Posts tagged Christmas
Posts tagged Christmas
Christmas has come and gone as quickly as it does every year and I’m now looking forlornly at the empty space where just days ago there was a pile of wrapped gifts, and at the ample and delicious Christmas day food that now only exists inside my digital camera (and perhaps my thighs).
This year was considerably different to previous Christmases for as far back as I can remember, in the sense that I didn’t get to do the traditional yearly get together with family. Instead, a bunch of us Kiwis (and one Argentinian) that are currently residing in London set off together for what we’ll call an Orphan’s Christmas in a quaint seaside town up North. We were lucky enough to be offered a beautiful, big house (previously known as The Ship Inn) right on the coast of Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk. And after just two hours of trains, tubes and mini-vans we were there for four whole days.
So while our families were sunbathing, swimming, playing cricket and enjoying outdoor Kiwi barbecues in the Southern Hemisphere we were huddled around the fire with mulled wine, puzzles, Scrabble and plenty of comfort food for our very first “White Christmas”.
We divvied up the food duties and I was half responsible for dessert which suited me fine. In the theme of trying new things this Christmas I went with a recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake; something I hadn’t made before as I usually prefer fruit versions. Having watched some of Anne Thornton’s Dessert First TV show recently I decided to use her recipe for “Deepest Darkest Chocolate Cheesecake”. However, I did use my own base recipe (which can be found here) as I prefer a thick, crunchy cheesecake base. It was very, very chocolaty and rich - something I wouldn’t usually complain about - but I do love the taste of cream cheese that usually shines through in most traditional baked cheesecake recipes, and in this one I felt that was lacking. When I make it again I’ll experiment with the ratios of chocolate and cream cheese, and as it was quite dry I’ll perhaps add a cup of sour cream to the mix.
Also on dessert duty was Melina and between us we made sure the spread was plentiful. Melina brought to the table (pun intended) a traditional Argentinian dessert of baked shortcake tarts made with Dulche de Leche. And, oh man, it was so so good! She also had a couple of boxes of Havanna Alfajores to share around; a soft, cakey biscuit that I can’t quite describe and they were just as delicious (I actually managed to weasel a few more out of her for the trip home). They’re like nothing I’ve tried before and definitely something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. I’ve had a look online and it seems like you can order them internationally from Amigo Foods. Go on, dooooo it!
And because it’s the festive season; I love baking; I love to feed people; and I felt we needed more calorie-laden treats to get us through the days surrounding Christmas I also made Nigella’s Black Beer Gingerbread (recipe at the bottom of this post) and Pioneer Woman’s Cinamon Rolls. The gingerbread was a massive favourite (I even caught a few people sneaking pieces first thing in the morning) and as Nigella described, it was “like Christmas in a bowl”. Just like her Guinness Chocolate Cake it was very rich and very moist. I definitely recommend this for the next time you’re looking to make something to share at a morning/afternoon tea or picnic lunch. In comparison, the cinamon buns weren’t so great and I won’t bother making them again - I can think of much better ways to fill up my daily calorie quota.
To all ATK readers - a very Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Merry Secular Holiday… Regardless of your background or deity, I hope you all had fantastic Christmases and I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2012.
Nigella’s Black Beer Gingerbread
300g golden syrup
200g dark muscavado sugar
2tsp grounder ginger
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
300g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml sour cream
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 170c.
Put the butter, syrup, muscavado sugar, Guinness, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pam and melt gently over a low heat.
Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and bicarb. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.
Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.
Pour this into a lined rectangle tin, or into a barbecue-type foil tray, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be risen at the centre, and coming away from the tin at the sides.
Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.
In keeping with the Christmas theme, here’s a quick and easy recipe for a festive, red and green cocktail.
It’s called Toffee Apple and it’s my favourite homemade cocktail not just at Christmas but at any time of the year. It’s easy enough to make as it’s stirred, not shaken, so you don’t need a cocktail shaker. The ingredients are easily attainable and not too expensive. It really does taste like a Toffee Apple and is sickly sweet (what else did you expect from me?) but it’s really yummy.
What you’ll need:
- Plain Vodka (vanilla vodka also works if you have that to hand)
- Apple Sours or any kind of Apple flavoured liqueur
- Toffee Liqueur
- Apple Juice
- Cranberry Juice
In a tall glass, pour two shots of Vodka, one shot of Apple Sours and one shot of Toffee Liqueur over cubed ice. Top up with equal measures of Apple and Cranberry Juice. Give it a stir. Drink and enjoy!
Just don’t have too many before you put your turkey on xx
1. Pre-Christmas lunch with our little London family. I’d had my heart set on a Burmese restaurant called Mandalay due it having really good reviews, a huge menu and being well-priced. We ventured all the way out to Edgware Road at 1pm on Sunday on the Circle Line, only to find that it was closed (entirely my fault - should have called and booked ahead!). So, we ended up at a place called Bar Marrakesh, which was about the only eatery on the whole street that was open. Si and I both had the Moroccan spiced lamb pieces whilst the others had various tagines. The food was okay and the service was reasonably good - although there was no excuse for it not to be considering they had just a handful of customers in there at the time. One niggle was that I asked for a small side of hummus to go with my meal and at the end they charged me for the £4 starter option of breads and dips. I won’t rush to go back there but for an unplanned, unresearched bar meal it admittedly could have been a lot worse.
2. The highlight of the day was catching up with Simon’s cousin Jase, who we’d lived with when we first arrived in the UK. And that’s without the fact that he’d bought us big hampers of Kiwi food as Christmas gifts! Burger Rings, Minties, Pineapple Lumps and Watties Tomato Sauce… ahhh, the taste of home! :)
By the time we arrived back in Croydon it was almost dinner time and we were still full up from lunch so we opted for a quick dinner of leftover chickpea patties and salad in tortilla wraps. So instead of a recipe, I’ll leave you with a positive thought to finish the week: If you only focus on the negatives in life you’ll miss the opportunities that are right in front of you.
So very true! Be happy :) xx