Saturday, 27 December 2008

Leftover Pie

After Christmas, even though we don't have a massive turkey, we still had quite a lot of our supersized chicken left over. I believe my mum usually makes a chicken stew with this, but as this has onion and other stuff that Ian wont eat in, and as we were staying slightly longer this christmas, we had to think of other ideas for the leftovers. So, Ian decided on a chicken, black pudding and apple pie. I'm told this basically involved chucking it all in a saucepan with some chicken stock, and boiling until reduced and a nice piey consistency. The filling is then putting into a dish, and some shop bought puff pastry laid over the top, with the edges tucked in as we'd seen Jamie Oliver do for his leftover turkey and leek pie a few days previously. I made some slits in the top with a knife and we baked it until golden. With some mash, it was very very tasty. Not yummy, because I've been told that I use yummy too much. Tasty delicious scrumptious delectable etc etc but definitely not yummy!.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas baking

Usually, my mum does the majority of the Christmas baking with my help, but this year, following an operation to fix her carpel tunnel problems, she was a hand down and consequently I was left in the kitchen all of Christmas eve! (She kept me company which I guess is something - oh and she made a jelly :D ). The first thing on the list was to make sausage rolls - simple, grab some sausage meat, fry some onions, mix them up, put this in the middle of some puff pastry and bake!Next was a Christmas cake - now in my house, this is not a fruit cake, but in fact a chocolate sponge! I made two chocolate sponges, then started to make the butter icing for the middle. As most of my mums recipes are as old as her (!) they aren't given in grams but in tablespoons and apparently the measurements change depending on what it looks like. Not being my mum (and therefore not knowing what I was looking for), I followed her instructions and ended up almost killing my arm trying to mix the icing sugar into the butter. We then added some cocoa into the butter icing, which then resulted in it being too runny, so more icing sugar was needed. The cake was meant to just have a melted chocolate top, but with the vast quantity of butter icing now made, we decided to put it both inside the cake, and on top. Then I added a few Christmas cake toppers and put the cake to one side. Lastly, for dessert on Christmas day, we'd decided on Eton Mess (meringue, cream and raspberries all smashed together to make a mess!). So, I whisked up 8 egg whites with 1lb of sugar, shaped with two dessert spoons and placed on baking trays. I then baked these in the oven for 45mins at gas mark 1 - I'd cut down the cooking time because the spoons I used for shaping were smaller than the ones I'd have used at home, so thought they'd need less time to cook. After cooking, the meringues should be left in the oven until the oven has cooled. When trying to remove the meringues from the baking paper, I found that they weren't very cooked in the middle at all - so I baked them for another half hour! I'm not sure if it was that they gave them a great chewiness, but they were great meringues! (tip for the leftover egg yolks, yummy scrambled egg!)After all the baking I was in need of a sit down - but instead went to Midnight Mass with my mum whilst Ian cooked the pork ready for dinner the next day (our oven is quite small so we had to try and get ahead somehow). So, at about 1am christmas morning, I was eating roast pork and longing for sleep - perfect! Which is just how Christmas dinner turned out, and no thanks to me, all the credit goes to Ian who made the tastiest roast chicken ever. He's a very very clever man!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Marzipan Fruits (and Christmas Puds!)

Every year I buy my aunt marzipan fruits for Christmas. This year, Ian was telling me how he always used to make marzipan fruits for presents when he was younger so I asked him to show me how to do it. So we set about making them today. It is quite easy and good fun, using things like cloves to make the stalks and angelica for the cherry stalks (the shop didn't have this so we made do with green marzipan).

It is, however, quite time consuming as you have to keep mixing the right colours for each of the fruits. In the end, we made 4 each of 16 different types (apples, oranges, pears, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, cauliflowers, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, green grapes, black grapes, watermelons, and the seasonal christmas cake and christmas puds - yes, not technically fruits but they look nice still). So into a nice box they go ready for tomorrow when I see my aunt. A good fun afternoon, and a low cost present too - bargain!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Home-made Christmas Gifts

I decided to have a go at making a Christmas gift for my friend at work (who is quite partial to cookies - to be honest, who isn't!). So I bought a nice jar from matalan (only £2 so I bought quite a few cos I've been looking for some nice storage jars for a while). I then found a recipe for choc chip cookies and proceeded to measure the ingredients out and layer them in the jar. I was trying to go for several thinner layers instead of a smaller number of thicker layers, but this was quite hard to achieve - it's much easier doing that with small glass bottles at The Needles on the Isle of Wight with sand! I think it's because everything is different textures to they don't sit as well as sand - especially the chocolate chips. I had bought two different size jars but Ian told me he thought the smaller one would suffice (and I agreed). Turned out it wasn't big enough, but once you get half way through there's not really much going back! So I adapted the recipe slightly to make it fit in the jar. Once I was done I stuck a kebab stick into the jar and tried to make pretty patterns with the layers. This kind of worked but not as well as it would if there weren't choc chips in it I think. Anyway, it looks interesting and after adding labels, it should make a pretty nice Christmas gift.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Cheat's Fudge

This year I decided to make fudge and give as gifts to some of my friends. So, using Nigella's fudge recipe, which is cheating a little(doesn't need a sugar thermometer), but still makes yummy fudge like stuff, I set to work. I used only 150g of dark chocolate and substituted the rest for milk chocolate as the last time I made it my friend complained it was too dark. I also used slightly less pistachios than the recipe required, mainly because I couldn't help myself from eating them whilst shelling them! Also, I forgot the pinch of salt, but I don't think it made a difference. My dark chocolate hating friend still wasn't keen, so I think next time I'll do some with just milk chocolate, maybe with cherries in, and also one with white chocolate and cranberry. The only thing I'd say about this is it does melt if left out of the fridge, but apparently is also edible straight from the freezer.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

The 'Ultimate Cookies'

I found this recipe ages ago and kept meaning to cook them, but never found the time. Ian's parents were here this weekend, so I used that as an excuse to do some cooking, using up leftover veg to make soup for lunch tomorrow and then getting the baking gear out for the cookies. The recipe was simple and easy to follow - although I found my arm was aching from trying to mix it (stupid RSI). The cookies are yummy, and it made more than enough for the weekend so I can take them along to work tomorrow (which I'm sure will please them a lot). Next time I'll use white chocolate :)