Coffee and Cardamom Toffee

Recipe taken from Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 irresistible homemade presents for every occasion by Annie Rigg and courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Makes about 20 pieces

There is something quite nostalgic and old-fashioned about toffee, but here it is given a contemporary twist with coffee and a hint of cardamom.

Cardamom Toffee (2)Ingredients:-
Sunflower oil, for brushing the tin
125g (4oz) unsalted butter, diced
200g (6 ½ oz) caster sugar
75g molasses sugar
2 ruonded tblsp golden syrup
2 tsp instant coffee granules
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
5-6 cardamom pods

Step One : Brush the inside of a 17cm (7in) square baking tin with sunflower oil.

Step Two : Place all the ingredients except the cardamom pods in a medium-sized pan and add 75ml (2 ½ fl oz) water. Crack the cardamom pods using a pestle and mortar; remove the green husks and finely grind the little black seeds. Add to the pan and place over a low to medium heat. Stir to melt the butter and completely dissolve the sugars.

Step Three : When the sugars have dissolved, raise the heat slightly and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring from time to time. Continue to cook steadily until the toffee registers 126oC / 260oF (hard ball stage) on a sugar thermometer.

Step Four : Remove the pan from the heat, give the toffee a quick whisk and pour into the greased baking tin. Leave to cool and harden before breaking into pieces and packaging in waxed paper.

Step Five : Stored in an airtight container, the toffee will keep for about a week.

Link to book containing recipe can be found here …

Stained Glass Snowflake Cookies

Recipe taken from Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 irresistible homemade presents for every occasion by Annie Rigg and courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Makes: 8-12 Cookies

Festive snowflake cutters are used for these cookies, but the same idea works just as well for almost any shape. They look beautiful hanging at a window, allowing the light to shine through the ‘stained glass’. Or you could give one cookie to each guest as a place setting or table gift for the Christmas dinner table.

Stained glass.jpgIngredients:-
225g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened
150g (5oz) icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
350g (11oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling
Pinch of salt
Assorted flavoured and coloured boiled sweets

Step One : You will need a selection of snowflake cookie cutters. Cream the softened butter and icing sugar together until pale and light. Add the whole egg and vanilla extract and mix again until thoroughly combined. Sift the flour with the sale, add to the bowl and mixed again until smooth.

Step Two : Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for a couple of hours, or until firm. Meanwhile divide the boiled sweets into separate colours, place in freezer bags and crush using a rolling pin.

Step Three : Heat the oven to 180oC (Gas Mark 4) and line two solid baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.

Step Four : Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough until it is roughly 3mm ( 1/8 in) thick. Using the snowflake cutters, stamp out snowflakes in assorted sizes and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Carefully and neatly fill the holes in the snowflakes with the crushed boiled sweets.

Step Five : Bake in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are pale golden and the boiled sweets have melted and filled the holes.

Step Six : Cool the cookies on the trays until hardened, and package into boxes lined with greaseproof or waxed paper once completely cold. These will keep for four to five days in an airtight box.

Link to book containing recipe can be found here …

Mince Pies & Mincemeat & Cherry Tarts

A couple of recipes, one for traditional Mince Pies and another recipe using the same pastry recipe for making Mincemeat and Cherry Tarts which have a meringue, cherry and almond topping rather than a pastry top.

MINCE PIES

Cook time: 15 mins;
Makes: 22 pies

Ingredients for the pastry:
225g (8 oz) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
25g (1oz) hard margarine
75g (3oz) lard

For the filling: 350g (12oz) mincemeat

Step One : Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the margarine and lard into little pieces. Add the fats to the flour and rub in with your fingertips. Add sufficient cold water to bind the pastry together, then knead lightly.

Step Two : Put half of the pastry on a lightly floured board and roll out thinly. Cut out 11 rounds with a 75cm (3in) pastry cutter and use to line a greased bun tray.

Step Three : Put a heaped teaspoonful of mincemeat into each pastry case. Use the left-over pastry and trimmings to make lids. Cut two little nicks in each lid with a knife, then dampen the edges before securing in place. Press lightly round the edges of each pie to seal.

Step Four : Make 11 more pies in the same way. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4 for about 15 minutes, until lightly coloured.

Tip: Vary these pies by adding 115g (4oz) of cranberries to the filling, and cutting out pastry stars for lids.

MINCEMEAT AND CHERRY TARTS

Cook time: 20 mins
Makes: 24 pies

Ingredients:
Pastry recipe as for Mince Pies.

For the filling:
400g (14oz) mincemeat

For the topping:
2 medium egg whites
115g (4oz) caster sugar
50g (2oz) mixed glace cherries, washed, dried and chopped;
25g (1oz) flaked almonds

Step One : Follow methods 1 and 2 as for Mince pies – but use all of the pastry to make 24 tart cases.

Step Two : Put a heaped teaspoonful of mincement into each tart case. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually whisk in half the sugar, then fold in the rest. Fold in the glace cherries, and pile the meringue on top of the pies. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the meringue.

Step Three : Then bake tarts in a preheated oven at 190oC / 375oF / Gas 5 for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked and the meringue is lightly browned.

You can find alternative Mince Pie recipes in this book ….

Nut and Glace Fruit Ring

The cake can be made two or three weeks before Christmas. Store it in a tin in a cool place until needed.

Ingredients:-
4 tblsp rum, brandy or sherry
115g (4oz) glace cherries, quartered
115g (4oz) cup raisins or sultanas
115g (4oz) dried apricots, quartered
115g (4oz) prunes, stones and quartered
115g (4oz) stoned and chopped dates
115g (4oz) butter
115g (4oz) soft dark brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten
50g (2oz) ground almonds
115g (4oz) coarsely chopped walnuts
225g (8oz) self-raising flour

To finish:-
2 tblsp rum, brandy or sherry
4 tblsp apricot jam
Whole blanched almonds, split
3 glace cherries, halved
Few strips angelica

Makes 1 ring

Step One : The day before you want to bake the cake, put the rum, brandy or sherry in a large mixing bowl and add all the dried fruit. Cover the bowl with clear film and leave overnight in a cool place so that the fruit is well soaked. Meanwhile, grease a 23cm (9in) ring mould, with a 1.5 litre (2 ½ pint) capacity.

Step Two : The next day, preheat the oven to 160oC / 325oF / Gas 3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter, sugar and spices together until they are light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, and then fold in the soaked fruits, with any of the remaining liquid. Mix the ground almonds and chopped walnuts into the bowl and sift in the flour and mix until combined.

Step Three : Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon and bake in the preheat oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Brush the cake with the rum, brandy or sherry.

Step Four : Put the apricot jam in a small pan and heat it gently to melt it. Sieve the jam. Brush the hot glaze over the top of the cake. Arrange the nuts and fruit in a flower design on top of the cake and brush them liberally with more apricot glaze. The glaze must be used very hot, or the decoration will lift while you are brushing the jam over it.

More sweet Christmas treats can be found in this book …

Poached eggs, spinach and smoked salmon

A delicious breakfast for Christmas Day morning.

Poached egg breakfastIngredients:

300ml (9 ½ fl oz) crème fraiche
2 tsp cornflour
Yolks of three eggs
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice ½ lemon
50g (1 ¾ oz) butter, diced
4 eggs
2 English muffins, halved
200g (6 ½ oz) spinach, steamed
4 slices smoked salmon

Serves:  2-4     Prep time:  20 mins     Cook time:  5 mins

Cals per serving:  644     Fat:  54g

Step One:  To make the sauce, whisk the crème fraiche, cornflour, egg yolks, white wine vinegar and lemon juice over a medium heat until simmering.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Season to taste.  Add extra lemon juice, if needed.  Keep warm, whisking occasionally.

Step Two:  Poach the eggs for 3 mins in simmering water.  Toast and butter the muffins.  Divide the steamed spinach between the muffins.   Top with smoked salmon and an egg.  Season and pour over the sauce.

Tip: The spinach can be cooked ahead of time and then reheated in a microwave, if desired.  The eggs can also be poached ahead of time and set aside for 30 mins – reheat them in simmering water just before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

 

Meringue Yule log

The log is made from a spongy Pavlova-like meringue, rather than the usual sponge.  This allows you to make the log the day before, if desired.  Use leaf-shape or star cutters for the decoration.  You can also add soft fruit like raspberries (thawed, if frozen) or chopped marrons glacés to the filling.

White chocolate Yule logIngredients:

4 large free-range egg whites
120g (4oz) caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
600ml (20 fl oz) double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp lemon curd
200g (6 ½ oz) white chocolate, chopped

Serves:  8     Prep time:  30 mins, plus time to cool and decorate     Cook time:  30 mins
Cals per serving:  626     Fat:  48.5g

Step One:  Heat the oven to 150oC (gas mark 2).  Line a Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper.  Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until they form stiff peaks, then gradually add the caster sugar, beating until the mixture is stiff and glossy.  Beat in the cornflour, white vinegar and vanilla extract.  Transfer the meringue to the tin, spreading it evenly with a flat-bladed knife.

Step Two:  Bake for about 30 minutes, it should feel dry and springy when ready.

Step Three:  Remove from the oven and set aside for 1 minute only before turning out onto a sheet of baking or greaseproof paper lightly sprinkled with icing sugar.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  Whip the cream and icing sugar until it forms soft peaks.  Spread the lemon curd thinly over the meringue and then spread with about half of the cream.  Use the greaseproof paper to roll the meringue up (from the short edge) into a log.  Place the log seam side down on a platter.  Spread the remaining cream over the outside of the log and refrigerate until ready to decorate.

Step Five:  Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of very hot water (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water), stirring occasionally until smooth.

Step Six:  Spread the chocolate over a sheet of baking paper to a thickness of about 3mm (1/8 in).  Place on a tray and refrigerate until set.  Use a leaf or star cutter to cut shapes from the set white chocolate (you may have to return it to the fridge occasionally) and decorate the top of the log.  Dust lightly with icing sugar before serving.

Tip:  If making the meringue a day before, cover with cling film overnight.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Winter Trifle

winter trifleIngredients: 

4 tbsp Grand Marnier
100g (3 ½ oz) dried cherries
100g (3 ½ oz) dried sultanas
250g (8oz) Jamaican ginger cake
600ml (20 fl oz) chilled custard
Toasted flaked almonds, to serve

For the Syllabub:

Grated zest of ½ lemon
2-3 tbsp caster sugar
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) sweet white wine
300ml (9 ½ fl oz) cream

Serves:  8    Prep time:  25 mins, plus refrigeration and standing time

Step One:  Soak the dried fruit in the alcohol for 6 hours or overnight.  Strain, reserving both the fruit and alcohol.  Cut the cut into slices 1 cm (½ in) thick and arrange a single layer over the base of a large glass trifle bowl.  Pour over the fruit and alcohol.  Pour the custard over the cake covering with cling film and chill for at least 3 hours.

Step Two:  To make the syllabub cream, mix together the lemon zest, sugar and wine and leave for 30 minutes.  Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then add the cream and whip until the mixture just holds it shape.  Be careful not to over whip it.

Step Three: Spoon the cream over the trifle and return it to the fridge until you are ready to serve.  Just before serving, decorate with toasted almonds and silver dragees, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Pot-roasted Cockerel

CockerelIngredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
250g (8oz) pancetta or thick-cut bacon,diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
1 cockerel (3 kg – 4 kg  / 6 lb – 7 lb)
600ml (20 fl oz) chicken stock
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

Serves:  6-8    Prep time:  15 mins     Cook time:  2 hours
Cals per serving:  339     Fat: 26g

Step One: Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).

Step Two:  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the pancetta, garlic and leeks, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until the leeks have softened.

Step Three: Place the cockerel, breast-side up, in a roasting tin that is just large enough to hold it and four in the stock to a depth of 2 cm.  Add the pancetta, garlic and leeks and tuck in the thyme and bay leaves around the sides.  Cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours (plan the roasting time for your cockerel at 15 minutes per 450g / 1 lb), basting occasionally with the pan juices. Remove the foil for the last 20 minutes to allow the cockerel to brown.

Step Four:  Leave the cockerel to rest in the pan for 30 minutes and cover with foil while you finish off preparing the vegetables.

Step Five:  To serve, remove the cockerel to a warm dish.  Skim any fat off the sauce, then taste and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the thyme and bay leaves and transfer the sauce (and leeks) to a jug.  Serve the cockerel with the sauce.

Tip:  For the best results, the cockerel should be allowed to reach room temperature before going in the oven.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Gingerbread Tree

gingerbread treeRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

This is based on a classic gingerbread recipe.  Cut a tree shape from a thick sheet of paper to use as a template.  As gingerbread softens slightly with storage, make this the day before serving.

Serves:  6    Preparation Time:  30 mins, plus time to cool and decorate     Cook Time: 30 mins
Cals per serving:  745     Fat:  18.9g

Ingredients:  125g (4oz) unsalted butter; 4 tbsp golden syrup; 175g (6oz) brown sugar; 350g (11oz) plain flour; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 2 tsp ground ginger; ½ tsp mixed spice; pinch of salt; 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten; 2 egg whites; 1 tsp lemon juice; 350g (11oz) icing sugar, sifted

Step One:  Place the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Step Two:  Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Pour in the egg and melted butter mixture and mix well.

Step Three:  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step Four:  Heat the oven to 180oC (Gas Mark 4).  Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Step Five:  Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 5mm (¼ in).  Using a template, cut out two full tree shapes.  Keep one whole and cut the other in half lengthways.

Step Six:  Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Step Seven:  To decorate, make icing by beating the egg whites with electric beaters until foamy.  Gradually add 1 tsp of lemon juice and the sifted icing sugar, beating until the mixture is thick and smooth.  Spoon into a piping bag, attach a fine nozzle and pipe decorate shapes on to the gingerbread trees.  Use the icing to stick the whole tree to the base of a plate and then to attach the two half trees, using the icing like glue; you may need to hold them in place with a small object such as a glass while the icing dries.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.

 

Stollen

StollenRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

Stollen is a Christmas spiced bread originating from Germany that’s loaded with dried fruits and filled with a thick layer of marzipan.  A great gift idea too.

Makes 3 loaves

Ingredients:  75g (2 ½ oz) raisins; 75g (2 ½ oz) golden sultanas; 25g (¾ oz) currants; 50g (1 ¾ oz) candied peel, finely chopped; 50g (1 ¾ oz) natural glace cherries, quartered; Grated zest and juice of 2 clementines or 1 orange; 2 tblsp brandy; 50g (1 ¾ oz) blanched almonds, roughly chopped; 550g (1 lb) strong white bread flour, plus extra for rolling; ½ tsp salt; 1 tsp ground mixed spice seeds from 5 cardamom pods, ground; 40g (1 1/4  oz) caster sugar; 250ml (8 fl oz) milk; 15g (½ oz) active dried yeast; 100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 large egg, beaten; 450g (14oz) marzipan; Icing sugar, for dusting

Step One: Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, peel and cherries in a medium-sized bowl. Add the clementine or orange zest and juice and the brandy and leave to soak for an hour or so until the fruit has absorbed almost all of the liquid.  Add the chopped almonds and mix well.

Step Two: Sift the flour, salt, mixed spice, ground cardamom seeds and caster sugar into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Warm the milk, add the dried yeast and stir well. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast has formed a thick foam on top of the milk, then add to the dry ingredients with the softened butter, vanilla and the beaten egg. Knead the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Add the soaked fruit and nuts and mix again until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Step Three: Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.  Place in a large, clean bowl, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm, draught-free place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

Step Four: Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface again and knead lightly for 1 minute.  Divide into three even pieces and roll each piece out to the size of a rectangle, roughly 20 x 15cm (8 x 6in).  Divide the marzipan into 3 even pieces and roll each one into a log 15cm (6 in) long.  Place a marzipan log just off the middle of each piece of dough, brush the edges with a little milk, then fold the dough over the marzipan and press to seal.

Step Five: Arrange the Stollen on non-stick baking sheets, cover loosely with lightly oiled cling-film and leave in a warm, draught-free place until doubled in size.  Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).

Step Six: Bake the stolen, one at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.  Cool on wire racks, then dust liberally with icing sugar before packaging into cellophane parcels tied with colourful festive ribbon.  Stollen will keep for a week or so if wrapped well in foil or kept in a tin and is delicious warmed and sliced for breakfast.