Chocolate Christmas Trifle

I used to be able to make lovely trifles, but my trifle mojo has been usurped by my boyfriend’s mum who makes a very mean one indeed. So much so Lex requested I didn’t make another for fear that it didn’t live up to one of hers…! However, this creation puts my mojo firmly back in contention I am pleased to say. It started as a way to use up some (embarrassingly) out of date sponge flan cases. But upon further inspection they were rock solid. So a chocolate swiss roll was purchased and the chocolate Christmas trifle extravaganza was born. It has the perfect combination of sour raspberries and strawberries to counter the sweet jelly and not-too-sweet chocolate custard. Decorate as you wish, we wanted sparkly poo so had a heavy hand with the festive glitter 😉

For 12-14 portions you need
1/2 chocolate swiss roll
1 tin strawberries, drained
1/2 pack frozen raspberries
1 packet halal jelly (or any other veggie jelly)
2 tbsp sweet sherry
2 tins ready to eat custard
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp boiling water
450ml double cream
decoration of your choice, we used chocolate vermicelli; glitter and stars for extra bliiiiiiiiiing

Slice the swiss roll into 1cm slices. Place these in the bottom of a trifle dish and cover with the sherry, raspberries and strawberries. Make the jelly up according to the packet instructions and pour over the base. Leave to set.

Meanwhile mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water to make a smooth paste. Add to the custard and mix well. Once the jelly is set, pour over.

Whip the cream to soft peak stage and put into a piping bag. Pipe over the custard and then go wild with the decoration. Eat, eat and be merry!

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Proper Boozy Egg Nog

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a belly full of dangerously alcoholic egg nog. Not in my book anyway.

For 6-8 glasses you need
1/2 pint double cream
1/2 pint milk
3 eggs
4 tbsp icing sugar
3 measures each rum, brandy and whisky
freshly grated nutmeg
cocktail cherries to serve

Place everything apart from the nutmeg and cherries into a blender and blend for 2-3 mins till smooth and thoroughly combined. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a jug and decorate with lashings of freshly grated nutmeg. Serve topped with enough cocktail cherries to just make you start to feel rather sick. Hic.

Christmas Soup

So called as it’s a taste of Christmas in a bowl 🙂 A very quick and easy dish to throw together in seconds but tastes like you’ve spent ages making it!

For one hungry person you need
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped plus the leaves of some, finely chopped for decoration
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp veggie stilton
1 tsp Gourmet Garden crushed garlic
400ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil

Begin by sauteeing the celery, carrots and onion in a pan with the oil for 8-10 mins until tender. Add everything else, apart from the celery leaves and stilton, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins until the veggies are all cooked then add the cheese and blitz until the soup is lovely and smooth. Reheat, season and serve decorated with the celery leaves. Perfect December fare.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Pesto (v)

I finally got round to watching some of the many, many episodes of Three Good Things I’ve had stacked up on my tivo box for the last few weeks, and in one of the episodes The Huge Furry Whipping Tool (as he is known in our house, Hugh FWS to everyone else…) made pasta with tomatoes and blue cheese. My boyfriend does *not* like blue cheese so I ditched that aspect and instead made some yummy pesto as my third thing. It perfectly used up some rapidly-going-past-their-best baby plum tomatoes that had been hanging round the kitchen for tooooooo long, and also allowed me to try out the Gourmet Garden, Fresh Made Easy basil and garlic combo in a fresh pesto. The verdict was deeeeeeeeeeelicious. Excellent.
For two people you need
2 tsp Gourmet Garden crushed garlic
1 whole tube Gourmet Garden chopped basil
2 tbsp pine nuts
salt and pepper
1/2 pack ripe baby plum tomatoes (or whatever tomatoes you have to hand)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
175g cooked pasta (I used shells to capture the sauce)
1 large handful fresh basil
Begin by marinating the tomatoes. Quarter them and chop into eighths if large, and place in  a bowl. Add 1 tsp Gourmet Garden crushed garlic, the balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix gently and leave to one side.
Meanwhile heat a pan and gently toast the pine nuts till golden brown. Place 2/3 into a mini food processor bowl along with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp Gourmet Garden crushed garlic and the fresh basil leaves. Pulse for a few seconds till roughly combined. Add the tube of Gourmet Garden chopped basil and the remaining pine nuts and season to taste.
Cook the pasta and drain. Add the tomatoes and pesto and scoff down. Yum yum yum.

Thai Yellow Curry (v)

This was a very quick, throw it all together a la Jamie, creation earlier in the week where I *really* didn’t feel like cooking at all. It also made the most of the delicious Gourmet Garden, Fresh Made Easy herbs and spices I am trying out for a blogging competition. Double win.

For one hungry person you need
1 small can coconut cream and same quantity of water (fill the can to measure and rinse it out)
Handful sugar snap peas
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
3-4 mushrooms, thickly sliced
Handful spinach
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp each of gourmet garden crushed ginger; crushed chilli; crushed Thai spices; crushed garlic and chopped coriander
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp vegetable oil
Rice to serve

Begin by heating the oil in a pan and sauteeing the onion for a few minutes. Add the Gourmet Garden ginger, garlic, chilli and Thai spices and the turmeric powder and fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the carrots, coconut cream and water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 mins then add everything else and cook for a further 1-2 mins. Serve steaming hot over rice and enjoy the taste of paradise on an otherwise bleak, wet and cold British December evening.

Festive Flapjacks

So called because the festive season calls for an added layer of luxury in terms of ingredients, and I CBA to melt two different types of chocolate to decorate them at any other time of the year 😉 Beware, these flapjacks are addictive and FULL OF CALORIES! But that’s why they taste so good 😉

For 12-16 bars you need
(sorry can only remember this recipe in imperial measurements!)
6oz butter
6oz sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
10oz rolled oats (not cheap ones, proper scottish decent ones but not jumbo ones)
1/4 cup sultanas
1/4 glace cherries
100g each milk and white chocolate, melted

Begin by placing everything apart from the oats and chocolate in a large pan and letting the butter melt. Meanwhile, line a swiss roll tin with baking paper. Once the butter et al is melted, add the oats and mix well. Press into the lined tin and bake in a moderate (180 degree) oven for 15-20 mins until bubbling and golden brown. Take care not to overbake or the edges and sides will become brittle and too crunchy when it’s cooled.

Remove from the oven once cooked and leave to cool for 30 mins or so before sliding out of the tin. Leave on the baking paper to cool totally. Drizzle/spread over the melted chocolate in any pattern you like and then cut into bars once the chocolate has set. Deeeelishous!!!