Monday, 26 December 2011

Hot Chocolate mini series: cinnamon hot chocolate and spicy hot chocolate

I rarely have hot chocolate at breakfast. But on my birthday and on other rare occasions, I like to have some bread and butter pudding with a cup of this stuff. It makes me happy just to think about it! And it’s so easy to make even my old daddy can make this.

Ingredients (for 2):
2 cups of milk
½ cup milk chocolate
½ cup dark chocolate
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick

Put the milk in a heavy saucepan with the cinnamon stick and let it boil for a couple of minute. Leave it in for about 5 minutes. Take the cinnamon stick out, add the chocolate and put the pan back on the heat until it melts, stirring continuously. Add the cinnamon and pour the whole thing into the mugs.

Cover it up with whipped cream, if you like it, and sprinkle with dark cocoa powder.
This is festive and delicious. It also goes very well at tea time, garnished with marshmallows and with meringues and whipped cream or, even better, mascarpone cream. Or, around Christmas, with my little panettone treats

Something else you can do is turn this into a spicy chocolate by adding 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger to a 4 up batch. 

Hot chocolate mini Series - Fancy White Chocolate

Girls like chocolate. Hell, I’m a girl and I like chocolate. And my White Fancy Chocolate is the girliest thing in the world of hot chocolate.

Ingredients (for 2):
½ cup of double cream
½ cup of milk
1 cup of white chocolate chips
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
1 cup of spirited cherries
2 candy canes

Put it all in a heavy saucepan: the vanilla, the cream, the milk and the chocolate. Let it all melt together and stir it in. Put a couple of cherries at the bottom of each mug and cover them with the chocolate. Put a candycane into each mug, to stir and fish the cherries out. OR garnish with mashmallows and a dusting of dark cocoa.

Sweet and girly, perfect for a girl – on – girl chat with a couple of muffins and a bad bad movie. 

Hot chocolate mini series - Children's Delight

Not everyone is old enough or unhealthy enough to care for my Grown Up Chocolate. This is my regular hot chocolate recipe, which is sooo much better than instant one and doesn’t really take that much more effort or money. This is an absolute hit with the kids, and a nice mug of this stuff is just what they need coming back from school in the winter.
Ingredients (for 2)
1 and ½ cup of low fat milk
½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Put the milk and the chocolate in a heavy saucepan and keep on medium heat stirring continuously until the chocolate melts completely. Add the cocoa powder and pour the mix into the mugs.

There are two ways to serve this. The first one is with a generous amount whipped cream on top, and a light dusting of cocoa on the cream itself. The second one is with a candy cane in it, to give extra sweetness and a hint of mint: the hot chocolate melts the sugar cane making a delicious caramel-like red and green slush on top. Mmmh. Who said this is just for the kids?


Hot chocolate mini series - Delicious Grown Up Chocolate

Winter is a tough time for me. I am sooo busy, spinning around like a crazy person out and about all day. Long story short, when I get to sit next to the radiator at night (I sooo wish I had a firplace…) with a good book, a cat in my lap and a nice cup of hot chocolate it’s a real treat. This very grown up delight makes the whole moment much more special.

Ingredients (for 2 mugs of deliciousness):
2 cups of whole fat milk
1 cup of very very strong coffee, still hot
2 tablespoons of dark rum – if you are not feeling quite up to the rum, Bailey’s cream is also good. They also have the mint flavoured one, which is very nice with this if you like mint.
3 tablespoons dark sweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Heat up the milk, I normally just bring it to a boil. Add the coffee and the rum and stir them in. Add the cocoa and the vanilla stir it all in. Pour in the mugs and add a little whipped cream if you like it (and it’s not too much calories for you!). Delicious. 

Orange marmalade

My nana is crazy about orange marmalade. She’d eat it straight from the jar, but we normally manage to convince her to spread it onto a thin crispy slice of delicious brown German bread from the German bakery around the corner. I personally like it better on white toast, with a thin film of butter underneath. Mmmh, delicious. Anyway, I always make this for my nana for Christmas, and this year was no exception. Paired with a jar of my candied orange slices, it is the perfect side to my boring old present (I always get her a bottle of that amazing Pear Rose Nana perfume).
550g worth of oranges – about 4
1 lemon
3 cups of water
1 kg granulated sugar – if you don’t want to add in orange slices, use pectinated sugar as all the pectin in this jam is coming from the orange peel!

Slice up 1 of the oranges in very very thin slices, with the peel on. Cut the rest in half, then spoon the pulp out in a big bowl with the slices: try to leave all the white peel on the orange with the peel. Add the juice of the lemon in the bowl with the rest. 

 If you really like to have bits of orange in your marmalade (and I do!), take one of the peels, remove the white peel for the inside and slice it up really thin, adding it to the mix. Add the sugar and leave the whole thing to rest for about 4 hours.

 Put the whole thing in a heavy saucepan, add the water and boil on low heat for about 1 hour (more or less according to the consistency you want your marmalade to have. I like it quite tough, so I go for 1 and ½ hours, but you can do it for less if you are more into a more spreadable consistency).

And there you go. Pour in your sterilised jars and you have the most adorable Christmas little gift. Add a cinnamon stick, a pretty red ribbon, an anise star and a branch of holly for the ultimate treat.

I also like to spread this on dark chocolate chip bread. Toasted, no butter, with a cold glass of milk. The kids love it, and so will you!

Winter Jam

So, first things first, my Winter Jam. Almost none of the fruits in it are actual winter fruit, but after you spread a slice of French bread with a thick layer of this wonder you are not going to care at all.

300g litchi without the peel and pitted
3 tangerines
juice of 1 lemon
1 green apple
200g raspberries
200g granulated sugar

Chop up the litchis into small-ish pieces. Peel the tangerines and chop them up into little cubes. Pass the apple (still with the peel on) though the food processor and put all the fruits (except the raspberries) in a heavy saucepan. Add the lemon juice and the sugar and leave for half an hour.

 Add the raspberries, mush them in and leave to rest (covered) overnight. 

 In the morning, put the saucepan on a medium heat and bring to boil. Let it boil for 25 minutes, then take away from the heat.

Unless you like your preserves REALLY chunky, pass the hot jam though the food processor, or use an immersion blender to turn it all into a homogenous cream. 

Pour into your sterilised jars and let it cool. This is delicious on bread as it is, but also in cookies. I like to make simple biscuits with this jam in the middle, or use this in my gingerbread treats.

These also make fantastic presents, and even little favours to give at the end of a holiday dinner party: you can find mini jars for really cheap and fill them with this ruby delight and write the name of each person on the jar with a sharpie pen. You can use them as name tags for the dinner table, and your guests can bring them home with them as a little present!

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Hello everyone! Sorry I disappeared but I’ve been kinda busy. You know, the whole Christmas malarkey. You’ll be pleased to know all went well in the Christmas Dinner department. The Maple Syrup Parsnips where crunchy and delicious (I prop them in the oven with a couple f cups of baby onions, it makes al the difference), the Turkey was great and plump and my Bacon Chestnuts Sprouts were delicious. Are you guys still interested in my Christmas recipes even if Christmas is gone?
Anyway, I have a couple of things to show you that I did in the days coming up to Christmas: my Winter Jam and my Orange Compote, which are both absolute delights and make my holiday table so much more festive. And they’re no-brainers, as well!
Have a wonderful Holiday Season! xxx

Monday, 19 December 2011

Another idea for Ham: Succulent Wine

Another idea for ham is cooking it in wine. It is my dad’s favourite, and my big time triumph every time I cook for him over the holidays.
1 gammon joint
1 bottle of red wine
enough water from the kettle to top up the pan
5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cloves
1 red onion
1 ginger root, well cleaned and scrubbed
1 green apple
2 red chilli peppers – if you like spicy, otherwise ½ tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons of melted butter
3 tablespoons of brandy
½ cup brown light sugar

Prop the gammon in a saucepan with the wine and enough water to cover it. Add the onion, quartered, and the ginger root cut into slices. Add all the spices. 

Let boil for 1 and ½ hours at minimum heat. Bu the end it should be plump and soft and smell of mulled wine. 

Then pull the meat out and let it cool on a rack.

Put the boiled onion, the raw apple and a couple of slices of ginger and the chillies in the food processor. Fry it all in a saucepan with the butter, the brandy and the sugar for about 10 minutes o until it starts to caramelise. 

Cut off the fat from the ham, it should melt off straight form the meat. Leave a little bit to maintain the meat juicy and moist. Draw a criss cross pattern on the fat with a knife.
Cover with the glaze and pop in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes or until it is all caramelised.

This is delicious with mashed potatoes with extra butter and parsnips with pecans and maple syrup. Or simply sprouts and some rice. 

Also, check out my other Christmas ham recipe

What is your favourte way to cook ham? Do you go for turkey, ham or both?

Ham Christmas Special

I love ham. It’s my favourite Christmas meat, and I loved cooked in anything, My favourite version is with cider and a cranberry glace.
1 gammon joint
2l apple cider
1 white onion
1 apple – I like pink apples for this, type Fuji
3 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cloves
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup cranberries, fresh or dried and soaked in sherry
3 tablespoons of sherry
½ cup brown light sugar

 Prop the gammon in a large saucepan and fill it up with the cider. Add the apple and the onion, quartered and with their skin still on. Add the spices and the cinnamon and bring to boil for 1 up to 2 hours, according to the size of your ham.
Take the meat out and let it cool on a rack, collecting the juices from underneath. Fish out the onion and the apple.
Put the onion and the apple through the food processor, and put the pulp in a saucepan with the butter, sherry and cranberries. Let it brown, then add the sugar and keep on high heat until it starts to caramelise (about 3 minutes).
Cut the fat off the gammon – it should be soft and melt off the meat. Leave as much as you like, I prefer to leave a small slice but you can be fanatical and get rid of every little bit if you like. Draw a criss-cross pattern on the fat with a knife (you can stick some extra cloves in if you like, but I never bother).
Cover with the glaze and prop in the preheated oven at 180°C for 20-25 minutes.
This is perfect with mashed potatoes and roasted leeks, or some boiled carrots and rice. 

Also, check out my other recipe for ham

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas treats 6: gingerbread snacks

Gingerbread is delicious. I like making the gingerbread house every year, and the little gingerbread people for snaking. It is linked to fantastic childhood memories and it is fantastic if you have kids because they can help out with so much of the fun stuff.
These little treats have a bit of a different twist, but they are still absolutely wonderful and they can be served up at any Christmas party or just kept on the table as a pretty as well as yummy Christmas treat!


350g plain flour
175g light sugar
100g butter
1 egg
4 tablespoons of golden syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup cranberry jelly, or other jam

Stir all the ingredients together to obtain a gingerbread doe. Roll it out on a surface covered in flour (don’t forget to coat the rolling pin and your hands in flour, too).

Cut all of your doe into circles. For half of them, cut another circle inside the first one, so to obtain a gingerbread ring.

Spread the jam on the solid circles, and top each one of them with a ring. Put in the heated oven at 180°C for 10 minutes or until uniformly gold and plump.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Fried Chicken

200g chicken breasts
juice and zest of 5 limes
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
2 cups of frying oil
2 egg yolks
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 branch of rosemary
5 whole leaves of sage
1 tablespoon of Southern Comfort

Chop up the chicken in finger sized portions. Put them into a plastic bag with all the juices, abundant salt and pepper, the rosemary and sage, the extra virgin olive oil and the Southern Comfort. Close the bag, shake well and leave in the fridge. I normally leave it for a day or so, the longer the better.

Take them out of the bag and, without drying them, roll them in bread crumbs, to which you will have mixed the zest. Dip them in the egg yolks and roll them in bread crumbs again, them put them in the hot frying oil to cook. It takes about 10 minutes, 5 on each side. As with all frying the trick to this is to make sure the oil is incredibly hot the whole time and merrily bubbles throughout the process.

 Make sure each piece is beautiful and golden before taking them out and put on a dish covered in kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle the pieces of chicken with freshly ground salt and maybe a tablespoons of chopped up of rosemary leaves.

This goes served piping hot and fresh from the pan, with the coating still crunchy and salty, and with slices of limes or lemon on the side.

I serve this with mashed potatoes and leeks, or plain rice and fresh tomatoes to contrast the richness of the fried chicken. Delicious!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Bread and Butter Pudding in a Jar

Now, I love bread and butter pudding. Crucially, everyone I know loves my bread and butter pudding too. The problem with it is that it’s not exactly a portable dessert. Bringing it to a friend’s house for a sleep over, on a picnic or as part of a lunchbox for one of the boys – just too complicated. You end up with a horrible mixture of yellowy mush, which might still taste the same but is unappetising, sticky and messy. But then I realised, the thing I love the most in the world are jars. And bread and butter pudding in a jar is great. Especially with my special version of the classic recipe.
4 croissants
4 eggs
1 cup of melted butter
½ cup of granulated sugar
1 and ½ cups of full fat milk
½ tablespoon vanilla extract

Tear the croissants apart into medium sized chunks and pass through the grill for a minute. Put the pieces in the jars (which should probably be sterilised but you’ll have to eat this quite quickly so it doesn’t really matter).

Whisk all the other ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the mixture in the jars, keeping in mind it will raise and you still want to be able to close the jar.
Close the lids, shake vigorously and leave in the fridge for half an hour or until you are ready to bake – you can leave them for as long as a day, just give them a shake before putting them in the oven.

Take the lids off, cover the top of the jar with tin foil (which you will poke with a fork) and put in the oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes. Check your jars won’t crack in the oven.

Take the puddings out, let them coo then screw the caps off.
My nephew loves to find a small jar of this in his lunchbox as a treat!

Just because you can’t keep these, it doesn’t mean you can’t give them away as presents. I like to fill the space between the pudding and the lid with boozy plums and their vodka, close the whole thing and give it away as a very last minute Christmas gift. If you want to give it a festive feel, you can mix in half a cup of chocolate chips or, for a more deorative effect, 1/4 cup glace red cherries finely chopped and 1/4 cup glace green cherries, also chopped - it will look like Christmas confetti. It is also delicious with half a cup of rum marinated raisins folded in with the batter.

Lemon Curd and Lemon Curd Miracle Pie

Lemon curd is great. For me it's mainly because it tastes like lemons, and lemons are one of my favourte things in the world.  It doesn’t keep for very long, but a couple of weeks in the fridge are fine and make it a really good present with a spring feeling all year round. This version has a bit of a twist to it and lots of lemon, and is at the base of my 5-minute wonder pie.

2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup brown sugar
80g of butter
¾ tablespoon of Limoncello or other lemon liqueur
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
Juice of 1 lime

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a saucepan until they become smooth and creamy, then place the pan over low eat. Add the butter, juices, Limoncello and zest and whisk it all together for about 5 minutes, until it thickens. Pour into jars and prop in the fridge. If you don’t like having bits of zest in it you can sieve it, but I like the tanginess of the little yellow speckles. If you like, you can also add a couple of drps of yellow food colouring the make the whole thing look more lemony.

A jar of this in the fridge when you have children around or know you might have sudden guests is great. You can always scoop in a tablespoon of it with a bowl of greek style yoghurt for breakfast, or spread on a thick slice of warm bread for an extra treat. Or, you can fold it in a batch of vanilla ice cream to make lemon ice cream (yea, it's not really, but this is so tasty nobody will care). But nothing beats a slice of my instant lemon pie.

You will need
8 egg whites
1 cup white icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 digestive biscuits
1 cup of melted butter
1 and ½ cup of mini marshmallows
1 tablespoon of milk
½ cup of lemon curd
drops of yellow food colouring

Crush the biscuits into a powder and mix them in with the butter. Press them in tightly at the base of your cake tin to make a cheesecake-like base. Put in the fridge to set for at least 15 minutes.

In a pan on medium heat melt the marshmallows into a cream and, off the heat, mix them up with the lemon curd. Add the food colouring until you are happy with the colour, which should be obnoxiously yellow. Of course you can skip this part f you don’t want to. Pour this mixture over the biscuity base, level it down to form a uniform state. If you literally have no time, or marshmallows, you can skip the marshmallow stage and just pour in about 1 cup of lemon curd on top of the base. Put back in the fridge to set for another 15 minutes minimum.

Whish the egg whites with the food processor until they are so stiff you can reverse the bowl and they wouldn’t fall down. Fold in the icing sugar very gently in order to maintain the meringue solid. Prop the meringue on top of the lemon curd cream, smoothing it out on the top. Put in the oven at 120°C with the fan on for an hour, until all the meringue is crunchy and cooked.

Serve with a nice cool glass of pink lemonade for a summery bliss, even in the middle of the winter.

Christmas Prawn Tray

I am a real sucker for prawns. I love them year round, and I never quite understood why they are supposed to be a Christmas treat. Anyway, as the wise man says, who cares and let’s party. This tray takes quite some time and work, but it is totally worth it.

About 40 king prawns, without their shell.
10 rashers streaky bacon
3 bay leaves
about 10 slices of good quality smoked salmon
½ cup sesame seeds
1 cup of oil
½ cup of chilli jelly
40 medium sized wooden skewers
¼ cup freshly torn parsley
172 tablespoon freshly chopped garlic
1 cup olive oil
2 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Put a skewer through each prawn, making sure to go through it twice – i.e. to stab it both in the neck and on the tail.

Put the lemon juice and 1 egg yolk in the food processor and blitz, slowly adding the oil in a steady stream for about 5 minutes. Take the mayonnaise out of the processor, adjust its consistency with a little bit of water (it can get a bit too thick) and add the parsley and the garlic. Put the mayonnaise in a small pot, or in a champagne glass, and place it at the centre of a large round platter. Each type of prawn will take up ¼ of the platter and the guests will be able to dip the prawns in the mayo at their liking. Remember to warn them it was raw eggs in it! If you are catering for a group with lots of pregnant women and small children or ill people, it is probably best to use pasteurised eggs or mayo out of a jar.

Put 20 prawns into a pan of hot salty boiling water and let them boil for 2 minutes. Then take them out and let them cool.
Wrap 10 boiled prawns in the salmon slices, adding a little branch of dill inside each wrap. Put them on one quarter of the big plate, with the prawns close to the mayonnaise jar and the free end of the skewer on the outside for your guests to grab.

The remaining 10 boiled prawns, spread them with abundant chilli jelly on both sides. Stick them on a baking tray covered in tinfoil and leave in the preheated oven at 180°C for maximum 10 minutes, until the jelly has caramelised. Set on another quarter of the plate and leave to cool.

Take 10 raw prawns and wrap them carefully in the wet bacon. Take the last 10 prawns, dip them in 1 egg yolk and cover them in sesame seeds. You can set these two aside until your guests arrive.

When your guests arrive, start frying the last two kinds of prawn. Put the bacon wrapped ones in a frying pan with a tablespoon of regular oil and they bay leaves and let it fry on medium-low heat for 5 minutes (2 and a half minutes on each side or until the bacon is all crispy and delicious). Take them out and put them on one quarter of the plate.
Warm up the rest of the regular oil in a frying pan at maximum heat, and deep fry the sesame coated prawns for about 3 minutes or until they are golden. Leave them on kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil for a minute, then put them on the last quarter of the plate.

These are beautiful to look at and delicious and a great party mixer! With this you only need to scatter some trays of giant green olives around the living room, a couple of baskets with freshly cut baguette and some fruit and nuts in a centrepiece to have a perfectly reasonable Christmas fete. Follow these up with mint chocolate strips or mini Christmas puddings and you will win everybody’s hearts!

Blue Cheese and Cranberry Vol-au-Vents

Savoury treats are always neglected at Christmas. But they are so many exciting things you can do with typically Christmassy ingredients, and a party is not a party without its savoury snacks.
These are perfect for any under-the-tree party and incredibly simple to make!

20 shop bought small vol-au-vents- or you can make your own if you are so inclined.
1 cup grated extra mature Cheddar
1 cup single cream
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other strong blue cheese
¾ cup of dried cranberries
1 cup sherry
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
parsley and extra cranberries for decoration

Soak the cranberries in the sherry for half an hour. Then put them in a large bowl with all the cheeses, the cream and the basil. Fold it all in gently together until you obtain a somewhat homogeneous cream.
With a teaspoon, fill up the vol-au-vents with the cheese cream. Prop them in the preheated oven at 180°C for 5 minutes, until the top forms a little golden crust and the inside starts to melt. Take them out and garnish each one with a half leaf of parsley and a cranberry. Serve them with celery sticks on the plate to mop up all those flavours, and maybe a couple of Cranberry Martinis. These are a real treat!

If you don’t even have time to whip this up, try making chutney canapés. This is where my chutney-making obsession comes in handy! These aren’t particularly Christmassy, but they are so delicious nobody will care. You just need to spread some shop bought or pre made ingredients onto round crackers, or water crackers or whatever you like. Some of my favourite combinations are:

Hot aubergine chutney and a cube of feta cheese
Tomato confit with a cube of mozzarella and a fresh basil leaf
Chilli jelly and a small dice of pear
Red Onion Chutney and crumbled blue cheese

Christmas treats 5: panettone trifles

Panettone is great. It’s delicious, and there is so much you can do with it. Quite frankly, I like it as it is, maybe with a little mascarpone sauce and rum raisins.
But these Panettone trifles are truly magical. They capture all the essence of the Panettone and they look sophisticated enough to serve at dinner parties of Christmas parties, or bring over to work for the office’s Christmas fete.
They do contain raw eggs, which means you need to make sure your eggs are fresh and possibly organic. Or you can use pasteurised eggs, which might not be as rich in flavour but are completely Salmonellosis-safe!

About 3 thick slices of leftover Panettone. Better if a bit stale.
300g Mascarpone
3/4 cup icing sugar
a couple of drops of vanilla essence
3 egg yolks (or equivalent from pasteurised eggs, check on the box)
3 tablespoons of Bailey’s
2 tablespoons of rum raisins
Sweetened cocoa for decoration, and crystallised violets, blueberries or cut up orange slices.

Cut the Panettone slices horizontally so to obtain several triangles about 3 inches thick. Trim the rounded edge and toast them in the toaster until they are only slightly crunchy on the outside but still moist on the inside: this will prevent the Bailey’s cream from seeping through. Fit each one of the triangles at the bottom of a small container, such as a sherry glass. I use plastic shot glasses when I bring this over to someone else’s party, so I don’t have to worry about collecting all the little glasses at the end of the night.

Mix the Bailey’s, the rum raisins and 3 tablespoons of the sugar to obtain a homogeneous paste. Dose a teaspoon or so of the mixture onto each Panettone slice in the shot glasses and put in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
In a large bowl, wisK together the rest of the sugar and the egg yolks. Add the vanilla essence (sometimes I substitute the vanilla essence with almond essence or a couple of drops of crème de cacao blanc, which is white chocolate liqueur). Add the mascarpone and whick it all together until you have a smooth, delicious cream. You get extra points here for not sitting on the floor and eating half the batch with your finger.

Pour on top of the refrigerated shot glasses, and cover it all up with a thick blanket of cocoa. On top you can add a single blueberry, a candied violet or a thin stripe cut out of your home-made candied orange slices (if you do that, you might want to add orange essence to your cream instead of vanilla essence).

I love these little trifles. They are so small they don’t even make me feel that guilty (even though I probably eat more of the stuff whilst cooking than when I serve it) and they look very festive under a Christmas tree. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Chrstmas treats 4: pomegranate jelly

These are a real treat. They are refreshing after all the chocolate and butter and they keep really well in the fridge so you can make them early in December and use them throughout the festive season. Plus they are red and festive and make for a real table decoration.
4 cups pomegranate juice
1 drop of jelly red food colouring
7 cups pectinated sugar
juice of two lemons
10g of jelly – either powder or in sheets
about 2 cups of raspberries or cubed pineapple

Combine pomegranate and lemon juice with sugar in  big saucepan and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for one minute, then take off the heat and add the gelatin. Let it dissolve, putting the pan back on the hob if necessary but without allowing it to boil. Add food colouring and pour in the moulds. I like half-sphere moulds, but you can use whichever small moulds you have available: silicon ones are very good for this.
Drop a raspberry (or a cube of pineapple or whatever fruit you like) into each jelly and make sure the jelly encases the piece of fruit completely. Put in the fridge to set overnight before taking the jellies out of the moulds.

Decorate with a light dust of icing sugar and a couple of holly leaves. An alternative is a light spray of whipped cream and a dollop of rum raisins.
Fantastic at parties or at the end of a big festive meal. 

Christmas treats 3: mini Bouches de Noel

The Bouche de Noel is a staple of the Christmas period. Everyone has their recipe, and to everyone that special combination of chocolate and butter tastes like Christmas. My personal favourite is my uncle’s White Chocolate Orange Cranberry Bouche.
These baby ones aren’t as complicated as the big ones, but they are delightful to serve with coffee under the Christmas tree when you have people over for coffee and presents in the Holiday season.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup dark muscovado sugar
½ cup of sultanas soaked in rum
1 tablespoon crystallised orange skins
200g butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips, which you will melt
3 eggs

Mix all the ingredients together into a doe. Put it in a plastic bag, squeeze it all in a corner and cut the corner.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and then squeeze little logs onto it – that is small cylinders of about 1 inch diameter and 4 inches length. Space them out enough so they won’t touch each other when they go in the oven and raise.
Prop the baking tray in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes, then take them out and let them cool. Transfer them on a rack after 10 minutes and wait until they are completely cool.

1 cup milk or white chocolate chips, melted
Christmas sparkles. I like a mix of golden starts and little silver and red dots.

Dip the bouches in the chocolate and put them on the cooling rack for the chocolate to firm up. When it is a bit more firm, you can draw a wood-like pattern on the cylinders with a fork, so it looks like the bark of a tree. Lastly, add some sparkles and ste in the fridge to dry.

These are delicious with eggnog or, for more grown-up parties, with my eggnog Christmas martini.  Drop a tablespoon of eggnog at the bottom of a Martini glass, top it with a shot of coffee liqueur of Bailey’s, a shot of vodka and a shot of cranberry juice. Garnish with a mint leaf or a peppermint stick.