Not Enough Fairy Lights in the World

I think I have reached maximum fairy light capacity in my house. If there are any stray Santa’s out there that need a grotto, drop me a line, you can totally use my place.  Its been a bit of a weird week. I have a ton of work lined up from January but the next couple of weeks are of course quiet. I am suffering from cabin fever. This  is the longest I have not been booked for work. I should be relaxing shouldn’t I? I should be preparing for Christmas, enjoying the kids, doing all those jobs that I have been putting off….etc etc etc…..NOOOOOOO I prepared for Christmas last week, I did it in a day and half. I cannot be more prepared. Christmas could arrive tomorrow with 7 hours notice I could make it happen….

In order to make my ‘cabin’ more bearable I filled it totally with fairy lights. Its magical, I totally love my bedroom/office. I have (not so secretly) always wanted to put a Christmas tree in my bedroom. I remember visitin my father in France at Christmas and instead of sleeping in my room I slept on the sofa so I could see the tree…No I wasnt 12, I think it was probably 8yrs ago! This year the tree is in my bedroom. I am happy. Just to clarify I live in a ground floor live/work apartment. My bedroom is also an office. I didn’t schlep it upstairs..I’m not that weird!!

This week I also attempted to make a Tunis Cake. I had never heard of it until 3 or 4 years ago when my friend asked me to pick one up for her. I believe McVities used to make it. I think I brought it from Tesco. Its a sponge cake topped with a thick chocolate icing (that cheap gacky icing that you can only get on a brought cake). The cake is finished off with three pieces of marzipan fruit. It is truly horrible but wonderful at the same time. It has been discontinued. My friend asked me to make one. I did. It didn’t really work out. I googled it, found a recipe. I strayed from the path and added too much buttermilk (not in the recipe). It wasn’t sweet enough and also for the topping I melted a couple of chocolate bars, milk and dark. But it was just too posh, didn’t have the claggy consistency. The marzipan fruit was probably the only success.

Anyhoo, I leave you with a festive recipe for edible tree decorations. A bit Nigella and a bit me….

Happy Christmas

Rachelle x

 

 

 

Edible Christmas Tree Decorations

This is based on a recipe by Nigella. I use it every year. This year I added some stem ginger.

For the biscuits

  • 320 gram(s) plain flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon(s) ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon(s) black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 100 gram(s) butter (soft)
  • 100 gram(s) soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large egg(s) (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoon(s) honey (runny)
  • 3 tbs stem ginger (chopped)
  • 2 tbs stem ginger syrup

For the icing and trimmings

Icing sugar mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice

Edible glitter or whatever you choose to decorate with

Method

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and honey and chopped stem ginger with juice though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.

Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingf ilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.

Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice, which could include fir-tree shapes, angels, stars, snowflakes, and so on.

Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.

Now take a small icing nozzle and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each biscuit (through which ribbon can later be threaded).

Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Make up the icing. Make it thick enough to use in a disposable piping bag. If you dont want to use a piping bag just use a fork and make the icing runny enough to drip from the ends of the fork. I use this method loads and it looks fab.

Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like. When the icing is set, thread ribbon and hang on the tree.

 


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Run for Cover

The two year old has taken over. We are at his mercy. It is like living with a diminutive megalomaniac. Nothing is sacred, everything is thrown, broken, chewed and abused. The throwing, the throwing! Why oh why does he have to throw everything? The girls run for cover as soon as he has a toy in his hand. No amount of cajoling, bribing, asking nicely or just plain telling off will stop the madness.   The trouble is he is so cute, you have to forgive him within seconds…

Amongst the missile fire, I managed to bake a cake for the Pavlina’s birthday (the kids childminder) and I am pleased to say, all of the cake remained either on his plate or in his mouth. I made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Malteser Cake. Its a staple in our house, I can practically make it in my sleep.

For Halloween the kids did a mountain of pumpkin carving and from the spoils I made a pumpkin cheese cake. I am not really a huge fan of pumpkin pie. As I am half American I feel I should attempt to like it but I find the texture quite cloying. I know a lot of recipes call for canned pumpkin, which is an ingredient that I have never really felt comfortable with.

I made a traditional biscuit base and then roasted squash with fresh ginger and brown sugar. I also added stem ginger too just to give it a bit of a spicy hit. I think this might become a part of our Halloween supper from now on.

I leave you with my recipe for pumpkin and ginger cheesecake and also a few photographs of my Thanksgiving side dishes which were featured in Fashion Affair Magazine this month.

Have a wonderful week!

Rachelle x

Butter wouldn’t melt…yeah right!

Naked Potatoes

Posh Green Bean Casserole

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Malteser Cake

Pumpkin and Ginger Cheesecake

For the base

  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter

For the filling

  • 500g pumpkin or squash peeled and roasted
  • 60g fresh ginger grated
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2tbs butter
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g stem ginger
  • 2tbs stem ginger syrup
  • 150ml double cream

Turn the oven on to 180c.

Peel and chop the squash roughly place in a roasting dish toss with the grated ginger, sugar and butter. Roast for 30 minutes until soft and cooked.

Whilst the squash is roasting put the digestive biscuits and the butter into a food processor with the blade attachment and whizz till the mixture resembles damp sand. Tip into a 9 inch pie dish and using your fingers or the back of a spoon press the mixture firmly down. Place in the fridge to cool.

Take the cooled squash and place in a food processor with the stem ginger and the ginger syrup. Puree and tip into a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl whisk the cream to soft peak stage. Tip into the bowl with the squash add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Pour into the chilled biscuit base and using a spatula evenly spread the mixture over the base. Place in the fridge to chill for an hour or so. Serve with pouring cream.

 

 

 

 


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