posts

christmas pudding… last minute!

Christmas pudding is a must have on Christmas Day… even if it’s only a spoonful. Making  Christmas pudding is also part of the ritual of Christmas baking and one of my favourites. Some years ago I fell in love with round spherical moulds and now use them every year when making my Christmas puddings.  I’m not always on top of my Christmas baking and sometimes end up making the pudding a week or so before the big day, so this pudding recipe comes in handy.  I much prefer using butter instead of suet with my recipes as it produces a lighter pudding. Boiling the fruit beforehand means you don’t  have to leave the pudding mixture to sit overnight before steaming. So no worries if you haven’t made your pudding yet… !

christmas pudding

Last Minute Christmas Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 25g glace cherries, quartered
  • 75g pitted prunes, chopped
  • 50g dried  soft apricots, chopped
  • 75g raisins
  • 25g sultanas
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or port
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest and juice of 1/2 orange
  • 50g butter
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 15g blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small granny smith apple, peeled cored and grated
  • 45g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 2 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g fresh white breadcrumbs

How to make:

Add the first 10 ingredients into a saucepan and  place over a gentle heat, stirring to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a gentle simmer and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to cool for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the almonds, egg and apple. Sift in the flour and spices. Add the nutmeg and breadcrumbs and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.

Spoon the mixture into a buttered heatproof pudding bowl (600ml) and smooth the top. Cover with a large round circle of double thickness greaseproof paper with a pleat in the center and tie down with a string. Over wrap the top with some foil.

If you have a spherical pudding mould, follow the included instructions for preparation as there are different sizes, otherwise use the normal pudding bowl.

My favourite pudding mould for Christmas pudding.

Lower the pudding into  a large deep saucepan and pour in some boiling water from the kettle,  about 5cm up the side of the pudding bowl. Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and steam for three hours, make sure the water does not boil off during this time and top up with boiling water when necessary.

Note: This pudding can be served straight away after steaming or cooled and re-heated by steaming for an hour when needed. Double this recipe if you need a larger pudding.

Warm Christmas Pudding served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and some Brandy Butter…roll on the 25th! 

This post is part of the Austrailan Festive Favourite blog hop!

pavlova bites with rose scented cream and pomegranate

Perfect little treats for afternoon tea

Pavlova is one of those desserts that never fails to please, young and old alike. A sweet that has been high on my dessert menu since I was a child and I can’t even begin to think of how many egg whites I have whisked up over the years! My mother always made pavlova  for her dinner parties and as kids we would eagerly wait for the return of the pavlova from the dining room, hoping that some would be left…most of the time, none! However,  pavlova was made on many other occasions, much to our delight. When my children come back from university for the holidays, pavlova is always one of their requests.

This pavlova post is part of the Great Australian Pavlova Blog Hop.  As I have been making this dessert for many years and have tried recipes with the addition of cornflour (keeping the center soft), vinegar, pinches of salt or cream of tartar (stabilization), I have come to the conclusion that… I can make a successful pavlova (crisp on the outside and marshmallowy in the middle) with just the egg whites and sugar… it works for me!

Pavlova Bites with Rose Scented Cream and Pomegranate

Ingredients:

  • 2  large egg whites
  • 110g castor sugar

for the topping:

  • 150ml of whipping cream
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of rose-water (or more to taste)
  • 2 pomegranate, kernels removed
  • edible glitter
  • 12 silver degrees
Useful Kitchen Jewellery:
  • electric whisk
  • baking tray
  • kitchen weighing scales
  • mixing bowl
  • sieve
  • spatula

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 275F/Gas mark 1/130C Fan.

With a pencil or marker draw 12  2” inch circles onto baking parchment and lay (marked side down) onto a lightly greased baking tray.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric whisk on high-speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the castor sugar a little at a time (heaped tablespoon) and continue to whisk until all the sugar has been incorporated and dissolved with the egg white. After about 10 minutes whisking, the mixture should be smooth, shiny and holds very firm points on the whisk when you lift it out of the mixture.

Either spoon or pipe ( piping bag with a plain nozzle) the mixture onto the traced circles, using a palette knife to level the top and smooth the sides.

Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for about 1-1/4 hours or until the pavlovas feel dry to touch and peel easily from the baking parchment. Turn off the oven and let the baked pavlova sit for a further 15 minutes in the oven with the door propped open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Remove the pavlovas from the oven and leave to cool completely on wire cooling racks. Some may crack, do not  worry as it only adds to their charm.

make ahead

Once cooled they can be placed into an airtight container and stored in the fridge for a couple of days before topping with cream and fruit.

assembling the pavlova

A few hours before serving, pour the cream into a bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Using an electric whisk, whisk the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the rose-water, folding into the cream using a spatula. Top each mini pavlova with some cream and scatter over the pomegranate seeds. Place a silver degrees on top and dust over some edible glitter. Cover and place in the fridge until needed.

tips for a successful pavlova

  • Use room temperature egg whites
  • Make sure the bowl and whisk are free from any form of grease or the egg whites will not whisk successfully
  • Do not let any part of the yolk enter into the whites or the egg whites will not whisk successfully.
  • Use castor sugar, not granulated.
  • Check your oven is at the correct temperature using an oven thermometer.

The Vegetable Peeler

2 vegetable peelers, swivel type

The vegetable peeler is an essential kitchen tool that makes peeling of vegetables and fruits much easier. I like to have at least 3 peelers in my kitchen… somehow on the odd occasion they make their way (unnoticed) into the rubbish bin with the discard peels. The annoying thing is, I only seem to discover this the next time I want to peel something.

A vegetable peeler with a really sharp blade is an essential cooks tool, it should be comfortable to hold, remove the bare minimum of peel (thus hanging on to more precious vitamins), resulting in less wastage. How many of you keep a peeler with a blunt blade? You struggle when peeling your vegetables and fruit and swear that you will go out and buy a new one.

The swivel peeler is a favorite and great for peeling easy cucumber ribbons for salads and  garnishes. Have you ever need soft butter fast?  Take the rock hard butter from the fridge and using the vegetable peeler, shave the butter onto a plate, the butter will soften in minutes. Using your vegetable peeler to sharpen pencils… well I can’t say I recommend that.

 Do you have any tips or other uses for your vegetable peeler?

%d bloggers like this: