23 December 2009

Edible Christmas Gifts - Part 2

Don't panic! So you haven't gotten around to making Christmas treats yet. Your mind has been consumed with Christmas dinner and have you really got a present for everyone? Never fear, here are some last minute ideas. Be they for Christmas day or to take with you when you visit family and friends this Christmas season. Boy, do I have a great line-up of ideas for you.






















We start of with Coconut Ice courtesy of Johanna. Doesn't it look gorgeous? And so pretty too! I can just imagine them stacked in a clear cookie bag tied up with ribbon.






















Next up we have some pretty amazing truffles from Nic over at Cherrapeno. The truffles in question are Chocolate Christmas Pudding Truffles. So keep these in mind if you have any leftover Christmas pudding. Heck, wait until Boxing Day, buy one cheap and be sure to make these little pieces of heaven.


















Taking of truffles, guess what I spent this evening making? Yes a batch of coconut coated truffles. Graham has a buffet at work tomorrow, so he kindly suggested that he would take pizza and some sort of baked goods courtesy of me. There was some disappointment that I wasn't making the Toffee Pecan Brownies I made for him to take in last week, but since I had made 2 batches within the space of a week, I decided to go for something different. I don't think they will mind once they taste yummy little choccy treats. I have to thank my friend Audrey for the recipe. They are very famous in our staff room.

















Leftover cranberries after making your cranberry sauce? I have just the recipe for you. Chocolate Coated Brownies with Cranberries. Lisa made her batch with dried cranberries, but just think how good they would be with little bursts of juicy fruit.

















Christmas dinner is organised, but what about an easy treat first thing on Christmas morning? Beth has made the most gorgeous muffins flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries and orange juice. Just imagine the beautiful smell wafting through the house and they are so easy to make too!






















I am sticking with the cranberry theme and introducing you to some cookies I made earlier in the year. Cranberry & Orange Cookies. I got the recipe from a talented young lady called Elyse over at Belle of the Bakery, (formerly Confectionary Creations). They are light, chewy and almost cakey in texture. Really lovely!

















I end this line-up with a savoury treat from my friend Dana over at Dana Treat. This is a real last minute recipe. It is easy and quick, but only keeps for 1 month in the fridge, so it is best made fresh. I give you Dana's Spicy Tomato Jam. Great for eating with Christmas leftovers or serving with your cheese board, but an equally elegant gift to take with you when visiting.

I hope you all enjoyed the line-up and that you have a wonderful Christmas.

Love
Jac
xxx

21 December 2009

NCR - Festive Photos Roundup

This is our second venture into festive photos as part of No Croutons Required and the line-up of photos doesn't disappoint.

I am going to let the line-up speak for itself and hope you won't have too much trouble picking your favourite. A happy festive season to you all :)


















Cats Around the Christmas Tree
Sarah (Ordinary Vegetarian)
Aurora, IL USA






















Rose in the Snow
Soma (eCurry)
Texas, USA






















Bunny in the Snow
Pam (Sidewalk Shoes)
Soddy Daisy, US






















Glen Doll
My photo taken in the Cairngorms National Park
(not in vote)

















Charlotte Square, Edinburgh
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)
Melbourne, Australia






















Fffffffffreezing! (Frozen Web)
Nic (Nip it in the Bud)
Gloucester, England

















Wee Bird
Wendy (A Wee Bit of Cooking)
Inverness, Scotland



















Snowman and Muffin
Mangocheeks (Allotment to Kitchen)
West of Scotland

















Nana's Handmade Reindeer with Holiday Cookies
Jenn (The Leftover Queen)
USA



















Felix the Cat
Ben (What's Cooking)
Columbus, Ohio, US
















Melting Frost
C (Cake, Crumbs and Cooking)
Northwest England






















Homemade Coffee Liqueur
Ria (Ria's Collection)
Kerala, India





















Poinsettia
Susan (The Well-Seasoned Cook)
New York, US

15 December 2009

NCR - Festive Photos






















This is my entry for this month's No Croutons Required.

If you would like to join in the challenge then just get your camera out. Just submit a festive photo, it doesn't have to involve food, just try to capture the mood of this festive season. My photo is a shot of the Scottish countryside on a frosty winter's day. The ground is crisp and crunchy and the air so very fresh and nippy, lovely.

Email your photo along with a title to me at nocroutonsrequired@googlemail.com by the 20th December 2009, with a link to your post that features the photo and your name and location. As usual, the roundup with run from the 21st December 2009 and the winner will be announced on the 31st.

11 December 2009

Edible Christmas Gifts - Part 1

It's time to think about those edible gifts that we love to give and receive at Christmas. Some of us will have started with Christmas cakes and chutneys that need a few months for the flavours to develop fully, however there are still plenty of goodies that we have all the time in the world to make. Well two weeks anyway.

I hope you enjoy this roundup.

















I am starting with a chocolate treat that went down a treat with all those that tried them and everyone who saw them. Chocolate Tiffin. A great no-bake recipe.

















Next we move on to a traditional Scottish sweetie and a true delight at that. Tablet, made by Wendy over at A Wee Bit of Cooking. It is a bit like fudge, but it melts in the mouth. I urge you all to try it!

















Look at the lovely colour of these Beetroot & Chocolate Muffins. Gorgeous huh? I can tell you right away how moist and luscious these must be after falling in love with the Chocolate & Beetroot Brownie Cake I have adopted as my own.

















I was really impressed with these Pear & Ginger Muffins when I tried them. They would be great as a gift, but would also make a lovely start to Christmas morning. Nice and simple, with the wonderful flavour of pear & ginger and the smell, oh my the smell. Just gorgeous! Thanks Nigella :)






















Made and decorated with love! Triple Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cookies, made by chef and artist (it has to be said, after seeing these) Nic over at Cherrapeno who shares with us a rather simple recipe and techniques for perfecting these amazing cookies.

















Creamy and tart with a hint of spice. I fell in love with this Lemon Curd with Nutmeg when I tasted it, no scrub that, I fell in love with the smell and the beautiful colour first. Can you imagine how well received a little jar of this would be?














Sarah over at The Ordinary Vegetarian came up with these little treats masquerading as snow balls. No-Bake Oatmeal Cookie Balls. I am sure you will head straight over there when I tell you they have peanut butter in them, Yum!






















We are finishing on a savoury note with Marinated Feta Cheese courtesy of Soma over at eCurry. I don't know about you, but that has me drooling. I'd love to be given a jar of this at Christmas.

I hope you enjoyed and took inspiration from this first roundup of edible Christmas gifts. If you have been particularly impressed by any edible gifts you have seen on other blogs, please let me know so I can include them in further roundups.

08 December 2009

Rich Mushroom Soup





























My mum was extolling the virtues of mushrooms soup and how much she loves it, so good daughter that I am, I make some mushroom soup for her next visit. Sods law steps in and mum breaks her glasses, so her trip is cancelled and instead she makes a pricey visit the opticians. Not knowing when we would see her next, Graham and I did the noble thing and tucked into the soup ourselves. I wouldn't say it is my favourite soup, but heck it was rather good.

Rich Mushroom Soup

1 tbsp olive oil,
a small knob of butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5 large portabello mushrooms, sliced
15 medium closed cup mushrooms
1 heaped tsp dried thyme
1 heaped tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp plain flour
½ glass white wine
2 pints vegetable stock
a splosh of single cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large pan, saute the garlic and portabello mushrooms in the olive oil and butter. Saute for a few minutes before adding the closed cup mushrooms. I like to season the mushrooms at this point with black pepper as they really soak up the flavour.

Once the mushrooms are lovely and juicy and brown, reserve a few to serve as a garnish on top of the soup.

Next add the herbs. If you have fresh herbs, then so much the better, but this was a bit of a store cupboard soup for me.

Pour in the wine and allow the mushrooms to start absorbing the liquid. Stir in the flour which will absorb the juices from the mushrooms and help to thicken the soup.

Next, add the stock and leave the soup to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Whizz the soup until smooth and season to taste before adding a splosh of cream. This is optional and it is up to you how much you would like to add.

Serve topped with some of the reserved mushrooms

Serves 4-6

04 December 2009

Mum's Trifle






































It's a simple dessert, but one filled with comfort and joy. My mum adds a good glug of sherry to her cake base, but I have left that out. Although I love it, Graham is not so keen, but the choice is yours. The jelly really moistens up the cake, so you don't need to add any extra liquid, although saying that, a good boozy trifle can go down a treat.

I'm not going to lay this out as a traditional recipe, this is more of a case of layering and you can't go wrong. If you want more custard and less cream, just adjust it to suit yourself. It's all about plunging your spoon through the layers and the taste sensation as your taste buds tingle.



















Mum's Trifle

1. Start off with a nice large bowl, a clear one is good so you can see all the lovely layers.

2. Your first layer is sponge. You have a choice here. I used a few slices of my Jaffa Drizzle Sponge Cake, without the chocolate drizzle. I sometime use a Madeira cake. Homemade cake is a good choice, but bought cake works just as well.

3. Fruit next. I used blackberries and clementines in my trifle. Unfortunately the clementines I had were a bit bitter, so I used tinned clementines in fruit juice, instead of fresh. Fresh berries such as strawberries and raspberries are lovely in a trifle, again you choose.

4. Now we add the jelly. Jelly can be a problem for vegetarians, but there are alternatives out there. I used a sachet of Hartley's Quickset Raspberry Jelly, which uses pectin instead of gelatin. It's easy to use, just follow the packet instructions. Don't be alarmed when it doesn't set as firm as regular jelly, this is normal. Leave the jelly to cool slightly before pouring over the sponge and fruit. Leave to cool and set in the fridge.

5. Now for the custard. If you can find a good fresh custard to buy, then why not save some time, but if you have some time to potter about in the kitchen and want a more deluxe trifle, then make your own. You can find my recipe for fresh custard here. It is the custard recipe I use when I make ice cream and it is filled with lovely specks of black from fresh vanilla. I would leave out the cinnamon for this dish however.

6. Our last layer is cream. I whipped double cream with a little sugar until it was lovely and thick and then spread it across the top of the custard.

7. Decoration. I sprinkled my trifle with chocolate flakes, but many of you will remember childhood trifle sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, those colourful little sugar sprinkles. It depends how nostalgic you are feeling. A dusting of cocoa powder is rather nice too.

Dig in! How can you resist?

01 December 2009

No Croutons Required - Festive Photos

December is upon us again. I just don't know where the year goes, do you?

I am looking back to last December and the fun we had changing things up a bit for the Festive No Croutons Required Round. In case you don't remember, we had a break from soups and salads and offered up some festive photos instead. Just a bit of fun really and a nod to the fact that everyone is so busy this month and keeping up to date with challenges along with everything else that's going on can be difficult. So, this month I would like you to submit a festive photo for the challenge. It doesn't have to involve food, just try to capture the mood of this festive season.

Email your photo along with a title to me at nocroutonsrequired@googlemail.com by the 20th December 2009, with a link to your post that features the photo and your name and location. As usual, the roundup with run from the 21st December 2009 and the winner will be announced on the 31st.

Good luck everyone! I can't wait to see your photos.

I will leave you now with last December's winning photo, courtesy of Wendy over at A Wee Bit of Cooking.