In Season: December


ontrary to the December diet I described in my last post, there are plenty of vegetables that are in season in December, as well as, you know, biscuits, cakes, and meat wrapped in more meat.

Admittedly, fruit is thin on the ground – at this point we’re mostly importing or living on booze-soaked dried fruit. No complaints here! Continue reading

Viennese mince pies

There are still nine days till Christmas and I am preemptively festively plump. I’ve drunk cocktails and sprained my ankle and danced on it anyway already. The tree is up, wrapping paper has been purchased, and still it does not feel like the season, because none of these things, in this city, are part of the traditions.

Viennese Mince Pies // The Dinner BellIt’ll be almost time for the real festivities when I catch the train home, listening to “Driving Home for Christmas”, carrying a suitcase containing far more pairs of shoes than are at all necessary.

It’ll feel like December when I get the chance to sneak-peek at the presents.

It’ll be Christmas when I’m at home, sat in front of the fire with one of my mum’s boozy mince pies, watching Miracle on 34th Street yet again.

The best mince pie I’ve ever had remains a mystery to me – it was eaten during the sweltering part of summer 2012 in a test kitchen, where I was part of a team sampling dozens of Christmas puddings and mince pies. It was tough work. The one I loved was flaky, and buttery, and had just the right amount of booze and…I have no idea who made it. It will forever remain a mystery to me.

So rather than go around every supermarket trying to find it, I thought this year I’d break with tradition just a little bit. I put my own twist on it to make a festive variation that keeps in with one of 2013’s biggest baking trends, the hybrid dessert. Bottom half mince pie, Viennese whirl top, 100% delicious. Continue reading

New year nibbles

Christmas may have passed, but for most of us it’s not yet time to put down the whisks and sieves to sit back and plan how we’re going to lose this festive flab. But before we have cause to mourn the foods that a January diet disallows, there’s still one last night of blissful indulgence to go. But by the time new year rolls around, no-one wants to cook a full spread. Just a few little bites to keep guests from partying a little too hard. So here’s a few easy-to-whip-up recipes for new year party nibbles.

Rice Krispie cakes (above)

My mother was cursed blessed with three quite awkward children, a fact which is spectacularly clear around this time of year. One doesn’t like Christmas pudding, another doesn’t like sponge, and I don’t like chocolate flavoured desserts (strange, I know). All that this means is that no-bake Rice Krispie cake is a staple in our house, whether it’s made in round tins and stacked like a birthday cake or cut into bite size squares.

Ingredients: equal weights marshmallows, toffees, butter, Rice Krispies.
E.G. 100g each.

Method: Melt together marshmallows, toffees, and butter. This can be done in the microwave using a large microwavable bowl, or on the hob in a large saucepan. The mixture will grow as the marshmallow melts, and I find it easier to keep an eye on this when cooking it in a saucepan. Stir in the Rice Krispies, pour into a lined tin or lipped baking tray and smooth using the back of a spoon. Refrigerate.

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Mango cocktail sausages

Ingredients: 1 pack cocktail sausages, 1 jar mango chutney.

Method: Place cocktail sausages on a greaseproof-lined baking tray, and cook for 10 minutes at about 160C. Remove from oven, and coat with mango chutney, using a tablespoon or two of water to thin the chutney. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve as-is or on cocktail sticks to avoid sticky fingers!

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web2Stuffing bites

Makes 9 ramekins/18 bites

Ingredients: 180g stuffing mix, 9 rashers bacon (smoked or unsmoked), any fillings of your choosing.

Method: Line ramekins (about 1.5 inches tall, 3.5 inches across) with foil, leaving enough over the sides to fold over the top when full. Line this with bacon, with the “upper” part of the rasher hanging over. Create your stuffing mix, adding any extra fillings, according to instructions, and divide between the ramekins. Fold the bacon over the top, and scrunch the overhanging foil over to cover it all. Cook at 160C for 20 minutes and switch off the oven. Fold out the foil, and put in the oven for a further 10-15
minutes to allow the bacon to crisp up. Allow to cool, and slice in half.

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Two-cheese biscuits

Got some cheese and nuts left ever from Christmas? Why not make these two-cheese biscuits?

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Christmas gifts: Oreo truffles


These (really naughty and delicious) truffles are the last in my Christmas gift ideas series, with a few sweet ideas for the skint (me) or thrifty.

Knowing full well that this little corner is just a tiny drop in the ocean of food blogs out there can be a little overwhelming. At Christmas, this becomes doubly clear: because it’s a time when a lot of bloggers are sharing very similar recipes and ideas. It’s not just an internet thing – if you watch a morning of cookery shows at a weekend in December you’ll be bombarded with ingredients like celeriac. In a lot of ways, this seasonality is the lifeblood of food and everything associated with it – and rightly so. But it brings with it a certain inevitability, and a need to innovate.

Equally, there are some things that really don’t need innovating, that speak for themselves the moment you take an innocent little bite. Although many Pinterest users and bloggers could say it more eloquently than I: ladies and gentlemen, these Oreo truffles are that perfect mouthful. Continue reading