Category Archives: christmas recipes

Saturday Snippets…’Tis the Saturday before Christmas 19th December 2020…

Welcome to Saturday Snippets where I engage my whimsey and kitsch well it is that time of year…Christmas is not celebrated here and there are even fewer nods to Christmas here in the North of Thailand …I do believe Christmas is for kiddies and try to keep the magic going although this year methinks Covid has highjacked any hopes of buying anything the least bit festive …I do however have some festive parcels on the way from family and a dear friend to look forward to…x

In my kitchen:

What’s been cooking in my kitchen this week? A lovely chicken massaman curry...one-pot cooking is the way to go, my Christmas ham is brining nicely and if you haven’t started yours its not too late a loin of pork only takes between 5-6 days so you just have time, my Christmas cake has had its final drink of Brandy which means today or tomorrow I will be making Marzipan…As it is National Pear month I have pickled some pears this week there was also quite a lot of the beautiful syrup over…and not one to be wasteful I have popped it in a little jar and will use it as a glaze for when we cook pork.

Pickled Pears:

  • Orange zest and juice
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Juniper Berries lightly crushed
  • 10 cloves
  • 5cm fresh ginger sliced thinly
  • 800 fl oz cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 kg of  raw brown sugar
  • 2 kg pears peeled and quartered or cut into 8 depending on the size of the pears.

Let’s Pickle!

Put all the ingredients in a pan except for the pears, cook on a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved add the peeled and cut pear halves and cook for 15-20 minutes until they are tender.

Pears cooking in the syrup.

Remove the pears from the pan and drain, keep to one side and boil the syrup rapidly until it has reduced by about a 1/3 and is slightly thickened.

Put the pears in warm sterilised jars and add the syrup covering the pears. Seal tightly and leave for about 2 weeks and then enjoy with cheese and or your favourite meat.

N.B. Cooks Notes...I halved the recipe as it was the first time I had pickled pears it made 2 jars of pickles and I had some syrup over…the original recipe used all-spice berries which I didn’t have so I used Juniper berries…

I also made my last bread pudding of the year and added some cranberries to the mix to give it a festive pop it is really lovely those cranberries add that little pop of tartness…The last of my bananas I made into some banana muffins…and some latkes with a tropical twist... they were very nice the recipe came from a dear fellow blogger… Dolly from koolkosherkitchen…

Tropical Latkes

Please pop over to her blog ..say hello she will make you very welcome and have a look at her recipes they are all delicious and easy to follow.

Hubby also informed me that instead of wasting the banana skins he will be making some fertilizer for the garden with them…he is finding some new skills and for a man who at 74 is the proud possessor of his first electronic device…a man who won’t have a mobile phone and has never in his life used an Atm it is not bad going …

Since I have been baking my own bread I find I am not getting the leftovers which I have always kept in a bag in the freezer for when I want to make bread pudding or breadcrumbs…not sure that is a good thing neither does hubby as he is wondering why he had added a couple of pounds…eating too much bread and cakes is the culprit…x

Did you know? The Night of the Radishes” is one of the annual Christmas customs in Oaxaca, Mexico. On December 23rd, The Night of the Radishes (Noche de Los Rábanos in Spanish) is an annual event in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, dedicated to the carving of oversized radishes. The event has its origins in the colonial period when radishes were introduced by the Spanish. Oaxaca has a long wood carving tradition and farmers began carving radishes into figures as a way to attract customers’ attention at the Christmas market, which was held in the main square on December 23. In 1897, the city created the formal competition. As the city has grown, the city has had to dedicate land to the growing of the radishes as the event has become very popular attracting over 100 contestants and thousands of visitors. However, since the radishes wilt soon after cutting the works can only be displayed for a number of hours, which has led to very long lines for those wishing to see the works.

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Let’s have some music…A tune or two…

Silent Night is one of my all-time favourite Christmas Carol’s  The song has been recorded by many singers across many music genres… “Silent Night” has been recorded at least 733 times over the past 36 years alone.

This weeks rendition is from  Jonas Kaufmann –

Conservation Corner:

Depending on where you live in the world some of you are going to have a white Christmas…Well, FORGET FROSTED GRASS and snow-covered windowsills, in Australia it’s the Christmas beetle that heralds the start of the festive season. They are so pretty with their metallic coats.

The metallic scarabs are synonymous with summer Down Under – or at least they used to be.

Research, however, suggests that  Australia’s endemic Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus) population is on the decline.

Entomologist Dr Chris Reid, from the Australian Museum, attributes the drop in sightings to drier than usual spring weather, especially along the coast of New South Wales.

Christmas beetles in the greater Sydney region have also been victims of urban sprawl, with species disappearing from the city’s west due to much of their natural habitat being used for development.

I know people have to live in houses but urban sprawl has a lot to answer for and more care and research should be undertaken before permission to develop has been given or provision should be made to keep wildlife disruption to a minimum…Most cannot readjust.

THE  NATURAL habitat for Christmas beetles is woodland, where there are plenty of trees and rich soil. The larvae develop in the soil, and remain there as curl grubs, feeding on grass and plant roots, as well as the surface roots of eucalypts.

As fully grown adults, they mainly eat eucalyptus leaves but are known to consume the foliage of introduced species, such as the peppercorn tree.

The reason we only see these colourful insects during the festive season has nothing to do with Saint Nick aka Santa and there was you thinking it did…Ha Ha

BUT the end of spring and start of summer is when the larvae hatch out. The adults aren’t active during the winter months; they are larvae only during those months. When the adults are spotted during the Christmas month they’re at the stage of laying eggs.

This time of year is also mating season.

Christmas Beetle. 1

Image by John Vossen from Pixabay

If you are lucky enough to see them during the day on young eucalypts… they’re usually in clusters trying to mate, with the males pushing each other off the females.

They are very pretty though and Christmassy …Don’t you think?

The information about the Christmas Beetle came from Australia’s National Geographic Magazine.

Bloggers Corner:

As you know I love Christmas Carol’s and Christmas Adverts…I have only quite recently started following Clive who is posting a daily Christmas Advent Calendar…which consists of two tracks and a comic strip…While I love Christmas songs like Clive I don’t like listening to overpaid diva’s screaming them out…Clive has introduced me to artists who were mostly previously unknown to me and are well worth a listen…some tracks are quite beautiful…some very funny and some you will only wish to listen to maybe once a year…This one is a Cappella (which) I love…and it’s funny they remind me a little of the Barber Shop Boys.

Please pop over to say hello to Clive and have a listen there are so many tunes and such a variety…you are guaranteed to come away with a smile on your face…

Finally today …Christmas Adverts: Spoiler Alert you will need tissues…a box x

That’s all for this week and Saturday Snippetts next week it will be all over…

Have a great weekend …please stay safe and shop online where you can or a homemade gift are the ones which show how much you really care…Early next week I will have a few ideas of homemade gifts that can be made in your kitchen…

Stay safe and well, have fun and laugh a lot as laughter is surely the best medicine and its free…xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas dinner for one…Part One.

I know Christmas for many people for a variety of reasons and Covid…sigh… social isolating and bubbles which could mean Christmas dinner for one…

Christmas in a household of 4, for example, may mean a few compromises…especially if there is a fussy eater…then we get the TV and the music…maybe the games there is always a sore loser…

Christmas for one...means you can indulge yourself with your food choices…TV or music…your choice…there is no one to hog and eat all the best chocolates…less washing up and clearing away…you can veg out on the sofa after dinner…you can take a nap, read a book and eat chocolate, have a choice of TV channels, your choices are endless…It sounds close to heaven on earth to me…

What’s for dinner then? 

You could ask your butcher to cut you small lamb rack of 2/3 lamb cutlets and make a lovely crumb… its fairly quick to cook,

A nice piece of steak with new potatoes and a salad or a beautiful red wine sauce.

Pork fillet with a nice peppercorn sauce.

Salmon with new potatoes and asparagus.

A small turkey crown or a stuffed turkey thigh…

I did think about a nice quail, pigeon or venison but my son told me that they could be quite difficult to cook if you weren’t familiar with the cooking of them so, I discarded that thought unless of course, you are a cordon bleu chef and then it is a doddle.

If you just want traditional then here’s how…

A traditional Christmas dinner for one…

Ingredients:

  • 3 pork chipolata sausages
  • 1 small apple, cored, ½ grated, ½ cut into wedges
  • 4 walnut halves, chopped
  • 2 slices brown bread, chopped into small pieces
  • pinch of dried sage
  • 1 skinless chicken breast
  • 4 rashers streaky bacon
  • 5 Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 2 small potatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium parsnip, trimmed
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, or sunflower oil
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 250ml red wine
  • 250ml beef or chicken stock (can be made with 1/2 stock cube)

Let’s Cook Christmas Dinner:

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Squeeze the meat from one of the chipolatas into a bowl, discarding the skin. Put the grated apple in a clean tea towel and squeeze out any excess liquid, then add to the sausagemeat with the walnuts, a quarter of the bread and the sage. Season, then combine using your hands and form into a fat sausage shape.

Cut a long slit in the chicken breast lengthways on one side, being careful not to cut it in half (you should be able to open it up like a book). Stuff the chicken breast with the stuffing sausage, then wrap two of the bacon rashers around it so it’s fully enclosed, securing it with a couple of cocktail sticks.

Put the stuffed chicken breast in a large roasting tin. Wrap the remaining bacon rashers around the remaining chipolatas and add to the tin around the chicken.

Christmas lunch would be the same without our pigs in blankets although I did see a recipe the other day for ducks in duvets which I found amusing…That recipe is for another day.

Add the apple wedges, sprouts and potatoes to the roasting tin. Cut the parsnip in half lengthways and put it, cut-side down, on a chopping board. Make very thin, close cuts into the parsnip halves that go almost but not fully through just to fancy it up like a Hasselback potato it is Christmas after all…

Transfer to the roasting tin with the garlic and two of the bay leaves. Drizzle over the oil and season everything with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-45 mins, or until everything is cooked through. Brush the vegetables in the oil and meat juices once or twice near the end of the cooking time. 

Now a traditional Christmas dinner would not be the same without bread sauce…which we can make while waiting for the meat and veggies to cook.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan with the remaining bay leaf, the cloves and shallot. Heat gently for 5-6 mins, stirring occasionally, or until the shallot is starting to soften. Strain the milk into a heatproof jug, reserving the shallot and discarding the bay leaf and cloves. Return the milk to the pan with the remaining bread and cook, stirring, until you have a thick, porridge-like sauce. Add half the butter and stir until melted, then season, remove from the heat and set aside. 

That’s the bread sauce done…x

Time for a glass of wine…

Now slice the reserved shallot, then add to a frying pan with the rest of the butter. Fry until just golden, then pour in the balsamic vinegar. Continue to cook until the vinegar has reduced and is thick and sticky, then add the wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, then stir in the stock and bubble until the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened. 

Gently reheat the bread sauce. Slice half the chicken (reserving the rest for leftovers) and put on a plate with the pigs in blankets and the roast apple, sprouts, potatoes and parsnip. Drizzle over the red wine gravy and serve with the pickled red cabbage and cranberry and bread sauces on the side. 

Serve with cranberry sauce and my spiced red cabbage. This red cabbage can be made in advance it freezes well and keeps in the fridge well for at least 2/3 weeks. You can make as little or as much as you like by adjusting the recipe and it also pairs well with a roast dinner so there will some left if you are cooking for one for a few other meals.

Enjoy!

Until next time stay safe and well and have a joyous festive season…xxx

 

 

Christmas Recipes…Homemade Stuffing…

 

Wow..where does the time go??? We think we have lots of time and then that clock just whizzes around and before we know it…Christmas is upon us…

To me, there is nothing nicer than seeing that stuffing oozing out of the turkey…

I have a few recipes ( 7) for homemade stuffing for you it is very easy to make and makes much more than you get out of a box and no nasties…It freezes well so you can make it and pop it into the freezer all ready for Christmas day…

This first stuffing is not a traditional one as I used to know it..we always had sage and onion never anything else but since I discovered how easy stuffing is to make it has opened up a whole new world…

Rice, walnut and squash stuffing.

Serves 8.

  • The bottom half of 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 200 gm walnuts, chopped….I use walnuts as I can’t always get chestnuts but chestnuts can be used
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4  sage leaves, chopped plus extra sage leaves, to serve
  • 200g mixed wild and basmati rice
  • 500 ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 25 gm parmesan(optional) or a vegetarian alternative, grated

Heat oven to 200 C /180 C fan/gas 6.
Tip the onion, squash, and walnuts into a roasting tin with the oil, chopped sage, and seasoning, then toss well with your hands. Roast for 20 mins or until the edges of the squash start to tinge brown. If your oven is full, you can simply fry the lot together in a large frying pan.

Add the rice and stir to coat it, then tip the lot into a saucepan. Add the stock and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-25 mins or until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed. Add cheese, if using, and tip into a baking dish. You can now cover and chill the stuffing for up to a day. 

To finish, heat grill to high, then cook until the top is browned and crisp and the stuffing is hot through.

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Date and bacon stuffing.

stuffed pork loin-386802_640

  • slices bacon, chopped
  • stalks celery, finely chopped
  • medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4cup snipped pitted whole dates
  • tbsp snipped fresh thyme
  • clove garlic, minced
  • cups dry cubes sourdough bread
  • 1 – 1 1/3cups vegetable or chicken broth

Let’s Cook!

In a large pan, cook bacon until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tbsp. of drippings. Add celery and onion to skillet. Cook 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in dates, thyme, and garlic.

In a large bowl combine bread cubes, date mixture, and bacon. Drizzle with enough broth to moisten, stirring to combine.

You can then cook the stuffing and serve as an accompaniment or use to stuff a piece of loin as I have done we love pork loin with stuffing.

To stuff, the pork loin either cut a pocket and stuff or cut the loin but not right through put the stuffing down the middle and roll and tie with string.

This recipe is for stuffed pork loin but with a different stuffing but more detailed on how to stuff a pork loin if you are a beginner.

You can then wrap the loin in bacon if desired.

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My stuffing is a mushroom stuffing using porcini mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • 25 gm pack dried porcini mushrooms
  • 425 ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp shredded basil
  • 4-6 tbsp grated parmesan

Let’s Cook!

Heat oven to 200 C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Oil a non-stick 12-hole bun tin and line holes with two strips baking parchment, to form a cross. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and pour over the hot vegetable stock. Leave for 20 mins, then strain, reserve the stock and chop the mushrooms, if large.

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and fry for 5 mins until softened. Add the pine nuts and fry until lightly toasted. Add the garlic, rice and cook for 2 mins.

Tip in wine, let it bubble, then add the reserved stock, mushrooms and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 mins, until the rice is just cooked. Remove from heat and cool, then stir in the egg, basil, pepper, and salt, if using.

Fill the tins with stuffing, sprinkle over parmesan. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden on top. Cool in the tins, or for 5 mins if serving straight away. Remove by pulling up the parchment crosses.

You can make these up to two days ahead.  Then reheat on an oiled baking sheet, at 200 C/fan 180C/gas 6 for 10 mins.

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My next stuffing is a little more of a traditional stuffing and has my beloved herb sage…I love sage…this stuffing is our family favourite…I love rice and rice-based stuffings not so the menfolk in my house especially at Christmas so this one it is…

Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing

  • 800 gm Cumberland Sausages removed from the skin.
  • 10 rindless streaky bacon rashers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Bramley apple, peeled and chopped (about 325 gm)
  • 85 gm fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 1 large egg

Let’s Cook!

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the celery and onion, and cook for about 5 mins until starting to soften.

Tip into a bowl to cool while you remove the sausage meat from the skins. Add the apple, sausage meat, breadcrumbs, herbs, egg, and seasoning. Mix well – the easiest way is to knead it together in the bowl with your hands. I use about 1/4  of this mix to stuff the neck cavity of the turkey.

Stuffing Mix

For the remainder, I line a 900 gm loaf tin with 8 rashers of streaky bacon, spoon in the stuffing, lift the bacon over and cover with the last 2 rashers. Heat oven to 180C/160 C fan/gas 4 and bake the stuffing for 40-50 mins.

It can be made ahead up to this point and chilled for 2-3 days.

Turn out onto a baking-parchment-lined baking tray and return to the oven (once the turkey has come out) at 220 C/200C fan/gas 7 for 15-20 mins more to brown the bacon.

If chilled, reheat at the lower temperature for 45 mins, covered in foil, then turn out for the extra 15 mins at the higher temperature. Allow standing, then scatter with parsley (if you like), slice and serve.

Next one of my favourite Christmas fruits a stuffing made with cranberries …

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Bacon, Chestnut, and Cranberry Stuffing

  • 2 rashers unsmoked back bacon, cut into strips
  • 450 gm sausage meat
  • 100 gm dried cranberries
  • 50 ml ruby port
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 50 gm butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 140 gm fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 140 gm peeled, cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium egg,  beaten

Let’s Cook!

Soak the cranberries in the port for an hour.

Fry the onion and bacon gently in the butter, until the onion is tender and the bacon is cooked. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.

Cool slightly, then mix with all the remaining ingredients, including the cranberries and port, adding enough egg to bind  I find it easiest to use my hands so get those hands in and mix thoroughly.

This stuffing can be baked in a dish or rolled into balls that will be crisp on the outside and moist inside.

Stuffing Balls

Bake in a greased dish at 190 C/gas 5/fan 170 C for about 40 minutes, until browned and, in the case of sausage meat stuffing, cooked right through.

Alternatively, roll into balls that are about 4cm in diameter. Roast the stuffing balls in hot fat (they can be tucked around the turkey or done in a roasting tin of their own) for 30-40 minutes, until crisp and nicely browned on the outside.

Spicy Pork Balls (5)

These are lovely stuffing balls and probably my favourite at Christmas as I love cranberries…

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Water Chestnut and Bacon Stuffing.

  • 3/4 to 1 pound of bacon, diced
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 to 4 stalks celery, diced (about a 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large onion or 2 small, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 oz pack of mushrooms, diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can of whole water chestnuts, roughly chopped, optional…I am lucky I can get fresh water chestnuts.
  • 12 oz breadcrumbs
  • Poultry seasoning to taste (recipe to make your own here)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Any of your favourite herbs or seasoning: additional thyme, rosemary, sage or 1/2 a teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes, etc.
  • Chicken stock to moisten (2 to 2 1/2 cups)

In a large pan, fry bacon until crisp, remove and put to one side. Discard all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of drippings. Add butter and stir till melted. Add celery and onion and cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms & garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Remove from heat and add the breadcrumbs, the reserved bacon and water chestnuts, if using. Toss together and add chicken broth to moisten. Taste for seasoning & add in salt, pepper and additional desired herbs.

This is best left overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Check for the desired amount of moistness and add additional broth, if needed, before baking. Stuffing should not be wet.

Bake in a buttered casserole, covered, at 325 to 350 degrees for about an hour, uncover and continue to bake until top is a little crispy and crunchy, an additional 15 minutes or so.

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Last but not least some healthy (ish) stuffing balls…

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, stringed and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 75g peeled chestnuts
  • 75g almonds
  • 100g wholemeal bread, crusts removed and roughly torn (about 6 slices)
  • large bunch parsley, chopped
  • large pinch dried sage
  • 1 egg

Let’s Cook!

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Gently heat the oil in a shallow saucepan then add the onion, celery and garlic. Keep everything sizzling on medium heat for 15 mins until soft.

Tip into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients, except the egg, plus a small pinch of salt, if you like. Pulse until everything is chopped, then add the egg and pulse until combined.

Use wet hands to roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, then place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins until golden and hot through.

Will freeze for up to three months; defrost fully before reheating.

Next, I  always do a little tester, in fact, I generally do that with all my stuffing as it is the only way to tell if the seasoning is correct. Fry a knob of stuffing in a little butter, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

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That’s all for Homemade stuffing, easy to make and freeze ahead…Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week please stay safe and well xx

Fruity Friday…does Christmas with Chestnuts…

 

I hear you...I can see that puzzled look…It’s Fruity Friday…Are Chestnuts a fruit?

YES, they are!

If we want to be correct and proper most nuts are the seeds of a fruit, but true nuts such as chestnuts, acorns and hazelnuts are fruits in and as of themselves…Peanuts are the exception as they are legumes and therefore technically a vegetable…A source of plant-based protein they have many health benefits…

Chestnuts to me are synonymous with winter and Christmas my memories are my father putting the chestnuts in the ash pan under the fire they are also of toasting crumpets and toast over an open fire and if you got too close getting burnt legs all red and mottled… Health and Safety would have kittens now and get all freaked out methinks…

So today I am going to share a few of my favourite dishes using chestnuts…

Not only are they delicious but their health benefits are enormous… Dr Mehmet Oz, MD said…Chestnuts are the only low-fat nuts, containing just 1 gram of fat and a little less than 70 calories per ounce of dried or roasted nuts. Additionally, chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C; in fact, just 3 ounces of chestnuts supply about 45% of the recommended daily amount of this vital antioxidant nutrient. And they’re a great source of dietary fibre, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. When chestnuts are in season, you can roast them in the oven. If you’re pressed for time, you can buy them prepackaged and ready to eat any time of year. You should eat up to 3 ounces of chestnuts a day to maximize their benefits.

https://www.sharecare.com/health/health-value-of-foods/the-health-benefits-eating-chestnuts

This dish is a recipe I have had for a long time… These little cakes are very tasty and lovely with some steamed vegetables or a salad. This mix makes 6 rice cakes. If you haven’t made risotto before please don’t let it put you off. As long as your liquid is hot and you let each addition of stock become absorbed into the rice before adding more stock it is a doddle.

So much easier than most people think it is certainly don’t let the disasters on the TV cooking shows put you off.

Risotto Cakes with Chestnuts and Brussel Sprouts.

chestnuts sprouts risotto

These lovely risotto cakes also are vegetarian and the first time I made them was at Christmas for a veggie friend and they loved them.

I also think meat-free dishes have come a very long way…Don’t you? There is so much more on restaurant menus and I also think home cooks are more adventurous with flavours.

These risotto cakes certainly fit the bill even if you are a die-hard meat-eater.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz risotto rice
  • 8 oz Brussel sprouts finely shredded
  • 6 shallots finely chopped
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 2 oz cooked, shelled chestnuts, chopped finely
  • 1 3/4 – 2 pints of hot vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 8 oz fresh breadcrumbs.

15-20 sage leaves for garnish, a little flour for dusting and a pinch of paprika.

Oil of your choice for deep-frying.

Line 6 x 4-inch cooking rings with cling film.

Cook the shredded Brussel sprouts in lightly salted water for 1 minute. Drain set to one side.

Melt the butter in a pan and cook the shallots for 2 mins until soft but not coloured. Add the rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated with the melted butter.

Stir in 1-2 ladles of the hot vegetable stock at a time and stirring until the rice has absorbed the stock before adding your next ladles of stock. Do this until the rice is just tender but with a little bite. This will take about 25 minutes as does any risotto.

Add the cheese and season being careful of the salt as both the cheese and the stock contain salt. Gently stir in the chestnuts and the sprouts. If the mixture seems too thick add a little more stock.

Divide your mixture between the cooking rings. Leave to cool and then chill until set and firm.

When the rice cakes are nicely chilled remove the rings and the clingfilm.

Double dip the lightly floured rice cakes in egg and then breadcrumbs…repeat. You may need to reshape the cakes.

Heat the oil until a small crouton of bread turns golden within a minute and dust the sage leaves with the flour and paprika and fry for 1-2 minutes…set aside on kitchen paper.

Deep fry the cakes for 5-7 minutes until they are golden and crisp. It is probably best to do these 2 at a time while keeping the cooked ones warm in the oven.

To serve:

Add some deep-fried sage leaves to the top of the cake served with your Christmas vegetables it is wonderfully tasty and makes a lovely Christmas main course for anyone who isn’t eating turkey.

Wandering around a food market in Wanong, Northern Thailand…and losing myself among the sights and smells of beautiful tempting Thai food. I spied a few fruits and vegetables which were unknown to me and this one. Although once I knew what it was then I recognised the taste ….without knowing the name I was puzzled I sort of knew the taste but didn’t connect the dots…lol

We were talking and looking for these a few weeks ago when we were thinking about what to cook for dinner and reminiscing about the Chinese food we remembered having years ago with these crunchy water chestnuts in..you never got many just a few slices… I was then looking in the shops at imported goods to see if I could them and no luck…Then there they were the other day right under my nose and fresh ones….strange world…When your thoughts take you unexpectedly to what you were looking for.

Water chestnuts

Usually available in speciality groceries or supermarkets, they should be washed thoroughly and peeled with a sharp knife, especially if to be eaten raw. At this point, adding a few drops of lemon juice keeps them from turning brown when steamed or sautéed.

Once peeled, they’ll only remain fresh in water that’s changed daily for two to three days.

Chinese Chicken with Water Chestnuts.

Ingredients

  • ½ lb of chicken breasts or pork finely sliced.
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of cornflour or tapioca flour
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2/3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 tbsp of spring onions
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated or Julienne
  • 2 cups of water chestnuts peeled and sliced ( tinned are fine) and can be found in most Asian sections of supermarkets.
  • 1 cup of bamboo sliced (optional) or bean sprouts.

N.B…I have started using arrowroot instead of cornflour it is tasteless and gives a glossy sauce and where corn flour has a slight taste and cloudy appearance arrowroot is glossy and clear. It is a great thickener and can easily replace cornflour.

Arrowroot powder is fast gaining in popularity in the western world as people are looking for substitutes and alternatives to cornstarch either because they have corn allergies/sensitivities or they want to avoid anything GMO and laden with pesticides.

Let’s Cook!

Mix the sherry, soy sauce and arrowroot together, set to one side.

Heat the oil in a pan and add chicken /pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes add garlic, spring onions, ginger and bamboo and stir-fry for a further 3 minutes or until meat is cooked.

Add water chestnuts and stir-fry I minute then add the arrowroot mix and stir-fry for another minute or two until juice thickens slightly add beans sprouts if using.

I always add my bean sprouts if using add the very end as I like mine crisp and just cooked.

I also add other vegetables if I have a few odds and ends like broccoli or mange tout, baby corn.

Serve immediately with steamed rice or noodles…

chicken and water chestnuts

Enjoy!

Who doesn’t love stuffing at Christmas??? If it contains chestnuts I am happy…

Stuffing Mix with Chestnuts.

Now stuffing mix is hard to get here and because it is imported also expensive. I have tried various stuffings in the past with limited success…we didn’t like them!

I found this recipe on a blog the other week and it sounded great…It had bacon in it…

Picture this…. I thought I had all the ingredients .. wrong!….no bacon and nearest shops were a way away so I put my thinking cap on and tweaked the recipe and it turned out brilliant…..Replaced the bacon with Minced Pork, The stuffing mix( which) I had not heard of became just breadcrumbs. Chestnuts …tick…

Ingredients:

  • 200 gm of Minced Pork
  • 6 oz  of breadcrumbs
  • 3 oz finely chopped chestnuts
  • 5 shallots finely sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Bunch of Thai celery chopped finely. Which when chopped did take on more of a celery smell.
  • Freshly made chicken stock.
  • Salt, fresh ground pepper.
  • Tbsp dried Sage
  • Fresh rosemary.
  • 2 tsp Dried Thyme.

Heat pan with a glug of olive oil and 1 oz butter. Add shallots and garlic cook 2/3 mins until soft but not coloured add mince and celery and chestnuts if using cook for a further 4/5 mins. Add breadcrumbs gradually moistening mix with spoonfuls of stock as required.

The mix should be fairly thick but soft so you are able to form balls.

 

Add herbs and season with salt and pepper.

Allow to cool slightly and then form into balls.

Stuffing Balls

If you want to freeze them then do it at this stage. Pack into a freezer box and all ready for Christmas day.

If not then cook in oven until lightly browned and crispy approx 20/30 mins on 180 degrees. I didn’t need to add any additional fat as the oil and butter already incorporated in the stuffing mix kept them moist and not too dry but if required add more oil.

I generally don’t like meat in stuffing mixes but the amount I added was small and gave a nice texture and flavour but wasn’t the overriding taste.

This is now going to be my Christmas stuffing.

This lovely dessert is a popular Thai dessert made from water chestnuts. It is called  Ta-Ko Haew…..Sweet Water Chestnut with Coconut Custard.

Ingredients:

  • For base:
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour.
  • 1 3/4 cup water.
  • 1/4 cup pandan leaf juice. This gives lovely soft green colour which is often seen in Thai desserts.
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts or fresh if you can get them.
  • 1/3 cup sugar.
  • For topping:
  • 1 can coconut milk or again fresh coconut milk if you can get some.
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 tsp salt.

Let’s Cook!

Dice the chestnuts very small.

Mix both flours and sugar together add water and pandan leaf juice. Mix well. Put in pan and bring to the boil, stirring it until the mixture thickens add the diced water chestnuts and bring back to the boil then remove from the heat.

Spoon the mixture into small individual foil cups. Or if you have banana leaves then they would be traditionally wrapped in a banana leaf or on the markets they are sliced into squares and displayed.

Now make the topping.

Mix the coconut milk, sugar, rice flour and salt together bring slowly to a soft boil whilst stirring until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and spoon over the bases.

Allow to cool and serve immediately.

These are lovely if you enjoy sweet desserts… Also an ideal Christmas dessert with a difference for those who don’t like Christmas Pudding.

I hope you have enjoyed my favourite recipe using chestnuts or water chestnuts…

About Carol Taylor:

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend xx

 

Mistletoe and Wine…Christmas Chutneys 2020…

 

In the run-up to Christmas, you will find everything on my blog over the next few weeks that you need to make… today it’s chutney recipes or relish as it is often named...We love chutneys in this house and like pickles, they add a touch of zing to the plate I also make chutney out of many fruits and vegetables…Fruit or vegetables it gets made into a chutney.

But what is Chutney?…it is a gluten-free, spicy or savoury condiment which originated in India. Made from fruit or vegetables and/or herbs and spices cooked with sugar and vinegar.

It compliments many dishes and provides balance or it can highlight a specific flavour in other words chutney is anything preserved in sugar and vinegar regardless of it texture, ingredients or consistency.

It is an integral part of Indian Cuisine and can be served with Basmati Rice, with curries or with bread like naan or Dosa.

Elsewhere in the world like Britain where I come from it compliments roasted meats i.e Onion Chutney or a fruity chutney pairs well with creamy cheeses like Brie or goats cheese…with a hard English Cheddar it compliments a Ploughman’s platter…

A Ploughman’s lunch, British cold meal, typically served in pubs, consisting of bread, cheese, and assorted accompaniments. It supposedly resembles what a ploughman might have eaten on a midday break in the fields.

Star Fruit Chutney/Relish:

Star Fruit or Carambola as it is also known as is a lovely vibrant yellow and due to its distinctive ridges when it’s cut it resembles a star hence its name.

The entire fruit is edible it has firm, crunchy flesh and is quite juicy. The taste is likened to that of a grape. There are two main types of star fruit the smaller fruit is sour(tart) and the larger fruit like I have in my garden is sweeter. But although sweet they very rarely have more than a 4% sugar content.

Here in Thailand they are cooked with shrimp or chicken or eaten raw dipped into the sugar/chilli mix which is commonly eaten with fruit here or just eaten with rock salt. It can be made into relishes, preserves and juice drinks, stewed with cloves or apples.

star-fruit-carambola-sectioned

They are also used as a pretty garnish or in a salad with papaya and pineapple.

Star Fruit Relish:

  • 8 cups of star fruit, thinly sliced and any seeds removed.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves tied in a muslin bag and slightly crushed.
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg( optional) see note below.

Let’s Cook!

Wash and thinly slice the star fruit removing any seeds. Cover with the cider vinegar and stand overnight.

Drain the vinegar add sugar, salt and clove bag. Cook gently until the relish starts to thicken then allow to stand overnight.

In the morning remove the spice bag and reheat the mix after adding the nutmeg if used and bring back to the boil.

If you plan to store the star fruit chutney then omit the nutmeg as it will turn the relish a brown colour although it does add another dimension to the taste.

Put into hot jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Enjoy with some cold meats or on bread and butter.

Chilli? well, I couldn’t do a post without using chilli or three and they are red…

Chilli and Tomato Chutney is a wonderful thing.

This lovely vibrant chilli and tomato chutney gets hotter the longer you keep it if it lasts that long..but is lovely with cold meats, cheese, hot sausages, Pork Pies or just use as a glaze over your meat when you are cooking it or your prawns…it is lovely on your BBQ prawns.

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm of mixed tomatoes..some can be green.
  • 4 large red chilli..deseed if you don’t want your chutney too hot or maybe just reduce the chillies.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced.
  • An inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 300 gm of sugar golden or brown.
  • 100 ml red wine vinegar or balsamic.
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce.

Let’s Cook!

Skin the tomatoes by putting in hot water. Then add to the food processor with the chilli and ginger.

Blitz…I love that word…

Then put in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar, fish sauce and vinegar and bring it to the boil slowly so as not to burn the mixture, keep stirring and then lower heat and let it simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the mixture has gone slightly darker and sticky.

Pour into warm sterilised jars with secure lids.

I turn my jars upside down to get rid of any airlocks until cooled.

tomato-chutney

This will get hotter the longer it is kept although it doesn’t last that long in this house and by the time my friends have begged a jar from me…They usually return the empty jars hoping I will give them a full one in return…lol

Enjoy!

Mango Chutney.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Green under-ripe Mangoes.
  • 3cm Fresh ginger finely diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic finely diced.
  • 500 gm sugar.
  • 1tsp salt.
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli.
  • 1tsp cumin seeds.
  • 2 cardamom plus 4 cardamom seeds.
  • 7cm cinnamon stick.
  • 5 whole cloves.
  • 250 ml vinegar I use Apple cider but have used white vinegar and malt.
  • 5 black peppercorns crushed.

Let’s Cook:

Peel mangoes and cut in small strips.

Place mangoes in a large pot then crush diced ginger and garlic in pestle and mortar and stir into the mangoes.

Stir in sugar,salt,chilli,cumin,cardamom,cinnamon and cloves.Stir to blend. Cover and leave overnight at room temp. N.B. We are prone to ants here so put water into a shallow tray and put the bowl in the centre the ants won’t swim the moat..haha

Next day place mangoes in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally until the mix starts to thicken about 30-45 mins. Stir in vinegar and crushed peppercorns and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Put into warm sterilised jars. Once cooled I keep in the fridge where if you live in cooler climes a cool larder will be fine. This makes 3 medium-sized jars.

SAM_7128

Enjoy!  It goes well with my Indian curry recipes.

Beetroot Chutney…

I have always loved beetroot but it has only been since living here that I have used beetroot in different ways…I had only ever eaten it pickled with a salad…

Beetroot grows here which is good it seems that only the root vegetables that need a frost or cooler climate which don’t, Beetroot is also very healthy and my new favourite smoothie is Beetroot and Orange…

Red Beetroot with leaves and one cut beet

A little about the beetroot before I get to the recipe…Packed with essential vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, some of which have medicinal properties. They are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals…

Beets have high water and low-calorie content. Both of these properties are beneficial for weight loss. I wonder if drinking the juice is what has helped kickstart my weight loss now I am drinking it regularly…

What’s more, they are delicious and easy to add to your diet.

I first made this when we lived in Phuket …I had a request from one of our customers who was an Australian who loved beets and I discovered that Aussies even have beetroot in their burgers…I mean I love beetroot but in a burger but customers come first so my first foray into beetroot chutney was born and it was a hit and from that day forward on the menu at Sugar Reef…

Homemade beetroot chutney

Beetroot Chutney:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5k Beetroot.
  • 3 Brown Onions.
  • 3 Apples (Granny Smiths)
  • 450ml Balsamic vinegar.
  • 80ml Fresh Orange Juice.
  • 350gm raw sugar.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves.
  • 2 large sprigs Rosemary.

Let’s Cook!

Set oven to 200c. Wrap beetroot in foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Chop Onions and Apples finely, chop cooled Beetroot and put in a large pan.

Add remainder of ingredients except for the Rosemary.

Stir until the sugar dissolves, add the Rosemary, reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hr or until mixture thickens slightly. When ready, remove Rosemary and spoon into sterilised Jars.

Store in a cool, dark place and once open refrigerate…Can be added to your burger or eaten with cold meats…

Onion Chutney…

  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3lb cooking Onions
  • 10 oz dark brown sugar
  • 7 fl oz malt vinegar
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • pinch each – salt, paprika
  • 1 small chilli

Let’s Cook!

Peel and slice onions very thinly. Heat oil in a large pan and very gently soften the onions, don’t
let them brown.

 

Add 3tbsp of the sugar and turn up the heat to colour the onions.

 

Add rest of sugar and remain ingredients,
simmer for 15 mins to reduce and the mixture turns a thick, dark caramel colour.

 

Spoon into jars ( about 3 one-pound jars ), and leave for at least a  month before you dig in.

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…We all need to be aware of our home’s carbon footprints…where does our food come from? How far does it travel…Simple to do but if we all did it…Not only would we support local businesses but reduce our carbon footprint…

green foot prints eco system

 

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead xx

I would also ask that when you are shopping for presents, food, and decorations that you think about its origin and how it was produced…carbon footprint, child labour…Please think about the packaging can it be recycled or reused…Do you really need it? Every little helps…x

Time to make the Christmas Puddings, Cake and Sweet Mincemeat…

My oh, my is the time not flying ??? We are in November now so over the course of the next week I will be making my cake, pudding and sweet mincemeat for those mince pies.

christmas Baking Cakes and Pudding

Some of you may keep with tradition and wait until Stir Up Sunday which this year is the 22nd of November…Stir Up Sunday always falls on the last Sunday before Advent…This tradition dates back to Victorian days when all the family gathered together…they stirred, steamed and stored and ticked off the first task in the run-up to the festive season.

It is said that this tradition stemmed from the opening line from the Common Book of Prayer which was read out in church on the Sunday before Advent which said “Stir up, we beseech thee. O Lord”

And remember to stir that pudding clockwise …East to West to pay homage to the journey made by the Wise Men.

For those of you who find the rich Christmas puddings and cake just too much in a few weeks, I will give you a recipe for a lighter cake and some lighter desserts which don’t require making in advance like the richer fruit puddings and cakes.

This first recipe is gluten-free..for all of my friends who have to eat gluten-free for a diagnosed medical condition it is delicious and quite frankly just as nice as my tried and tested recipe I always make..not much difference in taste.

So I am giving you both recipes one Gluten-free and my tried and tested one which if you used gluten-free breadcrumbs and flour would also be gluten-free…

Gluten FREE Christmas pudding… Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100gm currants.
  • 100gm sultanas.
  • 100gm sour cherries.
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest and juice of half an Orange.
  • 1tsp of mixed spice and cinnamon.
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg.
  • 100ml of brandy..this is where my hand slipped…haha
  • 180gm dark brown sugar
  • 1 granny smith Apple( I can’t obtain these) so used a new Zealand apple which is quite tart.
  • 1 large carrot, grated.
  • 250gm ground almonds.
  • 50gm gluten-free cornflour.
  • 1tsp gluten-free baking powder.
  • 2 med free-range eggs.
  • 50ml vegetable oil( I use coconut oil)
  • plus extra for greasing.
  • 2 tbsp black treacle.
  • This makes enough for a 2-pint pudding basin or two 1 pint puddings.

Let’s Cook!

In a large bowl put dried fruit, zest, and juice, spice, and brandy stir to combine, cover and leave for 24hrs.

Then mix in sugar, apple, and carrot, add beaten eggs then stir in oil and treacle.

Lastly,  stir in dry ingredients with a pinch of salt.

Put mixture into a greased pudding basin it should be two-thirds full. Cover the top with a round of greaseproof paper then cover with pleated tin foil or a pudding cloth and secure with string.

You can now either set the pudding in a saucepan on an upturned plate and fill the pan with boiling water about halfway up the basin. Put the lid on and steam for 4 hours remembering to top up the water as necessary.

I always use a steamer and in this case, it was my wicker rice steamer which the bowl sits in nicely over the pot of water.

If you have made a lot of puddings over the years like me  I think you find your own preferred method of steaming your puds.

Once steamed, cool and rewrap the pudding and store in a cool, dry place. It is the fridge for me as its too humid here…I do miss my cool pantry…

To serve simmer or steam the pudding for 1-2 hrs, then invert onto a plate and flame the pud or serve with sauce, brandy butter or cream…

It’s cream all the way for me …and lots of it!

My second recipe is slightly different but adaptable to make gluten-free and the one I make year after year…I could do it blindfold now…lol

So for all of you who want to get your Christmas Puddings made so they develop the lovely flavours then here is my tried and tested recipe….. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 300gm fresh breadcrumbs ( I use brown)
  • 100gm self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ whole nutmeg, very finely grated
  • 350gm raisins
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 50gm flaked almonds
  • 250gm suet
  • 225gm Demerara sugar
  • 225gm sultanas
  • 225gm currants
  • 2 carrots, peeled and very finely grated
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and very finely grated
  • (shhhh)Wet ingredients
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small wine glass of brandy  shhhhh and a tad more..haha
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten

Let’s Cook!

Put the breadcrumbs in the biggest mixing bowl you can find. Sieve the flour into the bowl with the mixed spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then add the remaining dry ingredients, up to and including the grated apples. Combine all the wet ingredients in a jug. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together, with a big wooden spoon. Take it in turns to give it a stir, closing your eyes and making a wish.

Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight.

Butter 2 x 1.2-litre pudding basins and spoon the mix into them. Place a disc of baking paper on top of the puddings, then seal with a big sheet of baking paper with a central pleat, to allow expansion. Cover with a cotton or muslin cloth and tie with string or foil. Steam for 6 hours in steamers, or in pans with simmering water that reaches two-thirds up the sides of the basins – be sure to keep the water topped up. Remove and allow to cool.

When cool, re-cover the basins and store in a cool, dry place. On Christmas day, or the day you’re going to eat the puddings, steam for another 1-2 hours. Turn the pudding onto a plate, then pour 75ml of brandy into a ladle and carefully warm over low heat for 1 minute or so. Light the match and viola a flaming pud 🙂

N.B. As I live in sunny climes then I store mine in the fridge as they ferment very quickly here and that’s not quite what we want.

Happy Cooking and don’t forget to make a wish 🙂

Sweet Mincemeat…Nothing better and so easy to make you will wonder why you ever bought a jar from the supermarket shelves and will be rewarded with such a superior taste and richness that will take your pies to a new level……Your taste buds will sing!

Christmas pudding, cake or a jar of mincemeat make lovely presents especially for someone on their own… a beautiful pudding or cake for one would be so gratefully received as hand made gifts of food always are and so personal and thoughtful…Don’t you think?

Dating back to 15th century Britain mincemeat pies did contain meat and fruit but I suppose that is not so different from today as I incorporate meat and fruit in recipes…

The meat was soon exchanged for beef suet and although I still use suet I use vegetable suet…

Making mincemeat and cakes is always a family affair at my house…I helped my mum, my kids helped me…a stir and a wish…It is now the turn of the grand kiddies…

  • 36oz of dried fruit…..I used raisins, sultanas, chopped prunes and some dried cranberries.
  • 12oz brown sugar.
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons.
  • 2oz chopped almonds or nut of your choice.
  • 1lb Apples peeled and chopped.
  • 8oz vegetable suet.
  • 4tsp mixed spice.
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp fresh nutmeg grated.
  • 6 tbsp Brandy.

Mix all ingredients except for Brandy, cover and leave overnight for the fruit to plump up and absorb flavours.

Cook on very low heat for 30 mins.

Cool and stir in Brandy.

Spoon into sterilized jars, cover tightly. Store in a cool dark place.

Christmas Cake: Bake and Mature

I love a rich fruit cake … some people love the traditional round Christmas Cake or now some make a square cake and cut it into slices it is just preference and of course, once it is made I always just sprinkle a little brandy, whisky, rum or sherry over the cake every couple of weeks an age-old tradition in our house and I am sure many others.

Ingredients:

• 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
• zest and juice 1 orange
• zest and juice 1 lemon
• 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
• 250g pack butter softened
• 200g light soft brown sugar
• 175g plain flour
• 100g ground almond
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground cloves
• 100g flaked almond
• 4 large eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

Let’s Cook!

Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over medium heat.

Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.

Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.

Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.

Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until just before you ice it.

N.B: Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

If you have any questions or tips you wish to share please do…my best tip from last year was from Sue Vincent who always has a slice of Christmas Cake with some cheese…In Sue’s words the cheese sandwich…A tradition from Yorkshire where she lives and one I am more than happy to adopt that tradition…Thank you, Sue xx

Happy Baking and pudding making…Don’t forget to make a wish…

Stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot as you know what I am going to say it is Free and proven to be good for your health…..Laughter aside…My thoughts and prayers are with all the people who have been or will be touched by this Covid-19 virus…the new lockdowns and restrictions..stay safe be aware and social isolate where required and we will beat this thing…xx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and although there are now no regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…We all need to be aware of our home’s carbon footprints…where does our food come from? How far does it travel…Simple to do but if we all did it…Not only would we support local businesses but reduce our carbon footprint…

green foot prints eco system

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post  …Happy Baking! xx