Creamy Butternut Squash Gratin

This is a great all year round accompaniment for any hot dish and this year it was perfect along with the Turkey and other vegetables and trimmings on Christmas Day. The idea came from a food workshop day. This is one recipe that I am going to adapt and try with other root vegetables like parsnips and celeriac.

(Printable Version)

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 Large Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and sliced 5mm thick
1-2 Garlic Cloves peeled, crushed or grated
175ml/6fl oz Double Cream
75g/3oz Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 190C.

1 Place the butternut squash in a large (1 litre) pie dish and season with salt and pepper.

2 Place the garlic and cream in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then pour over the butternut squash in the dish.

3 Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

4 Cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 45-60 mins, removing the foil after 30 mins.

5 When cooked, the butternut squash should be soft and the top golden and bubbly.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash on Foodista

Chocolate Yule Log (Gluten Free)

IMG_4245

As it is christmas time, I thought that I would re-blog about our Chocolate Roulade recipe that is perfect as a Chocolate Yule Log recipe too.

Dont forget that if you are using the recipe for a Yule Log, either fill with a liqueur or chocolate cream, cover in chocolate ganache, mark with a fork, stick on fake robin, and enjoy!

And it is Gluten Free too.

Mince Pies

This has got to be one of the best Christmas treats ever and I have had them homemade as far back as I can remember! They are one thing I love coming back to the family home for, over the festive period. I have even had my Brother in Canada asking me to get this recipe on my blog.

This is an original family recipe and one that I think is personally better than the rest but then I may be slightly biased! I asked my mum for some background on them and this is what she told me…

This is my recipe for mince pies, everyone has their own I feel, but these freeze well and my family seem to like them. In fact when my eldest son (me) was at primary school he used to take one for break. This led to me making them for his form teacher too!

You do need a light hand for pastry or make it in a mixer but watch it carefully as it should not be over-mixed. I use my homemade mincemeat that I make with the apples from the garden, but if you use shop-bought mincemeat add a little brandy or rum to it as it adds a certain something to the pies.

I make the pastry with what flour I have in the cupboard – plain, self-raising or a mixture of both. The amounts shown below can be doubled in quantity or even halved.

(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:
1lb/450g Flour
9ozs/260g Butter (margarine or half white fat half butter can be used)
1 Egg (either the whole egg can be used or just the yolk)
Cold water
Mincemeat

Preheat oven to 200C/400F Gas 6 or 180C Fan Oven.

1 Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. If using a mixer do not over mix.

2 Add the egg and some water; continue mixing until the mixture comes together. If you only use the egg the pastry will be more difficult to work with but that is ok.

3 Remove from the bowl, wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for Β½/1 hour.

4 Place onto a floured board, roll out thinly and cut out rounds to fit your tins.

5 Fill with the mincemeat and dampen the edges of the lids with water and press them lightly on top.

6 Brush with either beaten egg, milk or a mixture of both and cut a slit in the top. This can be with a knife or scissors. I am a bit of a traditionalist and put a cross.

7 Bake in the oven for 20/30 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire tray.

8 Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar and cream or brandy butter.

9 If freezing I find it is better to freeze the mince-pies uncooked. Freeze in the tin, and when frozen remove from the tin and put into a freezer bag. To cook, remove from the freezer put back into the tin, allow to defrost, brush with an egg mixture and cook as before.

If allergic to either eggs or milk just leave them out.

NB I will post my recipe for homemade mincemeat at a later date.

Enjoy!

“Sloe Sparkles”

A fun Christmas or New Year party drink, for breaking the ice, or serving as a pre-dinner aperitif is this delicious recipe using homemade Sloe Vodka.

Pour a measure of Sloe Vodka into a champagne flute and add a squeeze of lemon. Top up with either champagne, prosecco or any sparkling white wine, chilled.

Enjoy!

Braised Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is a good vegetable to buy this time of year. It can be pickled in vinegar but I think served hot with any meat is my preference. It is also very good with cold meat too.

The recipe I have used, has evolved over the years and I am not sure who gave it to me or where it came from, but I know, that when I was a child, we used to have it on Boxing Day with the cold turkey and ham, after we had been out into the countryside to work up an appetite.

It can be made two days in advance and kept in the fridge – it freezes well too. I try to use all organic ingredients as the red cabbages used to come from my grandparent’s garden which never had chemicals on them!

(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:
1 Red Cabbage (approx 2lbs/1kg)
Β½/1lb (225g/450g) Red Onions, finely chopped
1 large Cooking Apple (approx 1lb/450g) peeled, cored and chopped small
1 Clove Garlic, finely chopped
2/3tblsp Dark Brown Sugar
2/3tblsp Red Wine Vinegar and/or Red Wine
ΒΌ teaspoon each of Ground Cinnamon, Cloves and freshly grated Nutmeg
A little butter
Salt & pepper

1 Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut and shred finely removing the hard stalk.

2 In an oven-proof large pan, melt half the butter and then put a layer of cabbage on top, then add some of the chopped onion, apple and garlic, sprinkling it with some of the sugar and spices.

3 Continue the layering until all the ingredients are in the pan, and then pour over the red wine vinegar and/or red wine. Dot with the rest of the butter and put on a lid.

4 This can either be cooked very slowly on top of the stove or in the oven at 150C/300F Gas Mark 2 or 140C Fan Oven, stirring it occasionally during the cooking time.

Enjoy!

Red Cabbage on Foodista

Three months in…

…and over 10,000 visitors later and I now really know and appreciate, that the effort and enjoyment of writing and running a foodie blog, has been worth it!

I have made a lot of new great foodie friends worldwide and have them all to thank for their continued support and feedback, and hope to share many more recipes in the years to come with them.

The best bit for me is reading all the other amazing recipes on other great blogs and giving me ideas on what to cook next.

I’m already looking forward to 2010, as I hope my personal cooking accomplishments will get bigger and better, and hope to write all about them on here. πŸ™‚

Sliced Duck Breast with Winter Stir-fry

I thought it was about time that I chose a new recipe to do from one of my books and having a couple of duck breasts in the fridge, I found the following winter recipe from James Martin’s book “My Kitchen”, which looked perfect to use with them. The only thing I didnt have at home were the sprouts, as I normally dont eat them but I thought as they were to be thinly sliced that I would give them a go!

It is a very easy recipe to follow and the timings are spot on, so well done to James for coming up with such a tasty and fun recipe to cook. This is what he has to say about it…

This dish is full of strong, wintry flavours. For the best results, buy Brussels sprouts still on the stalk and crisp up the duck before baking to enhance the taste and texture.

(Printable Recipe)

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
3 tbsp Runny Honey
2-4 Duck Breasts
Salt and Black Pepper

For the stir-fry:
2 tbsp Olive oil
5oz/150g Pancetta, diced
4 Shallots, peeled and halved (root left intact)
3oz/75g Butter
11oz/300g Brussels Sprouts, outer leaves removed and thinly sliced
8 Brown Cap Mushrooms, sliced
11fl oz/300ml Chicken Stock
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 180C/350F Gas 4 or 170C Fan Oven.

1 On the hob, heat a frying pan large enough to fry the duck breasts side by side, add the honey and allow to bubble gently.

2 Season both sides of each duck breast with salt and pepper, place into the frying pan, skin side down and cook gently over a medium heat until the duck is crisp and the the honey has turned brown.

3 Transfer the duck breasts into a baking dish, skin side up. Bake in the oven for 8-10 mins (longer for well done), then remove from the oven and set aside to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

4 Meanwhile, add half the olive oil to a non-stick frying pan set over a high heat and fry the pancetta until golden brown. Remove from the pan, dry on kitchen paper and set aside.

5 Drain off the fat from the pan, then set the pan back over the heat, add the rest of the oil and add the shallots to brown them.

6 After they have been cooking for 2-3 minutes, melt half the butter in the pan and tip in the Brusssls sprouts and mushrooms. SautΓ© for 4-5 minutes to brown a little, adding more butter if necessary, then add the cooked pancetta.

7 Pour in the stock and simmer to reduce for 2 minutes and stir in the rest of the butter. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Place on plates and arrange the sliced duck on top.

Enjoy!

“Blackberry Bubbles”

“Blackberry Bubbles” is a festive drink for this winter season, that I created using our homemade Blackberry Vodka or Blackberry Brandy.

Pour a measure of either the vodka or brandy into a champagne flute. Top up with either champagne, prosecco or any sparkling white wine, chilled.

Enjoy!

Blackberry Vodka Update

My next drink to sieve and bottle, after the Sloe Vodka, was my Blackberry Vodka. This was completely different to the first drink, as it was much darker and richer looking and when I opened the bottle for the first time, it had a stronger sweeter smell too.

After sieving the more syrupy liquid through my cheese cloth, I noticed that the blackberries left behind had turned a rich raspberry red colour. I then poured myself a small measure and was very happy with the results! Having a sweet tooth, this drink was really sweet and delicious and had a nice kick to it as well. I was really pleased at this point, as both drinks had been a success. It’s a shame I promised to give most of it away for xmas!!

I really recommend anyone wanting to try making their first homemade alcoholic drink, to give this easy recipe a go. The results are worth it!

Now, I wonder if there is anything I can make with the leftover vodka infused blackberries?

Blackberry on Foodista

Sloe Vodka Update

Three months after creating and bottling up my Sloe Vodka, it was time to finally sieve the alcohol and fruit, then bottle (and taste) the final product.

The sloes that came out of the storage bottle were a gorgeous rich red colour which in turn made the vodka an amazing translucent red colour.

Having never made or tasted Sloe Vodka before, I poured myself a small measure and was pleasantly suprised at how clean, crisp and full of flavour it was. It was sweeter than I thought it would be as well! I had to stop the tasting process so that there would be some left to give away as xmas presents.

I also have some other ideas planned on how to use some of the vodka in a post to come, so watch this space!

Also read Sloe Vodka Watch – Day #3.

Sloe on Foodista