The start of 2017 came with a trip to London to see the stage show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also indulged my sweet tooth with a trip to Fortnum and Mason for cream puffs (expensive but amazing!), a Baileys Hot Chocolate on the Carousel Bar at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and a Red Velvet cupcake from the Primrose Bakery.
(I forgot to take a picture of the cupcake, but I DID take a picture of the delicious Bermondsey Porter Cake that I had from Peyton and Byrne when we popped back to London to see The Lion King a month later.)
On returning to Yorkshire, I went with some friends to see The Witches in Leeds.
I was feeling inspired to work on some sweets of my own (not ones laced with Formula 86 or with the ability to transform you into a blueberry!) and, luckily, for Christmas I received a copy of Hope and Greenwood’s Sweets Made Simple. I decided to have a go at English Almond Butter Toffee. I’ll definitely make this again. It was a bit of a challenge, but it was so tasty and moreish.
Hope 2017 is getting off to a good start for everyone. I’ve been busy, but going to try and make more of an effort this year to document my meals and culinary outings on this blog. Like many households, we’re still working our way through the leftover food from Christmas, and trying to make sure we don’t waste food. This recipe is an attempt to finish off the jar of mincemeat left over from mince pie making.
Mincemeat flapjacks (makes large 12)
2 tbsp golden syrup
250g Demerara sugar
450g rolled oats
5 heaped tbsp mincemeat
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease and line a 25cm square baking tin.
2. Add the butter, golden syrup and sugar to a pan and heat the mixture gently, stirring until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
3. Tip the oats into the pan and mix well until the oats are completely coated.
4. Put half the flapjack mixture into the tin and press down into an even layer.
5. Gently spread the mincemeat over the flapjack. Tip the remaining flapjack over the top and gently spread out and flatten the top.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. These flapjacks should be soft and chewy so you want the top to be a golden brown colour. Check them after 25 minutes, but be aware you may need to give them a bit more time to ensure the flapjack is firm enough to stay in shape when cool. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before marking the squares with a sharp knife. Leave to cool completely before removing the squares from the tin.
I’m trying to get into the Christmas spirit this weekend and I’ve therefore had a festive lunch. I saw a version of this wrap in the Co-op Food magazine, but it involved chicken and bacon. I was inspired to make a vegetarian version. It’s always nice to have something a bit different for a sandwich filling as there can be a lack of exciting choices for us vegetarians.
Christmas Wrap (makes 1)
3 vegetarian stuffing balls (made following the packet instructions and baked into bite size balls) cut into halves
1 tortilla wrap
A handful of shredded iceberg lettuce
50g Wensleydale with cranberries
1. Warm your wrap slightly if you prefer them warm and soft. (I usually do this by warming a dry pan over a high heat on the hob and heating the tortilla for 15 seconds or so on each side.
2. Add the filling to your tortilla wrap, lettuce, stuffing balls (cold is fine, but you could warm them while heating the tortilla if you prefer), cheese and a few small dollops of mayonnaise.
3. Roll up the wrap and eat. (Rolling wraps is not one of my skills in life hence the ‘unrolled’ picture. I think I have a tendency to overfill my wraps!)
If you can’t get Wensleydale with cranberries, substitute for a different cheese, but add some cranberry sauce.
I’m busy having a good spring clean of the kitchen cupboards and making sure things that are nearing their use-by date are cooked up into something delicious. This is a quick and easy dessert that might just help with using up some leftover cranberry sauce from the festive season.
Cranberry Cream (Serve 2)
75g cranberry sauce
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp orange juice (or Cointreau!)
250ml double cream
1. Mix together the cranberry sauce, icing sugar and orange juice stirring well.
2. Whisk the cream until soft and billowing. Stir through the cranberry sauce, mixing gently so what the ruby mixture is swirled through the cream.
3. Can be chilled before serving.
I thought I would share pictures and links to some of the Christmas food I’ve made in the last few days.
1. Christmas Pavlova Wreath from Tesco Magazine. I needed to make mine in advance to serve at lunch time so I didn’t include the chocolate drizzle sauce. I used strawberries and redcurrants. I also used twice as much double cream to top the meringue, as the 300ml in the recipe was nowhere near enough!
2. Orange tree decorations, inspired by some of the beautiful christmas trees at Chatsworth House when we visited. I adapted from the instructions here.
3. Christmas Panna Cotta by the Hairy Bikers. Of course, I substituted the gelatine for a vegetarian setting agent (Asda Vegetarian Gel). I also swapped some of the raisins for dried cherries and used less rum, as I found I didn’t need quite as much as the recipe suggested! I used half double cream and half milk for the panna cotta base.
4. Cranberry and orange crumble. I bought some fresh cranberries that had been reduced in the supermarket and then didn’t know what to do with them. I cooked them in a pan with some orange juice and zest and a generous helping of sugar and topped with a crumble topping. Eat this crumble with lots of cream.