Christmas reindeer cookies are a real treat over the festive season and easy to make.

Makes: approximately 20 biscuits

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 Ingredients

 For the biscuits

100g butter

175g caster sugar

2 happy eggs

2 happy egg yolks

50g ground almonds

240g plain flour

 

For the icing

120g butter

250g icing sugar

1-2 tbsp milk

Food colouring to suit

 

Method

Biscuits

In a bowl, mix the butter and sugar together with an electric blender, until they form a creamy paste. Add the happy eggs and happy egg yolks and mix, then fold in the almonds and flour with a wooden spoon or spatula until fully combined.

 

Press the mixture into a greased tray to a thickness of about ¼” (6mm). Place in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 10-12 minutes.

 

The biscuit mixture is ready when it has just started to colour. Carefully turn out onto a sheet of baking parchment on a flat cool surface.

 

While still warm to touch, use a cookie cutter to press out the shapes but don’t try to lift them out until completely cooled, or they’ll break.

 

 

Icing

Mix the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl, adding the milk as needed to make a smooth paste.

It’s much easier if you warm the butter.

First, ice the biscuits all over with the plain icing, adding some edible glitter for a festive feel. Then add a little red food colouring to the remaining icing, spoon it into a piping bag and draw on his shiny red nose.

 

 

Will you have a got at the Christmas reindeer cookies?

I have very fond memories of my late Mum’s chocolate roll cake so will be giving this recipe a try this year.

 

ChristmasChocolateRoulade

 

SERVES 6

 

Ingredients

 

Chocolate Roll

75g caster sugar

3 happy eggs

2 happy egg yolks

75g plain flour (sieved)

25g cocoa powder (sieved)

Zest of one orange

 

Chocolate Filling

6 happy egg whites

30g caster sugar

120g 72% dark chocolate

20g butter

 

Candied Kumquats & citrus sauce

10 kumquats

150ml water

100g icing sugar

 

Method

 

Chocolate Roll

Preheat your oven to 200⁰C/400⁰F/Gas Mark 6.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, then line it with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, happy eggs and happy egg yolks together until thick and creamy. Add the flour and cocoa powder and carefully fold into the mixture, trying to retain as much air as possible. Pour the mixture carefully into the Swiss roll tin, ensuring an even cover.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until springy to the touch.

Take a large sheet of baking parchment, dust it with caster sugar and orange zest, then turn the sponge out onto it. Trim the edges with a knife. Roll the sponge from one end leaving the paper in the middle.  Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Filling

Whisk the happy egg whites and caster sugar until they form soft peaks i.e. when you make a peak, the tips droop.

 

Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a plastic bowl with the butter. Heat in a microwave for 30 seconds, leave for 20 seconds and then beat with a whisk. If the chocolate is not completely melted, heat in the microwave for 10 second bursts until the chocolate is just melted.

 

Mat’s top tip: mix the chocolate between each burst to ensure even heating.

 

Add 1/3 of the beaten happy egg whites to the chocolate and combine using an electric beater. Do this quickly; the chocolate will begin to set and form hard lumps, so don’t worry about retaining the air in the mixture. Now combine the other 2/3 of the happy egg whites by gently folding with a spoon until the mixture is a smooth consistency. Place the whole mixture in the fridge to set.

 

 

Candied Kumquats

Clean the kumquats and pick off any stems.

Place in a saucepan with the water and icing sugar. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to just below simmering point i.e. small bubbles form on the sides of the saucepan.

 

Cover the water with a circle of baking paper to keep the kumquats submerged. A good way to do this is to use a large piece of baking parchment and a saucepan lid which is just too small for your pan, then they will both sit happily on the surface of the water. Heat for 2 hours.

 

Remove the kumquats and put to one side to cool. Bring the sugar liquor up to a rolling boil until it has reduced by 2/3.

 

Taste, then enhance the flavour if required by adding lemon or orange juice to make a lovely citrus sauce.

 

To complete the dish:

Unroll the sponge and remove the baking parchment. Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the sponge to about ¼ inch thick, then place the kumquats at even distances across it. Roll the cake up.

 

Serve in slices with a drizzle of citrus sauce.

How to make mince pies is the question on our lips at Christmas.

An easy recipe for mince pies

 

150g butter

250g plain flour

50g ground almonds

50g caster sugar

1 orange

pinch of salt

1 happy egg

1-2 tsp cold water

280g/10oz good quality mincemeat

 

For the topping:

100g butter

75g plain flour

100g caster sugar

1tsp cinnamon powder

1 nutmeg

 

Method

Place butter in freezer overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Using a cheese grater, grate the butter into the flour and add caster sugar, almonds, and salt; zest the orange and add, then gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

In a food processor, add the mixture, happy egg yolks and 1-2 teaspoons of water. Use a pulse action until it forms a soft dough, then place it in the fridge for 30 minutes, to chill.

Roll out the pastry to a thickness of a pound coin and with a round cookie cutter, cut out about 20 rounds.

In a non-stick tartlet baking tray, press the rounds into the tray and spoon the mincemeat evenly into the pies.

Make a crumble topping by quickly mixing the butter, flour, cinnamon and caster sugar in your food processor until it forms a crumble. Sprinkle the crumble over the pies, grate some nutmeg over the top and bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

 

mincepies

 

 

 

 

3 Little Buttons

Caramelised red onion and sherry Christmas gravy recipe

gravy

Perfect gravy

You will need:

100ml sherry

500ml good quality liquid chicken stock

3 tbsp The English Provender Co. Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

Method:

Place the sherry in a pan and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the stock and reduce on a high heat until you are left with about 100ml. Stir in the chutney and serve.

How do you make gravy?

As with most things food-related I have strong memories of my mother’s kitchen. If you had asked her what the secret to her luscious gravy was, she would have said to always use meat juices and add plenty of onions. Gravy was thick and thin gravy was a novelty when I grew up and went out and about.

I confess that I tend to take the easy option if I am making gravy and use gravy powder. I do add in the meat juices and these days frozen diced onions make everything a lot easier.

Him Indoors is very creative when it comes to sauces and gravy. He likes to experiment. This means sometimes you are in for a real treat and sometimes it does not quite work.

Roast Poussin recipe

If you are not planning a large Christmas lunch, why not opt instead for a special dinner for two; serve these quick to roast baby chickens with delicious blackberry sauce flavoured with orange rind, winter spices and just a hint of redcurrant jelly.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) baby poussin
40g (11/2oz) butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh bay leaves
4 rashers streaky bacon
175g (6oz) shallots, peeled, halved if large
450g (1lb) baby new potatoes, washed
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Sauce
½ orange
6 tbsp red wine
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Large pinch ground ginger
Large pinch ground cinnamon
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g (4oz) small blackberries
Watercress or rocket salad to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Rinse each poussin inside and out with cold water, drain well then put in a roasting tin. Dot the breast of each with the butter then season with salt and pepper and put 2 bay leaves and 2 rashers of bacon on the top of each. Loosely cover the poussin with foil folding down over the sides. Add the shallots, potatoes and remaining bay leaves to the roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
2 Roast for 45 minutes, removing the foil and bacon from the poussin for the last 20 minutes and turning the potatoes and shallots and basting with the pan juices until golden. To test the poussin are ready, insert a small sharp knife or skewer through the thickest part of the leg into the breast, the juices will run clear when ready.
3 Transfer the poussin and vegetables to a serving plate, cover with foil and keep hot in the turned off oven, allowing the poussin to rest while you make the sauce.
4 To make the sauce, pare the rind from the half the orange with a vegetable peeler then cut into very thin shreds. Squeeze the juice, add both to a small saucepan with the red wine, water and redcurrant jelly. Add the spices, sugar, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then cook over a medium heat, stirring until syrupy. Add the blackberries and simmer gently for 3 minutes until the berries are just cooked.
5 Serve the sauce with the roasted poussin, potatoes and shallots and a side dish of watercress or rocket salad.

Tips
– Pare the rind from the half the orange with a vegetable peeler before you cut it, that way it is easier to do then squeeze it afterwards.
– Rather than cooking two poussin, you could also give a small everyday chicken the five star treatment. Roast with butter, bay leaves and bacon for the timings given on the wrapper, then add the potatoes, shallots, bay and olive oil for the last 45 minutes of cooking, removing the foil 20 minutes or so before it is ready so that the skin can brown. Serve with the warm blackberry Cumberland sauce and salad as above.