Monday, November 29, 2010

Seven Christmas Inspirations: Fruit Mince; Ice Cream; Mince Slice; Pudding; Tiramisu of Summer Berries; Cake; Frangipane & Fruit Mince Tart

I’ve had lots of emails after my chat with Kerre Woodham on Newstalk ZB last week asking about the Christmas recipes I featured. I know we’re all planning what to take to friends or what to serve at home over the holiday season, and I thought it would be great to share some of the recipes I use at Christmas. Before you read my 7 inspirational recipes for Christmas which I hope you love, have a look at this photo!

This wonderful Bûche de Noël, a dessert served during the Christmas holidays in France and Belgium, was created by one of our wonderful White Tie chefs – Jen Norriss - and served at a recent function. If this inspires you, the cake itself is a chocolate swiss roll filled with chocolate buttercream and iced to resemble a Yule log…

Now, here are 7 fabulous ideas for you - I hope you love them, too!

Christmas Fruit Mince
Yield 1.5kg
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 cups raisins
1 cup currants
150g butter
2 teaspoons mace
2 teaspoons nutmeg
3 teaspoons spice
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 cups brown sugar
100ml brandy
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
100ml lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer partly covered with lid for 30-40 minutes or until thick. Pour into clean, sterilised jars. Cover when cold.

Christmas Ice Cream
1 cup fruit mince
1 tablespoon brandy
600mls cream
¾ cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine fruit mince and brandy. Whip the cream with half the sugar until soft peaks form. Beat the egg yolks with remaining sugar and vanilla until thick. Fold in the fruit mince followed by the whipped cream. Pour into an ice cream container and freeze.

Christmas Mince Slice
100g chilled butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup flour

Process butter, flour and sugar until breadcrumb consistency and press into lined slice tin. Bake at 160ºC for 10 minutes.

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup fruit mince
Mix dry ingredients well and add wet ingredients. Place over base and cook for a further 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Dust with icing sugar to serve. An extra egg and more mince can be used to bulk it out.

Christmas Pudding
Makes 2 large or 4 small puddings
500g currants
500g raisins
500g breadcrumbs
6 dessertspoons flour
125g mixed peel
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
500g brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
8 eggs, beaten
500g butter, melted
1 wine glass brandy
Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining 3 and mix well to thoroughly combine. Divide between 2 greased pudding bowls. Cover and boil 8 hours.

Christmas Tiramisu of Summer Berries
1 large pkt sponge fingers
Marscapone filling
5 eggs, separated
90g caster sugar
500g marscapone
2 tablespoons Marsala
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat egg yolks with half the sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the marscapone into the yolks, followed by the Marsala and vanilla. Beat the egg whites until foamy and gradually add the remaining sugar beating until soft peaks form. Fold into the marscapone mixture.
Berry Filling
750g raspberries and sliced strawberries (raspberries may be frozen)
½ cup Marsala or sweet white wine
4 tablespoons caster sugar
Combine ingredients and stand for at least 30 minutes.
Berry Sauce
125g raspberries or strawberries
¼ cup icing sugar
Process fruit and sugar until smooth and strain to remove pips. Chill until needed.
In a large glass bowl, layer sponge fingers, berry filling and marscapone filling in that order. Repeat until bowl is full. Refrigerate overnight and garnish top with extra berries and serve with berry sauce.

Christmas Cake
500g butter
500g caster sugar
500g flour
1.5kg currants
1.5kg raisins
1.5kg sultanas
350g peel
250g ground almonds
30g mixed spice
12 eggs
1 orange – rind & juice
1 lemon – rind & juice
Brandy to taste
Grate rinds of lemon & orange, squeeze juice, melt butter.
Place fruit in a large bowl, add rind & juice. Sieve flour, add spice & almonds. Beat eggs & sugar until light in colour. Stir in flour, almonds & spices. Add fruit mix and butter and mix by hand.
Cook 5 ½ hours, 1 hour at 120°C and the rest 110°C-100°C. When cooked leave ½ hour then make small holes all over cake with a skewer and pour in brandy. Leave in tin to cool 24 hours.

Frangipane and Fruit Mince Tart
Serves 6
300g flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
pinch of salt
1 egg
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190°C. Roll out pastry and line a tart tin. Bake blind for 10 minutes, remove blind baking weights and bake a further 5 mins. Cool.
120g caster sugar
120g butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
120g ground almonds
20g flour
1 tablespoon orange flavoured liqueur (optional)
8 mint leaves, shredded
300g fruit mince
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients followed by liqueur and mint.
Spread fruit mince over the bottom of the pastry case and top with frangipane mix.
Bake at 180°C for 30 - 40mins serve warm dusted with icing sugar.

Cook them, love them!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Licking the bowl ... STICKY GINGERBREAD

It seems that I am going to be a lot better at teaching my grandchildren to cook than my own children. Probably age has taught me patience but of course we are all so much more aware of the need to teach our children these life skills.

Fortunately, my girls have all turned into great cooks, they say by osmosis, so I am able to enjoy being a guest at their dinner tables. Actually, it’s one of my most favourite things to do in the whole world!

My grandson Mason, is two and we had a lovely day last week baking my favourite gingerbread.

This recipe has been in my book for so long I don’t remember where it came from but it is a pantry staple because of it's versatility.

Great for morning tea, warmed with caramel sauce and ice cream for a quick dessert, served with cheese on a cheeseboard (great with a creamy blue) and a terrific lunch box filler.

It’s a one bowl wonder and a great simple recipe to teach the children. I was quite shocked that Mason wasn’t interested in licking the bowl, so I had to!!

Sticky Gingerbread

180g butter
1 cup water
1/3 cup treacle
2/3 cup golden syrup
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
250g brown sugar
375g flour

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 9” square tin with baking paper.
Cut butter into pieces and warm with water, treacle and syrup until just melted.
In a small bowl, beat eggs well.
In a large bowl, place the sugar and sift in the flour, spices and soda.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten eggs and butter mixture. Mix well to combine.
Pour into lined cake tin and bake 1-1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle, comes out clean.
Remove from oven and leave to cool. This cake improves on keeping and is great to freeze.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Salad Days are here!

I have just returned from a brief trip to the USA and I was reminded how good they are at making salads.

There has been a real turn around with the weather here and with the asparagus season in full swing and the beginning of the new potato season, we have two great vegetables to use as the base of a salad meal. We all love the satisfaction of preparing healthy and delicious dishes!

Don’t just think of salad as a side dish to a meal, think of it as a meal. Who can resist a platter highlighting summer’s bounty – cucumber, crispy iceberg lettuce, crunchy radishes, perfectly cooked asparagus, tiny new potatoes. You can add as much or as little as you like but think - colour, texture, freshness, crunch, protein content and then, of course, a great dressing, as this can be the difference between an average salad and a great salad.

This potato and asparagus salad is great and feel free to add sliced chicken, chopped walnuts, or diced avocado. Let the creative juices flow!

Cook it and love it.

Potato and Asparagus Salad with Tarragon Verjus Dressing

1 kg asparagus
500g new potatoes
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 cup fresh tarragon
1/4 cup Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1/3 cup verjus
1 teapsoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and briefly cook asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs transfer to a large bowl of iced water. Drain.
Add potatoes to the pot and cook until tender. Drain and let cool slightly.
In a mini food processor, pulse coriander seeds until crushed. Add tarragon, parsley, chives and process until finely chopped. Add the verjus, mustard and process until smooth. With the processor running add the oil in a fine stream. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice potatoes in half. Place in a bowl with some of the dressing and toss gently. Arrange on a platter with asparagus on top. Drizzle with some of the extra dressing.