No Christmas dinner is complete for me without a dish of steaming braised red cabbage. Slow cook it with an apple and some spices and the humble red cabbage is transformed into a dish fit for a king.
I know, I know, the nut roast has had a bad press over the years. But thankfully the days of dried out bits of tasteless, hard, leathery tack are long gone. This lentil & Brazil nut roast is a perfect vehicle for all those delicious Christmas roast accompaniments, not forgetting the stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. It also stops the vegetarians and vegans feeling excluded in a mixed meal.
Yes I know Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Stir-up-Sunday is fast approaching. It falls on the Sunday before Advent which is the 22nd November this year. It’s traditionally the day when the Christmas puddings and cakes are made and when the family all take a turn at stirring, not forgetting to make that all important wish whilst they’re at it. So to get you in the mood and to offer a little inspiration for your Christmas baking, I made this fig almond cake yesterday with a very cheeky slug or three of whisky – Whisky Galore.
If it wasn’t for We Should Cocoa, I probably wouldn’t have managed a Christmas bundt cake this year. I’m still recovering from flu and lacking in energy, so cooking has been mostly off this Christmas. However, I’m really glad I made the effort as it’s a light and delicious fruit cake that even CT will eat – he’s not a fan of either fruit cake or mincemeat, but is weirdly happy to indulge in this festive treat.
I always try and make the boys next door something for Christmas as a thank you for uncomplainingly taking in our parcels throughout the year. Seeing some cranberry Wensleydale cheese for sale recently, I remembered how good the Wensleydale apple cake I made last year was and thought I should perhaps try it out in some muffins. I found this recipe on the Yorkshire Dales Cheese Co website and adapted it accordingly.
So, this is how I made:
Wensleydale and Cranberry Chocolate Muffins
- Sifted 225g flour, 50g drinking chocolate, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of rock salt into a bowl.
- Stirred in 110g golden caster sugar.
- Crumbled in 125g Wensleydale cheese with cranberries.
- Peeled, cored and finely chopped one small apple and stirred this into the mix.
- Made a well in the centre and broke in 2 smallish eggs.
- Added 90 ml Mrs Middleton’s cold pressed rapeseed oil and 200 ml sour milk (ordinary milk should be fine or add a tsp of lemon juice to the milk and leave to stand for a few minutes).
- Stirred until just combined.
- Spooned into 12 muffin cases and baked at 180°C for 22 minutes when risen and firm to the touch.
Not very elegant perhaps, but these would make great snack food for keeping the cold at bay whilst seeing in the New Year at some favourite spot out in the wilds, as we have been known to do. A flask of hot mulled wine to accompany them would not go amiss either. As such I am submitting these to Emily’s Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too, which is all about New Year’s Eve Nibbles.
Homemade mincemeat is a revelation, once made it’s hard to go back to a commercial product. Even inveterate mincemeat sceptics like CT are happy to partake of this. In fact it was hard to keep his hands off the Chilli and Chocolate Mincemeat Slice I made last year.
When it came to the Winter Solstice bonfire party a friend was hosting last year, I knew exactly what I wanted to bring along. I’d spotted this fabulous mincemeat slice recipe over at How to Cook Good Food the previous week and thought it would be just the sort of filling treat to keep us warm on a cold and damp winter’s night. They would be especially warming as I wanted to use the chilli and chocolate mincemeat I’d made a couple of weeks earlier.
This is how I made them:
- Creamed 190g unsalted butter with 175g dark muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.
- Sieved in 180g wholemeal spelt flour and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Added 100g rolled oats and stirred to combine – with difficulty as the mixture was quite dry.
- Put just over half the mixture into a 9” square mould and pressed it flat to cover the mould. I realised at this point that I didn’t really have enough mixture to do this in such a large container (although I did increase Laura’s quantities very slightly). Next time I will increase the quantities further.
- Spooned in a jar of mincemeat – about 300g to cover the base.
- Added a small egg to the last part of the dough mixture to make it go a little further and spread more easily.
- Spread this on top of the mincemeat.
- Baked at 170C for 30 minutes.
- Allowed to cool, dusted with icing sugar, then cut into 16 slices.
The slices were a great success and something I may now be baking with monotonous regularity. Even CT, not a lover of mincemeat, enjoyed his slice. They were indeed just right for the evening, as we did get rather chilly and damp; the rain decided to descend just as the bonfire was lit. It was a magical scene however, with lanterns set amongst the trees as though we had surprised a gathering of the local piskies. Maybe they weren’t too happy to have their secret revealed; when I went to check my camera, no pictures were to be found. Bowls of steaming soup, hunks of bread and fine company kept us in good cheer and we had a lovely evening.
What mincemeat recipes would you recommend?
I’m submitting this to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Jac over at Tinned Tomatoes.
I’m also submitting this to Made with Love Mondays, the weekly made from scratch event over at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv.
Having made such glorious scented chilli and chocolate mincemeat, I was keen to use it in various festive bakes. The first was a recipe I adapted from co-op’s in-store magazine and were made as a thank you to our lovely neighbours who take in our parcels with monotonous regularity and never complain.
This is how I made them:
- Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 125g golden caster sugar until light and fluffy.
- Broke in 2 duck eggs, beating well between each egg.
- Added 1/3 teaspoon almond extract and beat some more.
- Sifted in 125g self-raising white flour and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Spooned into 10 muffin cases.
- Placed a heaped tsp of my homemade mincemeat on top.
- Baked at 180C for 15 minutes until risen and golden.
They were so good, I made another batch to take to my 2nd festive party – in the rain! This time I added 1/2 a 1 lb jar of my mincemeat to the mix, instead of spooning on top and omitted the almond essence. I used my usual mix of half wholemeal spelt and half plain white flour with 1/4 tsp of baking powder added (which I didn’t first time around). These made 12 cakes and were even better than the first batch; I brought home an empty plate.
The most delicious of all the mincemeat bakes I made were for the 1st festive party, where it also rained, but I shall post those at a later date.
I’ve made so many Christmas bakes with chocolate in this month, but keep forgetting to include them into this month’s Chocolatey Tea Time Treats, so I’m doing it now whilst I remember. Hosted this month by What Kate Baked, this is a toothsome challenge hosted alternately by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
After the success of last year’s chocolate mincemeat, I thought I’d better have another go. Last week was Stir-up Sunday, when traditionally Christmas puddings are made, giving them ample time to mature before the big day. It is also a good time to make mincemeat for the same reason. I did neither. But due to the floods and consequent train disruption on the following day, I was unable to attend the chocolate conference that I’d taken the day off work for, so it was mincemeat making for me and Stir-up Monday instead. This year I decided to vary things a bit, quite a bit in fact. I added prunes and cranberries and omitted the currents (principally because I didn’t have any). I added my own homemade mixed peel, some of the mint vodka I made back along and one of our rare chillies that actually ripened in the excuse for a summer we had this year.
So, as last year, I threw the following ingredients into a bowl, gave a good stir, covered with a plate and left for 5 days, stirring once a day. Packed into 4 sterilised 1 lb jars, then sealed with waxed discs and lids. I used some of the lovely vintage labels that the even lovelier Susan of A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate sent me recently for having entered her home made and well preserved challenge.
- 300g Cornish & Somerset cooking apples (varieties unidentified) – peeled, cored and finely chopped.
- 50g vegetarian suet
- 200g raisins
- 110g sultanas
- 100g prunes – chopped
- 50g dried cranberries
- 50g home-made mixed peel – chopped
- 100g dark chocolate (85%) – chopped
- 125g dark brown sugar
- grated zest and juice of an organic lemon (unwaxed)
- 1 small rocotto chilli – deseeded and chopped finely.
- 40g flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp rum
- 3 tbsp mint vodka (home-made)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- a good grating of nutmeg
- a small grating of star anise
The sweet and spicy aroma emanating from the bowl was intoxicating and when I did, err, lick out the bowl afterwards, I was extremely pleased with the results. The mint vodka gave a hint of something different and the chilli was just about right, warming rather than overheating. The chocolate was an excellent addition and worked to give a slightly deeper and richer flavour and also prevented the mincemeat from being overly sweet. I can’t imagine ever wanting to buy mincemeat again.