Sunday, 29 December 2013

Gingerbread Houses for Christmas

The construction of a gingerbread house has become something of a Christmas Eve tradition in the last few years. I have no input whatsoever to the process. Its all down to my sister (aka Auntie Adele) boy, girl and a little help from an Ikea flat pack. Their creations have become increasingly ambitious over the years but the chimney is almost always topped off with a signature Brussels Sprout.

2010
The first year of house creation and its somewhat of a minimalistic thrown together look. No preplanning whatsoever. After Eights adorning the roof and the first appearance of a sprout in the chimney. Boy was 8 and girl 6. Construction of the house is always done with melted sugar as opposed to icing.
2011
The sprout has gone from the chimney and been replaced with a Playmobil Santa. A host of woodland creatures adorn the scene and clearly some thought has been put into the overall design. There's been an icing sugar snowfall and the addition of a somewhat scary looking giant gingerbread man.
2012
The sprout is back! This year's project was the addition of a fence. It proved to be a bit of a nightmare and was declared "never again". Magic stars on the roof, jube jube snowman and chocolate button path. One scary looking giant gingerbread man has multipied to four.
 
2013
Boy is now 11 and girl 9 and this is their most ambitious project yet. Auntie Adele is ageless. The white chocolate button roof was inspired by Mary Berry's house on the Christmas Bake Off Masterclass. The other side was mini chocolate fingers and both were adorned with smartie or jelly tot fairy lights. The giant gingerbread men were replaced with mini versions each decorated by and to represent the three creators. The marshmallow snowman proved tricky and had to be downsized and held together with a cocktail stick. Icing sugar snow was replaced with Silver Shimmer Spray. Even the Brussels Sprout sparkled.
It tasted as good as it looked. My personal favourite bit was the mint matchmaker windows. Discussions have already been had for the 2014 version. The main proposed addition being stained glass windows and an internal light. 
Best get that planning application in. Should really have forced Auntie Adele to open her mimihammill.com Gingerbread House Teatowel before construction commenced. The inclusion of a Jammy Dodger feature window is inspired and will definately be featuring in the 2014 design. 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Meal Planning for Christmas Week

Time for the meal plan that I've been building up to all year. Christmas Week. We'll have additions to our usual 4 with my Mum, Dad and Sister joining us for the duration meaning that the table will be set for 7. So here's what I've planned for them. Hopefully they will all muck in and lend a hand along the way...

Monday 23rd
Nigella Ham in Coke (no jokes please, I'm #TeamNigella all the way)
Potato Bundles
Stir Fried Greens and Soya Beans
Christmas Eve
Saffron Chicken with Chorizo and Butterbeans
Mashed Potato with Smoked Garlic and Smoked Rapeseed Oil
Cranachan Ice Cream, Raspberries in Mulled Wine, Meringues and Brandy Snaps
Biscuits & Cheese & Port

Christmas Day
Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Eggs
Croissants
Bucks Fizz with Grand Marnier
Roast Goose - my first time cooking goose. Any hints and tips most welcome.
Sausagemeat Stuffing Balls
Oatmeal Stuffing/Skirlie
Cranberry Sauce
Bread Sauce
Gratin of Sprouts
Parmesan Baked Sweet Potatoes & Parsnips
Roast Tatties in Goose Fat
Pigs In Blankets
Gravy
White Sauce
7 Cup Pudding (made by my Mum - it had better have charms in it!)
Ice Cream, Brandy Butter, Boozy Cream, Custard

Boxing Day
An attempt to recapture our Summer holiday in Tuscany...

Antipasto Platter - Italian Cheese, Bread, Salami and OlivesMushroom Risotto with Porcini and Truffle Oil
Pannetone Bread & Butter Pudding
Ricciarelli and Vin Santo
Limoncello & Amaretti Biscuits
Friday 27th
Eating out. Exactly where still to be decided. But I ain't cooking.
Saturday 28th
Black Bean Soup
Duck with Plums and Star Annise
Gingerbread House - this annual tradition will be made by boy, girl and my sister on Christmas Eve. Complete with sprout in the chimney.
Sunday 29th
Mulled Wine Sausages from Devenick Dairy
Yorkshire Puddings & Red Onion Gravy
Individual Sticky Toffee Puddings

Monday 30th
Hopefully they will all have gone home by now ;-)


Have an amazing Christmas whatever you are eating. 
Do check out my two Advent Calender Posts for further festive inspiration.

Advent Calendar Days 1-12
Advent Calendar Days 13-24

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Foodie Quine Advent Calendar Days 13-24

There's been a lot of love for the first 12 Days of my Advent Calendar which you can find on this blog post. Clearly we haven't got to all of the second dozen yet so keep checking back and I'll add them as the doors are opened. Like my Facebook Page to see a new idea unveiled each night up until 24th December.

DAY 13
Christmas Pudding Vodka
I made this on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe for a segment on Home Made Edible Christmas Gifts. Did you hear me on the wireless? 

DAY 14
Snowman Pizza
Snowman Pizza
We had great fun making this guy and he was rather tasty even although his cheesy nose got somewhat destroyed in the oven. Make up a pack of pizza dough mix and use 2/3 for the body and 1/3 for the head. Topped with pasata and grated mozzarella. Olive eyes, mouth and buttons, cheesy nose and bacon scarf.

DAY 15
Reindeer Pancakes
Reindeer Pancakes
Large Pancake, Small Pancake (shop bought or homemade) Bacon Antlers. We used decorated marshmallows for eyes and nose but you could use currants and a strawberry or sweets. 

DAY 16
Sausage & Croissant Christmas Wreath with Ketchup Berries
Sausage and Croissant Wreath
Cook 24 Chipolata Sausages with a drizzle of maple syrup and let them cool slightly. Open 2 tins of croissant dough and cut into 24 triangles. Wrap each sausage in dough and lay in a circle. Brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds, black onion seeds, paprika and grated cheese. Bake for 12 minutes at 200c

DAY 17
Sledging Gingerbread Men
Sledging Gingerbread Men
Milky Way's cut in half, Mini Gingerbread Men and Mini Candy Canes. All stuck together with melted chocolate.

DAY 18
Terry's Chocolate Orange and Malteser Christmas Pudding
Dip Maltesers in melted chocolate and stick to a chocolate orange, you will need slightly more than one boxfull to cover it. Refrigerate to set then top with cooled melted white chocolate. 
Refrigerate again before using red and green writing icing to create holly.

DAY 19
Candy Cane Marshmallow Pops

Mini Candy Canes from the pound shop. Pop some in a bag and smash with a rolling pin. Stick the others into the top of marshmallows. Dip the marshmallows into melted chocolate, then crushed candy canes. Leave to set. Perfect for swirling in Hot Chocolate.

DAY 20
Candy Cane Bark
My final make from the three homemade edible gifts I did for BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe. Get the recipe here

DAY 21
Cinnamon Snowflakes

Fold up flour tortillas and cut them exactly as you would make paper snowflakes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cook under the grill until the tortilla starts to turn golden brown. Cool slightly to allow them to crisp up.

DAY 22
Camembert & Cranberry Croissant Bake
Spit Camembert in half horizontally, spread with cranberry sauce and sandwich back together. Lay the six triangles from a tin of croissant dough in a star shape and place the cheese in the middle. Spread cranberry sauce on the points of the star and fold them in. Bake at 200c for 25 minutes covering half way through with tinfoil.

DAY 23
Cheesy Santa Pops

Remove half the wax covering from a Babybel and insert a lolly stick. Cut out a nose from the spare wax and use black peppercorns for eyes. Pipe on a Cream Cheese beard, hat trim and bobble.

DAY 24

Brussels Sprout Christmas Tree
At last a good use for this festive veg!

Thanks to all who have joined in with my Advent Calendar along the way. Hope you have found some inspiration to make your own festive foodie goodies. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Festive Food Blog Challenges
I'm linking up to a few with this post. Do check them out for further Christmas inspiration.

TamingTwins
 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Foodie Quine 2013 Advent Calendar - Days 1 to 12

I've been reading through my previous Christmas blog posts to get food planning inspiration for this year and decided to post a daily Advent Calendar featuring one of my festive foodie makes behind each door. Every night at 8pm I've posted an idea on my Foodie Quine Facebook Page. If you've not been following on Facebook or missed some along the way here's a round up of the first 12 days. I'd love to hear about any successes (of failures!) if you give any of them a try.



DAY ONE

So simple but very effective. Decorate Tunnocks Teacakes with melted white chocolate (make sure its not too hot or it will melt the milk chocolate). Finish with holly and berries from red & green writing icing.

DAY TWO 
Cheesy Christmas Tree
For this one I used olives, cubes of cheese, cherry tomatoes, grapes and herbs. You could also incorporate pickles and charcuterie.

DAY THREE 
Rein-Beer
Beer, Googly Eyes, Red Pom Poms, Brown Pipe Cleaners and Glue. Great fun to take along to a party or for the kids to make as a gift for Dads/Uncles/Grandads etc

DAY FOUR 
Grinch Kebabs
This is how the Grinch stole Christmas. Grape, Banana, Strawberry and Mini Marshmallow on a a cocktail stick. A healthy festive snack that the kids can make and eat. Dip the banana slice in lemon juice to stop it turning brown.

DAY FIVE 
Mincemeat Pie Pops
Is it possible to improve upon a mince pie? I reckon so. Shortcrust Pastry (shop bought is fine - that's what I used!) Cut into circles and place a small spoonful of mincemeat in the middle of half of them. Brush round the edges with eggwash, insert a lolly stick, seal with another circle of pastry. Crimp the edges with a fork. Make two small slits and eggwash the top. Bake for 20 minutes at 180c

DAY SIX 
Gingerbread Biscotti
I made these on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe for a segment on Home Made Edible Christmas Gifts. Did you hear me on the wireless? 
Find the recipe here

DAY SEVEN 
Wine Cork Christmas Tree
The perfect excuse to crack open a bottle or three, A selection of corks and a Hot Glue Gun or Superglue is all that's needed. Bottoms Up!

DAY EIGHT 
Puff Pastry Party Nibbles
Very, very simple. Shop bought ready rolled puff pastry cut into festive shapes. Brushed with eggwash and sprinkled with a variety of toppings. Grated parmesan cheese, black onion seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, sesame seeds, chilli flakes and Maldon salt. 10 mins in a hot oven and you're done.

DAY NINE 
Olive Santa Penguins
How cute are these? Even olive haters love them.
Carrot, Black Olives, Cream Cheese and Tomberries assembled on a cocktail stick. Use the wedge cut out from the feet to make the beak. Split open the tummy with a knife and fill with cream cheese. Use a small nozzle to pipe the white fur and bobble on the tomberry Santa hat. 

DAY TEN 
Christmas Cheese Cake
Huge choice of circular Cheeses available in the supermarket at this time of year. Stack them up as high as you like and top off with a Babybel adorned with a cardboard Santa belt. The addition of Sprouts, Cranberries, Holly and Woodland Playmobil animals is entirely at your discretion!

DAY ELEVEN 
Hot Chocolate and Marshmallow Rudolph 
Disposable Piping Bag (pack of 20 from Poundland) filled with Hot Chocolate and Mini Marshmallows, decorated with Brown Pipe Cleaners, Googly Eyes and a Red Pom Pom Nose.

DAY TWELVE 
Gingerbread Men Reindeer
Look at these guys closely and you'll see that they are shaped from an upside down gingerbread man cutter. You may need to give him a knife in the crotch and pull his legs apart to form the perfect antlers... Decorate with writing icing and red skittle noses.

So that's the first 12 doors of the Advent Calendar open. Hopefully you will have liked what you've seen so far. The Christmas Pudding Tunnocks Teacakes were by far the favourite on Facebook, followed by the Puff Pastry Party Nibbles in second place and the Olive Penguins and Hot Chocolate Rudolph's jostling for third.

Lots more to come over the next 12 days so head on over to Facebook and LIKE my Foodie Quine Page to see what's behind each door at 8pm daily.

TamingTwins