Ginger creams with pistachio brittle

This fancy ginger cream with pistachio brittle dessert is thankfully much easier to make than it sounds.  The result is a delicious and creamy sort of creme brûlée with subtle ginger flavour.  The pistachio brittle adds crunch and class.   You can make the ginger creams up to four days in advance and the pistachio brittle will keep for weeks.   The whole thing looks well impressive!

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Top tip – don’t be overwhelmed by the state of your saucepan after making the brittle!  I panicked but then found out you just soak the pan in very warm water, then the stickiness dissolves and you can wash it.   Also don’t worry if you use a mismatch of containers.  I used a combination of recycled ramekins and silicone muffin cases.

The recipe is from a great new cookbook called ‘Make It Easy’ by Jane Lovett (full review coming soon)!  Allow about 50 mins preparation time plus overnight setting in the fridge.  Oh, and I reckon the pistachio brittle would work great with ice cream too.

Ginger creams with pistachio brittle (makes 8)

6 tbsp ginger preserve (available at supermarkets)

6 egg yolks

450ml double cream

175g granulated sugar

3 tbsp water

100g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Put 8 ramekins (or any small container which can go in the oven) in to a deep roasting tin.  Boil a kettle of water.

Whisk the ginger preserve and egg yolks together in a mixing bowl until pale (I am lazy so did this for 2 mins max).  Bring the cream to just below boiling point and pour over the egg mixture, whisking all the time.  Transfer to a jug and pour in to the dishes.  Put the dishes in to the roasting tin then carefully pour enough hot water from the boiled kettle in to the tin, to come about halfway up the sides of the dishes.  Cook for 20-25 mins (or longer if necessary) until just set with a slight wobble in the middle (they will harden more after cooking).  Remove the dishes from the water, cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

While the creams are cooking make the brittle.  Lightly oil a baking sheet or greaseproof paper.  Put the sugar and water in to a saucepan (keep kids away!) and cook over a low heat, giving the odd gentle stir, until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn up the heat and boil fast until the sugar caramelises in to a deep golden colour (this may take several minutes).  Quickly add the pistachios, stir and tip out immediately on to the baking sheet or greaseproof paper, spreading the mixture thinly.  Leave to cool.

Serve the creams straight from the fridge with the snapped brittle on top.

Elf donuts

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In preparation for Christmas Eve we made elf donuts.  These are super simple – you just need cheerios and sugar for the plain donuts and cheerios, chocolate spread and sprinkles for the chocolate donuts.  They look very sweet and my two boys are proud of their little creations.  Obviously they ate most of them.

For the sugar donuts – lick each side of the cheerio (or wet them with hands if, like my boyfriend, you think this is gross!) then roll them in sugar.

For the chocolate donuts – melt chocolate spread for 20 seconds in the microwave/briefly on the hob then spread them on to cheerios using a glue stick or teaspoon.  Top with sprinkles.

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That’s it!  For once the elves will get a little recognition and it won’t just be Santa and Rudolph who enjoy a treat…

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Thank you to http://www.unconfidentialcook.com for the inspiration.

 

Artichoke dip/gratin in 25 mins

One of my oldest friends (and avid artichoke fan) Kirsty made this recently and introduced it as ‘epic’.  She is right.  Not only is the dip/gratin epically delicious and rich but it is also too easy for words to make using only a casserole dish, and contains just three ingredients.  You mix canned artichokes with mayonnaise and parmesan and bake it for around 15 mins.  You can eat the dip/gratin with crudités, have it on bread/toast as a sort of posh cheese on toast, or as a vegetable side dish.

The dish is probably my favourite discovery of 2015.  Thanks Kirsty!

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Artichoke dip/gratin (serves 2-4 as a dip/side dish)

Can artichokes, drained and roughly chopped (not too small or it will be mushy!)

Very big squeeze mayonnaise

Very large handful parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220 degrees.

Get a small casserole dish.  In it mix the roughly chopped artichokes with the mayonnaise and most of the parmesan until nicely moist and combined.  Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top.

Bake in the oven for at least 15 mins, until golden brown on top.  Finish off under the grill if you need to.  Eat with chopped veg, on bread/toast or as a veg side dish.

Spanakopita (Greek feta and spinach pie)

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Perhaps it’s foolish writing about a non-Christmassy recipe so close to Christmas.  But I made this spanakopita dish a few days ago and it was such straightforward comfort food that I wanted to share the details!  Spanakopita is a Greek spinach and feta pie with a hint of nutmeg.  This one is made using shop-bought filo pastry for extra ease.  The dish tastes lovely, is quick to prepare (about 15 mins plus cooking time) and and can be eaten hot or cold.

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The recipe is based on one from a lovely new cookbook called Make It Easy by Jane Lovett (full review coming soon!)

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Spanakopita (serves 6)

200g cooked spinach

200g feta cheese

Salt and pepper

Ground nutmeg

3 eggs, beaten

70g butter, melted

1 packet filo pastry

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach and chop roughly.  Put in to a bowl, crumble in the feta and season with salt and pepper and a good shake of nutmeg.  Add the beaten eggs and mix together.

Melt the butter and brush a little in to an oven proof dish.

Unroll the filo pastry, remove a sheet and drape it in to the dish.  Brush with butter.  Repeat this with another 2 filo sheets, brushing each with butter.  If bits tear just cover them with another bit of pastry.  Spoon the filling in to the dish and spread evenly.  Cut off any overhanging pastry.  Butter another 3 sheets of pastry and arrange on top to enclose the pie.  Tuck the edges in at the sides ( you may need to tear some off to  make space).

Brush the top with melted butter and cook for 45-55 mins or until golden brown and puffed up.  Eat with a salad.  Can also be eaten cold the next day!

Cranberry sauce for veggies!

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I vividly remember going to a Christmas market in Poland in minus 12 degree weather, and eating these amazing, steaming street snacks of smoked Polish cheese with cranberry sauce.  They were a warming, smokey, sweet delight.

So last week I found a really simple 3-ingredient cranberry sauce recipe that had (deservedly) great reviews and can be made 1 week ahead.   I thought about/experimented with what it can be enjoyed with apart from meat and concluded: it is lovely dolloped on top of yoghurt or swirled through porridge; great with pancakes; yummy in a cheese toastie; or alongside a cheese board (particularly with warm smoked cheese or with baked brie/camembert).  Here is the recipe, which takes just 15 minutes!  You could add extra flavours like orange/satsuma zest or ginger if you like.

Cranberry sauce (serves 8)

100g muscavado sugar/soft brown sugar

100ml orange juice, fresh or from a carton

250g fresh or frozen cranberries

Tip the sugar and orange juice into a pan, then bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape – this will take about 5-10 mins if using frozen cranberries or 10-15 mins if using fresh. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Will keep in the fridge for 1 week. On the day, bring to room temperature before serving (or warmer if you fancy).

Recipe from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com

 

 

Leftover parsnip rosti

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I love parsnips.  And I hate waste.  So, with 3 uneaten parsnips in the fridge and some online inspiration, I decided to make parsnip rostis.  I simply grated the (unpeeled) parsnips with some potato, added herbs and seasoning and fried the whole lot in butter to make a sort of parsnip pancake.  Instead of attempting to flip it over I finished the top off under the grill.

The rosti was easy to make and turned out to be rather special – it became sweet, crispy and caramelised when fried in the butter, with an almost nutmeggy taste.  We cut the rosti in half and topped each with a poached egg.  Seriously good!

The recipe would make a great Boxing Day brunch and if you wanted to be really organised you could make it in advance then freeze!

Parsnip rosti (serves 2)

3 medium parsnips, grated

2 medium potatoes, grated

Small handful chopped rosemary or dried herbs

Salt and pepper

Butter

Mix the grated parsnips and potatoes together and put in a dry, clean tea towel.  Squeeze the tea towel in to a ball to get rid of any excess water.  Put the mixture in to a bowl and add the herbs and some salt and pepper.  Mix.

Heat a little butter in a frying pan and add the mixture, pressing it down in to a tight roundish shape.  Fry for approx 5 mins then transfer the pan to the grill to fry the top for around another 5 mins, until golden and crispy on top (or you could try flipping the rosti and frying the other side if you have the right tool!)  Cut the rosti in half and use a spatula to carefully take each half out (don’t worry if it falls apart a bit – it will still be delish!)  Eat topped with a fried or poached egg and with mayo on the side.

If freezing, simply store the rosti in a freezer bag/s and cook  straight from frozen in the frying pan until warmed through and crispy.