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SPROUTS WITH LEMON PARSLEY CRUMBS

 Serves 6 

Takes 10 minutes to make, 10 minutes to cook 

  • 750g brussel sprouts, trimmed with outer leaves discarded
  • 50g butter
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 75g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • Small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Place the sprouts in a large pan of boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes until nearly tender. Drain and plunge into cold water to refresh, then drain again.

Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the lemon zest, fresh breadcrumbs and parsley and toss until the breadcrumbs are toasted and lightly golden. Season, remove from the pan and set aside.

When ready to serve, melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Put the sprouts in the frying pan and warm through over a low heat. Tip into a bowl, then scatter with the breadcrumbs. 

FREEZE-AHEAD: Parboil the sprouts in boiling water, then refresh under cold running water. Pat dry and place in a freezer bag. To serve, heat from frozen, in a pan with some olive oil and butter, for about 10 minutes. 

This recipe is from Delicious UK Magazine December 2009

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CLASSIC ROAST POTATOES WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARY

Serves 8

Takes: 5 minutes to make, 1 hour to cook.

• 1.5kg floury potatoes, such as king Edward, cut into chunks
• 5 tablespoons goose fat or olive oil
• 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated
• 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180c/Gas 6. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold salted water, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, return to a low heat and shake the pan to roughen up the potatoes.
Melt the fat in a large roasting tin in the oven until really hot, then carefully add the potatoes, garlic and rosemary. Toss well and roast for 50 minutes-1hour, turning occasionally, until crispy. Season with sea salt to serve.

FREEZE-AHEAD: After you have parboiled and fluffed up the spuds, lay them on a baking sheet to cool. Once cold, open-freeze until solid, then transfer to freezer bags. On Christmas Day, carefully add the frozen potatoes to the hot fat with the garlic and rosemary and cook until golden and crisp.

This recipe is from Delicious UK Magazine December 2009

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ROLLED STUFFED LOIN OF PORK WITH RUBIED GRAVY

Serves 8-10

• 3.8kg fillet end loin of pork, rind and bones removed and reserved, to give approx 2.2kg loin
• 450g streaky rindless bacon or prosciutto, plus extra bacon for stuffing below
• String to wrap round the rolled loin
FOR THE MARINADE:
• 250ml olive oil
• 125ml white wine or vermouth
• 30ml Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon Maldon salt or ½ teaspoon table salt
FOR THE STUFFING:
• 125gm streaky rindless bacon
• 2 onions, peeled and quartered
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
• Handful of fresh parsley
• 3 x 15ml tablespoon olive oil
• 200g dried cranberries
If the butcher hasn’t already opened up the loin for you, lay it out in front of you vertically, and then slice partway through the centre of the meat laterally to open it out like a book, but without cutting through the ‘spine ‘as it were.

Bash the meat (you may want to cover it with clingfilm first) so that it is as flat and as evenly thick as possible. It should now resemble a rectangle in shape.
Put all the marinade ingredients into a large freezer bag, with the opened, flattened loin.Leave the bag overnight in the fridge (in a lasagna-type dish) or just while you are making the stuffing and waiting for it to cool.

Put the 125g bacon into a food processor with the onions and garlic cloves. Add all the spices and parsley, then process until it is pretty well mush.
Heat the oil in a wide, shallow pan and fry the spiced mush gently for about 10 minutes, then add the dried cranberries and cook for a further 5 minutes before taking off the heat.

Let the stuffing cool completely before you stuff and roll your loin.

Twenty minutes before you want to stuff the pork for roasting, take it out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6.

Take the pork out of its bag and marinade, shaking off any excess liquid, and lay it flesh-side up (de-rinded side down) on some baking parchment or greaseproof paper, with the long side facing you, and the short side at right angles to you.

Spread the stuffing over the pork but leave a good 2.5cm boarder all the way around the edge. Then roll up the loin from the long side to make a long, fat, stuffing-filled sausage.
Wrap the 450g bacon rashers or prosciutto around the loin to cover the white fat on top.
Cut off lengths of string and, starting from the middle, slide the string under the meat, then tie up the sausage with a tight knot on the top.

Tie the loin at intervals of about 4cm so that the meat is secured all the way along. Tuck in any rouge bits of meat or stuffing that may poke out at either end.

Arrange the bones in a roasting tin so they form a rack to hodl the stuffed loin, then sit the loin on top of the bones. Place in the oven for 21/2-21/4 hours.

Once you’ve put the loin in the oven, place the scored rind in a separate shallow roasting tin and sprinkle with salt. Cook alongside the pork on a separate shelf – it will only need about an hour, so your best bet is to put it in the oven halfway through the pork’s cooking time.

Insert a meat thermometer, if you have one (and it’s advisable), into the pork, to make sure the meat is absolutely cooked all the way through. When the thermometer reads 75C, the pork’s ready. If the bacon has browned too much but the pork needs more cooking time, just cover it with foil and put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes before checking again.

Once the pork is cooked, let it rest out of the oven, but leave the crackling in while you make the Rubied Gravy (see below).

When the gravy is done and you are ready to carve the pork, cut off the string ties and pull them away from the meat. Then cut the pork into thick slices, about 2.5cm, that way each slice gets a good ribboning of stuffing with-out falling to pieces.
Serve the pork dribbled with the rubied gravy, breaking up the crackling to serve along side.

RUBIED GRAVY
• 1 X 195g jar cranberry sauce
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 250mls chicken stock
• 60ml ruby port
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring a little to dissolve everything.
Let the gravy bubble away for 5 minutes. When it’s ready – it should look glossy but still quite runny – pour into a jug, and serve with the pork.

These recipes are from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

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GINGERBREAD HOUSE

FOR THE HOUSE

  • 175g/6oz butter, softened
  • 175g/6oz light muscovado sugar
  • 450g/1lb plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 sheet cardboard
  • 28cm x 33cm covered board
  • 600g assorted sweets
  • pure icing sugar for dusting

ICING

  • 2 egg whites
  • 500g pure icing sugar, sifted

Tip the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat for about 3 minutes with an electric hand whisk, or a bit longer with a wooden spoon, until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder and ginger into the bowl, then stir into the creamed mixture with a wooden spoon to form a dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly into a smooth ball. Wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut cardboard into a 20cm square and a 20cm equilateral triangle.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Roll one dough portion on a piece of baking paper large enough to cut out one square and one triangle. Cut shapes from dough using cardboard patterns. Slide shapes, still on baking paper, onto an oven tray. Repeat with remaining dough and cardboard patterns. Cut out door and window from one triangle; bake door with shapes.

Bake door for about 15 minutes and larger shapes for about 20 minutes or until firm. Stand 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks.

ICING: Beat egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until just frothy, gradually beat in enough sifted icing sugar until mixture forms stiff peaks. Keep icing covered with plastic on the surface to prevent drying.

Spread a thin layer of icing on the covered board as a non-slip base. Trim shapes to form straight edges, if needed. Assemble gingerbread house on the board as shown in the picture, using icing to secure the pieces together. Spoon icing into a piping bag, pipe along all joins as pictured. Position the door in place with Icing. Decorate the house with sweets, attaching with icing. Dust house all over with sifted icing sugar.

The Gingerbread recipe is from BBC Good Food Magazine Christmas 1998 and the design is from The Women’s Weekly Christmas and Holiday Entertaining 2008

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STAR-TOPPED MINCE PIES

Makes 36 

  • 240g plain flour
  • 60g vegetable shortening, such as copha (this is used to make chocolate crackles)
  • 60g cold butter
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • Approx. 350g mincemeat
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Get out a tray of miniature tart tins, each indent 4.5cm in diameter, along with a 5.5cm fluted, round biscuit cutter and a 4cm star cutter.

Measure the flour into a shallow bowl or dish and, with a teaspoon, dollop little mounds of vegetable shortening into the bowl, add the butter, diced small, shake and cover it, then put in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is what will make the pastry so tender and flaky later.

Mix together the orange juice and salt in a separate, small bowl, cover and leave in the fridge to chill.

After 20 minutes, empty the flour and fat into the bowl of your Food Processor and blitz until you’ve got a pale pile of porridge-like crumbs. Pour the salted juice down the funnel, pulsing until it looks as if the dough is about to cohere; you want to stop just before it does (even if some orange juice is left). If all your juice is used up and you need more liquid, add some iced water.

If you prefer to use a freestanding mixer to make the pastry, cut the fats into the flour with the flat paddle, leaving the bowl in the fridge to chill down for the 20 minute flour-and-fat-freezer session. Add liquid as above. The pasty may need more liquid in the mixer than the processor.

Turn the mixture out of the processor or mixing bowl onto a pastry board or work surface and, using your hands, combine to a dough. Then form 3 discs (you’ll need to make these in 3 batches, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once)

Wrap each disc in glad wrap and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7.

Roll out the discs, one at a time, as thinly as you can without exaggerating; in other words, you want a light pasty case, but one sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat. This is easy-going dough, so you don’t have to pander to it; just get rolling and patch up as you need.

Out of each rolled-out disc cut out circles a little wider than the indentations in the tart tins; I use a fluted cookie cutter for this. Press these circles gently into the moulds and dollop in a scant teaspoon of mincemeat.

Then cut out your stars with your little star cutter – re-rolling the pastry as necessary – and place the tops lighly on the mincemeat.

Put in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes; keep an eye on them as they really don’t take long and ovens do a vary.

Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and letting the empty tin cool down before you start putting the pastry for the next batch. Carry on until they’re all done.

Dust over some icing sugar by pushing it through a tea strainer. 

This recipe is from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

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CRANBERRY-STUDDED MINCEMEAT

Makes approx. 600mls – enough for 50 mince pies 

  • 60ml ruby port
  • 75g soft dark brown sugar
  • 300g cranberries (I used frozen cranberries)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 75g currants
  • 75g raisins
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 25ml brandy
  • 1/8 teaspoon or a few drops almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoon honey

In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gently heat.

Add the cranberries to the saucepan.

Then add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, with the currants, raisins and dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the orange.

Simmer for 20 minutes or until everything looks pulpy and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. You may need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of a wooden spoon to incorporate them.

Take off the heat and, when it has cooled a little, stir in the brand, almond and vanilla extracts and honey and beat once more, vociferously, with your wooden spoon to encourage it to turn into a berry-beaded paste.

This recipe is from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson

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