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Christmas Food!

Christmas Food! 

Mince pies.

Mince pies
These are my favourite Christmas food! When I was growing up we had the first mince pies after my sisters birthday in November.
They were also a big part of the after carol service tea party in our parish.
Every household had there own recipe and only homemade are the best!
The flaky pastry is worth making for mince pies, but if time is short bought pastry is as good.
For extra indulgence lift the lid on a warm mince pie and a splodge of brandy butter!

1 jar of best mincemeat
250g plain flour
185g butter very cold
150-160 ml cold water
1 egg beaten

Sift the flour in to a bowl, cut the butter into small cubes about 1 cm square and stir gently into the flour.
Pour in the cold water and mix to a stiff dough with a knife. Shape into a rough rectangle and wrap and leave to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and put onto a floured surface and roll out into a 1 cm thick rectangle with a floured rolling pin. Fold the pastry in three and turn so that the 3 layers are towards you and roll out again, fold in 3 again, turn, roll and fold again. Wrap and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Set the oven to GM7, 220˚C, 425˚F .
Cut the pastry in a two thirds piece and a one third piece and roll out the two thirds piece until it is about 3 mm thick. Cut into rounds with an 8.5 cm scone cutter and use these to line 24 bun tins.
Gather up the scraps of pastry into layers and set aside. Roll out the other third of the pastry and cut out 24 stars or snowflakes.
Into each of the pastry cases put about 1 teaspoon of mincemeat depending on how deep the bun tins are. It does tend to bubble up and out if there is too much. Dampen the edges of the pastry and top each one with a star or snowflake.
Paint the tops with beaten egg and bake for about 15 minutes. Makes about 24.

Spinach & smoked Salmon Roulade
My Mum used to make a version of this, but I don’t have her recipe. I adapted a spinach roulade recipe I found in Rose Elliott’s Classic Vegetarian book. It is another great way to stretch a small amount of smoked salmon.

375-400g fresh spinach
30g butter                          
50g grated Parmesan
3 eggs separated                 
pinch of salt

150-200g cream cheese
1 gherkin finely chopped                 
1tbs chopped dill
2 scallions finely chopped                 
lemon juice
100g smoked salmon slices
Lemon wedges & salad to serve

Set the oven to 200˚C, GM 6.
Line a Swiss roll tin 23cm X 32cm with baking parchment.
Wash and spin the spinach to remove most of the water. Put the spinach in a pot over a very low heat until it wilts. Empty the spinach into a sieve to drain, press down on it with the back of a spoon to remove most of the moisture.
Let the spinach cool, while you put the butter, a few grinds of pepper, a pinch of salt, some grated nutmeg, the Parmesan and the egg yolks in to a food processor or blender. Add the spinach and blend to a puree.
Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and add a pinch of salt. Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.
Fold the puree into the egg whites and pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake in the hot oven for 15- 20 minutes until firm and beginning to colour.
When done turn the spinach ‘cake’ out onto a clean piece of parchment and carefully remove the backing paper.
Loosely lay the baking paper on top of the cake and roll up.
Leave to cool.
In a bowl whisk together the cream cheese, gherkin, dill and scallions. Taste the mixture and season with salt and lemon juice.
If it is very thick thin it with some cream or yogurt.
Unroll the cooled spinach cake and spread it with the cream cheese mixture, leaving a 1cm strip at one of the short ends.
Cover the cream cheese mixture with the smoked salmon slices. Carefully roll up again and wrap in cling-film and chill until needed. Slice and serve with some salad.         Serve with salad and wedges of lemon.

Talking Turkey!
This monster bird is a regular feature of most Christmas tables, but it is best on the day and for sandwiches the next day.
Then it should be dealt with firmly! Strip the meat off the bones and cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Freeze the in meal sized bags or ice cream tubs, for use in pies and curries.
The bones make great stock, which can also be frozen. I use one litre ice cream tubs or 500ml cream pots. It is great for soups and risotto.


1 roast turkey carcass
2 ½ litres water
1 carrot
2 onion
2 sticks of celery
3 cloves of garlic
a handful of parsley stalks
1 bay leaf
1 level tsp salt

Put the broken up turkey carcass into a large saucepan.
Put the water into the kettle and bring to the boil.
Peel and chop the carrot into 1 cm pieces and add to the pan.
Peel and chop the onion and add to the pan.
Chop the celery and add to the pan.
With the flat of the knife squash the garlic cloves and remove the skin and add the garlic to the pan.
Squeeze and twist the parsley stalks together and add to the pan.
Put the bay leaf, salt and pepper into the pan.
If you want a darker colour to your stock add the onion skin.
Put the saucepan onto the hob and pour the boiling water from the kettle over the contents of the pan.
Turn the heat up and bring the pan to the boil.
When the pan is boiling turn the heat down so that the contents boils slowly at a simmer. Put the lid on, but leave a small gap to let some of the steam out.
Boiling the stock fast will make it cloudy.
Simmer for at least one and a half to two hours.
When it has simmered for three quarters of its time taste the stock, if it tastes OK, take it off the heat. If it still tastes a bit weak give it another half an hour or up to an hour more. Leave the stock to cool for 30 minutes and then strain the liquid off the bones through a sieve.
You can use the stock straight away or leave it to cool completely and pour it into containers to freeze. Make sure you label the containers with the type of stock when you freeze it.

May I wish all the viewers of this blog a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!


Christmas Leftovers!

Just a short post about Christmas leftovers! 
We all love Christmas food on Christmas day! But after that it gets a bit boring? So here are three recipes I tried out at a cooking demonstration today. They seem to have gone down well with the group. Sorry there are no photos I always find it is too busy to take photographs at these events.

Smoked Salmon with Yogurt Pancakes
      This is a great way to stretch a small amount of smoked salmon around a large group. The yogurt in the little pancakes gives them a nice tang, as if they have been made with some sourdough starter.  

150g self raising flour
½ tsp salt
1 egg
150g yogurt
150ml milk
butter for frying

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt.
Break the egg into the flour and start to whisk gently drawing more and more flour in until thick. Then add in the yogurt a spoonful at a time and whisk again.
When all of the yogurt is added in, whisk in most of the milk to make a thick batter.
Or put all the ingredients into a blender starting with half the milk, then the yogurt and the egg and blend till smooth. It will need to be thinned with the rest of the milk.
Make the pancakes by spooning 1dsp of batter onto the frying pan together to make a small pancake. Cook till dry on top and then flip over and cook until golden on the other side.
Add some more butter and continue to make the pancakes.
You can do 5-6 at a time on a large pan, keeping the earlier ones warm in a low oven until the rest are cooked.

1 shallot
½ tub sour cream
a bunch of dill
2dsp capers
smoked salmon

Very finely dice the shallot, chop the dill and capers and add them to the sour cream. Taste the sour cream mixture and season with pepper and lemon juice.
Top each pancake with a blob of sour steam and a twist of smoked salmon. Serve with lemon wedges and a grind of black pepper.

Cashew Nut & Brussels sprout Stir-fry
      This is great for unexpected vegetarians and is a different way to enjoy these seasonal mini cabbages.

1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
2.5cm piece of ginger
1 chilli (optional)
1 red or yellow pepper
6-8 button mushrooms
10-12 Brussels sprouts
2tbs sunflower oil
2tbs soy sauce
1 tsp nam pla
50ml water
100g cashew nuts*
2 scallions
2tbs chopped coriander

Peel, halve and slice the onion thinly.
Peel and slice the garlic.
Peel the ginger and cut into small matchsticks.
Cut the chilli in half and remove the seeds and membrane slice very finely.
Cut the pepper open and remove the seeds and membrane, slice it into 1cm wide strips.
Slice the mushrooms.
Peel and finely slice the Brussels sprouts
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. When the oil shimmers add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the onion softens.
Add the pepper, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.
Stir-fry for a minute or two and add the soy sauce, nam pla and water. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Leave to cook for about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile toast the cashews on a dry frying pan over a medium to high heat.
Finley slice the scallions at an angle and mix with the coriander.
Take the lid off the vegetables taste and season with pepper and  add the cashews and stir them through. Sprinkle on coriander and scallions and serve with rice or noodles.
*If you are using salted roasted cashews rinse them in a sieve under the tap to remove the salt, then dry them with kitchen paper before heating then through on the dry pan.

Christmas pudding Sundaes
      The diet starts in the New Year!

Left over Christmas pudding
3tbs mixed nuts
1tbs oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1tbs sugar
Good vanilla ice cream
Whipped cream

Crumble the Christmas pudding into dessert spoonful sized chunks.
Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the pudding in a single layer. Toss and fry until hot through and beginning to take on some colour.
In another pan gently fry the nuts in the oil. When they start to take on a colour add the sugar and cinnamon stir round until beginning to caramelise and turn out onto a sheet of baking parchment to cool.
Put a scoop of ice cream into the bottom of a glass dish and add a layer of hot pudding, a dessert spoonful of whiskey and then some more ice cream and a some cinnamon toasted nuts. Decorate with whipped cream and a date or two.

Happy Christmas to one and all, and a peaceful New Year!