Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

It seems you always have some Christmas pudding leftover after Christmas day (even after several days of eating it after reheating in the microwave).

I saw the recipe for these muffins on some random Rachel Allen programme on the Good Food channel or similar and thought it looked very simple (particularly compared to the bonbons in the Nigella book which I really wanted to make but just couldn’t be bothered with).

These are delicious, they have a hint of Christmas about them but aren’t loaded with cinnamon like most Christmassy baked goods.
Christmas Muffins
You only get six muffins but they’re completely delicious so I’d recommend doubling the quantities so that you can palm your leftovers off on work colleagues, thus winning massive brownie points without having to spend a fortune.

I made the icing with vanilla rather than sherry, but I really think a squeeze of orange or clementine juice would work well, if not better. Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year – I was in bed at 10.30, but it did mean I felt amazing on New Years Day!


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Boxing day and an outing

It’s been very cold here, and this combined with the fact that both Mark and I have suffered from some sort of virus has meant that we’ve not really wanted to leave the house very much over the last few days.

Mum, Dad, Kathryn and I did venture down to take a look at the lake in Nyon on boxing down and these photos should give you some idea of how cold it was.
Nyon on Boxing DayLac Leman with iciclesIcicles on a bushIcicles
And yesterday we went to Gruyere to learn how they make the cheese (which is pretty much the same way as all other hard cheeses if I’m honest). The village itself is very pretty, although we were there a little late so my photos are quite dark (also it was soooo cold I just didn’t want to take my gloves off to take pictures).
Houses in Gruyere
The view from the village of Gruyere

Also for those of you that are interested here is a picture of the back of our house.
Our house

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This was one homemade Christmas present that I was really pleased with. It’s a scarf using one skein of the Artists Palette cloud that I made my Ishbel from (which I will show you as soon as I’ve woven in the ends and blocked it) – so although it’s expensive yarn it’s quite an economical way of using it.
Pearl barred scallop scarf
The pattern (which is available here for free on Ravelry) is a simple lace pattern and I’d recommend this as a first lace project as it’s very easy to see when you’ve gone wrong (although that didn’t stop me from knitting about 30 cm’s without the correct number of stitches – doh!).

The key to making this scarf look half decent is blocking it. Before I blocked it it just looked like a rag.
Detail pearl barred scallop scarf
I don’t think it would keep you very warm, so it’s probably more of a summer/autumn scarf than a depths of winter one. But the real advantage of using this weight yarn is that you can knit it in the summer without getting really hot so that you’re ahead on your Christmas list! This isn’t what I did, but it is what I intend to do every, single, year.

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I saw this recipe for ginger macaroons earlier this month in a copy of The Guardian magazine. I had a load of egg whites left over from a carbonara that Mark cooked so I decided to have a go at making them.

They have quite a kick to them, no-one else has tried them yet so maybe they’re just an aquired taste, but I think I’d make them again. They also have the virtue of ‘keeping very well’ (which is nice and vague) so are probably a reasonable gift idea.
Stem ginger macaroons
Stem Ginger Macaroons

200g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
2 medium egg whites
150g of chopped glace or stem ginger
Flaked almonds
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (170 if not fan assisted), mix the first four ingredients together in a large bowl, then break off walnut size pieces and roll them into balls. Roll in flaked almonds (this is the only tricky bit), put on a baking sheet, and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes (turn the tray half way through to ensure they’re cooked evenly). Remove from oven and sieve icing sugar over the top.

I used half glace ginger and half stem ginger. My glace ginger certainly has more of a kick to it, the stem ginger’s milder – that’s why I mixed the two.

When I make these again I would definetly make them a little smaller. They seem really large to me, and wouldn’t be easy to pack into nice boxes, so if you wanted to give them as gifts I’d make the balls 20g (rather 30) and reduce the cooking time.

I don’t like coconut ice, I think it’s too sweet and too coconuty, but my chief taster, aka Mark, loves it. So after much searching I managed to find condensed milk in the supermarket and have made some ‘delicious’ coconut ice.
Coconut Ice
I have to say I do quite like the way it looks, and I love these bags which I got from Manoir (department store). The recipe I used was from Waitrose and can be found here. It’s a decent recipe but I’d recommend using a 20cm baking tin otherwise it’s a little difficult to cut (I’m talking from past experience here).

Also I’d advise leaving it overnight to dry out, otherwise it crumbles really badly when you cut it. This made five bags of coconut ice, which is four more than I needed, so let’s hope it keeps OK.

If you’re looking for holiday cookie recipes then take a look at the ones listed on Gingerbread Snowflakes – there are some really interesting ones. The Nova Scotia Shortbread looks particularly tasty.

And if you want more confectionary recipes then Kimberly has some good ones from last year here. Having tasted all of the sweets Kimberly made I can thoroughly recommend them all, but I particularly enjoyed the peppermint creams.

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I’ve scaled back the chutney making this year and just made one – a Plum and Cranberry chutney that I found in Sainsbury’s magazine several years ago. It’s an excellent recipe, and I’m going to share it with you because I can’t find it online and I can’t remember who wrote it. You can’t beat it with a slice of ham and some crusty bread.

Unlike other chutney’s you can make this now because it only keeps for a couple of months (although I’ve eaten it after six months and it hasn’t made me ill!). In face you can’t really make it much earlier anyway as you need fresh cranberries and you won’t find those in the shops earlier in the year.

Plum and Cranberry Chutney

225ml cider or wine vinegar
250g caster sugar
2 2.5cm cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
900g red plums (halved and stoned)
450g fresh cranberries

Put vinegar and sugar in a large pan with cinnamon and star anise. Heat gently and stir until sugar dissolves. Add plums, simmer gently for 15 minutes, add cranberries and simmer for a further 10 minutes until fruit is tender (some of the cranberries will pop – that’s OK!) and the liquid is syrupy. Remove cinnamon and star anise and pour chutney into jars.

Such as simple recipe. Sometimes it ends up being a little runny but honestly it doesn’t matter that much. If you don’t want to buy 900g of red plums you can substitute some apples in – they contain lots of pectin so they help it set a little more so be careful not to overcook it.

I love the way this chutney looks in jars – it’s really Christmasy. You can leave the star anise in if you like (just tell people not to eat it), it looks lovely if you get one to lie right next to the edge of the jar.

Also worth noting that the yield on this chutney is low. You’ll probably get just over three jars from the recipe above (370g jars) – which aint a lot. As I didn’t want loads of chutney (not a lot of point when it only lasts two months and there are only two of you) I decided to just make half the amount above – this means you’ll only need one punnet of cranberries which are quite expensive. In the past I’ve subbed dried cranberries for some of the fresh ones and just whacked them in with the plums.

I’m not going to tell you how to pot this up becuase there are a million things on the internet about how to do this – make sure you sterilise the jars, if you don’t your chutney will go mouldy and you’ll have wasted loads of effort.

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