Saturday, 15 December 2012

Stilton and spinach strata

As Stilton is in abundance at this time of year, in cheeseboards and gift sets, this is a perfect way to use it.

15g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
2 leeks, white and pale green part only, trimmed
1tbsp sunflower oil
160g bag baby leaf spinach
175g bread or bread rolls, preferably unsliced and a day or two old
150g Stilton, crumbled
50g mature Cheddar, grated
4 large free-range eggs
600ml semi-skimmed milk
2tsp Dijon mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter.
2. Cut the leeks in half lengthways and rinse under running water. Slice finely and pat as dry as possible with kitchen paper.
3. Melt the butter and oil in a pan, add the leeks and stir to coat. Cover and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts.
4. Cut the bread into 2cm cubes and put most of it in the base of the dish, reserving some cubes for the top.
5. Put the vegetables on top of the bread in an even layer. Scatter on the Stilton and then the Cheddar.
6. Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and mustard, then pour over the cheese topping. Scatter on the remaining bread. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
7. Remove the cover and bake for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden and the inside is set.

Serves: 4
Ready in: 1hr 40mins
Price per serving: £1.10

Per serving:

Calories - 546
Fat - 33.6g
Sat Fat - 16.8g

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Mince pies

These mince pies will keep in an airtight container for two weeks, or you can freeze them instead.

2 level tbsp caster sugar
450g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
Good pinch salt
250g salted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
50g Trex Pure Vegetable Fat, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 egg yolks from large eggs

1. Dissolve the caster sugar in 3tbsp hot water. Leave to cool, then chill further in the fridge. Sift the flour and salt into bowl. Add the butter and vegetable fat and rub in with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the yolks with the sugared water and add to the bowl. Mix with a round-bladed knife until the mixture clumps together to form a dough.

2. Gather the pastry dough with your hands, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut out 28 x 8cm rounds and 28 x 7cm stars. Gather the leftover dough, roll out and cut out more shapes.

3. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Use the rounds to line the holes of two 12-hole tins, easing them to fit in snugly. Fill each hole with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat from a 822g jar. Dampen the edges of the pastry shells, place the stars over the mincemeat, and press their ends against the shells to seal.

4. Bake the mince pies for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Leave in the tis for 10 minutes, then ease them out with a round-bladed knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Give them a light dusting of icing sugar before serving - hold the sieve above the pies and gently tap its sides.

Makes: 28
Ready in: 1hr 20mins plus cooling
Price per mince pie: 14p

Per serving:

Calories - 212
Fat - 11.4g
Sat Fat - 6.1g

Tips for making sweet shortcrust pastry.

Warm hands? Your ingredients and hands should be nice and cool when handling pastry o it might get crumbly and difficult to roll. Run them under cold running eater for a minute.

Hot kitchen? A steamy kitchen can have the same effect, so put the bowl of rubbed-in flour in the fridge for 15 minutes before adding the egg yolk and sugared water.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas pudding ice cream

This creamy ice cream has all the taste of a traditional Christmas pudding and can be frozen in ramekins.

150g sultanas
100g dried cranberries
150g glacé cherries, quartered
150g ready to eat dried apricots, cut into pieces the size of a sultana
6tbsp Cointreau
100g pistachio nuts
150g dark chocolate (50% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs, separated
75g icing sugar
300ml double cream

1. Put the sultanas, cranberries, glacé cherries, apricots and Cointreau in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Soak for 1-3 days.
2. Line 10 ramekins with a double layer of clingfilm. Chop the nuts.
3. Break the chocolate into squares and melt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water - don't let the bowl touch the water. Remove the bowl.
4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar, a level tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each.
5. In another bowl, whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Beat the yolks with a fork to break them up.
6. Fold the fruit and soaking liquid, nuts and yolks into the cream using a large metal spoon. Gently fold in the whites, turn into the ramekins and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Serves: 10
Ready in: 4hrs 40mins plus soaking
Price per serving: 80p

Per serving:

Calories - 509
Fat - 27.5g
Sat Fat - 13.8g

Toffee & pistachio meringue

Walnuts or pecans can replace pistachios. This dessert can be frozen for two weeks in a plastic container.

4 large egg whites
225g caster sugar, plus 100g for the toffee sauce
115g pistachios, finely chopped
75g unsalted butter
450ml double cream

1. Preheat the oven to 130C/110C/Gas1/2. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Draw a 21cm diameter circle on each, then turn the paper over. Whisk the whites to form glossy peaks. Add the sugar a heaped tsp at a time, whisking until stiff again after each one.
2. Gently fold in the pistachios. Put a small dab of the mixture under the paper in each corner to help it stick to the tray. Spread the mixture on the trays to make two rounds, using the pencil marks as a guide.
3. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until pale coloured and crisp. To test if it is cooked, peel off the paper at one edge - if it peels off easily the meringue is cooked. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce. Heat 100g caster sugar in a small pan with 2tbsp water until the sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, until golden brown, then remove straight away from the heat and add the butter and a small pinch of salt. Add 75ml of the double cream and stir until it's evenly mixed. Set aside until cold.
5. Lightly whip the rest of the cream until it holds its shape. Fold in the toffee sauce with a spoon so that you have a swirled effect.
6. Spread on one meringue and top with the other.

Serves: 12
Ready in: 2hrs
Price per serving: 32p

Per serving:

Calories - 398
Fat - 29.7g
Sat Fat - 16.5g

Celebration salmon

You can use Prosecco, Cava, Champagne or any dry sparkling wine for this wonderful sauce - plus you get to enjoy the rest of the bottle with your meal!

10g butter, plus 25g extra
480g lightly smoked salmon fillet
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
200ml Prosecco
2 shallots, finely chopped
25g plain flour
150ml single cream
1tbsp dill, chopped, plus 4 sprigs to garnish
Brussels sprouts and roast new potatoes, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease a roasting tin with 10g butter. Add the fillets and put a parsley sprig on top of each one. Gently pour on the Prosecco - it will foam up at first. Then cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
2. Discard the parsley. Lift the fillets out and put them on a plate. Cover loosely with foil and keep warm. Reserve the Prosecco juice.
3. Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots, over a medium heat, until soft, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Cook over a low heat for a minute, whisking with a wire whisk. Remove from the heat and whisk in the juice. Return to the heat whisking until thickened. Simmer for 2 minutes.
5. Whisk in the cream and chopped dill, then season and reheat. Pour over the salmon and garnish with the dill sprigs. Serve with Brussels and roast new potatoes.

Serves: 4
Ready in: 50 mins
Price per serving: £2.74

Per serving:

Calories - 456
Fat - 27.6g
Sat Fat - 11.5g

Monday, 10 December 2012

Cheese & vegetable pies

The cheese pastry in these pies make them taste really special but if you're short of time you could use ready to use ready-to-roll shortcrust pastry instead.

150g butter, cut into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
300g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
A pinch each of dry mustard powder, cayenne and salt
50g extra mature Cheddar, finely grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1tbsp mild olive oil
1 small leek (white and pale green part), finely chopped
160g baby spinach
150g frozen petit pois
200g plain soft cheese
1tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 medium egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Grease the holes of a four-hole Yorkshire pudding tin with a little butter. Sift the flour, mustard powder, cayenne and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese and egg, then mix to a firm dough. You may need to add a couple of teaspoons of cold water.
2. Make the dough into a flat slab, then wrap it in clingfilm and chill for 20-30 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the leek over a medium heat, until soft. Add the spinach, stirring until it wilts.
4. Tip into a large bowl stir in the frozen petit pois. Stir in the soft cheese, parsley and sage, the season well.
5. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 4 x 12cm-diameter rounds and use to line the pudding-tin holes. Cut out 4x 10cm-diameter rounds for lids and cut a star out of the centre of each one.
6. Divide the filling between the tins and dampen the edges of the pastry with a little water. Put the lids on top and pinch to seal the edges.
7. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serves: 4
Ready in: 55 mins
Price per serving: £1

Per serving:

Calories - 767
Fat - 49.7g
Sat Fat - 28.4g

Cherry almond trifle

Make this the day before then add the toppings on the day. You can also use Madeira cake instead of baking the almond cakes or muffins

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Put 4 paper muffin cases or 6 paper cupcake cases in a muffin tin or bun tin. Put 50g softened butter, 50g caster sugar, 50g self-raising flour, 1/2 level tsp baking powder, 1 large egg and 15g ground almonds in a bowl and beat until creamy and mixed evenly. Divide between the paper cases and bake for 15 minutes for the cupcakes or 20 minutes for the muffins, or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly. Cool.
Stone 250g fresh cherries and put in a pan with 100ml cherry juice. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool.
Cut the cakes in half and sandwich with 3tbsp Cherry Conserve. Break the cakes into pieces and put in the base of a large trifle bowl.
Mix together 2tbsp cherry brandy and 4tbsp or the cherry cooking juice. If you don't want to use brandy, replace it with more cherry juice. Drizzle over the cake. Drain the cherries and scatter evenly on top.
Put 250g mascarpone in another bowl and stir to soften. Gradually add 500g custard until evenly mixed. Spread on top of the sponge and cherries.
Whip 450ml double cream until it just holds its shape and put on top.
Put 25g flaked almonds in a dry frying pan and cook over a medium heat and toss until golden. Tip on a plate to cool.
Decorate the trifle with the flaked almonds and more fresh cherries.

Serves: 12
Ready in: 1hr 10mins
Price per serving: 59p

Per serving:

Calories - 450
Fat - 36.7g
Sat Fat - 22.1g

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Stilton and nut bites

Great for cheese lovers! Store in an airtight container and keep for up to two weeks.

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Line three baking paper. Sift 175g plain flour, a pinch of cayenne pepper amd dry mustard powder, plus pinch of salt into a bowl and stir. Rub in 125g cubed butter.
Add 50g grated Stilton, 75g extra mature Cheddar and 75g finely chopped walnuts and stir to mix evenly. Beat 1 large egg and add half to the walnut mix. Mix with your hands to make a dough. Shape into 40 small balls. Put on the trays, leaving a small gap between each one, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
Brush the tops with the rest of the beaten egg, then sprinkle with 2tbsp poppy seeds.
Bake for 15 minutes. Cool the bites on the baking trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

Makes: 40 bites
Ready in: 40mins plus cooling
Price per bite: 7p

Per serving:

Calories - 50
Fat - 3.5g
Sat Fat - 2.1g

Spiced mix nut selection

These spiced nuts are perfect for parties - keep them in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Mix 50g caster sugar with 1 level tsp salt, 1/2 level tsp ground cumin, 1 level tsp chilli powder, 1/4 level tsp ground allspice and 1/2 level tsp cayenne.
Whisk 1 medium egg (white only) in a large bowl until foamy. Add the spice mix and whisk until just evenly mixed.
Add 500g mixed raw nuts (such as almonds, pecans, macadamia and cashews) and stir to coat. Lift the nuts out using a spoon and spread out on the trays.
Bake for 35 minutes, then stir around on the tray using a large spoon to break them up. Take while doing this as the coating will be very hot. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the paper and nuts onto racks to cool completely.

Makes: 500g
Ready in: 1hr 35mins
Price per 12g serving: 40p

Per serving:

Calories - 50
Fat - 3.5g
Sat Fat - 2.1g

Or try...
For a sweeter variation, use double the amount of sugar and use spices such as ground cinnamon, ground allspice and ground cloves.

Chocolate truffles

Make two variations - one dark chocolate, one white. They'll keep in the fridge for four days or in the freezer for two months. You can leave out the alcohol to make them kid-friendly.

For dark chocolate truffles, chop 225g dark chocolate (50% cocoa solids) and put in a bowl. Heat 150ml double cream until just simmering. Immediately remove from the heat and pour onto the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Stir in 2tbsp Drambuie (or Tia Maria, Cointreau or brandy) and chill for 2 hours.
Put 4tbsp cocoa on a plate. Using 2 teaspoons, shape the mixture into small balls and roll in cocoa. Put on another plate and chill.

Per serving:

Calories - 76
Fat - 5.6g
Sat Fat - 3.4g

For white chocolate and coconut truffles, make the truffle mixture as above using 225g white chocolate and 75ml double cream.
Stir in 2tbsp of white rum (or Malibu) and 40g desiccated coconut and chill for 4 hours.
Put 4tbsp desiccated coconut on a plate. Shape the mixture into balls as before and roll them in the coconut to coat. Put on another plate and chill

Per serving:

Calories - 77
Fat - 5.5g
Sat Fat - 3.5g

Makes: 24
Ready in: 30mins plus chilling
Price per truffle: 12p

Christmas Leftovers

A few ways to use up your christmas leftovers, all with butter for extra calories.

Christmas Bubble & Squeak

Mash together any leftover vegetables from christmas dinner with a spoonful of butter, some chunks of Christmas ham and a grating of any cheeseboard leftovers. Shape into burger sized patties, melt a little butter in a frying pan and cook on both sides until golden and heated through. Delicious with a poached egg, for brunch or supper.

Parsnip & Roasties soup

Gently cook a diced onion in a knob of butter, add your leftover roast potatoes and parsnips along with any other vegetables remaining from Christmas dinner, cover with veg stock and simmer. If you have leftover gravy you can add that too. Add in a good grind of pepper then whizz until smooth. Serve with chunks of bread and butter and if you have some Christmas cheese to use up, grate a little on top.

Panettone & Butter pudding

Spread wedges of Panettone with butter and nestle them in an oven dish. Whisk together eggs, cream, milk and sugar and pour over the Panettone. Bake in the oven until golden and crisp on top.

Refrigerator Cake

Melt leftover Christmas chocolate together with butter and honey and combine with unused mixed nuts, such as brazils, hazelnuts and almonds, broken up biscuits and chopped glace cherries. Press it all into a brownie tin and chill before cutting into squares.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Lets make... stained-glass biscuits

These stained-glass biscuits aren't the most calorific recipe I've posted on Calories and Creon but they are fun to make which, especially for a CF child, makes them more fun to eat. Plus they can be used to hang on the christmas tree... I'll bet they'll all be gone by the big day though ;)

300g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
175g butter, cut into cubes
100g golden syrup
24 Fox's Glacier Fruits

1. Preheat the ovento 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line three baking trays with baking paper. Sift the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl.

2. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.

3. Add the golden syrup and mix with a knife until big lumps form. Using your hand, finish mixing to make a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

4. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin, then roll out the dough to about 3-4mm thick. Cut out large stars and rounds with cutters. Use your smallest cutters to cut a hole in the middle of each biscuit.

5. Gather up any leftover dough, then roll out and cut out again. Put the biscuits on to the baking trays using a fish slice to support them. Use a skewer to make a small hole in each if you want to hang them.

6. Put the sweets in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin to break them into smaller pieces. Children may need an adult to help as they're hard to break.

7. Put the broken sweets in the biscuit holes. Bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they start to brown and the sweets have melted.

8. Cool on the baking trays for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Per serving:

Calories - 273
Fat - 12.3g
Sat Fat - 7.6g

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Adding even more calories to Christmas Dinner

OK I know it's only the 2nd of December but I found these few tips for using butter to add extra flavour (add calories) to christmas dinner so I thought I would share.

Make Sprouts Special

Quarter your sprouts and pan fry them in a knob of butter. Heat the butter until it's bubbling, add the sprouts and cook until they're tender inside and browned on the outside, then season. Add some Walnut or Chestnut pieces as well, for an extra festive flavour.

Moreish Moist Turkey

Keep turkey succulent and moist throughout cooking. Mash half a pack of room temperature butter together with thyme, a crushed clove of garlic and the grated zest of a lemon. With the Turkey's legs pointing towards you, gently loosen the skin around the cavity. Ease the butter under the skin, spreading it over the breasts. It will flavour the turkey, keep it moist during cooking and leave a layer of herbs under the skin that looks quite special when you carve.

Smashing Mash

Peel and chop your carrots and swede, then cook together in boiling water until tender and mash with a knob of butter. Spread them into an oven dish and lovingly top with a combination of breadcrumbs and grated parmesan then dot with a little more butter. Pop it under a hot grill until the top is golden and crisp. Try this with parsnips, squash or sweet potato too. You can make this the day before and reheat it in the oven to save time on the day

Homemade Brandy Butter

This is simple and quick to make but adds a special something to mince pies. Simply beat together half a pack of room temperature butter, slightly less weight of icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence then whisk in a few tablespoons of brandy a little at a time. Add more sugar and brandy to your taste. Serve with warmed mince pies. You can try this with any liqueur you like.