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Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

My reinvention challenge for December was the humble mince pie. It may seem a little late to be posting mince pie recipes but if you made your own mince and you still have some left over then there’s no reason why you cant still make these in January to use it up. Otherwise hopefully they’ll provide a little inspiration to be bookmarked for next year.

The first result of much experimenting and fiddling was mince pie thumb print biscuits. These are roughly based on my mom’s recipe for melting moments, turned into thumb prints and filled with fruit mince and white icing. The biscuit base is not disimilar to crumbly buttery short crust pastry and you still get a sticky hit of mince in the middle so they are really just a much simpler version of making your own pies.

Mince Pie Thumb Print Biscuits

  • 170g butter
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 170g plain flour
  • 60g custard powder
  • 1 jar of fruit mince (I used home made rhubarb and vanilla mince)
  • about 1 cup more icing sugar to finish

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and icing sugar in one bowl and mix the flour and custard powder in another. Mix these two together until you have a stiff dough. Make walnut sized balls and flatten them slightly. Place on a lined baking tray about 1inch apart and make a dent in the middle of each one (either with your thumb or something else round if you want a more professional finish). Fill the dent with fruit mince and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn). Leave to cool on a wire rack and then make the icing. Add water to the icing sugar, one tsp at a time until you get the icing to the right consistency (you can make it as stiff or runny as you like) and spoon over the top. Leave to set and then store in an airtight container.

For my second recipe I went a little further outside the box and came up with these mince meringue pies. These are basically a normal mince pie on the bottom but with an orange meringue top instead of pastry (think mince pie meets lemon meringue). They’re very pretty (well they would be if I practise my piping a bit more) and the orange scented meringue adds an extra soft but crispy texture.

Mince and Orange Meringue Pies

  • 375g shortcrust pastry (I used ready made for this because I haven’t mastered it myself yet and I had a lot on the go at the time so it was easier)
  • 1 jar fruit mince (again I used home made rhubarb and vanilla mince)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 1/4 tsp orange essence

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Roll out the pastry to about 5mm and cut out circles to fit your mini tart tray (slightly larger than the diameter of the holes). Line each hole with a circle of pastry, prick with a fork and chill for 20 min in the fridge. Line the tart bases with baking paper and baking beans and blind bake for about 10 min. Remove the papers and bake for another 5-10 minutes until very lightly golden. Set aside to cool and then fill each with fruit mince.

Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites until fluffly, adding the sugar and then beating until stiff peaks form. Place in a piping bag and pipe on to the top of the pies in any pattern you like (or otherwise just spoon the meringue on to each one). Place back in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown and then cool slightly before serving. They are best served straight away but will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Last but not least, a very out of the box mince pie recipe. I unfortunately dont have a picture because they were made and completely consumed at some stupid hour in the morning over Christmas but they were so good I have to post the recipe anyway. These taste just like a mince pie in liquid form, with the added benefit of an alcoholic kick. What could be wrong with that?

Mince Pie Martinis

  • 2 shots mince pie vodka (see below)
  • 4 shots pineapple juice (you can add more juice if you find this ratio too strong)
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Handful of ice cubes

You have to make the mince pie vodka in advance. You can make as much or little as you like but add about 60ml of fruit mince per 500ml vodka, mix together and leave to steep in an airtight bottle or container for at least a few days.  Then filter the vodka by pouring through a fine muslin strainer and store back into the container until you need it.

To make the cocktail combine the ice, vodka and pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker and shake violently for a few seconds. Pour into a glass and you should get a layer of creamy foam on the top like a french martini. Garnish with cinnamon or orange if you like and serve.

I have one jar of rhubarb and vanilla mince left and I think I’m going to use it to make more vodka  because these were so good and I cant wait another 12months to have another one.

Finally, a few other bloggers joined in the mince baking and as promised I said I would send a late present from santa to the one with the best reinvention recipe.

Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me made perfect traditional mince pies and then made some even more stunning ones topped with sugar paste snowflakes and trees…

Choclette from Chocolate Log blog made orange and chocolate mince pies with her own home made chocolate mincemeat which made my mouth water…

And Emma from Kitchen Goddess (in training) made beautiful traditional mince pies as well as sharing her recipe for mincemeat bread and butter pudding as a very clever way to use up mincemeat and reinvent the mince pie. Until Emma posts the recipe herself you can find it in her comment on my post here.

I would happily eat any of these recipes and they all look beautiful but for being the most in keeping with the theme of reinvention I think the winner has to be Choclette’s Orange and Chocolate mince pies which sound absolutely delicious. Its only a bit of fun but I promised a little present to the best recipe so I will be in touch to get your address Choclette and thank you all for sharing your recipes!

On that note… Happy New Year to all and may 2012 bring you plenty of good food and happiness! ♥

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Only 4 sleeps til Christmas day! I’ve been so busy planning and preparing my Christmas recipes that I havent left myself enough time to blog about them all. I’m also keeping the special ones as a surprise for family so I have to keep them a secret you see. By now its also too late to share useful recipes for the main event as you will have already made your own plans so I decided to write a quick post with some ideas that might still come in handy and share some of the delicious things I have seen on other blogs that I’m planning to get to over the rest of the holidays.

Firstly, more biscuit ideas! I know I’ve just made Christmas biscuits which were the subject of my last post but although they were perfect for making edible decorations, I thought they could be topped when it comes to a biscuit to accompany a desert or fill a goody bag in someone’s stocking. So I fiddled with the basic biscuit dough to inject a bit more spice and made these little stars to add to my Yuletide arsenal. They arent the most indulgent biscuit you’ve ever eaten but they are meant to complement a richer recipe rather than be the star of the show and they have a lovely warm, spicy cocoa flavour. It was snowing when I made these so it was  a bit dark in my kitchen for taking photos but hopefully you can see the cinnamon sugar dusting which adds a little extra sparkle.

Spicy Cocoa Biscuits

  • 50g castor sugar plus extra for dusting
  • 50g softened butter
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then beat in the syrup. Sift in the flour, cocoa, spices and bicarbonate of soda together and mix into a sandy dough. Slowly add the egg (you wont need all of it) until the dough comes together. Roll out onto a well floured surface into a rectangular shape about 5mm thick. Cut out with a star shaped cutter and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Mix extra cinnamon and sugar together and dust over the biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Not content with sugar biscuits I’ve been scouring the net for something else with a little more flair and I keep coming back to french macarons. I’ve never made them before but if I can pull them off without any mishaps then I’m planning to use these blogs for inspiration and create my own version of red velvet macrons. If you fancy trying your hand then I reccommend you start here:

Photo from Mowielicious.

  • Mowielicious – he has some of the most delicious macaron recipes I’ve seen and if his photos don’t make you salivate (exhibit A to the right) then your brain is broken.
  • Daydreamer Deserts – has a great post on demystifying french macarons with a useful video for those of us that need visuals to work out whether we are on the right track…

… Now if you have managed to find your way back to this post after getting side tracked for an hour browsing all Mowie’s photos and recipes then let me get your attention back with these… Christmas cocktails!

I cant take credit for the photos as I wont be making these until Saturday (well friday night at least, I will probably need a drink by the time I’m finished all the last minute preparations) but having researched a thousand different holiday tipples these two are going to be my poison of choice so I thought I would share the links with you now in case you want to make a last minute adjustment to your shopping list.

The first one is an Apricot Queen which I have made before and can definitely recommend. I first made it because I somehow landed up with a bottle of apricot brandy that doesn’t really lend itself to the standard spirit + mixer combination. Never one to leave a perfectly good bottle of alcohol lying around I went hunting for cocktail ideas and came across this little gem which combines it with white rum, sugar and lemon. It does use raw egg white so do be careful who you serve it to (not that you should be pressing alcohol on your pregnant friends and small children but still). I’m not a fan of super sweet fish-bowl size things that leave you feeling nauseous after one or two so this is my ideal type of drink – short and fruity with a kick.

My second choice is this Cranberry cider margarita posted by the ladies at Haute Apple Pie. With the flavours of cranberry and orange its perfectly Christmassy and the cider will stop it being too sweet for my taste buds. I plan to make it with vodka instead of tequila but that’s up to you of course. As soon as I’ve tried it out I’ll put up some pictures of my own but I’m pretty sure its going to be good!

Photo from Haute Apple Pie.

Right so I better get back to writing up my final shopping list but I still have a week between Christmas and New Year to spend experimenting and its Christmas which means the calories dont count so if you have any recipes you think I should know about, you know where I am!

In case I dont manage to write again until after I’ve recovered from death by turkey and trimmings, have a lovely Christmas and good luck with your own cooking exploits! ♥

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