Here is a last post of 2014 before I head to Cornwall for the holidays. This is another good edible gift idea which I like to present in glass jars with a ribbon or great to offer to guests who pop in for a cuppa over the festive period. Lebkuchen are a traditional German soft spiced gingerbread biscuit glazed with icing sugar and water. You can also dip the bottoms in dark chocolate to make them even more yummy.
These Romkugler are not rum truffles in the conventional sense, I guess they are most likely the original cake pop. Created by Danish bakers as a way to use up left over cake, this recipe uses porridge oats instead of cake but you can substitute the oats for cake for a more authentic rum ball. These are quick to whizz together if you have a processor and are easy – if a little messy – to make. This recipe is taken from Signe Johansen’s book Scandilicious Baking.
I have adapted the pastry from this BBC Good Food recipe ‘Unbelievably Easy Mince Pies’ by adding some egg to make it possible to roll out. It is a very short sweet pastry but it is very forgiving. If you have problems with pastry, my method does require some patience when rolling out as it can’t be too cold or too warm and it does have a tendency to crack/stick if not well floured. By all means follow the original recipe which is not meant to be rolled out but formed freehand in the patty tins by pressing a ball of dough into shape which will result in a more rustic looking pie. That method is also great if making these with children.
For anyone not familiar with mince pies, the modern day version we enjoy in the UK does not contain any meat. It is a mixture of brandy soaked dried fruits and you can find the recipe I use here or use a good supermarket mincemeat and stir in a splash of brandy or rum before spooning out into the pies.
Jars at the ready it’s another Christmas jarring recipe……I have scoured the recipe land in search of the perfect mincemeat and a few years ago think I found it! After trying various traditional suet mincemeats, baked mincemeats and veggie mincemeats, Hettie Potter’s suet-free mincemeat from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess has got to be the best. Not least because it contains half a bottle of cider which is always going to win a Cornish girl over but it is the juiciest fruitiest mincemeat going with a satisfying boozy kick.
I use the large glass jars that supermarket own brand golden syrup comes in and find this recipe perfectly fills 3 of these 680g jars. Each jar makes about 2 dozen mince pies.
Of all the chutneys I make at Christmas time this caramelised red onion chutney is the one that people are still talking about in summer, so much so that I have had to start making a mid year batch to tide people over, myself included! Aside from pairing it with cold meats or a cheese board, its excellent at pepping up cheese on toast, on pizza with goats cheese or in a quiche. I found this amazing recipe courtesy of the Guardian website and the recipe is by Fraser Doherty of Super Jam fame.
I use large red onions so find that makes approximately 1.4 litres which is roughly enough for 3 medium 300ml jars and 3 small 180ml jars. The recipe isn’t specific on what sort of brown sugar so I use 100g light brown and 100g dark brown sugar to cover all bases. And again, as per my other chutney post, your house will smell of onions and vinegar for a good few days after making this.
I am psyching myself up for Christmas so brace yourselves for a deluge of edible gift ideas that will be headed this way….. A few years ago I was really strapped for cash right before Christmas so I had to get creative with cheap homemade presents. Everyone was delighted with their homemade biscuits, mincemeat and chutneys so I have been making them every year ever since and will share some of them with you over the coming weeks.
You can make this chutney as mild or hot as you like by adjusting the amount of chillies to suit your taste.
For those who have never ventured into chutney making territory before, cheap preserving jars are available on eBay, at Hobbicraft shops and online and a great UK website for supplies is http://www.nutleyskitchengardens.co.uk/jam-preserve-making/ Size wise I tend to use jars of roughly 180-225ml capacity.
I have a 5lt casserole pot with a heavy copper base which I use for chutney making so if you don’t have a preserving pan a good quaility 4-5lt saucepan/casserole pan will do the trick. Also, be aware your home will smell of vinegar for days afterwards so I suggest opening windows, whacking up the extractor fan to max and not having any washing drying indoors whilst embarking on chutney making! It really is worth all this prep so I hope I have forewarned you rather than put you off!