Yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire puddings are one of my favourite things in the world and because I don’t often eat roast dinners every Sunday (or any Sunday apart from at Christmas really) like many of my country people I don’t eat them nearly often enough. There’s a bit of controversy over when you can eat them with some pedantic people (like my in laws) not serving them unless it’s alongside a joint of roast beef (or in toad in the hole). I say just ignore this nonsense and serve them as often as possible. This is Jamie Oliver’s recipe – I didn’t want to go wrong on Christmas Day!

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut fat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100ml milk

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C

2.) Add a 1/2 tsp coconut fat to each muffin hole in a muffin tin

3.) Put the muffin tin in the oven for 10 minutes

4.) In the meantime, in a measuring jug, whisk up the eggs, flour and milk until there’s no lumps.

5.) Carefully pour the mixture in the hot oil. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Port & Stilton Sauce

When I first met my now husband, we used to cook together on the weekends and he introduced me to port and stilton sauce which was an instant hit with me even though I wasn’t at that point fully sold on port (oh how things change). I decided to serve it with our Christmas dinner this year as I don’t often have a reason to make it as it’s a usual accompaniment to steak. It did go very well with our fake turkey joint though. I used the recipe from Waitrose but I thought it needed a touch more stilton. Maybe it depends on your blue cheese. We had a lovely port and stilton hamper from my sister in law for Christmas – it’s almost as if she knew our dinner plans.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 100g stilton
  • 200ml milk
  • 50ml port
  • pepper

Method

1.) Weigh out the butter, flour, stilton. Add the milk and port to a measuring jug.

2.) Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Stir to make a paste then cook off for a couple of minutes.

3.) Crumble in the stilton and melt in the pan.

4.) Add the milk and port mixture gradually until everything is combined, whisking out all the lumps and adding more liquid once the sauce thickens up.

5.) Season with pepper.

Frangipane Mince Pies

Mince pies are a traditional Christmas treat in the UK. Generally it’s a mince pie and some sherry that gets left out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Mince isn’t a meat but a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, rum or brandy and spices. It’s really easy to find jars of the stuff around wintertime in the UK but if you can’t it’s not a particularly difficult thing to make. There are a lot of odd people that don’t like mince pies. Admittedly, mince pies are pretty commercially produced when shop bought and the pastry has to be a bit robust to survive. I think these mince pies taken from the Baking Bible that is Nigella Lawon’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ would convert the hardiest of doubters, the pastry is so light with the icing sugar and the frangipane goes beautifully with the spiced fruit. I think the almond flavour of frangipane just makes it extra Christmassy, reminiscent of marzipan and stollen. Serve one of these with a cup of mulled wine for the ultimate winter treat.

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 175g plain flour
  • 30g ground almonds and another 90g for the frangipane
  • 65g icing sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 125g unsalted block of butter and another 90g for the frangipane
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g mincemeat
  • 90g caster sugar

Method

1.) For the pastry, add the icing sugar, flour and 30g almonds and a pinch of salt to a food processor.

2.) Chop the 125g butter into small cubes and throw them into the food processor.

3.) Pulse the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.

4.) In a bowl, separate 2 egg yolks and add a tbsp iced water. Pour into the food processor and continue to pulse until the pastry is starting to clump together around the food processor.

5.) Bring it together with your hands and form two discs. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6.) Roll out one of the discs and stamp out 6 circles. Use these to fill the inside of a cupcake tin. Repeat with the other disc. I only had a muffin tin so I had to do a bit of a cut and paste job with the rest of the pastry which was fine but it was a bit difficult to get the pies out of the tin in the end.

7.) Refrigerate the mince pies for another 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

8.) Divide the mincemeat among the twelve tarts.

9.) To make the frangipane, melt the other 90g butter in the microwave for 20 seconds, beat with the other two eggs, the 90g caster sugar and the 90g ground almonds.

10.) Add dollops of the frangipane onto the top of the mincemeat. Cook for about 15 minutes. (Mine may look a bit brown but weren’t burnt at all!)

11.) Let them cool to room temperature before removing from the tin.

Festive Pasta

Here’s my last pre-Christmas meal before I get into the real unhealthy Christmas fare. I saw a recipe for sprout, hazelnut and leek pasta on BBC Good Food and I thought why not add some Linda McCartney imitation pulled chicken and it would practically be Christmas dinner on a plate with far less effort. I really love sprouts and can’t see why anyone wouldn’t unless they’ve been subjected to overcooked soggy ones.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 2 leeks
  • 200g sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50ml vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 350g pasta
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 pack Linda McCartney chicken

Method

1.) Wash and slice the leeks. Chop the ends off the sprouts, discard the outer leaves and quarter them.

2.) Cook in a frying pan with the oil for 10 – 15 minutes until softened.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic, zest the lemon and grate the parmesan and make up the stock.

4.) Put the pasta in a pan and cover with boiling water, cook until soft.

5.) Add the garlic to the frying pan and cook for another minute.

6.) Add the chicken and heat up until it’s defrosted.

7.) Stir in the stock and crème fraiche.

8.) Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Then stir through the parmesan, lemon zest and hazelnuts until everything is hot and the parmesan is melted.

9.) Season and serve.

Kipper & Potato Salad

I’ve been a bit behind on my posting having become a bit obsessed by crochet with my newfound amigurumi skills. I’ve recently made a Harry Potter, a slice of pizza, a fried egg and have nearly finished a mandrake. This post which I made before Christmas (trying to be a bit healthy before the big feast) has as a result been a bit delayed. I do love a potato salad though so I felt it was well-worth posting. Kippers are kind of an English thing so if you can’t find them, this would work with any smoked fish. Indeed I did see this recipe in ‘Grandma’s recipes’, a gift from my in laws. My in-laws never made this for me despite their profound love of potatoes. Kippers also can be a bit bony towards the edge so it’s a good idea to have a scan for the bones.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 kippers
  • 650g potatoes
  • 3 tbsp dill
  • 2 spring onions
  • 8 radishes
  • 1 bag salad leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tbsp oil (preferably one without too much flavour – e.g. rapeseed)

Method

1.) Peel and slice the potatoes and place into a pan of boiling water. Cook with a pinch of salt until tender, drain, leave to cool to room temperature.

2.) In the meantime, preheat the oven and cook the kippers as per the instructions. Probably about 15 minutes at 180 degrees C

3.) In a large bowl, add the salad leaves, chop up the dill and add that too.

4.) Finely slice the radishes and spring onion and add with the salad. Mix everything.

5.) In a measuring jug, add the mustard, vinegar, cream, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Give it all a whisk.

6.) Plate up the salad and top with the potatoes, top with the kippers and drizzle with the dressing.

Sausage, cider and apple pie

Now we’re in winter I just couldn’t resist making a pie. With the veggie sausage options out there so great at the moment, I felt a traditionally meat pie like this pork sausage and cider pie could work well with a substitute. I’m a particular fan of the Richmond brand veggie sausages. The pastry in this pie is made using a mixture of cider and oil which lightens it up a fair bit. In his book, ‘Pies & Puds’, Paul Hollywood, co-judge of The Great British Bake off, just uses the pastry as a lid. I’m not so keen on pies which only have a pastry lid, so I’ve stretched the pastry out to surround the whole thing, missing the ability to make it look pretty as a result. However, I wouldn’t do it any differently, this pie was exactly how I wanted it taste-wise.

Serves 4 as main

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml dry cider
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 350g plain flour and extra for dusting + 2tbsp
  • oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 8 veggie sausages
  • 175ml stock
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 2 eating apples
  • 6 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Make the pie filling. Peel and finely chop the two onions. Finely chop the celery sticks. Heat some oil in a casserole dish and cook the onion and celery until softened.

2.) Chop up the sausages into pieces, add to the pan, cook until starting to brown. Add 2tbsp flour to the pan and cook for one minute to cook off the flour flavour.

3.) Make up the stock and measure out 175ml of the cider. Give it a good stir and leave to cook.

4.) Chop up the apples and the sage.

5.) Add them to the pan and cook down for about 45 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

6.) Leave the filling to cool to room temperature and start to make the pastry.

7.) Beat one of the eggs in a mixing bowl with 125ml olive oil and 125ml cider. Start whisking in the flour until it’s too thick to whisk. Then mix with a wooden spoon to combine the rest of the flour. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

8.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Dust your countertop with flour and dust a rolling pin. Cut off 2/3 of the pastry and roll out thinly enough to line a 30cm tart dish.

9.) Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

10.) At this point, if the filling is around room temperature then fill the pastry crust.

11.) Roll out the other pastry 1/3 and cover the top of the pie. Press the edges together so there’s no gaps then stick a finger in the middle to make a small hole to let out steam. Beat the other egg, brush the pastry with the egg and bake for 30 minutes.