Saturday, 27 December 2014

MINCE PIES! Sleigh Bells Ringin'

Christmas a-go-go.

Yes, I know it’s over,  but I desperately cling to the remnants of Christmas like I’m falling off a wintery cliff. My tree is still up, sweets are still under it, and goddamn I’m still eating the ham from Christmas day. I’m wearing a Christmas jumper right now, for Chrissakes.

And so, my blog will be festive right until my tree is wilting and the snow is melting. Bring it on!
I really like my enhanced mince pies, the extra zest is killing it, and the almonds really adds something to the pastry. Delectable.

Makes 12

Monday, 22 December 2014

Gingerbread Men - 100th Post Christmas Special!

Let’s hear those sleigh bells ringing!

I love Christmas. Christmas really and truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I love that everywhere gets decked out with lights, I love singing Christmas songs, I love watching Christmas movies with loved ones, and I most especially love cooking Christmas treats.

Christmas, for me, is a time for tradition and comfort, I like watching the same films and wearing the same dodgy jumpers. I also like eating the same things! Having said that, I am always on the lookout for things to add to my festivities: Four years ago I saw It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time, and now it is an unmissable part of the season for me.  Three years ago, my boyfriend and I traipsed to IKEA in Christmas jumpers and got meatballs and a whole bunch of Julmust, and now we do it every year. Even just last year was the first time I’d made ham in coke, and now it has been added to my festive menu!

I’ve never had that “perfect” recipe for gingerbread.. Until now. And wouldn’t you know it, Mary bloody Berry strikes again! I was initially sceptical about the recipe, I’ve never added syrup to a biscuit recipe, but damn it was good.

I’ve made a few adjustments to the spicing, just to amp it up a notch.  Her recipe also was for larger gingerbread people, wheras I’ve gone with a mix of teeny Christmas shapes and the larger people. The small Christmas shapes were a present from my mum and are my new exact favourite thing.

To me, the smaller ones are very similar to Swedish “pepparkakor” in that they are dark, crisp and spiced. The larger ones are that gorgeous, chewy gingerbread cookie that is just delectable.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Chinese Chicken Drumsticks

I’ve always been a big fan of food you can eat with your hands.

Cutting out the middle-man so to speak.

I also very much enjoy sprinkling sesame seeds EVERYWHERE.

So these drumsticks and I are a match made in heaven. They’re especially good for parties this festive season, because they can be easily prepared in advance, don’t require much attention when cooking, and taste great whether eaten hot or old. Cold allows for faster gluttony, though.

Another life motto.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Almond Pesto

So, before I became OBSESSED with hummus, I was obsessed with pesto. And I still am. The best pesto I have ever had was from a little stall in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. The guy had a strong accent, and a table full of pesto-wonderfullness. It was dark green, intensely flavoured, and beautifully oily. I dream about it sometimes.

The great thing about pesto is that it is incredibly simple to make as long as you have a food processor.  I really think that a decent food processor is an absolute must in any kitchen these days. I got mine at least 7-8 years ago and it is still going strong!

Interestingly it uses almonds instead of the more traditional pine nuts. But in my experience almonds are easier to find in a shop and usually cheaper. My next pesto attempt will be the more traditional pine nuts, and I have a feeling that I will have a lot of fun experimenting!.

Sunday, 7 December 2014


Lets go nuts, for donuts! 
Little mini donut holes

OMG, I love donuts. Is there anything that makes people smile more than a pile of donuts, getting your fingers sticky from the sugar-crusted goodness?

I had to give these a go, because I was procrastinating other things. Plus, I’ve never made donuts before and I wanted a challenge. They are not difficult, I swear. You just need some patience and common sense around boiling oil.

Everyone who knows me knows that mint and chocolate is my FAVOURITE. And I think part of the reason for that is because it reminds me of Christmas. Yes, orange and cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves are traditionally Christmassy flavours, but for me, it is all about the mint: After Eights, mint matchmakers, that minty box of Thornton’s chocolates. I never eat those unless they’ve been sitting under a Christmas tree for AT LEAST a week.

So, that’s why I’m serving up some mint chocolate realness. But just after I had finished making them, I had the bright idea that I could have put some cinnamon in the sugar coating and rolled the donuts in that. Next time.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Spaghetti Bolognese

Do you ever get that awful, embarrassing to the pit of your stomach feeling when you realise that you have been spelling something incorrectly your entire life? Well that just happened to me. I really didn’t know how to spell Bolognese.. I could cook it. But spelling apparently eluded me until, well, this post. Oops.

The "before" picture

Aaaaanyway. I'm totally over that, because it is closing in on Christmas, my tree is up, lights are twinkling, the nights are long and full of terror cold, and everything is feeling festive. And that makes me want to cook comforting deliciousness.

I will say that this is, hands down, the best bolognaise I have ever eaten. Throw out all your jars of pre-made sauce RIGHT NOW. Because this is pretty much as easy, and a million times tastier. The thickness of the sauce and the depth of flavour just combine to make the most delicious plate of food I’ve had in ages.  And the copious amounts of parmesan don’t hurt.. Mamma mia!

** UPDATE 12/6/16. I make this all the time. Probably fortnightly. If you want to double the recipe, then double the meat and vegetable bits, but I've not had success doubling the liquid parts too - it makes it far too watery. I'd go for 100ml wine, 250ml beef stock and 250ml pasatta. And initially cook for 45 minutes and then lid off and continue to cook for 25 minutes.