Christmas Recipes

I’ve been asked to give recipes for the food I’m cooking this Christmas. There’s a lot of cream and butter here, but it is Christmas so here goes:

Caramel Panettone Pudding (Thanks to Waitrose Good Food Magazine). Serves 8

For the caramel

300g icing sugar

200ml hot water

For the pudding

175g pannetone

50g unsalted butter, softened

50g golden caster sugar

6 large eggs, well beaten

400ml whole milk

284ml double cream plus more to serve

Caramel

Put sugar and water into a small heavy pan on a low heat and stir until the sugar is disolved

Turn up the heat and boil until a golden brown. It will take a while. For golden brown think hair colour, so, darkish but not auburn

Remove the pan from the heat and swish the syrup into a 1.5 Litre oven proof dish, preferably a lasagne shaped one. As it cools, keep moving the dish to coat the sides with the thickening caramel.

Preheat oven 160C. Gas 3, fan 140C

Cake

Remove the dark brown bottom crust of the pannetone and cut it into 1 cm thick slices. Butter one side of each slice and lay them in a single layer onto the caramel, buttered side up.

Custard

Beat the sugar and eggs in a large bowl until thickened.

Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan until beginning to fizz round the edge, then pour onto the egg mixture and stir to combine

Pour this custard over the Panettone, pressing the slices into the liquid. Soak for 10 minutes.

Cook

On middle oven shelf for 55 – 60 mins or until just set. Will shiver when gently shaken but will continue to set as cooling.

Rest 30 minutes before serving with cream. (Despite this instruction I’m going to serve mine chilled)

 

Marzipan and Mincemeat Apples

This is the recipe I have but actually I’m going to peel and core the apples whole and cook them in the oven, drizzled with cider. I don’t yet know how long this will take or what it will be like but I’ll report back after Christmas.

2 medium Bramley apples

3 oz marzipan

8 tbsp mincemeat

finely grated zest and juice of a small lemon

Method

Cut the apples in half across the core and remove the cores

Stand them in a microwave safe dish

Break the marzipan into small chunks and mix with the mincemeat and lemon zest

Spoon into the centre of the apples and pour over the lemon juice,

Cover dish with cling film

pierce all over

microwave on high for 4.5 minutes

Remove the cling film and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving with whipped cream, crème fraiche and/or brandy or rum butter – Delia’s is fantastic.

NB. It’s 18th January and I haven’t made this yet. The cooking apples are still in the fridge. I seriously over-catered this year and the neighbours have benefited.

 

Ice Cream Christmas Pudding (serves 8 – 10)

I usually do Delia’s, from her Christmas book, but this seemed much easier, and I find the coconut cream in Delia’s a bit overpowering.

Ingredients

450g jar vegetarian, suet free mincemeat. (I’ve got ordinary, hope it will be OK)

3 tbsp rum or brandy – or any spirit that takes your fancy

4 eggs separated

300ml double cream

100g caster sugar

Method

Line a 2L pudding basin with cling film. Mix together the mincemeat and the (Christmas) spirit.

Place the yolks in a small bowl and mix until smooth

Whisk the cream to soft peaks

Using an electric, grease free mixer and bowl, beat the egg whites until so stiff they will stay in the bowl when you hold it upside down.

With the mixer still on high, add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time

Fold the egg yolks and cream into the meringue, then the mincemeat mixture.

Turn the whole thing into the pudding basin, cover and freeze overnight.

To Serve

Dip the dish into hot water and turn onto a plate.

Serve with toffee sauce, or any sauce you fancy really. I might be tempted to do port sauce, a mixture of port, maple syrup and cream – mix to taste.

 

 

Maple and Walnut Parfait (Not sure how many it serves)

I love the way recipes make you think of the person who gave them to you. Their writing remains on the page long after they have passed away.

This recipe was given to me by Maggie Leach, a formidable lady to whom I gave PC lessons. She was completely unafraid of the machine – occasionally a bit too gung-ho if I’m completely honest. She also gave me a beautiful stone she had made, with a picture of a rabbit on it.

Ingredients

60g walnuts or pecans

1 egg white and a pinch of salt

200ml maple syrup

240ml double cream

Method

Roughly chop the nuts

Heat maple syrup to boiling

Whisk egg whites with salt (no grease within spitting distance)

Still whisking, gradually pour in the very hot maple syrup. Continue whisking until you have a thick, stiff meringue. Leave to cool.

Beat the cream until stiff and fold it into the cooled maple meringue.

Fold in the chopped nuts and spoon into a dish

Freeze

transfer to the fridge for half an hour to soften before serving

 

 

Cold Dawg

Thanks to Mrs Plyma for this one. Another wonderful old lady, sadly gone, who would chat to me in her refined voice, over the counter of my delicatessen shop in Sheep Country.

Ingredients

8oz Caster sugar

2 eggs

tbsp coffee powder – not granuals

pinch salt

a little rum (optional)

packet of morning coffee biscuits

8 oz of block creamed coconut

Method

Melt the creamed coconut and remove from heat

Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy

Add the coffee and cocoa powders, rum, salt and lastly the melted creamed coconut block. Mix well intill thickened.

Line a 1 lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper and put in a layer of biscuits, cutting to fit.

Pour in a layer of chocolate mixture and continue in layers, finishing with a biscuit layer. I usually use 5 layers of biscuits in all (Mrs Plyma’s words)

Refrigerate overnight.

Serve in thin slices.

 

 

Something savoury now:

Julia Child’s Chicken Liver Parfait (Julia Child is not someone I had the privilege to meet but I’m sure she was as driven as the other women)

2 Cups of chicken livers

2 tbsp minced shallots (actually I used onions)

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup cognac

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp pepper

pinch of thyme

1/ cup melted butter

grinding salt and pepper

Method

Trim greenish or blackish spots and sinews from the livers and cut them into 1/2″ pieces

Melt butter over a medium heat in a saute pan until foam has subsided. Saute livers and onions in butter for – 3 minutes until the livers are just stiffened but still pink in the middle. Scrape into blender jar

Pour the cognac into the pan and boil until it has reduced to 3 tablespoons. Scrape it into the blender jar.

Add in the cream and seasonings and whiz until the liver is a smooth paste.

Add the melted butter – if you are using a food processor you can pour it in down the funnel.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Bear in mind that the flavours will be less strong when the pate is chilled.

Pack into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill for 2 – 3 hours or overnight

You could top with clarified butter or aspic jelly once cold or if you were feeling energetic you could top with Julia’s…

Cognac Jelly

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp unflavoured gelatine

1/ tsp sugar

1/2 cup dry vermouth

2 tsp cognac

Method

Place 1/4 cup warm water in a ramekin, sprinkle on gelatine and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat vermouth and sugar over a medium low heat for about 5 minutes

Once the gelatine has softened, add the rest of the hot water and stir until mixture is clear.

Add the gelatine to the wine mixture and mix thoroughly.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add cognac. Let the mixture stand until it almost reaches room temperature.

Once it has cooled, pour over the chilled mousse.

Return the mousse to the fridge and chill until the gelee has set.

When Size Matters

A woman should never complain when her husband is helpful. It’s bad form and she runs the risk of him refusing further attempts. A husband should be rewarded with respect and gratitude when he takes up his domestic hat, and dusts it off before making for the supermarket or the Marigolds.

It was to Costco that Whizz headed, on his way home from a hard day with a customer. I wouldn’t have done that, I’d have wanted to get back and watch the sun set with a gin sling, so I was very grateful and even felt a little guilty (It’s a generation thing) when I accepted his offer and gave him a fairly long list. What I didn’t say was,

‘Only buy what is on the list.’ It would have been disrespectful and anyway he often remembers something I haven’t. Continue reading When Size Matters

Dear Hospital

Georgia O'Keeffe - Breasts
Not mine, unfortunately.
Georgia O’Keeffe – Breasts
Alfred Stieglitz
(American, Hoboken, New Jersey 1864-1946 New York)

During my last hectic visit to A & E in Stoke Mandeville I noticed boxes with slots on top, plastered with signs asking for feedback from people tired of waiting, in pain and worried. I believe there are similar ones in the cancer unit at Wycombe hospital but I didn’t spot them, being weighed down with other thoughts, my eyes turned inwards.

Having returned to Wycombe Hospital for treatment this week I can report that, as is usually the case, the demeanour and intentions of the staff were exemplary.

We all know how short of staff the NHS is – scheduled to get shorter I suspect following the Chancellor’s latest decision to freeze public sector wages again.

‘We’re a caring profession,’ one nurse said to me. ‘Don’t they care about us?’ Continue reading Dear Hospital