Tag Archives: Christmas

A Merry Christmas with Mince Pies

24 Dec

Mince Pies

Just a quick hello before I go out to the post office, supermarket, Moroccan shop, forest for more cones and make more of these mince pies. The list is actually a lot longer than that but I am out of bed before 10 am (unheard of) and am not going to get stressed about anything today. I have promised myself. And breathe…

Mince Pies

This is my recipe for mince pies and I have to say that, in my opinion, they beat any shop bought ones by a mile. They are better because: number one they contain Amaretto almond liqueur and anything tastes better with Amaretto in it. They also contain chopped toasted almonds for a bit of crunch, dried cranberries, mandarin zest and, the special ingredient, crystallised ginger. Make these and you’ll never go back to shop bought I promise. Even if you have an ever-increasing list of things to do….

Mince Pie

In the pictures and the recipe below I have used shop bought puff pastry but I have also made a lovely batch with this spelt flour pastry recipe adding a teaspoon of mixed spice to the flour. If you don’t have all the different dried fruits you can just  use the more traditional, raisins and sultanas.

Marvelous Mince Pies Recipe

Makes 12- 16 pies, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted)
  • 4 Tbsp molasses/miel de cana/maple syrup
  • 75 ml sweet sherry or port
  • 250 g moscatel raisins
  • 50 g dried figs
  • 50 g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50 g medjool dates without stones
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 50 g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or Cointreau is nice)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 toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • olive oil for brushing
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the molasses/miel de cana in the sherry over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, crystallised ginger, spices, zest and  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 200 degrees and oil & flour your muffin tins.

Roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out 6 circles of about 9 or 10 cm diameter and 6 tops of about 7 cm diameter, you may have to re roll the pastry and may get a few more than 6 if you do. Push the larger circles into the muffin tins and fill each pastry case with a dessertspoonful of the mixture. Brush the edges of the pastry base with a little oil and then top with the smaller circles. Push the edges together to seal.

Make a little slit in the top of each with a sharp knife and brush with a little olive oil (or egg wash) and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and puffy. 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 completely before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. You can serve hot, warm or room temperature with cream, ice cream or a glass of Amaretto on the side….

MInce Pies

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Felices Fiestas!

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Fresh Cranberry and Chestnut Gingerbread Scones

30 Dec

These are gorgeous. I had to share them with you quickly before the festive season is over and they are kind of irrelevant.

I bought a punnet of fresh cranberries just before Christmas because I had never seen or tried fresh ones before. When I got them home I was sort of unsure about what to do with them. Cranberry sauce was too boring, I wanted something where you can taste the cranberry in its natural state and feel the texture.

Continue reading

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

23 Dec

As this is probably my last post before the big day I thought I would share something Christmassy with you. This fudge is really easy to make and makes great gifts. Just wrap it in cellophane and tie up with a ribbon.

It’s actually one of Nigella’s Christmas Recipes. I do love Nigella even though she does come out with the cheesiest waffle sometimes. I’m saving up for her hips, not long to go now, especially after picking at this fudge. You have to trim the edges to get them nice and straight you see. You can’t waste it. Continue reading

Orange, Ginger and Cinnamon Vegan French Toast

21 Dec

It’s all about the oranges here at the moment. Christmas in Andalucia is punctuated with piles of them, in my house anyway. The smell of a freshly peeled mandarin is the scent of Christmas in my opinion, along with cinnamon it is better than any plug-in air freshener.

So, for me, any excuse for zesting an orange or mandarin and I’m there. Epecially since I have a new microplane zester which is my new favourite kitchen thing.

This is the perfect Christmas breakfast/brunch. Served with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (topped off with some champagne) and you’re ready for anything. This version is vegan but you can just as easily use eggs, I won’t be offended. It is Christmas after all. I used walnut bread for this, it’s a lovely combination with the orange and cinnamon. Continue reading

Provencal Goat’s Cheese Brulee with Fresh Fig and Orange Compote

11 Nov

This is a dish we served at the restaurant. I came up with the idea and The Washer Up translated it into reality. That’s what he does, he makes what goes on in my head happen. I have no concept of how difficult things are, I just know what I want. Thankfully he is very practical (unlike me) and incredibly patient (ditto). We are the perfect team.

You can serve this with any seasonal compote/jam. Cranberries would be nice especially for a Christmas starter/appetizer or snack. I chose to make a Fig & Orange Compote because that is what I am seeing while walking the dog at the moment. The last of the late season figs….. Continue reading

Savoury Feta and Pomegranate Cheesecake with Pistachio, Mint and Parsley (and a Winner!!)

29 Oct

Having seen Beth Michelle’s beautiful pure white sweet cheesecake bed topped with a generous pile of glistening ruby pomegranate jewels, I knew that I was going to make a cheesecake with the pomegranates that I am now seeing all over the trees here at the moment.

At the restaurant we used to serve a savoury cheesecake with an apricot chutney. It wasn’t baked and I think it was goat’s cheese. Anyway I was thinking of going down a Greek/Middle Eastern road because of the pomegranate, and feta was the obvious cheese choice. Continue reading

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!!

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