Thursday, 23 December 2010

Chestnut and Cranberry Festive Ring (or Loaf)

I found this recipe in a BBC Vegetarian magazine in 1999 and I have made it every Christmas since as it is so good. Originally I made it as a ring, but last year I started making it in 2 loaf tins. The recipe is sufficient to fill a 1lb loaf tin and a 2lbs loaf tin. I make the loaves in advance of Christmas and slice them into portions and freeze them individually wrapped in foil. Defrost as required and bake in foil for 15-20 minutes at 180'/190'C. Makes approx. 14 portions.

50g butter
2tbsp olive oil
oil or butter for greasing
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large leek, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
500g cooked chestnuts, peeled
225g fresh cranberries
140g fresh white breadcrumbs
15g fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
550g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and coarsely grated (300g grated weight)
100g soft goats cheese
565g puff pastry
1 medium egg yolk, lightly beaten, to glaze

1. Preheat oven to 190'C. Line and grease tin(s). If using a ring mould cut a 23cm circle of greaseproof paper and cut a 13cm circle from its centre. Make 1cm deep cuts, spaced 3cm apart all around the circumference. If using loaf tins it's a lot simpler! :)
2. Heat half of the butter and half of the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion, leek and garlic for 3-5 minutes until softened. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. In a processor, blitz the chestnuts until most are finely chopped. Heat remaining butter and oil in pan and cook chestnuts for 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add to leek mixture.
4. Into chestnut and leek mixture add the cranberries, breadcrumbs, herbs, apple and season well. Stir in the 3 beaten eggs.

5. Place half of the mixture into your chosen tin (s) and press down firmly with the back of a spoon.

6. Dot the mixture with torn pieces of the goat's cheese, then cover with the remaining mixture, again pressing down firmly.

7. Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes, until lightly browned and coming away from the sides of the tin.
8. Allow to cool in tin. Once cold remove from tin, carefully pull away the paper and invert onto a baking tray.
9. Roll out the puff pastry and cover chestnut roast in your chosen design. Brush with egg wash.
10. Bake at 190'C for approximately 25-35 minutes, until pastry is risen and golden brown. Either serve immediately or cool and freeze in slices.
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Chocolate Brownies

This recipe was given to me by my friend GG several years ago and has become a family favourite.
275g/10oz soft margarine
375g/13oz caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 tsp baking powder
75g/3oz cocoa powder
100g/4oz plain flour
1 (125g) packet of plain chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 180'C.
2. Line a 9" x 13" x 2" tin (I use my roasting tin) with foil and grease well.
3. Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, either by hand or with an electric whisk.
4. Spoon into tin and level.
5. Bake for approximately 35/40 minutes. Please adjust baking temperate and time to suit your oven. Brownies are ready when a crust has formed on the top and the middle is still squidgy and slightly undercooked. They are better undercooked than overcooked. Allow to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Butter Bean Pate

2 x 420g cans butter beans, drained or equal amount of freshly cooked beans
1 lemon, grate zest & juice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil (I use a mixture of extra virgin & normal)
salt & black pepper to season
1. Place beans and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Add lemon zest & juice, garlic, mint and oil and process again. Add a tbsp of water if a smoother consistency is required.
3. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
4. Refrigerate until required. Keeps well in fridge for up to 5 days.
I have also made this with homegrown borlotto beans.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crispies

These are similar to my Nana's marshmallow and toffee crispies, which were a childhood favourite of mine and are loved by my children and husband. This recipe is equally delicious and looks like becoming a family favourite.

1 cup peanut butter - I used half smooth and half crunchy (simply because I finished one jar and started another)
1 cup sugar - I used caster sugar
1 cup golden syrup
6 cups Rice Crispies
200g dark chocolate
A 9" x 13" baking tray, lightly greased or base-lined

1. Over a low heat, melt the peanut butter, sugar and syrup together in a saucepan. Stir until smooth and then remove from heat. Be careful not to overcook.
2. Mix in the rice crispies.
3. Place into a 9 x 13 baking tray. Press down to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed. I used part of a margarine wrapper to press the mixture down with as it is very sticky.
4. Melt the chocolate and spread over the top of the crispy mixture.
5. Place in refrigerator to set before cutting. I then kept the crispies, in a cake box, in the fridge to ensure that they stayed firm. Serve straight from the fridge.

Adapted from the recipe at

Mum's Oat Cookies

3oz butter or margarine
2oz soft brown sugar
2 level tbsp golden syrup
4oz SR flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
3oz porridge oats
1 tbsp milk
1. Preheat oven to 170'C fan and lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Place butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and gently heat until melted. Do not boil.
3. Sift together the flour, soda and cinnamon. Add to the syrup mixture along with the oats and milk. Mix thoroughly.
4. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto baking tray, leaving room for cookies to spread, and flatten slightly with a spoon.
5. Bake for approximately 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Allow to cool on tray for a couple of minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I made these macaroons for the first time at Easter. The recipe originates from the "delicious" magazine. The magazine suggested that you could also flavour the macaroons, but I chose not to as I prefered the natural almond flavour. Makes 20.
For the Macaroons:-
175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large free-range egg whites
pinch of salt
75g caster sugar
food colouring(s)

For the Filling:-
150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar
food colouring(s)
1. Preheat the oven to 140'C fan.
2. For the macaroons, whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy. At this point stir in your food colouring. If using more than one, separate meringue mixture into individual bowls.
4. Fold in half the almond/icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half and using a spatula, cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag(s) fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.
5. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure a good "foot". Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important - you should be able to touch them without any mixture sticking to your finger.
6. Bake for approx. 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
7. Meanwhile make the filling(s). In a bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar.
8. Use the mixture to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Ice Cream Christmas Pudding with Rum and Raisin Sauce

These recipes are taken from Mary Berry's Christmas Collection and I used my homemade mincemeat in the pudding. Pudding can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Ice Cream Christmas Pudding
Serves 8 - 10
1 x 450g/1lb jar of vegetarian mincemeat
3 tbsps rum
4 large eggs
300ml/0.5 pint double cream
100g/4oz caster sugar
a freezable 2 litre/70 fl oz basin
1. Mix mincemeat and rum together.
2. Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in a small bowl and mix until well blended. In another bowl whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites on fast speed until stiff, then gradually add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time, still on fast speed.
3. Fold the egg yolks and cream into the meringue, followed by the mincemeat and rum.
4. Turn the ice cream mixture into a freezable 2 litre/70 fl oz pudding basin, cover and freeze overnight.
5. To turn the pudding out, dip the basin in very hot water for few moments and turn upside down onto a serving plate. Serve with Rum and Raisin Sauce.
Rum and Raisin Sauce
Makes approx 450g/1lb
Needs to be made at least 24 hours in advance (although I only made mine 12 hours in advance!).
If sauce crystallises in the jug, reheat it until they dissolve.
225g/8oz granulated sugar
6 tbsps water
225g/8oz raisins
75ml/2.5 fl oz rum
1. Measure the sugar and water into a medium-sized pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2. When the syrup is clear, stir in the raisins and continue to heat until they are hot.
3. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Set aside to cool.
4. Pour into serving jug. I refrigerated mine overnight and it kept well for a couple of weeks. at first it seemed too runny, but it thickened overnight to the right consistency.