Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Bringing Some Festive Cheer

As a Chef, Christmas is a VERY hectic time of year, the demands for offices to have their annual party and celebrate the year becomes at times chaotic. So getting time to get down the Allotment becomes a juggling act with home life, work life and Allotment time.
So today I manage to get some time to go to the plot, but when I step outside its Bloody freezing and showing signs of rain so with a sigh I neglect to go instead taking the time to make some Christmas treats for the family & friends, as this will be the only chance I get now.
I thought I would pass on some of my recipes for you to try to bring that Christmas joy that giving food brings to me.

On the list today was marzipan the charismas cakes. I have made 5 one for the Annual Family Christmas cake competition and 4 for gifts to give away (little ones 8cm square).
Then I set about making some honeycomb  to make some fudge with later this is easy but can be a little dangerous if you’re not careful!

To make honeycomb you need:                                             

·         500g granulated sugar

·         500g Demerara sugar

·         2 tablespoons of water

·         20g unsalted butter

·         50g of maple syrup or golden syrup whatever is your tipple!

·         1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda

You will also need a greased 25cm baking tray
Method: (you will need a sugar thermometer)
Place the first 5 ingredients in a pan and heat until you get to “small Crack” stage on the sugar thermometer or (138°) then remove from heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda (Note: this will erupt like a volcano so make sure the pan is big enough to double the volume of mixture!) then place in the greased baking tray and allow to cool. When cool break up into chunks and store in an air tight container.
Then I made some chocolate honeycomb fudge this is a great Christmas gift and very easy to make

To make chocolate Honeycomb fudge you need:


·         550g caster sugar

·         550g Double cream

·         75g of golden syrup

·         150g of good quality chocolate (70% if you can get it)

·         300g home-made honeycomb chunks

You need a sugar thermometer for this too, and a saucepan to allow it to double in volume
Method:
Put the sugar, cream, syrup in a pan and bring to “soft Ball” stage (118°) then  remove from the heat, add the broken up chocolate at this point you need to  stir vigorously until the mixture starts to thicken (you need to put your back into it!)  Then fold in the Honeycomb. Place in your lined mould and chill for at least 8 hours then cut into chunks this will keep for about 2-3 weeks
These really do make great Christmas gifts that can be enjoyed by everyone.

I also made some chocolate truffles which are just too addictive and not sure that they will make it as gifts!

Also today I made a great recipe and one I love with cheese. Spiced Onion Marmalade, it is sweet and goes with cambert brie or a hearty strong cheddar. Or my personal favourite Goats cheese 

Cheese is one of my most adored ingredient and I always love having a jar of something to go with it.
Spiced Onion Marmalade:

·         4 large white onions

·         2 sprigs of Fresh Thyme

·         Pinch of cumin seeds

·         Pinch of mace

·         Pinch of cinnamon

·         ½ teaspoon of salt

·         ½ teaspoon of fresh Cracked pepper

·         300g of Demerara sugar

·         50ml white wine Vinegar

·         A knob of butter

Method:
In a pan add the butter and melt then sweat the onions with the fresh thyme and the spices and salt & pepper. You want to start the caramel process so about 5 minutes into cooking   add 50g of the sugar, and cook for a further 10 mins. Now add the rest of the sugar and the vinegar and cook for another 5-10 mins. Remove from heat and add to jars. This is best made a week or so before you want it as it gets better with age.

A few weeks ago I also made a Red Pepper Jam with my abundance of Red peppers from my allotment this year; it goes really well with cold meats or cheese. Click the link below for the recipe.

Hopefully I will get down the allotment soon, but the demands of a chef this time of year, may put a damper on things!

Merry Christmas Everyone