Festive Spiced Cranberry Muffins

 

These lovely light muffins have a deliciously festive flavour. They even smell of Christmas as you take them from the oven!

 

cranberrymuffins

 Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Makes: 8

Suitable for freezing

Suitable for vegetarians

 

Ingredients

 

100g (4oz) Jordans Super 3 Seeds Granola

125g (5oz) butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, beaten

100g (4oz) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

75g (3oz) light muscovado sugar

75g (3oz) dried cranberries

1 banana, mashed

Topping:

75g (3oz) dried cranberries

Finely grated juice and rind of 1 small orange

200g (7oz) medium-fat soft cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan oven 160°C, Gas Mark 4. Line 8 holes of a muffin tin with squares of baking paper or paper muffin cases

2 Mix together the cooled melted butter, milk, vanilla extract and eggs

3 In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, mixed spice, sugar, cranberries and Jordans Super 3 Seeds Granola, breaking up any large clusters

4 Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with the mashed banana, taking care that you don’t over-mix. Don’t beat the mixture! Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack

5 Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the cranberries into a saucepan with the orange juice and simmer gently until the liquid has evaporated. Cool completely, then stir them into the soft cheese with the vanilla extract. Use to top the cranberry Christmas muffins, then decorate with the orange zest

 

Cook’s tips:

·      The secret of successful Christmas muffins is to make sure that you don’t over-mix the wet and dry ingredients

·      You could serve the Christmas muffins without the topping, if you prefer

·      Another time, use dried cherries instead of cranberries, though you’ll need to chop them in half

 

3 Little Buttons

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?

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.