Category Archives: Christmas

~scottish trifle~

After the traditional Burn’s Night meal of Haggis, neeps and tatties, this Scottish trifle always goes down well!

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There are many different trifle recipes but this is the easiest and one of my favourites. It uses freshly made custard and if possible, homemade raspberry jam. It doesn’t include jelly or chocolate as others do.

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Ingredients – serves 6-8

8 egg yolks

110g caster sugar

35g plain flour

450ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped.

about 9 sponge fingers (depending on the size of your bowl)

about 3tbsp raspberry jam

4tbsps liquid – orange juice or sherry

285ml thick cream

toasted almonds to decorate

optional – 1 or 2 bananas or some apricots

How to: For a simpler recipe use ready prepared custard and skip this first step! Otherwise first make the custard – whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the flour. Boil the milk, remove from the heat and add the vanilla seeds. Leave for about 15 mins. Remove the seeds and add the milk to the egg mixture stirring as you pour. Return the egg/milk mixture to a clean pan and whisk over a gentle heat until boiling. Keep whisking to get rid of any lumps. Once smooth, keep whisking for a minute or 2 until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat, cover with cling film (to stop a skin forming) and leave to cool.

Cut the sponge fingers in half and spread one side of each half with jam – be generous! Place the sponges on the base and round the outside of your serving bowl. Pour over the liquid and tilt the bowl so all the sponges get thoroughly soaked. If using banana, slice as much banana as you like into small rounds, then place on top of the sponges. (Likewise if using apricots, place the apricot halves on the sponges). Pour the cooled custard on top. Then whip the cream (and sweeten if necessary) until thick. Spoon the cream onto the custard in a thick layer. Finally decorate with a sprinkling of almonds which have been toasted in a frying pan until golden brown. Chill until ready to eat.

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Trifle is great the following day too when the sponge is deliciously soft and juicy!

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Filed under Christmas, creams and sauces, Dessert, fruity, Scotland, Uncategorized, vegetarian

~quick blinis~

This recipe has been in my book for years and makes mini pancakes or ”blinis” in minutes.

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The best bit is that they don’t have to be served hot, so you can make the bases and toppings in advance and just put them together when ready to serve. They are easily reheated for a few minutes just before assembling if preferred.

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Ingredients – makes about 40 blinis

150g (1 cup) plain flour

2 eggs

pinch of salt

200ml milk

 50-60ml water

How to : Put everything in a blender and whiz until well mixed – you may need to scrape the flour from the sides of the blender once or twice. There is no need to leave the batter to sit, just heat a shallow frying pan, add a tiny bit of butter and then spoon in small amounts of batter – about a tablespoon for each blini. Let cook for about 1 min until tiny bubbles appear and the blini dries out a bit, then turn the blini over for about 30 seconds until the underside is nicely golden and voilà ready to eat! If after making one or 2, you think the batter is too thick add a splash of water and mix into the batter before continuing.

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If the blinis don’t turn out very round, I often use a cookie cutter to stamp out circles.

Blinis can be topped with crème fraîche and smoked salmon, herby cheese and pickles, pesto and half a cherry tomato with basil leaves, horseradish cream and a layer of thinly sliced roast beef, wafer thin ham and chutney…the list is endless.

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Lovely bite sized nibbles!

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~mousse au chocolat~

This quick mousse is as delicious as the other and just as quick! In this mousse there are simply 2 ingredients – chocolate and eggs.

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The quantities of chocolate and eggs can be varied depending on how many you’re making for –

For 5 little dishes use 150g chocolate (dark or milk) with 1 and 1/2 tbsps water and 3 eggs, for 10 little dishes use 300g chocolate with 3 tbsps water and 6 eggs.

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How to: Break the chocolate into small pieces, melt it with the water in a clean bowl over a pan of simmering water -make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave to cool a little. Separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl unitl they form stiff peaks. Add the yolks, 1 at a time to the cooled chocolate and beat together until well combined. Finally gently fold in the egg whites and divide among your serving dishes. Chill for about 3 hours before serving.

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These little chocolate pots can also be frozen for up to 1 month!

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Filed under chocolate, Christmas, Dessert, France, no-bake

~ Chocolate and red wine cake ~

This is a recipe slightly adapted from ”Décors et recettes de Noêl – traditions d’Alsace” which I recently got my hands on!

Also called Gateau au vin rouge or Roewin un Mûesbollekûeche, it’s a deliciously easy and moist chocolate cake perfect for freezing and defrosting later when needed.

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It’s another of my favourite – “mix everything together and bake” recipes and is really simple and tasty.

The red wine doesn’t give a strong taste, it’s very subtle and the chocolate vermicelli means that the chocolate is evenly dispersed and doesn’t sink to the bottom!

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Ingredients:

110g Sugar

200g soft butter

200g plain flour

1Tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 sachet of baking powder

100ml red wine

4 eggs

100g chocolate vermicelli

How to:  Put everything into the processor and whiz until you have a smooth cake mixture.

Pour the mixture into a grease proof paper lined cake tin, I used a circular 20cm tin but it’s also often made in loaf tins.  Bake at 180°c for 1 hour then test with a skewer to check if it is fully baked. When the skewer pulls out clean, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

As with all chocolate cakes this one can be decorated with any kind of icing. It’s not a very sweet cake so the touch of icing on the top is a little extra. It’s also delicious served with cream or custard.

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Wrap well and freeze when cool (un-iced) if there is too much or it’s been made in advance.

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Filed under Alsace, cakes, chocolate, Christmas, Dessert, France

~salmon dip and melba toast~

This 10 minute recipe was called salmon pâté, but I think it’s more a paste or a dip!

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It’s creamy and perfect for dipping raw carrots or slices of cucumber into!

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~easy chocolate fudge~

This is a very easy and quick chocolate fudge recipe!

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It makes delicious firm fudge in next to no time with very little effort required!

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~baked apple with mincemeat~

It’s not quite Spring weather yet so a hot baked apple was warming and perfect for lunch!

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I was very happy to find a jar of mincemeat left over from Christmas and so my apple was ready in no time!

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There really aren’t any ingredients, but this is nicer than a plain apple on cold days.

I cored 1 apple, then split the skin about a third of the way down and all the way round. I spooned the mincemeat into the hole where the core once was and also added a spoonful or 2 round the base so that I’d have extra if I wanted. I spooned over a tablespoon of water so that it wouldn’t be too dry and so I’d have some hot juice. Then I put it in the microwave and cooked on high for 3 minutes. This was perfect for a fluffy piping hot apple and the mincemeat was sweet and juicy.

When making more than 1 apple, I check after 3 minutes in the microwave and then increase minute-by-minute the cooking time (4 or 5 is good for 2 apples).

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I enjoyed this plain but it’s also great with vanilla ice-cream, pouring cream or crème fraîche and topped with a sprinkling of crushed almonds.

If you don’t have any mincemeat, it can be replaced with a mixture of glacé cherries, raisins, a knob of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

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Filed under Christmas, Dessert, fruity, no-bake, Uncategorized, vegetarian

~soft butter mints~

OOh these tiny soft mints are just perfect after a rich meal – these tiny minty pebbles just melt in your mouth!

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I found this recipe on Sweet 16’s country kitchen and made just one quarter of their recipe. I have recently discovered Sweet 16’s country kitchen blog and I have the feeling I’ll be visiting over and over again. Take a look for yourself, there are plenty of do-able recipes with lovely photos. Thanks Cookin’ Cow girl (wanna’be)!

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No baking, just mixing and resting!

Ingredients: makes about 40 mints, each about 1cm in diameter

20g soft butter

1/2 tbsp heavy cream or crème fraîche

1/4 tsp peppermint essence

tiny pinch of salt

110g icing sugar

How to : Beat the butter until pale then add the cream, peppermint and salt and beat again until everything is well mixed. Add the icing sugar bit by bit and continue beating until everything holds together – maybe several minutes in the processor. If the flavour isn’t strong enough add a bit more and beat until well incorporated.  Using your hands, take tiny amounts of the paste and roll into balls, place on grease proof paper and leave 12 hours to dry. Store the mints in an air-tight container in the fridge and try not to eat too many at once!

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This recipe is easily doubled or quadrupled.

They are very moreish and I think I’ll keep the larger quantities until I have guests for dinner!

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Filed under Christmas, sweets/candy

~operation manala 2012~

If it’s December 5th or 6th then it’s time for manela!

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Here are this years’ wee men, I used the same recipe as always

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All delicious and just waiting to be dunked in hot chocolate!

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Filed under Alsace, bread/brioche, chocolate, Christmas

~chocolate swiss roll~

Swiss roll, roulade, bûche de noël, chocolate log … whatever its called, it’s deliciously light and airy and it doesn’t contain any flour! A gluten free delight!

It is an impressive dessert and isn’t really difficult. I filled mine with crème fraîche and mango but there are  100’s of variations for fillings!

Ingredients for sponge

4 eggs (separated)

100g icing sugar

2tbsp cocoa powder

How to: Beat the egg whites until stiff, then slowly add the sifted sugar and cocoa to the whites, beating after each addition. In a different bowl beat the yolks until a pale yellow colour. Finally, using a spoon, fold the yolks gently into the whites/sugar. Spoon the mixture onto a swiss roll tin (mine is about 23cm x 23cm) which has been lined with grease proof paper. Smooth with a spatula and bake at 180°C for 20 mins until springy to the touch.

Remove the tin from the oven and sprinkle some caster sugar over the surface. Cover the sugary sponge with a tea-towel and then cover the tea-towel with another swiss roll tin. Turn the whole lot over so you have the hot swiss roll tin facing upwards. Lift the tin off and then using a spatula, peel the grease proof paper away from the sponge. Sprinkle this side of the cake with caster sugar. Roll the sponge up inside the tea-towel starting with a long side. Leave to cool while preparing the filling.

Filling  – mix 100g crème fraîche with 100g fromage frais and just enough sugar to sweeten (about 1 tbsp). Unroll the sponge carefully and spread with the filling before re-rolling. Don’t worry if it cracks a bit. Dust with cocoa or icing sugar.

Other ideas for filling

-beat 200g mascarpone, 100g melted chocolate and enough icing sugar together.

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-mix a tbsp of sugar into 200g greek yoghurt and stir in the pulp of a couple of passion fruit, some mango (apricot or peach are good too) and raspberries.

-spread a mixture of 200g marscapone, 1tbsp maple syrup and 3tbsp double cream onto the sponge then scatter sliced banana over before rolling up.

Use Google to find your favourite filling!

In all cases, it’s best to put the filling on shortly before serving otherwise the sponge can get a bit soggy.

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Filed under cakes, chocolate, Christmas, Dessert

~new year biscuits~

These simple biscuits were always made on new year’s eve at about 9 pm when it was boring to stay awake waiting for the midnight bells.

They can of course be made anytime and upon demand I baked a batch last week!

They are very easy and quick to make!

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~ginger cake~

This is a big ginger cake –  easy, and fast using the melt-and-mix method!  It has a good gingery taste but is not overpowering.

 Ingredients also include cinnamon and pieces of crystallised ginger.

The lemony icing adds that little something to this ginger cake, but isn’t really necessary.

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~posh jammy biscuits~

This is the posh version of the quick jammy biscuits and these biscuits aren’t so chunky. They take a little longer than the quick ones but are oh so beautiful!

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galette des rois – twelfth night cake with raving rabbit !

Christmas may be over but the French are still eating cakes and mine has a raving rabbit in it!

At this time of the year, all over France the bakers windows are filled with their famous « Galette des Rois »  or  Twelfth Night cakes which are basically puff pastry pies stuffed with a frangipane filling – all nice and flaky and almondy, uumm. The name explains it doesn’t it – round about the twelfth day of Christmas, (Epiphany)  the wise men visited Jesus and according to tradition, the galette des rois, was to “draw the kings” to the Epiphany.  And so this day is celebrated by eating cake. What’s new? It’s Epiphany on the 6th January and galette is eaten on this day and at both weekends surrounding the 6th. No chance of missing it then!

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~cranberry and pistachio shortbread biscuits~

I made these biscuits at the weekend and they are deliciously shortbready; they just melt in your mouth. The cranberries and pistachios make them sweet and salty.

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~biscotti – the perfect dipper~

These dry crunchy biscuits are neither French nor Scottish but nevertheless very moreish and perfect for dipping in hot tea, fruit tea, coffee or hot choc.! Be warned – without dipping they are rock hard! They don’t go off, or soft, even after 4 weeks in the biscuit tin so a great secret to have ready for those unplanned « hi, I thought I’d just pop in » times! In December I also wrapped some to give away as pressies, so when I received an unexpected gift I could quickly whip out a bag of biscotti and voilà!

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Manala, mannele, männele- little fluffy bread (brioche) men for Saint Nicolas on Dec 6th

Manala, mannele, männele  –  same thing, it just depends which part of Alsace you come from, how you spell the Alsatian for the  « wee man » eaten on December 5th and 6th.

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~mincemeat cakes~

After mince pies and mince pies, I made a few changes and found this recipe for mincemeat cup cakes! They were just as easy to make – bit of cake mix, big spoonful of mincemeat and another dollop of cake mix, few mins in the oven and a different christmassy delight!

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~mincemeat pies – a must for December~

In November I made a load of mincemeat and so making these christmas-time pies in December was a doddle.

You can either make your own pastry or buy ready-made – I think short crust is the best – and hey presto it only takes 10-15 mins in the oven and your pies are ready.

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Filed under biscuits/cookies, cakes, Christmas, fruity, Scotland, tarts

mincemeat -suet free

Living in Alsace, I have never found anywhere to buy christmas mincemeat for my all time favourite christmas goodie – the mincemeat pie. I do, however, have a very easy recipe for this delight!

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Filed under Christmas, no-bake, Scotland