The Crazy Kitchen: December 2015

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Tuesday 15 December 2015

Home Made Mincemeat and Mincemeat & Apple Parcels

For the last few years I've been making my own mincemeat at Christmas, and I don't know why I didn't start making it sooner, as it's one of the simplest things. All it takes is a little soaking and mixing and then into sterilised jars, ready to use over the holiday period.

My first mincemeat was chocolate flavoured, which added to the richness of it, and it was great in recipes such as mincemeat palmiers, mincemeat pancakes, mincemeat ice cream and mincemeat slices

You don't need to be a culinary genius to make mince pies, especially if you use ready rolled puff pastry to make these mincemeat and apple parcels. If you want to have a go at making your own mincemeat, my recipe can be found at the end of the post.

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Mincemeat & Apple Parcels - makes approx 20 small parcels

320g pack of ready rolled puff pastry
200g mincemeat
1 small Bramley apple, peeled, cored & finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
caster sugar
  • open out the pastry and cut into approx 20 equal squares 
  • mix together the mincemeat and Bramley apple
  • spoon a small amount (approx 1 tsp) of mincemeat/apple into the centre of each square
  • brush around the edge of the pastry with beaten egg
  • fold one corner of the pastry diagonally across to the other corner and seal around the edges with a fork
  • lay onto a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little caster sugar
  • (at this point you can freeze a few to bake at a later stage)
  • bake in a preheated 200C oven for approx 15 minutes, until golden brown and puffed up

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Home Made Mincemeat - makes approx 6 large jars (recipe can be scaled down as required)

1500g dried mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, cherries, mixed peel, currants)
450g soft brown sugar
200ml dark rum
200g vegetable suet
1 Bramley apples, peeled, cored & grated
juice & zest of 1 lemon
juice & zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
  • mix the dried fruit, sugar & rum together in a bowl
  • cover and leave overnight to soak
  • stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined
  • spoon into sterilised airtight jars and store in a cupboard until needed
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Thursday 10 December 2015

Scandinavian Inspiration for Your Home

Ever since I bought my first home back in the nineties, I’ve loved getting inspiration from, and shopping in, Ikea. There’s something about the clean look of Scandinavian furniture and homes that really appeals to me. Throughout the past 17 years of home ownership I’ve gone through many styles of d├ęcor, including bright orange and dark blue walls in my dining room (what was I thinking!), but more recently I’ve returned to that crisp Scandinavian look, with clean white walls and white furniture, and that ‘Hygge’ feel. Hygge is a word that I’ve seen a lot of this year, and it roughly translates as ‘cosy feel’.

We’ve recently had the lounge painted, and gone are the floral brown wallpaper clad and teal walls, replaced by fresh white walls, a newly painted fireplace in winter grey and grey accessories.  This Christmas I’ve completely embraced the Scandinavian look with red, white and grey bunting, cushions and decorations on the tree. I’m absolutely loving the way the lounge looks at the moment and can’t wait to get a few pictures up on the wall to give it even more ‘Hygge’. Our 12 year old carpet will be replaced in the new year and I’m crossing my fingers for a new sofa, but not holding my breath!

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Although I love browsing the shops for home interior ideas, I find much of my inspiration on the Internet, in places such as Pinterest, Houzz, Polyvore and Homify. I could get lost for hours on these sites looking for lounge, bedroom and kitchen ideas, in particular the white rooms with pops of colour.

I’ve fallen in love with a few of the collections on Homify, and I can spend ages dreaming of having these homes for myself. As well as showcasing dreamy images the site is full of tips and advice on how to create your perfect style. A few of the tips for creating a Scandinavian feel in your home include the following :

  • Choose warm and cosy fabrics
  • Use natural materials in their raw state
  • Limit colours to no more than 3 tones
  • Use clever solutions to  maximise space
  • Make the most of natural light

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Photo credit :Ekaterine Donde Design/ Homify

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Photo credit : Daria Baranovych Interior Design / Homify

promotional post

Monday 7 December 2015

Peppermint Candy Cane Fudge Brownies

If you find yourself with too much chocolate over the Christmas period, and are craving rich and gooey chocolate brownies instead, then read on to find how I made a Lindt Gold Reindeer and 5 of Santa's helpers into these little beauties.

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Peppermint Candy Cane Fudge Brownies

220g caster sugar
160g butter
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 peppermint candy canes, crushed
125g plain flour

to decorate
1 peppermint candy cane, crushed
  • add the sugar, butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt & Reindeer to a large saucepan
  • over a low/medium heat stir until everything is melted together and smooth
  • allow to cool for 10 minutes before whisking in the eggs
  • stir in the crushed candy canes and flour to combine
  • pour into a greased and lined tin (approx 10" x 6")
  • bake in a preheated 160C oven for approx 25 minutes - the top should be firm but the inside still a little gooey
  • allow to cool & then cover with melted chocolate and crushed candy cane
  • refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before slicing into squares

These are delicious cold, but are also really good warmed up and served with good quality vanilla ice cream

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I was provided with some Lindt chocolate for use in my baking

Friday 4 December 2015

Flower Sprouts - an alternative Sprout

As we approach Christmas day the big question is 'do you like sprouts or don't you?' 

I don't ever remember liking Brussels sprouts growing up, but sometime in my adult years I decided that I liked them after all, and now I love them! I think my daughter is heading the same way, as last year, after 11 years of eating sprouts, she declared that she now couldn't stand them. Maybe it's just not cool to like sprouts when you're a teen, or maybe our palate changes along with our bodies. Hopefully, when she's past those awkward teen years she'll once again find a love for them, but in the meantime I attempted to get her to eat some Flower Sprouts for dinner.

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Flower sprouts are a relatively new vegetable, which are kind of a cross between sprouts and a mini cabbage or kale. They're not as tightly packed as a Brussels sprout, and therefore don't need to be cooked for as long, and after a quick blanch in boiling water they're tender enough to eat or add to a stir fry. It reminded me of the leaves of purple sprouting broccoli.

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I made two dishes with my flower sprouts, the first of which was a warm salad for my lunch.

Flower Sprout, Bacon & Chestnut Salad - serves 1

tbsp sesame oil
3 rashers of lean dry cured bacon, chopped
handful of cooked chestnuts, chopped
3-4 handfuls of flower sprouts
tbsp honey
tbsp dark soy sauce
  • heat the oil in a large frying pan
  • add the bacon and fry until turning brown
  • add the chestnuts and sprouts and fry for a couple of minutes
  • add the honey and soy sauce and stir to coat everything and continue frying until the sprouts are heated through and tender

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The second dish I made was for the rest of the family, and this time I cut the sprouts in half and blanched them quickly in boiling water to soften.

Flower Sprout & Chicken Chow Mein - serves 4

2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, sliced
pinch of dried ginger
pinch of Chinese 5 spice
5-6 tbsp dark soy sauce
350g cooked chicken breast strips
150g flower sprouts
3-4 sheets of egg noodles
  • heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • add the garlic and onion and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes
  • add the ginger, 5 spice, 2 tbsp soy sauce and chicken breast and continue cooking for another minute or two whilst you blanch the sprouts
  • bring a pan of boiling water to the boil and add the sprouts for 60 seconds before draining
  • cook the noodles as per directions on the pack, and set aside
  • add the sprouts to the pan and toss to coat, adding more soy sauce as and when needed
  • add the noodles and stir - ensure everything is heated through before serving

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The Chow Mein was a massive hit with the family. Before eating Jack declared "I don't like these green bits', but then went on to eat the lot. Hanna didn't ask what the green bits were so I didn't tell her, well not until she'd eaten the lot & said how nice it was . Later she said it tasted like broccoli.

post commissioned for

Thursday 3 December 2015

Lemon, Prosecco & Raspberry Shot Glass Trifle

Over the Christmas period I have a couple of favourite tipples, one of which is Prosecco. On Christmas morning it's traditional for us to start off with a Bucks Fizz breakfast, which we make with fresh orange juice and either Cava, Prosecco or Champagne. Later in the day I switch the orange juice for a dash of Chambord raspberry liquor, or my homemade Cherry Vodka. I've stocked up my wine rack in preparation (especially as my Mum will be joining us, as she likes her Prosecco), and after trying the Prosecco from Premier Estates Wine I liked it so much that I bought a few more!

Raspberries go really well with Prosecco and I always keep a box of frozen raspberries in the freezer ready to add to a glass of fizz to add a little flavour, or help chill the Prosecco down if I've forgotten to pop one in the fridge in advance.

These individual shot glass trifles combine both raspberries and Prosecco, along with a touch of zing from lemon curd, and they would make great Christmas Day desserts when you fancy something sweet but are too full for Christmas pud. They can be made in advance or whipped up to order in just a few minutes.

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Lemon, Prosecco & Raspberry Shot Glass Trifle - makes 6

base of trifle
2 1/2cm slices of Madeira cake
lemon curd

trifle topping
100g cream cheese
30g lemon curd
2 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp Prosecco
18 fresh or frozen (thawed) raspberries
  • spread one slice of cake with lemon curd and sandwich the 2 slices together
  • cut 6 discs out of the cake a similar diameter to the glass
  • place a disc of cake into the bottom of each glass
  • drizzle approx 1/2tsp of Prosecco onto the cake & set aside
  • whisk the cream cheese, lemon curd, double cream & prosecco together until smooth and forming soft peaks
  • place 2 raspberries into each shot glass & press down lightly
  • spoon the creamy mixture into the shot glasses, or pipe in with an icing bag
  • top with a raspberry and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes before serving

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I was provided with a case of Prosecco from Premier Estates Wine to use in my recipe, and over the festive period. This post contains a referral link.

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