25 Nov 2012

Christmas Crumble Muffins

Christmas Crumble Muffins - Christmas - crumble - muffins all rolled into one, perfect.  The muffins are filled with dried cranberries, sultanas, raisins, and black spiced rum, the buttery crumble is perfumed with cinnamon.

These are go large and there was far too much batter for the recommended 12 and will make 16 smaller cupcakes by half filling the cupcake cases.  There's a very generous amount of crumble topping too, I'm going to make 16 muffins next time.

I'm not too sure who the recipe belongs to but I've adapted it. Maybe the recipe is written by Annie Bell, I seem to be making quite a lot of her recipes recently.  I have now found the original recipe - I thought so, it's another great recipe by one of our best cookery writers Annie Bell.

This is a fabulous bake and ticked all the boxes - hope you have a go at making these.

They freeze perfectly and can be refreshed and gently warmed in the microwave, if you use foil cases remove them before refreshing.

Listening to Chris Evans on Radio 2 this week, he made the comment that all lovely Christmas foods should be for Christmas Day and two weeks after that.  I feel really guilty now..........

Crumble Topping

35g dark brown muscovado sugar
35g light brown sugar
70g chilled and diced unsalted butter
100g plain flour
⅓ tsp cinnamon powder

Whiz the above in the food processor until it takes on the look of breadcrumbs, put to one side.


180g diced unsalted butter
180g light brown sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
50ml dark rum - I used a black spiced rum
80g sultanas
40g raisins
40g dried cranberries
180g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
icing sugar to decorate

1.  Line a cupcake tin with either 12 or 16 cupcakes.
2.  Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
3.  Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and whiz until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time whilst      still whizzing, add the egg yolk.  Now add the rum, it will look curdled but no worries.
4.  Toss the sultanas, raisins and dried cranberries in some of the plain flour.
5.  Pour the batter into a large bowl.  Sieve over the flour and baking powder, fold into the batter.
6.  Fold in the fruit.
7.  Half fill 16 cupcake cases or use all the batter mix in 12 large cupcake cases.
8.  Sprinkle the crumble mix over the top of the batter.
9.  Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked.
10.Once cool dust with icing sugar.

17 Nov 2012

Mincemeat Bites with Five Seed Topping - Recipe

The crunchy toasted seeds are very, very, delicious
There are so many fabulous Christmas recipes in cookery books and magazines I find it difficult to throw any of them away.  Unfortunately there isn't enough time to either cook or eat the majority of them. This year I thought why not start cooking and eating my Christmas bakes early.  I am already thinking my waistline may regret this decision but as I don't have any weight issues, as yet,  hopefully I will get away with it.......I'll let you know after Christmas if I have any makes and bakes regret.

Quick and easy Christmas recipes that work are a priority, and this little number from a Waitrose recipe card is a winner - think sausage rolls but with a sweet mincemeat filling. Ready rolled puff pastry, add a handful of dried cranberries or dried sour cherries to either a home made mincemeat or a quality bought one and a few seeds scattered over for crunch - I used pumpkin, sunflower, poppy seeds, sesame and linseeds.

Adapted Recipe

You will need:  Greased baking tray

375g pack ready rolled puff pastry, 300g good quality mincemeat, handful dried cranberries, lightly beaten egg, 50g mixed seeds, 2 tbsp sifted icing sugar.

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
2. Cut the pastry in half lengthways. Put half the mincemeat down the centre of the pastry strips and scatter over a few dried cranberries.
3. Brush the beaten egg along the edges of the pastry.  Roll over to make two long rolls. Seal the edges together.
4. Place the rolls onto the baking tray cut side down, brush with egg, sprinkle over the seeds.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Cool, cut into mincemeat bites, dust with icing sugar.

12 Nov 2012

Braised Red Cabbage With Apple - Recipe

This Braised Red Cabbage with Apple recipe from Waitrose is one of many red cabbage recipes I use, but I always make this one for Christmas Day, it is so delicious and tasty.

The perfect sweet/sour taste, not too spicy and sweetened with light muscovado sugar and redcurrant jelly - can be made in advance and frozen too.

To freeze: Line a baking tray or similar with clingwrap, place the cooked braised cabbage onto the lined tray, spread over the base, cover with clingwrap, place in the freezer.  When frozen remove and cut into portions.  Wrap each portion in clingwrap, place into a ziplock bag and return to the freezer. To reheat: defrost and reheat in the microwave.

The recipe can also be found in the Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2012 recipe guide.

10 Nov 2012

Quick Portuguese Tarts - Jamie's 30 Minute Meals

A few weeks ago I went on holiday to Madeira, and as usual when I am away from home, I like to experience local cakes and pastries, especially sitting outside a cafe on a fabulous sunny day. Cinnamon is a popular ingredient used in cakes and pastries - apple and cinnamon cake, banana and cinnamon cake and Portuguese Tarts, to name a few.  There were quite a few happy cake and pastry tastings, together with far too many cups of amazing coffee.

Whilst Jamie's Quick Portuguese Tarts aren't the same as we were served in Madeira, the filling is light, the orange caramel topping is superb and I could quite happily have eaten the lot!

I didn't cook these against the clock, I can't do it, won't do it - otherwise we end up with car crash food.

There are plenty of great recipes in the book, although if you wish to cook only one of the suggested meal plans the method layout can be frustrating.

I hope you have a go at making these delicious tarts.

9 Nov 2012

Rosemary Roast Lamb Chops and Potatoes

Whilst lazily reading the newspaper at my local coffee shop the other week, I came across this recipe from BBC GoodFood in the Daily Mail.  I always look forward to seeing which recipe they have chosen from the GoodFood website because I can then buy the ingredients whilst I'm out shopping and cook the suggested recipe.  I don't know whose job it is to choose recipes from the GoodFood website for the Daily Mail readers but they always pick a winner.  I'm mostly grateful to them because it saves me thinking 'what shall I cook for dinner'.

After my disaaahhhster (disaster) with a previous meal, I thought it only fair I cooked something that looked good, tasted wonderful and is very delicious too.

The recipe is very easy to prepare and make, I used King Edward old potatoes because when roasted they are crunchy on the outside and fluffy within.  The balsamic vinegar drizzled over the roasted meal is a must and takes it to another level. I cut off some rosemary which happily grows in my garden and managed to tear off the last sprig of mint too.

The recipe is on the BBC GoodFood website. I found the oven timings suggested on their site too short and cooked the potatoes for another 20 minutes.

3 Nov 2012

Chilli Con Carne Meatballs - Jamie's 15 Minute Meals

I challenged myself to make Chilli Con Carne Meatballs from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, after seeing him on TV effortlessly produce this recipe.

Jamie has a team who do all the prep - I have just me and distractions. Everything started off well and I thought it would be a doddle, but then the washer finished, more washing to put in, next the tumble dryer to fill. Couldn't find the blender, found the blender, struggled to assemble the blender. Where is the bulgur wheat hiding?  I forgot to buy the preserved lemons. Why are there only a few cumin seeds left in the jar? It was all going wrong.......

I wasn't sure about cooking the meatballs for such a short time and cooked these for longer, I thought the quantity of bulgur wheat might not be enough and then cooked too much - I should have trusted Jamie:)

Would you like to know how long all this took me? - I lost the will, and have absolutely no idea.  The photograph tells the story........

Hubby thought the meal was very tasty and he particularly enjoyed the meatballs. He would have liked less bulgur wheat and more meatballs, not the huge plate of bulgur wheat I gave to him, and as for me, I will always prefer traditional chilli con carne.

I plan to cook a few more recipes from the book, perhaps this time I might manage to cook something without so many distractions.

The book - bursting at the seams with tasty healthy recipes, great food styling and photographs, and each recipe gives calorie, fat, sugar and saturated fat details.

Please Note:  This blog post isn't to be taken seriously - ok!