Monthly Archives: December 2014

Christmas Tree Tear and Share Bread

This Christmas Tree Tear-and-Share Bread is the perfect side to any holiday meal, it’s cute, easy, and can be made ahead the night before for a low stress gathering all round!  It’s not so garlicy or cheesy as to overwhelm, but feel free to dial it up!

Christmas Tree Tear and Share Bread

Bread making doesn’t have to be hard, in fact this takes about 20 minutes hands on time, total!  It’s a real crowd pleaser and could easily be scaled up to suit any size of gathering.

Christmas Tree Tear and Share Bread

Serves 4

250g strong bread flour
4g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
100g shredded mozzarella
1 tsp crushed garlic
25g butter
small handful fresh parsley or basil, shredded

– Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the yeas to one side and the salt to the other.
– Mix to combine.
– Add the olive oil and most of the water, keep a little in reserve in case it’s too sticky.
– Start to bring the dough together in the bowl with your hand, or a dough hook attachment on a mixer.
– If using your hands, when the dough has formed tip out onto a worksurface and continue to knead by hand until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic.  If using the dough hooks continue to knead in the bowl.
– Set in a clean, oiled bowl and cover.  Leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
– When the dough has risen add the cheese and garlic and knock it down.  Knead in the bowl until the cheese and garlic are evenly distributed.
– Grease an oven proof dish.
– Pinch off small balls of dough, about the size of a walnut.  I needed 23 balls.
– Roll them in your hands and arrange them in the dish to form a Christmas tree!
– Now you can cover the dish with clingfilm and keep in the fridge overnight, or you can set aside at room temperature for another 30 minute rise.
– When you are ready for your bread get the dough out of the fridge and heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C or higher.
– Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
– Immediately upon removing from the oven, dot the bread with butter.
– Scatter the parsley on top for a green Christmas tree!

Christmas Tree Tear and Share Bread

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Shortbread

Shortbread is a wonderful thing!  It’s so beautifully, buttery, crumbly and delicious!  A good shortbread should have a nice crisp snap to it and then just melt away in your mouth.  I’m half Scottish so I have strong opinions about what constitutes a good shortbread and, my friends? THIS is a good shortbread!

Shortbread Bites

 

 

I think that the size here helps them too.  A good shortbread should be indulgently buttery, rich and flavoursome.  These little shortbreads are two bites of heaven and go perfectly with a cup of tea!

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I tried two different techniques for shaping them this time, one batch pressed with a fork, the other with the moulded bottom of a cut glass.  I like both looks, the cut glass ones are a little more delicate, the fork ones a little more robust looking, either way they’re scrumptious!

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Makes 60 bite sized shortbreads

250g unsalted butter, softened (Use a really good one!)
100g golden caster sugar
250g plain flour
175g corn flour

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 /170C and line two baking trays (4 if you have them to spare)
– In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy.
– Sift the flours into the bowl.
– Carefully mix the flour into the butter and sugar.  After most of the flour is combined I like to get in there with my hand to bring the dough together, you want to get everything combined as quickly as possible, not workign the dough too much.
– Pinch off small balls (cherry tomato sized) of the dough and roll into rounds.
– Place the balls evenly spaced on a baking tray, they don’t spread much at all but make sure they’re not too crowded.
– Press down with a fork, cut glass, or just use the heel of your hand for flat ones.
–  Bake for 15 minutes.  They will still be very pale but do not fear!
– Leave on the tray to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
– Store in an air tight tin and enjoy!

 

Shortbread Bites

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy, Teatime Treats

Cheesecake Brownies

I love cheesecake… I love brownies… why have I not combined the two before?????

Cheesecake Brownies

 

These are just the right side of sweet, enough sugar to give you a buzz, not so much you feel sick… although I wouldn’t advise eating more than one every 2 hours!

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The sweetness of the cheesecake combines beautifully with the slightly bitter, rich chocolate and elevates a damned fine brownie into the realm of sheer indulgence!  I think the ratio of cheesecake to brownie here is about perfect, allowing you to enjoy each without being overwhelmed.

Cheesecake Brownies

 

Makes ~15 brownies

200g unsalted butter
200g plain chocolate
3 large eggs
270g golden caster sugar
100g plain flour (ground almods
40g cocoa powder
1 large egg
100g caster sugar
200g cream cheese (FULL FAT!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C and line a 7″x11″ brownie tin with baking paper.
– Melt the butter and the chocolate together then leave to cool a little. (Short sharp bursts in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water.)
– In a large jug mix the 3 eggs and the sugar until well combined.
– Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you go.  (Make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot or you could cook your eggs!)
– Add the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the chocolate mixture.
– In a new bowl or jug mix together the egg and caster sugar.
– Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
– Stir through the vanilla extract.
– Pour 2/3 of the brownie mixture into your prepared tin.
– Pour over the cheesecake mixture.
– Add the remaining brownie mixture in dollops and give a bit of a swirl about to mingle the two.
– Bake for ~45 minutes until the mixtures are set but still slightly soft, you don’t want any wobble left.  The cheesecake should just be starting to brown around the edges.  The surface should be firm, if you can poke your finger through it, it’s not done!  If the centre seems too squishy give them another 5 minutes and repeat until the centre is set and bouncy.

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Christmas Recipe Roundup!

30 Christmas Recipes

Tis the season to stuff our faces!!!!!! Here are all of the recipes I think you need to see you through the festive season! Don’t forget to check out my Recipe Index too if you’re looking for some inspiration for cakes, bakes, mains and sides and everything in between!

Christmas Bakes:

Christmas CakeSpice BiscuitsChristmas MuffinsChristmas Tree Chelsea BunsGinger Bread HousesGalette des RoisMincemeat!Mince PiesKugelhopf

Christmas Cake
– Spice Biscuits
Christmas Muffins
Christmas Tree Chelsea Buns
Gingerbread
Galette des Rois
Mincemeat
Mince Pies
– Kugelhopf
Christmas Pudding

Nibbles:

Honey Mustard Glazed SausagesAnna's Breakfast BitesWheat ThinsGougeres / Palmieres

– Honey Mustard Glazed Sausages
Breakfast Bites
 Wheat Thins
– Gougeres
– Palmieres

Starters:

Christmas Tree RavioliMushrooms in Garlic Butter
-Christmas Tree Ravioli
– Mushrooms in Garlic Butter
– Chicken Liver Pate

Mains:

Pork PieRoast PartridgeTurkey Wellington!Turkey Wellington RouladeChristmas Pie

Christmas Pie
– Pork Pie
– Roast Partridge and Pears (Partridge in a Pear Tree!)
Turkey Wellington
Turkey Wellington Roulade

Desserts:

Cranberry Fool Clementine Syllabub

Cranberry Fool
– Clementine Syllabub

Edible Gifts:

ArancelloFruit and Chocolate DropsChocolate FudgePeppermint Puddings

– Arancello
Fruit and Chocolate Drops
Fudge
Peppermint Creams

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Cinnamon dog treats

This recipe came about because I had half a tin of condensed milk sitting in the fridge… it had been there a while.  How long I could not say but significantly longer that I was happy with… but it was still good and it seemed a shame to waste it so I decided to transform it into dog treats!

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These ones are a little bit naughtier as they have the sugar from the condensed milk in them.  Darcy was such a big fan of the cinnamon rolls I made that I thought he should have his own cinnamon treats.  He LOVES them!  Never has he been so obedient! I think he prefers the balls as they are a little chewier, he certainly seems to enjoy them no matter the shape though!

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Makes ~100 small treats

1/2 tin condensed milk (~200g)
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp cinnamon

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C.
– Mix all of the ingredients together until they form a soft dough.  (If this is still very wet add a little more flour.  It sort of depends on how much condensed milk you’ve started with and how dry your flour is.)
– Either roll out and cut out shapes or simply pinch off balls of dough and shape into balls.  (Use plenty of flour if rolling, this is a sticky dough!)
– Place on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until just golden brown.  (The longer you bake them the harder they get, if your dog doesn’t like rock solid treats then give them less time.)
– Leave to cool and then store in an airtight tin.

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Dog Friendly, Easy

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake

November’s Clandestine Cake Club challenge for the York group was enough to tempt me back into the fold.  The challenge was to produce a vegan AND gluten free cake.  Well, I couldn’t pass up on that kind of fun, could I?

I chose to go for a chocolate cherry cake… because YUM!  But you could really take this cake in any number for directions for a scrumptious, vegan, gluten free, packed full of flavour, moist and delicious cake!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake

It is equally at home being a loaf or a layer cake.  Whether you are after something for a celebration or just a little something to serve with tea.

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake

So often I find the texture of gluten free cakes to be lacking.  There’s something just not right about them.  However, this cake proves that not only does it not have to be that way but that you can make a quick, easy, fuss free gluten free AND vegan cake without making any sacrifices at all!  What’s not to like about that?!?!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake

Makes 1 cake (Large loaf or 2×7″ victoria sponge tins)

1 cup gluten free flour mix (I like Asda’s own brand one.  It’s mainly rice, potato starch and tapioca flour and works well in a variety of recipes.)
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Make sure no milk has been snuck in, you are after cocoa powder, never ever drinking chocolate!)
1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder (Most are but always best to check!)
1 cup soya or almond milk
1 tbsp Trex solid vegetable fat
2 tbsp golden syrup
200g plain chocolate (Check for milk!)
100ml soya or almond milk
cherry jam
glace cherries to decorate
plain chocolate sprinkles

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3/170C and prepare your chosen tins by greasing and lining them.  (If you use silicone tins then no need to line, this recipe won’t stick.)
– In a large mixing bowl combine the flour mix, the almonds, the sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder.
– In a small saucepan heat together the milk, fat and syrup until all melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well to combine into a smooth batter.
– Pour the batter into your prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes.  (Loaf tin may well take a little longer to cook in the centre.)
– Test with a skewer to check if it is done in the middle.  If the skewer comes out clean then place it on a wore rack to cool, otherwise pop it back in for another 5-10 minutes.
– To make the icing melt the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl.  30 seconds, stir it, then another 20 seconds work for my microwave but they are all different so go slowly in short bursts, checking and stirring regularly.  Alternatively you can place the bowl over a pan of boiling water until the chocolate melts.
– Pour in the milk and mix vigorously to combine into a smooth ganache.
– When your cakes are cool spread jam in the centre if using, then ice the top with the ganache and decorate with cherries and sprinkles!

 

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Filed under Cakes, Dairy Free, Easy, Gluten Free, Low Fat

Bacon, Liver and Porcini Mushroom Pâté

Pâté is one of my favourite foods. Liver Pâté is awesome, but liver is not!  I love that something so gross can become something so delicious!  It makes an excellent starter or a delicious light lunch, and gets some much needed iron into my diet!

Bacon, Liver and Porcini Mushroom Pâté

I have made these in preparation for Christmas entertaining and also, for personal indulgence!  Making the mini ones make such an easy starter option.  They can be frozen and defrosted the day before you have guests, which makes them a brilliant make ahead option.  The recipe itself is so so easy, no faffy cooking and water bathing, you use the microwave to cook this, making it the quickest, easiest Pâté ever! You can make it the day before or even the morning of your event leaving you to focus on other things, like having fun!

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I have to admit that making pate is pretty gross… like, really gross, from a visual perspective!  But you don’t need to touch anything, it’s all bunged in the microwave and out of sight for the really gross bits, but fair warning for the squeamish amongst us!

The three stages of pate making

Makes ~ 4 ramekins (I did 2 small terrines and 5 little pots for starters)

30g dried porcini mushrooms
125g smoked bacon lardons
225g chicken livers (Defrosted)
100g butter (can use salted or unsalted, just be cautious on adding extra salt if using salted)
1 clove garlic, crushed (I use garlic puree, about 1 tsp)
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp marsala wine
1 tsp herbes de provence
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch salt
~100g salted butter (If you are making lots of smaller portions then you may need more butter, if you are making one large dish then you may need less.)
sage leaves to decorate

– Put the dried porcini in a small bowl and just cover with boiling water.  Set aside.
– Put the bacon in a medium sized microwavable bowl.
– Microwave on full for 1 minute.
– Add the livers, the butter and the garlic.
– Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.
– Drain off the mushrooms and add to the bowl, give everything a good stir.
– Microwave for a further 2 1/2 minutes.
– Add the cream, marsala, herbes, pepper and salt.
– Using a stick blender (or decanting into a food processor) blend everything together, I like to leave it a little coarse but you can puree until utterly smooth if you prefer.
– Pour into your chosen serving dishes.
– Melt the salted butter and pour over the pate.
– Press a fresh sage leaf into the butter to decorate.
– Leave to cool until the butter is completely set, then refrigerate until needed.  You can also wrap and freeze it at this point.

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