Tag Archives: salt

Christmas Pie

Christmas is tradtionally a time of leftovers.  We’ve got just about all of the sandwich suitable turkey off it now so now it is time to think of other things to make with the bits and pieces left over.  There are lots of options available but few I’d actually enjoy.  Pie seemed the way to go.  Not only can you use the turkey but there’s nothing stopping you from using up some stuffing or leftover vegetables or even a few dollops of cranberry sauce.  Got a ham? Pop it in too!  Whatever is left or takes your fancy, within reason, then in it goes!  I usually keep things simple.  I might do turkey, stuffing and cranberry but I’d leave out the vegetables.  Ham, turkey and vegetables go well together too.  If you’ve got a lot of mash then why not skip the pastry and use that?  It really does depend entirely upon what you have and what you like.  If you’ve only got turkey to play with then a simple turkey and mushroom pie is great too. 

Makes 1 average pie dish serving 4 people. 

For the pastry:
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, chilled and diced
50g Trex (white vegetable fat), chilled and diced
3-4 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and Trex and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
– Add 3 -4 tbsp cold water by sprinkling it evenly over the surface fo the mixture.  (I used 3 tbsp and a bit.)
– Using a flat bladed knife mix it together until it forms a dough. 
– Gather it together with your hands and lightly knead for a few seconds to bring it together. 
– Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in clingfilm.  Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

For the filling:
1 onion, chopped
Turkey/ham/vegetables/stuffing/etc.
a good splash of olive oil
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 pint chicken stock

– First saute your onion with a pinch of salt in a little oil in a frying pan.  Add whatever leftovers you’re using and stir gently to combine. 
– In a separate small pan add a good splash of oil, at least enough to cover the base of the pan. 
– Gently heat this until it just starts to shimmer a bit then add the corn flour.  Whisk rapidly to combine. 
– Pour in your chicken stock, still whisking and keep stiring until it is a smooth sauce. 
– Pour this sauce into the other pan and stir well to mix. 

To make pie:

– Lightly flour the worksurface and the rolling pin, not the pastry. 
– Turn out the chilled dough onto the worksurface and roll it out in one direction, turning it as you go until it reaches about 3 mm thick. 
– Place your pie dish upsidedown on top of the pastry and cut a line around the dish about 1 cm out to leave room for shrinkage. 
– Cut a second line around this about 1.5 cm thick.
– Fill the pie dish with the filling.
– Moisten the edge of your dish with a finger dipped in water then press the 1.5 cm thick strip round the outside of the dish trimming the length to fit.   
– Moisten this pastry with water again then lay the rest of the pastry over the top using the rolling pin to help lift it across. 
– I fluted the edges of this pie.  It’s very simple.  You basically place the thumb and index finger of one hand on the ‘inside’ of the pie and with the index finger of the other hand press the edge of the crust inwards between the two fingers of the other hand.  Move round the pie and keep going until the whole edge is fluted. 

– With any spare pastry I like to make decorations for the top of the pie.*  I went for a Christmassy snowman and Christmas trees.  Again just dampen any pastry you’re pressing together to make it stick. 
– Once you’re done brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and cook in an oven preheated to gas mark 7 for 40 minutes until the pastry is a golden brown and the contents heated through.  If it starts to look too brown then cover with foil or butter papers** for the remaining cooking time. 

* And any spare spare pastry I stamp out shapes with cutters, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with grated parmesan to make cheesy biscuits. 

** I keep the butter papers when I’ve used a block for covering things like this.  It saves on foil and is a great little recycling tip!

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Christmas Pudding

As with the Last Minute Christmas Cake I don’t get to participate with this more than the traditional stir and wish.  However it’s another recipe that doesn’t need to mature or need constant feeding.  You can make it up on Christmas Eve if you want to or in September, it’ll still be great.  In fact I think we’ve been known to make up the 3 puddings and then eat one the next year! I can’t even claim the words for the recipe as my own here so think of it as a guest post from my mum.

Makes 3 average pudding basins

225 g dark brown sugar
400g white breadcrumbs
225g suet
half tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1 kg mixed dried fruit
50g chopped blanched almonds
2 large cooking apples peeled, cored and grated
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 beaten eggs
300ml Guiness/milk stout/dark beer
150ml approx milk

 – Mix all dry ingredients together.  
– Mix in apple and lemon, eggs, beer and anything else in the list and enough milk to make soft dropping consistency.
– Put into pudding bowls with a circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each.
– Cover with greaseproof with a pleat in the centre. 
– Steam for 4-5 hours.
– Leave to go cold and store in a cool place. (I make up the full quantity and freeze the spares.)
– To reheat thaw, if frozen, and microwave for 6 minutes, with a pyrex lid to keep in moisture, or if you are a traditionalist steam again for 2 hours.

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Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Easy

Last Minute Christmas Cake

I have to say I’m cheating a little here with my own rules as I haven’t ever cooked this on my own.  In fact my participation has only ever advanced to weighing ingredients and helping fill cake tins.  Christmas is my mum’s domain.  She’s been doing it for years and she’s on a roll, my interference is not needed!  However, I had to share this cake recipe with you as it really is a last minute cake.  It doesn’t need to mature and if you’re forgotten to buy a cake and you’re totally desperate, well, start now! 

Makes 1×8″ (20cm) cake

125g butter
500g mixed dried fruits
125g dates, stoned and chopped (or apricots or prunes, big fruits are what you’re after.)
175g brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml water
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon

90g glace cherries, chopped
60g chopped mixed nuts
45ml brandy
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder

– In a large pan melt the butter and then add the dried mixed fruits, dates (or other fruits), sugar, bicarbonate of soda, water, mixed spice and cinnamon. 
– Bring this to the boil and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes. 
– Leave the pan, covered, overnight. 
– The next day put it in a mixing bowl, or use a machine like a kitchen aid or kenwood chef to do the hard work!
– Add the cherries, nuts and brandy.  Mix a little. 
– Add the flour and salt and mix in. 
– Add the eggs and the baking powder and then mix thoroughly making sire everything is well combined. 
– Line an 8″ cake tin with foil, shiny side down, and 2 layers of greaseproof paper. 
– Brush lightly with oil. 
– Tip in the cake mix and level out the top.  Create a small dip in the middle with the back of a spoon to prevent doming. 
– Place a small ovenproof dish or tin of water in the bottom of an oven heated to gas mark 2. 
– Place the cake in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours covering the top with foil after 1 hour. 
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done.
– Cool in the tin then turn out and pour on a little more brandy before either wrapping and storing or covering with marzipan and icing.

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Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy

Cranberry Loaf

I found this recipe over on Joy of Baking and knew it was just perfect for what I wanted.  It was very simple to prepare as it’s essentially a muffin mixture and it would keep very well for a week, in fact getting better over the week, so perfect for posting for Christmas presents.  It also looks so very Christmassy! 

I wanted to use rectangular foil ‘takeout’ containers so as to ship and transport it easily and these were smaller than the 9″x5″x3″ tin the recipe called for so I doubled the recipe thinking may be I’d get 3 out of it, nope, got 4!  Yum, one spare!  It’s a really interesting flavour too, you have the sharpness of the cranberries with hints of fruity and nuttiness.  The crust also forms this delicious sugary crunch.  A surefire winner this one.  My test subjects of my mum’s office were begging for the recipe!

 

Makes 2 8″ x4″x3″ ‘loaf tins’

460g plain flour
700g golden caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
56g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence
360ml milk
100g fresh cranberries (Dried if fresh not available)
90g mixed peel (I used whole preserved orange peels chopped up)
60g chopped mixed nuts

– Heat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease your tins. 
– In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest. 
– In a large jug mix together the butter, vanilla and milk. 
– Mix the two together and stir well to combine.  (Doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in there.)
– Add the fruits and nuts and stir through. 
– Pour into the tins and bake at the top of the oven for 1 hour.  Cover the top with foil if it gets too brown. 
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done then remove from the oven and cool completely. 
– Wrap in foil to store for up to a week.

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Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy

Bagels

Bagels are, in theory, very easy to make.  If you can make a simple bread then you have all the skills you’ll need for bageling.  However, it seems to be an acknowledged problem that unless you have very good luck your first batch won’t be great.  You have to learn by experience with bagels it would seem! *

[ * I have now given bagels another go and it was indeed my fault the first time, see my Bagel Update for how to get those holes in.] 

The problem with these bagels was that I left them for too long on the second rise coz the kitchen was occupied.  This meant that they just collapsed after poaching.  They’re still delicious but rather flat.  Something of a cross between an English Muffin, melba toast and a bagel really!  I also didn’t make the holes big enough so they have dimples instead.  But I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.  Take heed and don’t over rise and make a bigger hole! 

The other problem I’m having at the minute is the temperature.  We’ve got 6″ of snow!  Unless the fire’s going in the evening I don’t have anywhere to rise bread so I’m having to just about double the time for everything.  Even regular baking is going a bit haywire as everything’s too cold!  I did the first rise overnight but didn’t need to use the fridge, the whole house is a fridge! 

Makes 10

450g bread flour
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
250ml warm water
2tbsp honey
3 tbsp sugar
seeds for sprinkling
1 egg white

– Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. 
– Make a well in the centre and add the warm water and honey.  This should be quite a stiff dough so you may not need all of the water keep back a few tbsp and go very gradually, mixing a little between additions. 
– Mix with a spoon until combined into a dough. 
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for about 10 minutes until soft and smooth. 
– Lightly oil a clean bowl and leave overnight in a cold place or in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Overnight is recommended as more flavour develops. 
– Prepare 2 baking sheets with baking paper brushed with oil. 
– Once risen knock down and divide the dough into 10 roughly equal balls. 
– Roll into spheres by cupping your hand over the ball on the work surface and rolling it around until even. 
– Poke a hole in the middle using a wooden spoon. 
– Use your fingers to coax the hole bigger until you can get your hand inside it. 
-Roll the circle a bit bigger and looser. **
– Lay down on your oiled baking paper keeping the hole at around 2 inches if you can.  The dough will be quite elastic so this will take a bit of cunning!
– Leave to rise for about 20 minutes until they’re puffed up. ***
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 7 and get a very large pot of water to the boil with the last 3 tbsp of sugar, you want the absolute biggest pot you can get and it wants to be a good 3-4″ deep.  It doesn’t want to be a rolling boil but just simmering. 
– Once the bagels have risen slip them into the water in batches and poach for one minute on each side using a spatula to flip them. 
– Fish them out and drain them off a bit and put them back on the oiled tray.  Brush with the egg white let down with a little water and whisked a bit and sprinkle on any toppings you like.  I used  nigella seeds.  
– Put the trays in the oven and cook for 10 minutes then flip over the bagels and switch the trays over and cook for another 10 minutes until golden brown. 
– Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then enjoy!

** See the Bagel Update for a better technique, twirl the ball round the stick to get a bigger hole. 

*** This is unnecessary it would seem but feel free to give them a bit of a rest before poaching.

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Filed under Breads, Moderately easy

Salt Dough

I love salt dough.  There’s something so satisfyingly primary school about it but it’s not just for kids!  It’s cheap, simple and fun.  My sister and I made up a 3 cup batch of this and set to making Christmas decorations.  We made a mixture of things: wreaths and candle holders, cut out decorations to hang on the tree and freestyle modeling decorations too, When we were kids we made all sorts of decorations and presents from it.  Handy hint, if you want to make a sheep or hair then the garlic crusher is your best friend.  We used acrylic paints to paint ours but you can use just about anything you like really.  For best results varnish the salt dough afterwards.  We didn’t because we like the rustic, homemade look and also because we’re impatient and couldnt’ be bothered to wait!  And yes, those Daleks are on the tree (round the back though) because what is more festive then the Doctor Who Christmas Special?

Makes however much you want, just multiply up keeping the same ratios. 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil (don’t multiply this up, just add 1 tbsp unless you’re making a bucket load in which case add a few!)

– Mix together the salt and flour. 
– Add the oil.
– Gradually add the water and mix.   
– Once you have a smooth, kneadable dough you’re ready to go!
– Shape as you like and lay the finished product on baking paper. 
– Bake in the oven on gas mark 1 for 5 hours or microwave for 3 minutes then test and do longer if the dough is still soft underneath. 
– When cool paint as you wish and varnish if you like. 

NB.  YOU CANNOT EAT THIS RECIPE.  IT IS COMPLETELY INEDIBLE!

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Filed under Basic, Easy

Rough Puff Pastry

I could make puff pastry from scratch the proper way… but I haven’t yet found a dish where I think it’s actually worth it!  This is a perfectly acceptable ‘rough’ puff pastry.  I saw Nigella’s recipe for making puff pastry in a food processor and started off with that but then went by way of this ancient tome “Farmhouse Cookery” we have because it was much more helpful in the method.  I did use the food processor to do the first bit but frankly5 minutes and a knife would have the same effect.  Yes, it would technically take longer but once you factor in getting the food processor out, set up, used and washed up you’re probably more than even.  But I’m washing up phobic so I always choose the method with the least amount! 

250g strong plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 tsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt. 
– Add the butter and either pulse 3-4 times or cut the butter into the flour repeatedly.  Chunks of butter will still be visible. 
– Add the lemon juice and enough water to bring the dough together. 
– Get in there with your hand to bring the dough together in a ball. 
– Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Unwrap the dough and roll out on a floured worksurface into a large rectangle 3 times longer than it is wide. 
– Fold into thirds (bring the right third over onto the centre third then the left side over on top of that), turn 90* and roll out again. 
– Fold into thirds again, turn another 90* and roll out again. 
– Repeat another 3-4 times.  The dough will become harder and harder to roll out as you go and the buttery chunks will disappear. 
– Fold the dough again and rewrap in clingfilm and chill for another 30 minutes. 
– Unwrap and roll out the dough to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface.

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Filed under Basic, Moderately easy