Tag Archives: Christmas

Happy Christmas

Christmas is a time for gratitude, remembering all those things you are thankful for, and indulging in things that make you happy, spending time with loved ones and overdosing on favourite foods. I have a lot to be grateful for, and one thing that is high on my happiness list is chocolate. I decided to revisit a recipe from last year and improve on it by combining cocoa with my gingerbread recipe to create a chocolate version, and substituted milk for ginger beer.

This gingerbread is delicious by itself, dressed up with your favourite icing or used in trifle, which is what I will be doing later this week for Christmas.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas.

What I was cooking this time last year: Gingerbread Trifle

Chocolate Gingerbread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 cup ginger beer
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup golden syrup
  • Cooking oil spray

Method

  • Melt butter and syrup in saucepan over low heat until butter is melted and set aside to cool a little.

Butter and syrup

  • Sift the flour, cocoa & spices into a bowl.

Sift flour spice cocoa

  • Add sugar, eggs, ginger beer and butter syrup and mix well.

Cake batter mixing

  • Spray your baking tin(s) with cooking oil spray. Pour cake batter into tins – I used mini-cupcake tins.

Chocolate cake batter in tins

  • Bake for 20 minutes at 170°C [fan-forced] or 180°C normal oven (you will need to adjust the cooking time if using larger tins). Remove from oven when cooked – ie skewer comes out clean or the gingerbread springs back with lightly touched.

Chocolate gingerbread

What is your favourite food that makes you happy? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Recipes, Spices, Sweet, Vegetarian

Christmas treats

In Sydney, Christmas falls in the middle of summer; this also happens to be when cherries are at their best. My recipe this week uses dried cherries, which I managed to track down at a local health food store, and pistachios, for their green christmasy colour. This recipe makes  a lot of fudge, so it is perfect for sharing and / or giving as home-made gifts to friends and family. I ended up making a double batch so that I would have plenty to go around. I wrapped squares of fudge in clear cello gift wrap then placed them in gift bags and boxes as presents.

With the salt quantity specified below, this is specifically for salt flakes, if you are using regular table salt proceed with caution and only use 1/4 of a teaspoon or less.

What I was cooking this time last year: Raspberry, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Salad

Chocolate Fudge with Cherries and Pistachios

Ingredients:

  • 75g butter
  • 395g tin condensed milk
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 100g pistachios
  • 125g dried cherries
  • Cooking oil spray to grease your tin

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven on to 180°C.
  • Transfer the pistachios to an oven proof dish and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Pistachios shelled green nuts

  • Line a tray with grease-proof paper and spray with cooking oil.
  • Add the butter, condensed milk, vanilla, salt and brown sugar to a saucepan.

Fudge ingredients

 

  • Stir the saucepan of fudge mixture over a medium heat until the butter is melted and the fudge starts to thicken.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir to combine.

Chocolate caramel fudge

  • Add the cherries and pistachios to the chocolate fudge and stir to combine.
  • Pour the fudge into the lined tray and refrigerate until cool.

Chocolate cherry pistachio fudge

  • Remove the fudge from the tray and peel off the grease-proof paper.
  • Cut the fudge into serving size pieces. Your fudge is ready to serve or wrap for gifts. Enjoy.

Chocolate cherry pistachio fudge

What are your favourite christmas flavours? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Berries, Caramel, Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Pistachio, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Spring Socialising

It’s hard to believe it’s November already. For me, November heralds the start of the party season and the count-down to Christmas. As your calendar starts to fill up, it’s handy to have some tasty recipes for entertaining.

I actually “borrowed” this recipe from a friend who recently purchased a thermomix. Now I love my kitchen gadgets, but haven’t been able to make the commitment to purchase one, but I’ve heard they are fantastic and she was excited to be experimenting with new recipes. I’ve added my own twist to the ingredients and come up with the below version (no thermomix required). I used a store-cupboard standby with the roasted peppers, but you could roast your own fresh red capsicum if you desire. If you would like a chunkier version of this dip, process the ingredients without the cashews first, then add the cashews and pulse the food processor until you achieve your desired texture. If your dip is a little to thick, you could add a bit of the drained oil that the tomatoes came in to help in getting the desired texture.

Serve your dip with your favourite accompaniments – crackers or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian

Cashew and Tomato Dip

Ingredients:

  • 100g semi-sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 birds eye chilli
  • 50g roasted red peppers or roasted red capsicum, drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 120g raw unsalted cashews
  • 30g parmesan cheese

Method

  • Add the tomatoes, peppers, cashews, garlic, chilli, lemon juice and parmesan cheese to your food processor or thermomix bowl.

Cashews, tomato, pepper, chilli, garlic, cheese, ingredients

  • Blend until you have achieved your desired texture.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Cashew and tomato dip

What is your favourite stand-by recipe when friends drop by? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Capsicum, Cashews, Cheese, Dip, Lemon, Nuts, Recipes, Savoury, Tomato, Vegetarian

Happy New Year

While most of us are still getting over our overindulgent Christmas celebrations, it is time to start thinking about celebrating New Years Eve. New Years Eve tends to be a time for reflecting back on the past year (2012 was quite a roller coaster ride for me with a few lows but plenty of highs), remembering everything I have to be grateful for and looking forward to what lies ahead. For me, it also tends to be a time shared with friends, while Christmas is focused around spending quality time with family.

To help get you in a celebratory mood, I wanted to share this cocktail recipe with you. Nothing says celebration quite like the sound of a champagne cork popping (or in Australia, locally produced sparkling wine). For a delicious, affordable Australian sparkling wine, I recommend Yellowglen Cremant.

This drink combines the fizz of sparkling wine with the summer flavours of mint and passionfruit. I normally use Lemoncello, an Italian lemon liquor in this recipe, but my favourite local bottle shop Kemneys was all out, so I improvised and used Cointreau instead. You could use any citrus flavoured liquor you have available.
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

Sparkling Punch

Ingredients

  • 125mls ruby red grapefruit (zest before juicing, if you want to include zest in your recipe)
  • 125mls Cointreau, Lemoncello or citrus liquor
  • 5 passionfruit
  • 20 mint leaves
  • Sparkling wine or champagne

Method:

  • Zest the grapefruit if you are adding zest to your recipe for extra citrus tang
  • Juice the grapefruit, and add 125mls to a container with the zest

Passionfruit and Grapefruit

  • Cut the passionfruit in half, and scrape the seeds and juice into the container
  • Add the Cointreau or Lemoncello
  • Finely chop the mint and add to the punch mix
  • Stir your punch mix to combine, then freeze. Because of the high alcohol content the punch mix won’t freeze firm and you will end up with a slushy icy mix.

Sparkling Punch Mix

  • When ready to serve, spoon a generous amount of your icy punch mix into a champagne glass, and top with sparking wine or champagne. Your sparkling punch cocktail is ready to serve. Enjoy.

What is your favourite New Years Eve ritual? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Cocktail, Drink, Grapefruit, Mint, Passionfruit, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Cheers

As Christmas gets closer, I wanted to share with you a cocktail recipe that I think looks very festive with red and green colours. I can’t claim the Japanese Slipper cocktail recipe as my own, but I am borrowing it to include in my post today.

I used maraschino cherries or glace cherries, and managed to track down ones with the stems still intact. The stems make it easier to fish the cherry out of the bottom of your cocktail glass to eat when you have finished your drink. I don’t normally like maraschino cherries, but there is something kitch and appropriate about their bright red colour and candy like taste in this drink.

I’ve given quantities for one drink, but you can of course scale depending on how many you are catering for.

If limes are hard to come by or expensive, you could substitute lemon juice, or use half lemon and half lime juice.

Japanese Slipper

Ingredients

  • 1 maraschino cherry with stem
  • 30mls lime juice
  • 30mls Midori melon liqueur
  • 30mls Cointreau liqueur
  • Ice

Method:

  • Add a cherry to the bottom of your serving glass, I like to use a martini glass, but you could use a champagne glass or whatever else you think will look good.
  • Fill up your cocktail shaker with ice
  • Add the lime juice, Midori and Cointreau to the cocktail shaker
  • Shake until everything is combined and chilled
  • Strain your cocktail into the glass, keeping the ice out of your drink. Your cocktail is ready to serve. Enjoy.

Japanese slipper cocktail

What is your favourite Christmas cocktail? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Cocktail, Drink, Lemon, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Gingerbread Trifle

Continuing with my Christmas theme, I wanted to share my Christmas Trifle recipe. Cherries are abundant in Australia at Christmas time, so I have combined cherries with the more traditionally European Christmas flavours of gingerbread and mulled wine inspired custard. If you can’t get fresh cherries you could use tinned or jarred cherries, but I don’t recommend you use maraschino cherries.

This recipe uses quantities when you are cooking for a crowd, for occasions when you are asked to bring a desert to share for a large family or other Christmas gathering. You may end up with extra gingerbread left over depending on the size of the serving dish(es) you use. If you are catering for smaller numbers, you could half the quantities of everything and make a smaller batch of trifle.

If you are catering for vegetarians, vegetarian jelly is available from Kosher or Asian supermarkets. You could make some alcohol free trifles for the kids with a cherry or berry jelly, then use port wine jelly for the brandy infused adults version.

The gingerbread does seem to have an alarming amount of sugar and golden syrup, but the spices do balance this out and you end up with a sticky gingerbread.

I mentioned in my candy cane chip chocolate ice cream post, if you are worried about your custard splitting or turning into scrambled eggs, half fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes so that you can set the saucepan in the cool water to immediately stop the cooking once it starts to thicken. If you do happen to split the custard slightly, you can sometimes save it by blending thoroughly in a blender to recombine everything (after removing the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves).

Gingerbread Trifle

Ingredients

  • 500g cherries, pitted [you might need plastic gloves for this because cherries can stain your hands, clothes, etc.]
  • 2 packets jelly
  • Gingerbread
  • Spiced custard

Method:

  • Make the gingerbread and spiced custard according to the recipes below. Allow gingerbread and custard to cool completely.
  • Make the jelly according to packet instructions and refrigerate until almost set.
  • You can either make individual trifles in small glass cups / bowls, or a large one. I like to use glass so that you can see all the layers. Add a layer of gingerbread to the bottom of the bowl[s]. Next add cherries, then top with custard, leaving about 1cm at the top for the jelly
  • Gently spoon over the almost set jelly and refrigerate the whole lot until set and ready to eat.

Gingerbread trifle

Gingerbread recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup golden syrup

Method

  • Melt butter and syrup in saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.

Butter and syrup

  • Add the flour & spices together into food processor bowl. Add sugar eggs, milk and butter syrup and mix well [or if you don’t have a food processor use a mixer or beaters or wooden spoon].

Gingerbread

  • Pour into tins – I use cupcake tins. Bake for 40 minutes at 170°C [fan-forced] or 180°C normal oven. Remove from oven when cooked – ie skewer comes out clean or the gingerbread springs back with lightly touched.

Spiced Custard

Ingredients:

  • 500mls full cream milk
  • 500mls thickened cream
  • 100g sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks and 5 large whole eggs
  • 2 vanilla pods or 1 tspn vanilla paste or 2 tspns vanilla essence
  • zest from one orange
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons brandy [or calvados – apple brandy] *optional*

Method

  • Put the milk and cream in a saucepan with the sugar.
  • Split vanilla pod in half, scrape out seeds, add vanilla seeds to the pan, together with the scraped pods. [Or just add the vanilla paste or essence if using.]
  • Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg or mace, star anise, eggs and egg yolks.
  • Whisk to combine the eggs, and place the saucepan on medium heat on the stove top.
  • Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens.
  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat, add the brandy (if using) and strain the custard through a sieve into a chilled bowl or jug.  Cover and allow to cool.

What is your favourite dish to bring along to a large get together? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Custard, Recipes, Spices, Sweet, Vegetarian

Christmas count down

As we move into December, the count down to Christmas has well and truly begun. Here is a dessert idea to get you in the Christmas spirit – candy cane chip chocolate ice cream. Growing up in Australia where Christmas falls in summer, and  as Christmas is prone to over indulgence, ice cream seems to work perfectly for dessert, because no matter how full you are there always is a little bit of room left for ice cream. This ice cream could go alongside your Christmas pudding, trifle, pavlova or whatever else you are having or is great on its’ own.

I cook the custard over a fairly high heat, if you are not as brave you can cook over a lower temperature, it will just take longer. If you are worried about your custard splitting or turning into scrambled eggs, half fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes so that you can set the saucepan in the cool water to immediately stop the cooking once it starts to thicken. If you do happen to split the custard slightly, you can sometimes save it by blending thoroughly in a blender to recombine everything. If you wanted to make this recipe extra indulgent, you could use half cream, half milk. You could use the left over egg whites to make meringues or a pavlova, and remember, egg whites freeze well.

Candy Cane Chip Chocolate Ice Cream

* Please note you will need an ice cream machine for this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 500mls full cream milk
  • 75g sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, plus 2 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 10 mini candy canes, plus extra to decorate

Method

  • Put the eggs, sugar, vanilla and milk in a saucepan. Whisk to combine.
  • Cook on a medium to high heat, whisking continuously until the custard thickens slightly.

Chocolate custard

  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Cover and allow to chill in the fridge.
  • Pour the chilled chocolate custard into an ice cream machine and churn.
  • Peel your candy canes, and add them to a brown paper bag or put them in some grease proof paper.
  • Using a rolling-pin or something heavy, smash the candy canes into pieces.
  • When the ice cream is firm, add the crumbled candy canes and churn to mix.
  • Transfer ice cream to a container and put into the freezer.

Chocolate candy cane ice cream

  • To serve, put into fridge to soften slightly up to half an hour before serving. Enjoy.

Chocolate candy cane chip ice cream

What is your favourite Christmas recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Chocolate, Custard, Recipes, Sweet