The forgotten recipes of Christmas and new year

I promised so many people during the Christmas period that I would stick my recipes on the blog. Most of these promises were broken. I was so busy to-ing and fro-ing, trying to keep up with other work, making Christmas presents, preparing supper clubs and ferrying kids between their social dates, that sitting down and writing recipes on the blog fell by the wayside.

Now i shall make it up to all those people to whom I promised particular recipes, whilst adding a little bit about the origins of each recipe  as I go along.

Forgotten recipe number 1: Christmas pudding-for the very nice man on the Bangor to London train, whose name i didn’t get. I know it’s late, but maybe next year huh?

The littleun and me showing off our puddings

I have been making my Christmas puds this way ever since I moved to Wales, which will be 20 years ago this May. The recipe is slightly adapted from one which I found in an old Sainsburys recipe book.

Sift 175g (6oz) plain flour, 2 teaspoons ground mixed spice, 1 generous teaspoon cinnamon and half a teaspoon grated nutmeg into a large bowl. Mix in 175g (6oz) fresh brown breadcrumbs then rub in 175g (6oz) softened butter.

Stir in 175g (6oz) soft brown sugar, 350g (12oz) sultanas, 250g (8oz) raisins, the same amount of currants and 75g (3oz) mixed peel. Add the grated rind and juice of one orange, 2 beaten eggs and 120ml of brown ale (or stout). Give it a good mix, don’t forget to have a wish and then turn it into a greased 1.75litre (3 pint) pudding basin (or two smaller ones like we did). Cover with a pudding cloth or greaseproof paper and a sheet of foil pleated in the middle and tied on with string. Steam for 6 hours topping up the water as necessary.

Allow to cool and then replace the greaseproof paper and foil with fresh and store in a cool dry place. These can be made up to 4 months in advance and they get better with time. When you are ready to serve them, steam again for about 2 hours, turn out onto a warm dish, douse well with warm brandy and then ignite.

Christmas pud ablaze

Forgotten recipe number two: smoked salmon and sour cream blinis: for the can can girls who became addicted to blinis at our kids Christmas party

A couple of years ago I was given a book which contained cocktail recipes and snacks for cocktail parties. It came from NEXT of all places, but this blini recipe has been an overwhelming hit ever since I first gave it a go.

blinis in progress

Mix a 7g sachet of yeast and a pinch of sugar into 250ml of warm milk and leave to stand for a few minutes. Place 160g plain flour in a bowl (you could replace 60g with buckwheat flour for a slightly different taste) and make a well in the centre. Add 2 egg yolks (save the egg whites til later) and milk mixture and whisk until combined and smooth. Cover the bowl with a teatowel and leave to stand in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Melt 20g of butter and stir into proved mixture, season and then fold in one-third of the egg whites until just mixed. Fold in the remaining egg white gently until just combined.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. When hot drop in a dessertspoonful of blini mixture to make a rough circle, this gets easier with practise, although I kind of like the free form appearance of each blini. Cook until bubbles begin to form on the surface then turn over. This should only take about 30 seconds each side and they should look light brown in colour. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool. The mixture should make about 40 blinis.

When they are cool put a dollop of sour cream on each and a strip of smoked salmon (which I got from Jody at the Llandudno smoakery ) top with a sprig of dill and if liked quarter of a teaspoon of salmon roe.

Forgotten recipe number 3: White chocolate nipples and chocolate truffles this is for everyone that said “oh my god, those truffles are gorgeous”….

This was the first year I attempted to make proper truffles with chocolate on the outside instead of icing sugar, cocoa or chocolate sprinkles (the cheats approach). It was also the first year I made white chocolate truffles. Both were very much trial and error. My first attempts ended up with a fine white coating on the chocolate. I needed advice, so I phoned a friend. She told me that my chocolate needed to be hot and then I had to make then very cold (i.e. put them in the fridge until set properly). Leaving them to cool at room temperature in our old, damp houses just meant that the condensation discoloured them. They still tasted nice though!!

My second attempt was better.

The White chocolate truffle recipe took me back to 1986. The place was Bishopstrow house in Wiltshire, an upmarket hotel where I went to do work experience whilst doing my chef training. Unfortunately I was distracted. It was a long hot summer, I was a wayward teenager and he was a hot young chef called Martin Zalensky. The encounter was brief and i have no idea where he is now, but his recipe has stood the test of time, to remind me of a heady misspent summer.

500g of white chocolate couverture, 175g double cream, 65g glucose, 75g butter.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Bring the cream and glucose to the boil then add to the chocolate. Cool down a bit then beat in the whipped butter. When its cool and set scoop into balls….when I first did this back at Bishopstrow House, the summer was so hot i had to stand in the cold room because the chocolate melted too much.

Cover in melted chocolate couverture….I found this difficult i have to say. White chocolate doesn’t have as much cocoa solids as dark and it either got too hot and went powdery or was not hot enough. I tired mixing in alcohol, butter, you name it but the problem remained. If anyone has any tips I’d love to know!!!

home-made truffles

If there are any recipes I missed out, which I have promised please remind me and I will add them too

Denise xx

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Filed under baking, home cooking, secret supper, underground restaurant

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