Traditional steamed Christmas pudding

Traditional steamed Christmas pudding

Steamed Christmas pudding

Steamed Christmas pudding

This Christmas pudding recipe really needs a scale, I have tried to get it to cups but depending on the size of some of the ingredients, whether they are chopped or not etc… just does not do it justice. Head on over to the appliances section and get one, they are not expensive and once you have one you will wonder how you did without it.

You should make your Christmas puddings now for Christmas, just like a good Christmas cake, a Christmas pudding needs some time for all of the flavours to combine and the alcohol to really make a difference. Some say you should make them as far as 3 months ahead but not really necessary. You can also make it a week or so before but giving it time does make a difference. It’s an old fashioned recipe that has suet in it which you can get from your butcher, you just need to ask for it. You can use Brandy or Rum. Makes 2 small ones or 1 large one.

What you need

120g caster sugar
120g suet
150g sultanas
150g raisins
120g currants
60g candied citrus peel chopped
60g flour
60g breadcrumbs
25g almond flakes
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3 medium eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
75ml brandy

The process

Take either 2 small glass bowls (600ml or so) or 1 larger glass mixing bowl (1200 to 1500ml) and lightly butter them inside. Use a piece of the butter wrapper, it’s easiest.

Combine everything except the Brandy and eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to distribute evenly. Now add the Brandy and the eggs and give it a good mix.

Fill the bowls equally with mixture and then cover tightly with tin foil by laying a piece over the top and creating a thick edge with the foil that hangs over the edge.

Now take the largest pot you have, place a saucer upside down on the base, place the pudding on the saucer and pour water around the side to reach about 2/3 up the side of the pudding and bring to the boil. When it’s boiling reduce heat to a simmer, place the lid on and it needs to steam for 5 hours.

Important: Check every 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your pot and top up the water level.

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool before yuo remove it. Once cooled and out of the pot, cover it with a fresh piece of foil and set it on a shelf in a cool dry place until you are ready to eat.

To reheat, steam in the same way for an hour, place a plate over the top and then turn upside down allowing the pudding to settle on the plate.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of brandy over the top and set it alight. merry Christmas.

It’s very rich and this will happily serve 6 to 8 people with custard and perhaps one of these strawberry cream cakes.

Here are all the rest of the Christmas recipes you will need.

Gnocchi supreme recipe

Gnocchi supreme recipe

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

I just love Gnocchi and this recipe has a creamy vegetarian sauce that I often add small chicken pieces or chicken mince to if I want some extra substance. The sauce is quite extraordinary with the pine nuts flavor really adding some depth to it. It’s a very simple recipe to put together if you are using store bought gnocchi but if you really want to go the whole hog, tru this gnocchi recipe and make the whole dish from scratch, there is something quite therapeutic about making gnocchi and the sense of achievement is wonderful, let alone the awe your friends and family will regard you with when you tell them you made the gnocchi as well. (4 people)

What you need

750g cooked gnocchi
3/4 cup cream
1 tin chopped peeled tomatoes (425g)
1 heaped teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes chopped (use the ones in oil and drain them)
1/2 cup black olives drained and chopped
500g chopped spinach (always wash even if it says washed)
1/2 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper

The process

First you want to toast the pine nuts by placing a pan on a medium to high heat, adding the pine nuts and letting them toast. Toss them around until they begin to brown and there is a beautiful aroma in the kitchen. remove them and set aside.

In a large pot add the cream, the whole tin of tomatoes with all of its juice and the garlic and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 4 or 5 minutes allowing some of the fluid to evaporate. It will begin to thicken and you know that this is the time to add the sund dried tomatoes and olives. Let it simmer for another 2 or 3 mintes to heat everything through.

Taste it at this stage and season with salt and pepper.

Now add the cooked gnocchi, the spinach and the pine nuts to the sauce and allow to simmer until the spinach has wilted and heated through.

That is that, a fantastic Italian meal.

if you are using chicken in your dish, add cooked chicken that has been lightly salted with the sun dried tomatoes.

Apple passion crumble

Apple passion crumble

Apple passion crumble

Apple passion crumble

This is a really great recipe. Hot Apple crumble with whipped cream or ice cream is one of my real favorites but the passion fruit and pear flavour added to the apple is just fantastic. Don’t be shy with the whipped cream on this one, forget any diet your are on and just indulge yourself. Eat it straight from the oven, you are going to love it. If you don’t want to make your own pastry, use the supermarket short crust pastry. (serves 6-8 people)

What you need

3 cups flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
250g butter cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 large eggs
2 tins apples slices (800g)
2 tins pears halves(800g)
4/5 passion friut (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

The process

Take a 23cm springform cake tin and butter it lightly. Even if you are using a non stick tin, butter it, it adds to the flavour.

In a large bowl add the flour, caster sugar, cinnamon and butter cubes. Rub together with your finger tips until crumbly or process in a food processor by pulsing until crumbly.

Now add the eggs and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. if processing, continue to pulse until it forms a ball.

Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or so until smooth. Wrap in clingwrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Take 2/3’s of the pastry and press into the base of the tin and up the sides about 7cm or so. Cover it with baking paper and fill with rice. Bake it at 180 Celsius for 15 minutes, then take out the paper and rice and bake for another 10 minutes, remove and set aside. Freeze the last 1/3.

Drain of the liquid from the apples and pears and then place them in a clean cloth to dry them off a bit.

Now add the apple pear and passion fruit pulp to a bowl with the brown sugar and toss it or stir lightly to combine.

Fill the crust with the apple mixture and use a grater to grate the remaining 1/3 of frozen pastry over the top, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon over the top and bake again at 180 celsius for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crisp. This can take up to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool for about 15 if you can, the filling is seriously hot.

Serve with whipped cream…. Sublime I tell you. Here is another fantastic apple pie recipe

Apple pie

Apple pie

Easy apple pie

Easy apple pie

Apple pie is realy so simple to make these days with frozen pastry available so freely in supermarkets. This is a really fantastic apple pie recipe with a caramel type sauce that cooks the apples. I’s sweet, like apple pie should be aitha nice cinnamon smell that will really mess with your senses.

What you need

500g frozen shortcrust pastry thawed
6 red apples
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
Pie dish 23 cm

The process

Heat your oven to 220 Celsius

Take the pie dish and line it with a layer of pastry that reaches just over the edges of the pie dish. You should not need to roll it or anything.

Slice your apples into wedge shapes that are about 1cm at the base and fill the pie case.

Make 8 strips of pastry that are about 3 or 4cm wide with what is left over of the pastry and criss cross them over the top leaving spaces in between. Then fold over and squeeze the edges all the way round to seal the edge and join the strips to the edges.

In a pot on a high heat add the water, butter, sugars, salt and cinnamon and bring to the boil and remove from the heat.

Take a serving spoon or ladel and spoon the sauce over the pie, ensuring that the lattice you have created is well doused in the caramel sauce.

Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 220 Celsius then reduce the oven to 160 and bake for another 40 minutes.

Be sure to let it cool completely before cutting, the caramel sauce and apples are seriously hot and if you have ever had a hot sugar burn you will know what I am talking about.

Serve with ice cream are whipped cream and if you love pies, you must try the lemon meringue pie recipe

Warm cherry sauce

Warm cherry sauce

black cherry sauce

Black Cherry Sauce

Cherry sauce came to mind when recentlybeing asked for some suggestions for a birthday party. This is fantastic and really simple dessert idea that is a winner every time and is so simple to prepare for just a few people or a huge crowd. It can also be used as an accompaniment with duck or pork by simply leaving out the cinnamon and letting the sauce reduce further. (for 4 desserts)

What you need

1 400g tin cherries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon/ 1 cinnamon stick
Good ice cream

The process

Add the cherries with all of their juices straight from the tin into a pot on a high heat.

Bring the sauce to almost boiling, reduce the heat, add cinnamon and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes or so to warm through thoroughly.

If you like a thick sauce for your dessert or are serving with duck or pork, just let it simmer for a few more minutes to reduce slightly and thicken.

Spoon over the ice cream and you are done.

Remember to go out and buy really good ice cream, it makes such a massive difference. Another tip is to take the ice cream out of thye frezzer and put it in the fridge about an hour before you serve, this lets it soften up ever so slightly.

If you like this you will love the Eton Mess recipe

Served with the roast pork belly it is amazing. It is also really good if you add tinned pineapple pieces to it for a dessert sauce.

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

banana-frittersBanana friters are a fantastic winter dessert and this recipe can be used for any firm fruit, make banana, apple or even pineapple fritters. They are best served with a really good ice cream. (4 servings)

What you need

4 bananas ends removed and cut in half
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1 1/2 cups water
cake flour
Oil for deep frying

Cinnamon and caster sugar for dusting.

The process

Sift together the self raising flour and the bicarb of soda into a bowl. Add the water and mix to form a smooth batter.

Heat about 5cm of oil in a pot on a medium heat.

Place the cake flour on a plate and roll the banana pieces to coat, then drop them into the batter, remove and allow the excess batter to drip off.

Place them in the hot oil and cook until golden brown and slightly puffed up.

remove and drain on paper kitchen towel.

Put 2 pieces per serving, dust with a mixture of caster sugar and cinnamon and serve with a dollop of ice cream.

Yummy

If you are a banana fan, here is a hot banana pudding recipe and a banana bread recipe

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

hot-chocolateWhat would winter nights be without hot chocolate? Not great…. This recipe uses real chocolate and perfect for winter weekend nights watching DVD’s. If you have a coffee machine, whip up some milk foam to top it off or just toss a few marshmallows for some real decadence.

Hot chocolate

2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup grated milk chocolate
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Sugar to taste

The process

Warm the milk on the stove on a medium heat until steam comes off the top.

Add the grated chocolate and cinnamon and stir until the chocolate has melted. Simmer until the top begins to foam slightly.

Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows or milk foam. Sprinkle a little extra chocolate over the top or a pinch of cocoa powder.

Have this great hot chocolate with the blueberry cheesecake.

Chocolate raspberry dessert cake

Chocolate raspberry dessert cake

chocolate-raspberry-cakeThis is a really decadent cake that is so good as a warm dessert and whatever is left over can be for your afternoon tea. It’s rich yet the berries give it a freshness that perfectly balances the cake. Have this as the dessert after the lamb shanks for a really decadent and impressive dinner.

What you need

185g butter
185g dark chocolate
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup cake flour
2/3 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup almonds finely minced
1 cup raspberries

The process

If you cannot find almond meal, simply take the almond pieces, pop them into a blender and blend until fine.

Line a 20cm round spring form cake tin with grease proof paper by buttering lightly and sticking the paper to the sides and base. (Cut a round for the base and a strip for the sides).

Heat the oven to 180 Celsius.

In a pot on a medium low heat add the butter and break up the dark chocolate into the pot. Stir until all of the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat to cool down.

In a bowl add the eggs, vanilla and sugar and beat with an electric beater until light and fluffy.

Add the flour and almond and fold in with a metal spoon until evenly distributed, then fold in the chocolate and half of the raspberries.

Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin, sprinkle the last of the raspberries over the top and place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is firm.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before sprinkling over some caster sugar. Remoe from the tin and serve warm with thick cream or mascarpone on the side.

Portuguese custard tarts

Portuguese custard tarts

custard-tart

Portuguese custard tart

These little beauties are in most bakeries and if you are a Vida fan you will probably have had them before and nowadays, with prepared pastry being freely available in the frozen food section of the supermarket you can whip up a batch in about 45 minutes.(makes 8 to 10)

What you need

400g frozen puff pastry thawed

Filling
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons maizena (corn flour)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

The process

If you don’t have the individual patty tins, a muffin tin works just as well. None of those silicone muffin trays, it must be a metal one. Spray well with spray and cook or butter thoroughly.

Dust a surface with flour and roll out the pastry until it is very thin, about 3mm thick
all over.

Cut into 10 or 12cm circles depending on the size of your tins and place into the tins so
that the pastry comes up the sides of the tin and set aside.

Filling

In a pot over a low heat add the water and sugar and stir until the sugar has completely
dissolved, simmer for a further minute or 2 while you continue.

Mix the maizena with a little of the milk to form a paste. In bowl add all of the milk and
the maizena paste and add to the sugar, whisk and add the egg yolks and vanilla, whisk
again thoroughly and simmer stirring constantly until the custard thickens.

Remove from heat, and place a piece of clingfilm over the top to prevent a skin from
forming and leave to cool.

Heat the oven to 200 Celsius.

Fill the pastry shells to 3/4 full and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top of
the custard is golden brown and firm to the touch.

Yummy….

Try the portuguese Trinchado recipe

Mothers day crepes

Mothers day crepes

mothers-day-breakfastEvery Mom should, at the very least be treated to a fabulous breakfast in bed or a lunch made by her loving children. Here are a few ideas that are really easy, can be used for both breakfast or lunch and your Mom will appreciate all the effort more than any gift you could buy her. The best part is they are so simple, you will have plenty of time to tell her how much you appreciate her.

What you need

Crepes

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar (if you are making sweet crepes)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (if you are making sweet crepes)

Filling

1 punnet Fresh raspberries or any berries really
60ml water
2 tablespoons of sugar

gently heated until the liquid is syrupy but the fruit still firm.

The process

Add all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until the mixture is thoroughly mixed, thin and liquid. If you are using a hand whisk it will take max 2 minutes and about 1 minute with an electric mixer.

Heat a pan on a medium heat, spray liberally with spray and cook and allow to heat.

Pour in enough crepe mixture to thinly coat the base of the pan, cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the top appears slightly rubbery and the base is lightly browned (check with your spatula), turn and cook for another 30- seconds or so.

Place some of the syrupy fruit mixture in the center, fold or roll the crepe, sprinkle with a little caster sugar and that’s that, a happy Mom.

If you want to make savoury crepes for lunch here are a few ideas.

Creamy chicken crepes

Steam chicken breasts until cooked through and cut into small pieces.

Make this white sauce and season to taste, and mix in the chicken pieces.

Fill crepes and add extra sauce to the top of the crepe. Top off with some fresh parsley

You can also make the cheese sauce top off with extra cheese and place under the grill for a minute or two.