Thursday 30 December 2010

Turkey Pie

I think I love Christmas leftovers more than I love Christmas dinner...since Sunday morning I have been steadily grazing on whatever I can find in the fridge and, seriously, enjoying it more than I did when it was fresh out of the oven!

Tuesday evening (after stuffing our faces with hors d'oeuvres and nuts and cheese and chutney) I attacked what was left of the turkey, dividing it up to make 2 pies....leaving just enough for Wednesday lunch (and just enough stuffing, and just enough cranberry sauce).

Using my lovely new red shallow casserole (i love love love it) I sweated a whole heap of chopped leeks, then added some cooked, diced carrot and a couple of handfuls of frozen peas...then sprinkled 6 tablespoons (gak) of flour over the mixture....coated everything in the flour and added 500ml of stock, letting it thicken then a tub of cream, loads of chopped parsley and sage and thyme, and finally the turkey I had carefully divided up.  Into a pie dish (or 2)...pastry on top and then 1 in the freezer for next week and 1 in the fridge for Wednesday night.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

a few christmas pics...

napkins sent from auntie sandi 

present from mummy and dad...wonder what it could be?

oooo shallow casserole 

baked goodies for the dessert table

very crowded table...turkey with potatoes and yorkshires, brussels with bacon and chestnuts, stuffing and pigs n blankets (carrots with hazelnuts out of sight)

pancetta and sage wrapped stuffing with pigs n blankets 

boxing day breakfast...

A not so traditional Christmas dessert

3 full days of family stuff and my head is finally starting to clear, the kitchen is no longer an obstacle course, and I can sort of see the back of the fridge through the foil wrapped bundles.  I'm not happy that Christmas is over, but I am glad for a little break from it all.

As you probably know, once it was decided that we would be hosting this year (our first proper Christmas meal as hosts) I spent hours pouring over Christmas magazines and cookbooks and the internet, planning my menu, planning the weeks running up to it...planning planning planning.  Do not fear, I didn't agonise over it, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted....then had to change it on David's insistence on having a turkey...and then pretty much finalised it, checked it over with the hubby and....all I had to do was wait, and prepare...and wait some more...and then finally Christmas Eve arrived and I got peeling and stuffing and baking and slathering...

And then David said...what are we having for dessert?

What do you mean, what are we having for dessert? We had this conversation MONTHS ago (problem numero uno)...

Anyway, after a discussion about the dessert and my pointing out that I had ALREADY made it...he seemed somewhat convinced that it would be met with hungry eyes (or...more technically...I'm so stuffed eyes but I just have to have a slice of that torte-eyes) and all would be good in the world.

Like I said before, this was planned months ago...and after racking my brain and all the resources available to me, I turned to the no-fail, always a success, crowd pleasing wealth of knowledge that is my mummy and kindly (very kindly) asked her for her recipe for Apple Bavarian Torte...something that she has been making for ages...always to high acclaim...and, in my opinion, an impressive dessert with little effort.

This torte is difficult to describe, and that is where I got into a muddle with David...he didn't quite buy my description, and was...totally...dubious of my choice for our first BIG Christmas.  The only way I can think to describe it is like a cheesecake...but has a crunchy base (like a cheesecake) and a cream cheese middle (like a cheesecake) and a topping (like a cheesecake) but it isn't a cheesecake...he just looked at me like there was a chance I was going to ruin Christmas (I didn't...I will have you know).

The recipe comes from a family friend of my parents' so it holds many childhood memories for me...making it an extra special addition to my table...just like having my family here with us too!

Well, it went down a storm...more praise than I could ever imagine.

Monday 20 December 2010

Linzer Sandwich Cookies...Christmas baking almost completed!

Well it is cold and snowy...that can only mean one thing...CHRISTMAS IS COMING!! My baking is coming along nicely, everything has been counted and divided up and now...I am just waiting for the time to put it all together into lovely little gift bags ready for gifting!!

This year I have made traditional family favourites, grandma's shortbread and cherry loaves...and tried my hand at some new recipes, gingerbread, panettone and most recently Linzer sandwich cookies.

I say Linzer sandwich cookies in the loosest sense of the word.  Traditionally Linzer cookies are made with ground almonds, but I've got nut allergies to cater for, so I used this recipe which is more of a sugar cookie-shortbread hybrid.  I filled the heart cookies with Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry Jam, and the flower cookies with Tiptree Lemon Curd...supporting my local jam makers!!  These cookies are crunchy, sweet and...if I do say so myself....oh so cute!

Saturday 11 December 2010

Gingerbread Stars for a clear night

The thaw has come, the ice is almost gone, and I can see the grass in the backyard.  The days are warm, the sun is bright and low in the sky...but the nights are still bleeping cold! Clear clear skies tonight and I'm about to snuggle up with a mug of hot chocolate and a couple of gingerbread stars I made yesterday. 

I've been waiting for the couple of weeks before Christmas for what seems like ages...and I have been slugging away getting the baked goods for my Christmas gift bags ready and waiting...the cookie tins in the living room are getting HEAVY! Almost filled to the brim with cookies...just tempting me!!

Two of my most favourite Christmas time cookies are Grandma Kay's Shortbread   and anybody's gingerbread (no icing thank you).  I've already made the shortbread, they are waiting to be packaged up, and on Friday I turned my hand to making bite-sized gingerbread stars.  A move away from the traditional gingerbread men...for two reasons...first, I could get so many MORE stars out of the dough and second, well...I just wanted something a little bit different (but still know?).

The recipe I used this year came from the Christmas issue of delicious magazine and I've made sure to write it down in my recipe book so that next year I'm not running around trying to find the gingerbread cookies recipe...which is what happened this year, hence the delicious magazine recipe rather than whatever one I used last year.

oh twistmas twee...

Sunday 5 December 2010

Shortbread Sunday (and Saturday)

I've made my Christmas Menu list....what I am serving, what I need to buy, what I need to make in advance...all that jazz...and I've been going over it and re-writing it practically daily for the last week.  Now that it is well and truly December it is time to get my act together and!!!

This year David and I are hosting our first Christmas Day at our house...only four guests, mind you,'s gotta be perfect and it's gotta scream Christmas...We are having a turkey (as much as I tried to convince David of Beef Wellington) and...all the trimmings of course!!  The thing is...I have a tiny tiny tiny kitchen and a tiny tiny tiny there will be juggling, and reheating and most likely a small mental meltdown.  But for now, I am trying my hardest to bake what ever will keep in advance, and the few things that I can freeze...

Friday I bought the butter....let it sit out (in the tv room....the kitchen is freezing), let it soften....let it get be creamed (by hand, of course) be turned into a batch of fantastic, smooth shortbread cookies.

Cept that didn't happen.

Saturday...the butter softened, it was creamed (by hand) and it was patted out and cut into cookies and baked and...what came out of the oven were certainly buttery...but they most certainly were not lovely Christmas shortbread...instead I found somesort of flattened buttery flakey disks with crispy edges. 

I have no idea what happened.  In a frantic instant message conversation with my mum she assured me (and that my grandmother agrees) that sometimes, with the shortbread, the first batch doesn't quite work....hmmmm...perhaps it was the flour? perhaps it was the butter? perhaps it was my freakishly warm hands?

I decided to blame the butter...the quality, the fat, the cows...and I so rushed (as carefully as one can on the icy pavement) to the corner store, bought some totally overpriced brand butter and sat it the tv soften...

And so, Sunday...and new day...a new cookie! NO spreading, no disaster!

Thursday 2 December 2010

Mini Cherry Loaves for gifting

December is finally here, and it hasn't come quietly! Full on snow storms, closed airports, no trains, dangerous roads and never ending complaints...I'M NOT complaining but, then again, I have no where to go at the moment...the perfect situation!! I've got about a milllion of dozens of cookies and cakes to make for Christmas gifts and, of course, to eat!!! So, Decemeber 1st means it is finally time to get baking!!!

I've been planning my gifites for a while now and trying to figure out when it was OK to start how long can the cookies be kept in tins before they start to go stale, which cakes can be frozen, what has to be done last minute (like the panettones)...lots of thought and planning!!

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up my mom used to make tons and tons of Christmas goodies.  There were tins and tins stacked up, totally off limits...well "technically" off limits.  Most of the treats my mom made were Christmas time favourites...for the most part only made at Christmas...which, I think made them extra special.  This year I am making treats that remind me of Christmas with my family in Canada, and also a few new treats, which I hope will become part of my own "Christmas repertoire".

Yesterday I started my baking extravaganza with my Grandma Kay's Cherry Loaf recipe.  Just mixing up this pound cake with glacee cherries reminds me of Christmas Day at Grandma Kay's apartment...I've divided up the mixture into 8 mini loaves...perfect for Christmas gifting!!

Grandma Kay's Cherry Loaf

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup glacee cherries, cut in half

Pre-Heat Oven to 180C

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl, until smooth
Add eggs one at a time, alternating with some flour
When combined, spoon into greased and lined loaf tin (or tins)

Bake for 1 hour, or until tester comes out clean

**I used mini loaf tins, and baked for about 20-25 mins**