Christmas Petits Fours

If you have time and you want to make a quick last minute homemade gift or have something yummy to offer guests over the next week then check out these very cute Christmas pudding petits fours. Think of these as healthier versions of the chocolate truffle. They are about the same size, but packed full of dried fruit they are much better for you. I made mine with my little boy so they are a fun Christmas activity for kids to get involved with.

Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients:

  • 400g fruit cake
  • 50g softened unsalted butter
  • 100g luxury mixed fruit (I combined dried figs, dried apricots and sultanas)
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 pack marzipan
  • Green food colouring
  • Cloves

Method:

  1. Crumble up the fruit cake into a large bowl and add the softened butter.
  2. Put the mixed fruit into a fruit processor and blitz until it comes into a smooth paste.
  3. Scrape the fruit paste into the bowl with the fruit cake, add the spices and orange zest.
  4. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it is combined and a sticky consistency, this will take a few minutes to achieve.
  5. Take a generous teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball, continue until you have used all the mixture.
  6. Cut a small section of your marzipan, approx 50g and add a few drops of green food colouring. Kneed the marzipan until the colour has distributed evenly. Take very small pieces and shape into leaves.
  7. Wash your hands to remove any food colouring and then take small pinches of the plain marzipan roll into small balls and then flatten to look like a penny coin.
  8. Mold the marzipan on top of the mini christmas puddings and then place the green leaf on top, push a clove into the leave to secure the leaf.

I have wrapped my gifts in greaseproof paper and tied with ribbon, you could also use cellophane before wrapping in christmas paper.

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Christmas Stocking Fillers

Look what I’ve found for the Christmas stocking. These gorgeous Lindt chocolate teddy bears. They are absolutely adorable and just right for something to add to the a Christmas stocking. I always go for chocolate coins but that’s boring, these festive chocolate teddy bears are much better. I know my little boy is going to love them – not least because he has already shown them to me when we were out shopping!

There are other stocking fillers to choose from:

I hope this is a useful idea for your Christmas stocking, or maybe even a small gift for children big or small.

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Homemade Marmalade

Christmas is coming fast! I’ve been suffering with a virus and unable to get on with my edible gifts. It’s time to get back in the kitchen and share some recipes with you. One of the first things I’m going to be making is Marmalade. I’ve never made marmalade before, but I saw this 15 Minute Marmalade recipe on Abel and Cole’s website sometime ago and wanted to give it a try. This will make a great edible gift as homemade marmalade is so much better than shop bought. This recipe is by the beautiful Rachel de Thample, of Abel and Cole,whose book I reviewed earlier this year. Here is the video for you:

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Supper Club News

It has been some time since I last blogged. I had 25 guests for my last Supper Club so preparing and then recovering has taken some time! Also we have all been suffering with colds. My little boy suffers with asthma and I really have to watch him like a hawk when he has a cold, so the blog has gone on the back burner.

I wanted to share a couple of pictures of my Supper Club. I wasn’t able to photo my food as it was so hectic in the kitchen but I’ve put together a couple of pictures which give a feel of the evening.

Coming up on the blog I’m going to start Christmas preparations. This will include edible gifts, easy Christmas recipes to make yourself, like mincemeat and some of the traditional dishes I cook at Christmas time. Do you have any Christmas blog requests? Please leave a comment…..

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Coronation Chicken

This weekend we had Roast Chicken. I used the leftovers to make one of our favourite dinners: Coronation Chicken with my quick Jacket Potatoes.

This is a great recipe to cook with kids. If you chop and prepare the ingredients first they can mix everything together.

Here is my recipe:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (approx)
  • half an apple, chopped
  • Approx 250g of cooked shredded chicken
  • 2-3 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
  • a small handful of raisins
  • 1 tsp gara massala (or curry powder will do)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • ground black pepper (to your taste)

Method:

  1. Pour lemon juice over chopped apple to prevent it from discolouring.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  3. Taste your mixture, add a little more gara massala, black pepper or mayonnaise as you wish.

Top tip: Add some fresh chopped coriander to give it an extra special flavour.

For more ways to use Roast Chicken leftovers see my ideas here.

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Savoury Pumpkin Recipes

Following on from my list of recommended sweet pumpkin recipes I have found some of my favourite savoury pumpkin recipes to share. I hope you like them!

Pumpkin Lasanga

Image @ http://www.veggienumnum.com

Image @ http://www.veggienumnum.com

I am excited by this recipe. It is full of so many ‘good for you’ ingredients. Sometime ago I cooked a Jamie Oliver lasanga recipe which included butternut squash; it was yummy. This is a vegetarian lasanga which I think is also a money saving dish.

This recipes suggests making your own pasta, I skipped that and scrolled down to the recipe using shop bough lasanga sheets.

Pumpkin Curry

Image @ http://thestandardoftaste.files.wordpress.com

Image @ http://thestandardoftaste.files.wordpress.com

Pumpkin is delicious cooked in a curry.

If you scoop out the seeds of your pumpkin (which you can wash and roast) peel and chop it into chunks, then it can be cooked in a curry just like carrots or potato.

This curry recipe is a Nigella, and I have cooked it before, definitely worth a try! Yummy!

Roasted Pumpkin

Image @ http://www.countryliving.com

Image @ http://www.countryliving.com

One of the easiest ways to use a pumpkin is to serve it as a side vegetable.

Here is a delicious recipe roasting it alongside shallots.

Cooking pumpkin like this makes it a perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast.

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Sweet Pumpkin Recipes

This weekend I’m going to buy some pumpkins and get baking. Following all the requests I’ve had for pumpkin recipes here are some of the sweet recipes I would like to try. Click on the titles to read the recipes and see the blogs they come from:

Pumpkin Scones

Image @ http://www.annies-eats.net

Image @ http://www.annies-eats.net

I love the look of these scones. There are lots of recipes online, but this recipe looks easy to follow. I’m going to try this minus the butterscotch chips, because I haven’t seen these in my local shop, maybe it’s an American thing?

These also call for buttermilk. I usually make this myself by using semi-skimmed milk and adding a teaspoon of lemon juice. Leave the milk for 10 minutes and it can be used just as buttermilk. This is good as it stops me having to make a special trip out to buy buttermilk.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

 

Image @ http://www.icancookthat.org

Image @ http://www.icancookthat.org

These look totally yummy! I can’t wait to bake these.

Again it is an American recipe and there are a few adjustments to this recipe to be made. They use something called “Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice” which I understand as ground coffee with spice. Either leave this out altogether or add a couple of spoonfuls of plain coffee.

Canola oil is used, instead use vegetable oil.

Pumpkin Pie

 

Image @ http://www.dimasharif.com

Image @ http://www.dimasharif.com

I’ve eaten Pumpkin Pie once before and really enjoyed it. I’m not sure I’ll be cooking it this weekend, but I couldn’t leave it off my list!

This recipe uses a bought pumpkin spice mix, which I isn’t easily available in the UK. Instead refer to the spices I added to my pumpkin parfait recipe. Basically, ground cinnamon and ground allspice, but nutmeg and ginger as well would be good.

For the Pumpkin Puree which Americans often buy canned, check out my recipe for making homemade Pumpkin Puree.

Happy Baking!

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Pumpkin Parfait

Yesterday I wrote about how to make pumpkin puree which is popular in American cooking. They use it to make cakes, scones, puddings and pies. If you don’t want to make your own pureed pumpkin a canned version which is available from this website: Americansweets.co.uk

I used my pumpkin puree in a parfait, adding spices and honey before layering it with muesli and Greek yogurt as seen in my photograph above.

Serves 6 portions of parfait

Ingredients:

  • 500g pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 ripe mashed banana
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground allspice (or ground mixed spice)
  • 1 500g tub of plain yogurt
  • 200g muesli

Method:

  1. Stir into pumpkin puree all the ingredients.
  2. Mix well and taste, add more spices or sugar to your liking.
  3. Layer alternately puree, yogurt, muesli for about three layers (see my photo for inspiration)
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Pumpkins

Image @ http://desktop.qkype.com

Image @ http://desktop.qkype.com

“Pumpkins are only good for soup.” That’s what I heard a Dad tell his toddler in the supermarket last week. Little did he know he was standing next to a food blogger and I was thinking how wrong can he be!!!! On top of this I’ve had requests from my husband’s work colleagues who want ideas for this season vegetable.

So, this week I’m going to share some of the delicious recipes I am planning to cook with my pumpkin.

Today I’m starting by showing how you can use pumpkins to make sweet recipes – something that they do a lot in America.  They use pumpkin in cakes, scones and pies, adding ingredients like mixed spice and molasses or golden sryup to give the pumpkin a rich sweet flavour.

These sweet dishes require something called pumpkin puree, which in the US is sold in a can at their local supermarket. Since our average supermarket does not stock canned pumpkin I have learnt how to make pumpkin puree at home. I make it in a large batch which can then be frozen in portions to be used as and when needed.

Here is the recipe for pumpkin puree:

  1. Pre-heat the over to 180°c.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds.*
  3. Oil a large baking tray. (You may need two baking trays if you have a big pumpkin).
  4. Slice the pumpkin into large slices, approx 3 slices per pumpkin half and place in baking tray.
  5. Pop baking tray into oven and roast until pumpkin is soft, approx 40 mins, but this depends on the size of your pumpkin, check on your pumpkin while it is cooking and adjust timings accordingly.
  6. When the pumpkin flesh is soft remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Scoop pumpkin flesh away from the skin, remove as much skin as possible as it does not puree well.
  7. Place all the pumpkin in a food processor and blitz until smooth.

*You can wash these and roast them for a tasty snack.

For instructions that include step by step photos check out this website: ehow.com

Once you’ve got your pumpkin puree you can use it in a range of recipes. Tomorrow I will be posting my Pumpkin Parfait. For now check out these delicious Pumpkin Spiced Cupcakes at I Can Cook That. Continue reading

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Birthday Cakes by Fiona Cairns

It is National Baking Week and I’ve got hold of the perfect book for this. Birthday Cakes is the new book by Fiona Cairns the creator of Wills and Kate’s wedding cake. Her last book, Bake & Decorate, is one of my favourites and this book is everything I expected and oh so much more! It is truly inspirational.

Fiona has a core of cake recipes which are the start for so many different cakes. She shows how to make a cake that looks like an erupting volcano, a designer handbag, a castle, a teapot, a merry-go-round, a box of chocolates, I could go on…

In my opinion Fiona is an artist; her recipe book needs to come out of the bookshelf and onto the coffee table where everyone can take a look at the beautiful cakes she has sculpted. The best bit of all, the magic, is that she has broken it down so us home-bakers can create the wow factor too.

A quick peek at how Fiona Cairns inspired my George and I. After looking at Fiona’s Chocolate Crispie robots, we used this idea to make a Chocolate Train – which shows how this recipe book gets you thinking outside the box.

By the way this cake was delicious and I’ll be making it again soon!

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