Monday, 24 December 2012

Mighty Mince Pies

It was the night before Christmas.........!

So, what better way to get in the festive spirit than by hitting the kitchen and cooking up some good old Mince Pies.  From November, mince pies take over the supermarket shelves throughout Britain but nothing compares to making them yourself and they can be surprisingly easy and quick to make.

Mince pie recipe - 01

Turn up the Christmas tunes and pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and get cooking some mince pies for Santa.
Firstly, you will need to get these ingredients:

Mince pie recipe - 02

375g Shortcrust pastry
1 egg
Caster Sugar
The shortcrust pastry is the part that can be most time consuming.  I prefer to make my own pastry although you can get some ready-made in all supermarkets now. 
Once you have your pastry, roll it out thin and use circle cutters to create the mince pie bases - you can use a wine bottle if you don't have a rolling pin and a wine glass to cut the circle shapes.  Place each circle into a mince pie or shallow cupcake tin which has been greased with a little bit of butter.
Fill each case with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat...

Mince pie  recipe - 03
Cut smaller circles or star shapes with the remaining pastry and place them on top of the cases and seal the edges together.

Create an enticing glaze on your mince pies by brushing the tops with a beaten egg and don't forget to pierce two small holes in the top to prevent them from exploding in the oven.
Then sprinkle over some caster sugar and place in the oven at 200 C for around 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Mince pie recipe - 04

Leave them to cool on a wire rack and then you're ready to start the Mighty Mince Pie Challenge! For those that can't quite meet the challenge, they can be stored in a sealed tin for a few days.

Mince pie recipe - 04
Don't forget to leave a mince pie and glass of sherry for Santa tonight!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Mulled Wine

Celebrate the festive season in style with some homemade mulled wine - perfect to share on a cold winter evening and it leaves a Christmassy aroma in the kitchen!

Mulled wine recipe - 01
100ml orange juice
100g dark muscovado sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 an orange, sliced
1 bottle of red wine
Place a saucepan on a low/moderate heat and slowly mix the orange juice and sugar together.  Once they have mixed together add the cinnamon stick and sliced orange and leave on a moderate temperature for about 10 minutes.
Now the important part - adding one bottle of red wine.  This doesn't have to be expensive and is open to grape varieties.  I often use supermarket's own wine brands and tend to go for a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Once the wine has been added, leave to heat up on a moderate heat and serve warm.

Yuletide Chocolate Log

Merry Christmas!
I was given the extremely important job of cooking up Christmas Lunch for the family this year.  We had turkey and all the trimmings but the table centre piece was the Yuletide Log which I served for dessert...

Yuletide log recipe - 01
Easy to make, this cream-filled cake doesn't have to be used at Christmas time - cover it in smarties and colourful icing and it can become a catepillar birthday cake! 
150g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
50g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
vanilla extract
200ml double cream
300g dark chocolate
vanilla extract
20g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Whisk together the sugar and eggs for around 15 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.  In a separate bowl sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and fold this in to the egg mixture.  Pour this mixture into a rectangle baking tray and cook for 10 minutes, until light and springy to touch.
Place a large piece of greaseproof paper on a worktop and sprinkle with caster sugar.  Once the sponge has cooled, remove from the baking tin and place on the greaseproof paper.  Peel off the baking paper and roll the sponge, using the paper - this will set the shape of the dessert.
Leave the sponge like this as you prepare the filling. Whip the cream until it holds its shape.  Roll the sponge out and spread the cream over it and roll back again - this time without the paper.
The topping can be tricky to make as it takes ages to set.  Break the dark chocolate pieces into a glass bowl.  On the hob, boil the caster sugar and 200ml of water for two minutes.  Add the mixture to the chocolate and whisk well.  Once it begins to thicken spread over the roll and leave in the fridge to set.  If you have difficulty making the ganache thicker, use icing sugar.
I keep some extra ganache aside and heat it up when I served the log to pour over the top.  Add some holly and icing sugar to the top.

Yuletide log recipe - 02