry off the onion in some oil for a few mins till soft then add the garlic, curry powder and chilli. Fry for a few mins longer. Then lob everything into a food processor and blitz till smooth. Form into sausages wrapped round a skewer and then grill for a few mins on each side till golden brown.

Serve with cous cous, flat breads, olives and a yogurt dressing made from a couple of tbsps greek yogurt, seasoning, 1 tbsp mint sauce, some chopped cucumber and chopped corriander. Scrummy.

Menu Planning

After much angst I think the following menus will be served. Recipes for items to follow over the weekend…

Christmas Eve

To Start
Carrot and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Foccacia

To Follow
Salmon cooked in Champagne or Gammon served with Swede Gratin,
Hassleback Potatoes and Broccoli
Baked Camembert with Bread

To Finish
Chocolate Truffle Torte

Christmas Day Lunch

To Start
Watercress, Stilton and Apple Salad
Smoked Salmon with Lemon and Brown Bread

To Follow
Roast Turkey, Pigs in Blankets
Quorn Roast
Chestnut Roast
Veggie Pigs in Blankets
Roast Potatoes & Parsnips
Brussel Sprouts, Carrots & Peas
Cranberry Sauce
Bread Sauce

To Follow
Christmas Pudding
served with Brandy Sauce, Brandy Cream and Brandy Butter
Chocolate Truffle Torte

To Finish
Petit Fours, Liqueurs and Coffee

Christmas Day Tea

Cold cuts (turkey, ham, quorn roast and chestnut roast) with Salad
Selection of chutneys and pickles
Bread and cheese
Christmas Cake, Mince Pies

Boxing Day Dinner

Cold cuts (turkey, ham, quorn roast and chestnut roast)
Cheese and Vegetable Bake
Potato Wedges

Leftover Puddings

Let the feasting commence!!

Mini Xmas Cakes

My poor team! I am too tight to buy them each a present, so I make things. This year I’ve made mini xmas cakes, a la bubble and bake recipe from Good Food. They worked really well and look pretty too (well I think they do!).

You need
# 200g dark muscovado sugar
# 175g butter , chopped
# 700g luxury mixed dried fruits (I used a mix of currants, raisins and sultanas and added some chopped mixed peel too)
# 50g glacé cherries
# 2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
# zest and juice 1 orange
# 100ml brandy
# 85g roughly chopped almonds
# 3 large eggs , beaten
# 85g ground almonds
# 200g plain flour
# ½ tsp baking powder
# 1 tsp mixed spice
# 1 tsp cinnamon
# 250g pack marzipan
# icing sugar
# 2 tbsp warmed apricot jam
# 1 tub pre-made royal icing
# jelly diamond to decorate

Place the sugar, butter, dried fruit, cherries, ginger, brandy, orange zest and juice into a large pan. Heat and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce heat and bubble gently, uncovered for 10 mins, stirring every now and again to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Leave to cool.

Add all the other cake ingredients to the pan and stir well. Spoon into 24 muffin cases and then bake at about 150 for 35 mins or so. Leave to cool.

Paint apricot jam on to the tops then add circles of marzipan. Leave to dry. Top with royal icing and a jelly diamond. Give to people and stand back for the oooooh and ahhhhhhhs.

Chocolate and Brandy Truffles

These are grown up truffles, so eat in moderation if you can!!

Recipe is taken from the January Delicious magazine.

You need:
300ml double cream
400g dark choc broken in to teeny tiny pieces
2 tbsp brandy or cointreau or other booze
Cocoa powder

Place the broken chocolate into a bowl. Bring the cream to the boil, then pour over the chocolate. Mix well till combined and the choc is melted then add the booze. Stir again then tip into a lined tin to set. Leave for at least 4 hours in a cool place (but not the fridge). Then cut into squares, dust with cocoa and place into petit fours cases. Scoff. Simples.

Peppermint and Orange Cremes

Christmas is coming… and so it’s time to make lots of yummy sweet things.

These cremes are very easy and are destined for the present hampers we’re doing this year. Assuming Lex and I don’t eat them all first that is!

You need:

250g sifted icing sugar. It’s really REALLY important to sift it so don’t be lazy like I was one year or you’ll end up with lumpy, bumpy nice tasting gloop.
2 1/2 tsp egg white made with dried egg powder
2 tsp lemon juice (or orange juice for the orange cremes)
1 tsp orange or peppermint flavouring
some food colouring if you wish

Begin by sifting the icing sugar in to a bowl. Then make a well in the middle and add the wet stuff. Mix thoroughly. Don’t be tempted to add more liquid as it is enough. Knead a little until soft (you’re basically making a flavoured, coloured fondant icing). Then roll to about the thickness of a £1 coin. Stamp out shapes and leave them somewhere cool (but not the fridge or they will sweat) to harden a bit. Best tip is to leave them on a cling film lined board.

Cheese and Onion Sausage Rolls

I’ve never made sausage rolls before, I’d always thought they would be tricky and fiddly. These ones aren’t however, but they are divine. St Delia comes up trumps as per usual!

The original recipe can be found on St Delia’s site.

But in case it gets moved you need:
1 block ready made puff pastry
275g fresh breadcrumbs
225g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1 large onion, grated
3 tablespoons double cream
1 level tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (chives, parsley, thyme, etc)
1½ level teaspoons mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Make up the filling by mixing everything aside from the pastry together. Add some more cream if it doesn’t bind well enough. Roll out the pastry then decide if you want dainty or chunder rolls. Place the filling in the middle of the pastry strips, brush beaten egg round the sides, roll over and then cut into slices. Brush with egg glaze and the snip the tops a couple of times. Bake in a hot oven for about 25 mins.