I’m back! With reindeer cookies to make with kids and to decorate the Christmas tree

reindeer biscuits annabel karmel

After 3 months without internet I am back to blogging and raring to go!

I made some simple, festive tasting reindeer cookies with my 3 year old son over the weekend.  They have curly wurly chunks for ears, chocolate buttons for eyes and a cherry for the mouth, and look very sweet in a clumsy sort of way.  As my son is only really interested in superheroes, I decided to make and bake the cookies on my own and just get him to decorate, and I think he quite enjoyed it.  We will put what is left on the Christmas tree.

Allow about 20 mins prep, 15 mins for cooking and 5-10 mins for decorating.

reindeer biscuits annabel karmel

The finished product – minus an ear thanks to a greedy Freddy

Coming soon is a lovely Nigel Slater kale and almond gratin which I reckon will make a great veggie side dish for Christmas dinner (or any meal).  Even the carnivorous boyfriend gave it the thumbs up.  Also, my brother is staying for Christmas so I am looking for inspiration for a gluten free day – let me know if you have any excellent suggestions!

In the meantime here is the reindeer cookie recipe, courtesy of Annabel Karmel.  Make sure you decorate them about 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, when they have cooled a fair bit but are still quite soft.

Ingredients (makes 11 big biscuits/22 smaller ones)

350g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

175g butter

150g caster sugar/light brown sugar

4 tbsp golden syrup

Smallish chocolate buttons

Few curly wurly’s

Glace cherries

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3.  Measure the flour, spices, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in to a bowl.  Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan.  Pour in to the dry ingredients and mix together.  Lightly knead it to make a dough (i.e. move it about with your hands for one minute).  Form in to 11 or 22 balls of dough (depending how big you want them).  Pinch one end of the ball to form a point, then flatten out with your hand.  Place on a baking sheet or non-stick baking tray.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly golden but still slightly soft.

Leave the cookies to cool for approximately 5 minutes, until they have cooled quite a lot but are still a bit soft.  Put chunks of the curly wurly’s for ears, chocolate buttons for the eyes and a cherry for the mouth.  Eat and/or decorate the Christmas tree with them.

Recipe by Annabel Karmel

Strawberry mojito

strawberry mojito

I decided to try this drink after a lady on facebook posted details of all the amazing things she had made with her homegrown strawberries, including strawberry mojito.  So I invested in some Bacardi, mint, lime, soda and strawberries and here it is.  The strawberry gives the drink an interesting consistency and adds a British twist to this tasty Caribbean classic!  Plus drinking it will make you feel all sophisticated…

Feel free to omit the rum if you want an alcohol-free version.

Ingredients (serves 1)

Juice of 1½ limes

Bunch fresh mint leaves

2 tsp granulated sugar

Handful ice

Big splash white rum (e.g. Bacardi)

Splash soda water, to taste

Approx 6 strawberries, pureed

Place the mint and sugar into a sturdy glass and mash with the end of a rolling pin, to bruise the mint.  Add the lime juice.  Add the ice and pour over the rum.  Add soda water, the pureed strawberries, and stir well.  Decorate with lime wedges/umbrellas and serve.

How to use up those brussel sprouts!

leftover sprouts recipe

Here is one way of livening up any sprouts left over from Christmas dinner.  Cut them in half and pop them on a roasting tray.  It’s best to slide them on to skewers, cut side up, but not essential.  Drizzle over some balsamic vinegar and lots of olive oil and roast for approximately 20 minutes on 190 degrees/gas mark 5, until slightly golden and crispy.  A few minutes before they are done, sprinkle over some finely grated parmesan or cheddar cheese and some finely chopped pine nuts.  If your leftover sprouts are already cooked, then just roast them for 5 minutes or until done.  Who knows, maybe even the kids will be persuaded to eat them…!  Recipe is from www.cookingstoned.tv

Festive boozy treat – Swedish glogg

swedish glogg

I thought I’d give this a go after I had some at my nice new neighbours Siobhan and Matt’s house.  It’s like mulled wine but with interesting ingredients such as cardamon seeds.  You can quickly prepare the glogg the night before to let the flavours infuse, and then all you need to do before drinking it is heat it up.  For extra booziness replace the orange juice with vodka as in Nigella Lawson’s original recipe!  Merry Christmas to one and all.

Ingredients

Bottle of red wine (I reckon the cheapest is fine seeing as you’re adding lots of flavour)

Juice of 1 orange OR 150ml vodka

2 cinnamon sticks

10 cloves

12 cardamon seeds

25g caster sugar

25g blanched almonds

25g raisons

Combine all ingredients except for the raisons and almonds in a pan and let steep, preferably overnight.  To serve, put a sprinkling of raisons and almonds in the bottom of everyone’s mug, put the pan on the heat and slowly bring almost to the boil.  Strain, and pour in to the mugs.

Christmas morning muffins

christmas morning muffins

Fancy rustling up some festive muffins that taste like Christmas?  Ingredients such as cinnamon, cranberries and orange juice create just the thing.  The muffins only take 15 mins to prepare and 20 mins to bake, and are best eaten the day you make them  Thanks Nigella.  Makes 12.

For the muffins:

200g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75g demerara sugar

Good grating fresh nutmeg or pinch ground nutmeg

Juice of clementine or small orange

Approximately 50ml milk

60g unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

150g dried cranberries

12-bun muffin tin with cases

For the topping:

2 tsp demerara sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar, and grate over a generous amount of fresh nutmeg/sprinkle over some ground nutmeg. Squeeze the orange or clementine juice into a measuring jug, then pour in milk on top until it comes up to the 150ml mark. Add the melted butter and the egg, and beat to combine. Pour the jug of liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until the ingredients are more or less combined.  Last of all, lightly fold in the cranberries and fill the muffin cases.

Mix together the demerara sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the tops of the muffins. Stick them in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until they are puffy, golden brown and a knife inserted in to them pretty much comes out clean.  Be careful not to overbake them or they will be too dry.

Chocolate walnut fudge – a great Christmas gift!

chocolate fudge

Fancy impressing friends and family with an edible gift, suggested by my friend Paul?  This delicious chocolate walnut fudge takes just 10 minutes to prepare plus approximately 3 hours to set in the fridge.  It looks quite professional presented in a box, such as these ones from the brilliant Hobbycraft shop http://direct.hobbycraft.co.uk/products-Nicole-Crafts-Sweet-Treat-Boxes-3pcs_317120.htm along with one of these gingham labels http://direct.hobbycraft.co.uk/products-Self-Adhesive-Preserve-Labels_333354.htm

sweet treat box

gingham label

Check out these previously posted edible gift recipes for further ideas https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/category/edible-gifts/.  And finally, here is the chocolate walnut fudge recipe:

Ingredients

Can condensed milk

150g milk chocolate chips or bar, broken in to pieces

300g dark chocolate chips or bar, broken in to pieces

150g walnut pieces

Pinch salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Heat the condensed milk on a low heat and then stir in the chocolate.  Once melted add the walnut pieces, salt and vanilla essence.  Stir it all together and then fill a tin foil lined smallish baking tray with the mixture.  Put in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours then turn it out and cut it in to pieces.  Can keep for up to three weeks in an airtight container.

Ginger hot chocolate – a great Christmas gift

It’s nice to have a jar of this at home to warm you up.  But it also makes a great little Christmas gift.  To make a cup of ginger hot chocolate simply put 2 teaspoons of caster sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa, 1/3 teaspoon of cornflour and 1/3 teaspoon (or more or less depending on preference) of ground ginger in a cup, mix it up and add hot milk.  For a proper treat top with mini marshmallows and other sprinkles such as chocolate crispies (available in supermarket homebaking sections).  To make a jar as a present, just sterilise the jar first (instructions below), fill the jar with an increased quantity of the mixture (minus the milk of course), and decorate the jar as you please.   You could fill another jar with toppings too.  I just recycle jam/olive jars.

Here are Nigella Lawson’s instructions for sterilising jars:

‘Wash them well in hot, soapy water, rinse well with hot, clean water and dry with a clean cloth. Then put the jars in an oven preheated to 140 degrees/Gas Mk 1 for 10 minutes. Put the contents into the warm jars, seal and leave until completely cold then store in a cool, dark place’ (from www.nigella.com).

More edible Christmas gift ideas coming up!  In the meantime check out this chilli jam recipe from a previous blog:

https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/easy-sweet-chilli-jam-recipe-plus-rocky-roads-good-to-make-with-kids-9/