Thursday 17 December 2015

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home

I’m a sucker for most cookbooks, but even so, more recently I’ve been more selective than ever, which is partly financial and partly the fact that we are fast running out of space, the normal places for keeping books have long been filled and there are piles of books growing wherever I can fit them in.   I know I am due a clear out, but if I’m honest, I’m so dreading doing this that I’ve been putting it off… 


Anyhow, there are genres of cookbook that I have especially soft spots for and one of them is Christmas books and cookbooks. This book from the other side of the pond has a foot in both types, being a memoir of Christmases past with recipes.  An Old-Fashioned Christmas Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home by Ellen Stimson (The Countryman Press 2015) I had not heard of this author, but will get her other (non-cookbook) in the New Year to read.


I just love the cosiness and wrap-me-up-in-a-warm-blanket with a roaring fire in the fireplace feeling it has.  Perhaps with snow falling softly outside. Ellen is a Christmas girl as she says, and she really is, she gets the very best feelings of Christmas and Winter, and can transfer them to the written word very well indeed.  When I first started reading this book I found it evocative of Laurie Colwin and Diana Henry’s writings. Which for me is a very good thing, though this lady has a voice all her own too.


There are her family’s stories and pictures of some of their precious Christmas tree ornaments or baubles if you prefer.   Of course there is also food, divided up into different sections  like Butter & Sugar, Cabin Food, Treats for Four Legged Friends, Party Foods, Christmas Eve Brunch, Christmas All Day Long and The Next Day.


I’ve not made anything from this book yet, but I had to share it with you now, before the big day arrives for this year. It’s an easy read, and could easily be binge-read (awful phrase, but you know what I mean), but I’m stretching it out in the evenings to last me up until Christmas Eve.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Christmas Rocky Road with Turkish Delight and Pistachios

I posted my take on Christmas Rocky Road adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe in Christmas a few years ago, by changing the dark / milk chocolate ratios. Here I’ve taken it further away from the original. This year I felt like changing it up a little. 

Last year I was frantically busy for most of December, so much so that there was no Christmas Rocky Road made.   I have been toying with the idea of adding pistachios and chopped up Turkish Delight for a while, and when I eventually tried it is was really gorgeous. Give it a go!  

Christmas Rocky Road with Turkish Delight and Pistachios
Adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson 2008.
85g soft unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g amaretti biscuits (the hard ones), crushed into crumbs and lumps
65g mini pink and white marshmallows,
75g glace cherries (bright red ones look best here!)
40g pistachio nuts
1 x Fry’s Turkish Delight bar chopped into 12 pieces

1 teaspoons icing sugar, to dust
Edible white glitter, to dust (optional)

(1)Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, then cool a little for 5 1 10 minutes.

(2)To the melted chocolate mixture add the biscuit crumbs, marshmallows, glace cherries, pistachio nuts and Turkish Delight, fold in well to coat everything.

(3)Tip the mixture into a 7” square baking tin and smooth the top the best you can with a spatula.
Refrigerate until set.

(4) To serve, cut into 12 bars and dust with icing sugar and optional edible glitter for the festive factor.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Christmas Gingerbread Men Reindeer Cookies

A couple of years ago a mum at my daughter’s school Christmas Fayre made the red nosed version of these. Search for ‘upside down gingerbread reindeer cookies’ to see them.  I tried to find the original idea for these online, but I couldn’t.  I’m not going to use the picture without crediting it, hence the what-to-Google bit above.
Anyhow, I made these for my daughter’s party bags one year, and other times beside.  The gingerbread recipe in the link  here works like a dream, and is gingery enough, without having an off-putting level of spice for children too.
They are very cute. You need a sort of rounded gingerbread man cookie cutter, but I found mine easily and cheaply online.  A few smarties and some white and black icing and you are ready to create. It’s a fun and easy little project for Christmas-time.  There is only one red nosed reindeer in my picture, and this is because I was told in no uncertain terms that there is only one Rhudolph! =)