Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year! - My 100th Post and a Review of The Year

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2010 was to hit the 100 post mark on my blog - and I've just managed it with a few hours to spare!

Rather than post about one recipe I thought it would be more fitting to look back over the year and pick out some of my favourites, new and old. It was pretty hard to narrow it down, and the following is by no means a definitive list, but here are some of my personal highlights.

Old Favourites - the following recipes have been made many times but haven't appeared on my blog before this year.

These really are an old favourite. I've been making them for years and with good reason - they taste great!

This is a Delia classic - rich, cheesy pasta but with a souffle lightness.

This is one of my most favourite cake recipes which has never failed me yet.

The perfect muffin recipe - enough said.

New Discoveries - these are just a small sample of the new recipes I added to my collection of favourites this year.

I had been meaning to try out this recipe for years and I finally got the chance when I took part in the I Should Cocoa challenge in October. I can't wait for a chance to make it again.

I loved the light, fresh flavours in this dish and have made it again more than once since I first tried it in May.

This dish is positively bursting with flavour thanks to the Pomegranate Molasses and was a lovely dinner on a sunny summer's evening.

Another dish full of flavour and the relish was a triumph.

Happy New Year everyone and hears to a fantastic, food-filled 2011!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Mince Pies

Mince pies are without doubt one of my favourite things to make in the run up to Christmas - up until the big day I can't get enough of them. This year in particular I've been on a huge mince pie baking spree, helped largely by my new discovery - freezing them! It sounds obvious but it's just not something I've ever really done before. I am truly converted though - mince pies are undoubtably at their best fresh out of the oven and by freezing them you can keep a constant supply on hand ready for baking.

There are, I've discovered, two options when it comes to freezing. Firstly you can cook your mince pies and then freeze them once cooled. This is fine but when you come to eat them you need to defrost them for several hours before reheating them in the oven. Not good for those urgent mince pie cravings. The second option has proved to be much more successful. Simply make up your pies in their tins and freeze them as they are. Once solid they can be removed from the tin and stored in the freezer in plastic bags. When you fancy one (or two...or three...) just remove from the freezer, return to the tin and bake as normal for 15-20 minutes. You can have a warm mince pie in your paw in under an hour - it's all good.

I have also had great success with a new recipe for pastry that I came across recently on the blog Jam and Clotted Cream. The recipe is as follows but please do check out this blog as you'll find loads of great ideas on there.

Mince Pies

200g plain flour
75g ground almonds
40g caster sugar
125g butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
Milk or beaten egg to glaze
Approx 350g mincemeat

1) Put the flour, ground almonds, sugar and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2) Add the egg slowly (you may not need all of it - any spare can be used to glaze the tops of the pies) and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. Then tip out onto the work surface and knead together briefly until you have a smooth ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3) If cooking straightaway preheat the oven to 200c.

4) Roll out the pastry and cut out circles slightly bigger that the bun tin holes and press lightly into the tin. You can then cut out slightly smaller circles or stars for the tops of the pies. Fill the pies with mincemeat before placing the tops on.

5) If freezing put the tin in the freezer until the pies are solid then pop them out of the tins and into freezer bags.

6) When you're ready to cook the pies brush the tops with a little milk or beaten egg and, if you like, sprinkle with a little caster sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pies are just turning golden. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out on to wire racks.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Oven-Baked Wild Mushroom Risotto

This is lovely recipe if you're in the mood for something savoury and filling for dinner. It also works really well, in smaller portions, as a starter. This recipe comes from Delia's Vegetarian Collection, although it can be found on her website aswell. I have to confess that I'm not a great lover of Delia's recipes, having had one too many fail on me. Having said that, there are still a few I turn to on a regular basis, and this is one of them.

While there is a bit preparation involved, one of the benefits of this recipe is that it doesn't require a lengthy hob-side session stirring in the stock. Instead it is baked in the oven and just requires a quick stir about halfway through the cooking time. A definite plus if you plan on serving this for friends and don't want to be tied to the kitchen all evening.

You can find the recipe on Delia's website by clicking here. If you don't serve it as a starter it feeds two hungry people nicely.