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Orange Curd and Little Tarts

13 Feb

Living here at the moment is like living in an orange world. People keep giving me bags full. The trees seem to produce so much fruit with so little work. Everyone has orange trees and nobody knows what to do with them all, so they give them away.

Not that I mind it gives me a chance to get creative, there is only so much orange juice you can drink…..

I’ve made lemon curd before and it was really easy and had been thinking about making curd with the oranges that were threatening to go off  in carrier bags in my kitchen.I wasn’t sure it would work or about the sugar ratio. The deciding moment came when I saw a recipe for orange passionfruit curd tarts on 6 Bittersweets. They looked so beautiful, I didn’t need any more encouragement……….

I used the same recipe I used to make lemon curd but I just used a bit less sugar. It worked!  It really is lovely on toast and the smell of  the orange zest while you are making it is intoxicating……

It is really easy to make into a tart as well. You just pour/ dollop it into a baked sweet tart case and leave it in the fridge to set.

Orange Curd Recipe

makes 3 jars, vegetarian

  • grated zest & juice of 4 oranges
  • 4 eggs
  • 300 gr caster sugar
  • 230 gr room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp cornflour

Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients and put on a medium high heat. Whisk continuously until thickened (about 5-8 minutes). Lower the to minimum and simmer, still whisking for another minute. Remove from the heat and pour into hot sterilized jars (Just put them through the dishwasher). Seal immediately, leave to cool then store in the fridge.

Orange Curd Tart Recipe

  • orange curd (see recipe above)
  • baked sweet tart shell/cases see my recipe here or buy one/some
  • icing sugar
  • orange zest curls

Bake the tart shell/cases until golden, leave to cool slightly then pour/dollop in the orange curd. Spread it about evenly and chill in the fridge. Best eaten on the same day as filling the case. When ready to serve, dust with a little icing sugar and top with some orange zest curls.

It would be lovely topped with soft meringue and baked too. I will have to try that next time. I have a feeling there will be a next time, my friend Rhian has just invited our dog, Rufus, around to play. She said to bring a bag as she has loads of oranges………..

Panforte- Italian Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Cake

8 Feb

I know I’ve shown you pictures of the almond blossom before but I couldn’t resist showing you this one with the snow on the Sierra de las Nieves in the background. Sierra de las Nieves means  The Snowy Mountains…..

This picture was taken in Guaro while we were checking on a friend’s house there. This is the view from the end of the drive. Spectacular isn’t it. You can see why it’s called Cortijo de las Nieves with that view….

These beautiful almond trees are everywhere you look at the moment. They reminded me of a recipe I found at Corridor Kitchen that I have been meaning to make since Christmas. Panforte is an Italian chocolate, fruit & nut cake served in little squares with espresso coffee at breakfast, in the afternoon or after dinner. It’s kind of like a dense nutty brownie fruit cake combination. Rich, sticky, chewy and delicious- it’s a grown up thing and you need to try it…

Lauren’s recipe included crystallised pineapple as her Aussie twist on the classic. In the absence of pineapple I used crystallised ginger which goes really well with the chocolate and orange zest and gives it more of that grown up feeling. If you don’t like ginger leave it out. The dried cranberries were another addition of mine just because I had some in the cupboard and they work with the other flavours….

Panforte Recipe

makes about 12 -14 small squares/slices, vegetarian

  • 125 gr almonds, roughly chopped
  • 125 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 gr stem ginger (crystallised or not) finely chopped
  • 60 gr dried cranberries (soaked for 15 minutes in boiling water) roughly chopped
  • 60 gr chopped mixed peel (I use the zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange)
  • 100 gr plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (good cocoa not hot chocolate powder)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice)
  • 60 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 75 gr sugar
  • 175 gr honey

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in a dry pan if they are not toasted and coarsely chop. Sieve the flour, cinnamon and cocoa in to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the nuts, fruit, zest and ginger and stir again.

Melt the honey and sugar over a medium low heat, when just about to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until thick and syrupy, Take it off the heat, leave for one minute then tip in the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix everything together very well. It is a very stiff, sticky mass and quite hard on the arms but keep going it comes together eventually!

Line a 20cm cake tin or small baking tray with parchment paper, and cut another circle of parchment the same size as the tin. Tip the mixture into the tin, put the extra piece of parchment on top and press it down and spread it out until it is flat and even. Leave the parchment on the top and bake for about 35 minutes or until it has just lost its sheen.

Leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into slices or squares with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container.

 Feel free to substitute the cranberries for sultanas or use glace cherries instead. She recommends glace apricot as well as the glace pineapple. I think glace mango would be amazing with the chocolate too maybe with some macadamia nuts as well……….

Enjoy!!

Christmas Carbicide and Boxing Day Bubble…

29 Dec

On Christmas Eve we walked up to these rocks….

Then the Washer Up made his amazing vegeatble sushi rolls stuffed with omelette, carrot, spring onion & spinach which we served with sushi ginger, wasabi paste & soy sauce… yum!

Followed by a spicy miso noodle broth with pak choi & shitake mushrooms..

And then we played cards..with the cat!

On Christmas morning we walked up to our favourite hilltop retreat and ate mince pies..

From there we could see this waterfall on the mountain over the other side of the valley and decided to walk there on Boxing day… more of that “adventure” later…!

Our Christmas Dinner was “Potatoes Four Ways” also known as “Christmas Carbicide!”..

This consisted of (clockwise from bottom right) Dauphinoise Potatoes, Potato Fondant, Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Mash & Polenta Encrusted Roast Potatoes. As you can imagine I have only just emerged from my carb induced coma.. The stuffing on top is Sage & Onion. I think my favourite was the Potato Fondant which is a disc of potato cooked slowly in butter & stock.  We served this with roasted shallots, peas & green beans with garlic & ground almonds..

This was all covered with “purple” gravy (don’t ask- it was red onion gravy but I blitzed it so it was purple!) nice…
We had red wine with dinner which was probably not a good idea, the Washer Up is not good on red wine…

So it was with a hangover on Boxing Day morning that we embarked on our trip to the faraway waterfall…. We parked at Barranco Blanco and took some pictures of the lovely waterfall there….

We couldn’t get down to the bottom because of all the water but you can see some more pictures I took there earlier in the year here.

We set off on the path around the valley and looked back at our favourite hilltop, where we walked to on Christmas day..

We passed another small waterfall on the mountain path before we went “off road”….

So, The Washer Up said it would only take us about 20 minutes off the path to reach the waterfall. Needless to say we ended up on a steep incline head height in thorn bushes with no idea how to get out! It was impossible to reach the waterfall through all the spikey bush but we got near enough to take this photo. There were three levels of waterfall..

It was pretty scary trying to find our way back to the path, but we haven’t given up. Next time we are going to go along the river bed at the bottom and see if we can reach it from that direction….

By the time we arrived back at home we had been out for about 3 1/2 hours so we were starving. What was in the fridge? Leftover potatoes and veg from our Christmas dinner. So it had to be Bubble & Squeak with a Fried Egg…

Put all of your leftover potatoes (mash & roasts) in to a bowl with the leftover veg and stuffing and mash with a potato masher. Shape into a ball and place a slice/chunk of goat’s cheese in the middle roll it up again to seal it and shape into patties.
Sprinkle some flour/breadcrumbs/polenta on a plate and lightly coat the patties to give it a nice crust. Fry in hot butter & olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side (turn them over when browned). When they are nearly cooked crack two egs into the same pan and cook until just set.
Serve the Bubble & Squeak straight away topped with the fried egg (and some HP sauce!). The addition of the goat’s cheese is a Nigel Slater idea. I’ve never tried it before. It’s lovely when you cut into the Bubble & Squeak and the cheese oozes out. With that and the soft egg yolk …..heaven!!
Hope you enjoyed your Christmas too xx

Christmas Gift Biscotti with Chocolate and Cranberries

21 Dec

 

We’ve just been loaned a Nespresso coffee machine which is very exciting! We only drink decaf as caffeine sends The Washer Up a bit loopy but the decaf options are great. We are trying the Intenso the Lungo and the normal decaffeinato. They are all good but the Intenso is a bit Intenso for me…

All this coffee drinking gives me a really good excuse to make some biscotti. You have to have a biscotti with a coffee and they also make fantastic Christmas gifts. I thought I’d “Christmas” up the original recipe by adding chocolate and cranberries but you can leave them out or add chestnuts or hazelnuts instead. Don’t be scared this is a really easy recipe that you can impress all your friends with when they pop round for coffee….

Christmas Biscotti Recipe

makes about 25- 30 biscotti vegetarian

  • 25o gr plain flour
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 gr caster sugar
  •  2 eggs , beaten
  • grated zest of 1 mandarin
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 110 gr toasted almonds, chopped (you can toast them in a dry pan or in the oven)
  • 65 gr dried cranberries
  • 65 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and toast the almonds if necessary.  Leave to cool and chop roughly. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs, zest, vanilla & almond extracts, the nuts, cranberries & chocolate. Mix everything together well with a wooden spoon. Flour your hands and the worksurface well and divide the mixture into two. Roll the first half of the mixture into a long sausage/log with your hands. (Start with both hands together in the middle and work your way out rolling). Roll the sausage to the length of your baking sheet and transfer it over to the lined baking sheet, flattening it out slightly. Repeat with the other half of the mixture. Make sure you leave space in between the two logs for them to spread.

Cook in the preheated oven for 25 -30 minutes until firm. Remove the tray from the oven, lower the heat to 150 degrees and leave them to cool slightly.

Remove the biscotti loaves from the tray and cut them into diagonal fingers about 2cm wide, put them back on the tray, cut side up and back in the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out completely.

You can also serve these after dinner with coffee or a glass of dessert wine (classically vin santo) to dip them in…

A great way to wrap homemade gifts is in clear cellophane (sometimes printed with snowflakes etc) which you can buy in most “euro” shops here in Spain. I rolled up 6 biscotti in the cellophane then tied each end with raffia (to make a christmas cracker shape). I tucked a few sprigs of lavender in the rafia bow because we have some growing on our roof terrace that smells lovely…..

I also wrapped my Mandarin jam( See recipe here) gifts in cellophane with a pink gingham napkin tied around the lid!!

I love it!!!

Easy, Delicious Mince Pies with Mandarin and Ginger Cheat Ice Cream

17 Dec

I should rename this blog 101 things to do with a mandarin….! Well it is Christmas and they are everywhere and I like them.

I didn’t like mince pies until I made some myself, because the Washer Up was begging me to, last Christmas. The bought ones have a strange taste and make your teeth go funny. I thought, if I’m going to make them, I am going to make them better by adding all the Christmas flavours that I love. Like mandarins….

And almonds and hazelnuts and cranberries and Amaretto………! Trust me it makes such a difference. You get the flavour and crunch of the nuts, the sweet sharpness of the cranberries and the punch of the Amaretto. You don’t have to use Amaretto you could use Frangelico to pick out the flavour of the hazelnuts or Cointreau to enhance the orangeyness. If you don’t want to add alcohol you could use cranberry juice, you just need some liquid to soak into the dried fruit while it’s cooking. I use puff pastry because it’s lighter and crispier and you don’t have to make it!!If you’ve never liked mince pies you should give this recipe a go, it might change your mind..

Easy & Delicious Mince Pies Recipe

makes about 18, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • 75 gr brown sugar
  • 75 ml port or red wine
  • 400 gr mixed dried fruit
  • 100 gr dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or your chosen liqueur)you may need to add more
  • a few drops of almond extract
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • about 100 -150 gr chopped nuts (I used almonds & hazelnuts)walnuts would be good too
  • 1 egg beaten with a little water
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the port or red wine over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, cranberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, zest & juice of the mandarin and the Amaretto. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed stirring occasionally. You may need to add more amaretto if it is absorbed quickly. Add the almond & vanilla extracts, honey and the nuts. Stir well to combine everything and leave the mixture to cool in a bowl.

When the mixture is cool(very important or the pastry won’t work), preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Butter & flour your muffin tins then roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out circles of 9 or 10 cm diameter and push them in the muffin tins you should get 9 or 10. Then fill each pastry case with a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture. With the off cuts of pastry you can cut out Christmas tree shapes to put on the top of the mixture (or use a star cutter). Brush the pastry trees with egg wash and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Keep an eye on them they cook quickly. Leave to cool for a few minutes then take them out of the tin. Leave the tin to cool down before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar from a height and serve while still warm with a coffee for elevenses or whatever time of day it is…..To make them even more special you can serve them with this easy cheat ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker (hint hint!) so this is a great way to “improve” a tub of store-bought vanilla…

Quick Cheat Mandarin & Ginger Ice Cream

  • 1 tub of vanilla ice cream (doesn’t have to be full)
  • the zest of 1 or 2 mandarins
  • some crystallised ginger chopped finely (1 tbsp should be enough)

Take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften for about 5 minutes. It should be soft enough to stir but not melted. Stir in the zest and ginger until evenly distributed and put the ice cream back in the freezer to firm up until you are ready to serve it. How easy is that?

This ice cream is really good with the Mince Pies, would be a perfect accompaniment to Christmas Pudding and is also amazing with the Washer Up’s Rhubarb Crumble…Happy Christmas!!

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