Archive for December, 2008

Christmas Dinner 2008

Posted in Baking, Chocolate, Cooking, dessert, Dinner, events, Food, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2008 by helenphillips

Christmas Dinner this year was just the 2 of us. A Turkey would have been impractical, and neither of us are big fans. Goose was under consideration, but again deemed too big. So we had Gressingham Duck, cooked very simply using guidelines from Delia – roasted on a rack, with plenty of seasoning on the skin.

I retained some of the drained off fat, and used it to roast the potatoes, carrots and parsnips. In addition, there was the compulsory Sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and red cabbage (boiled and then sauteed in butter, red vinegar and sugar). There was no worries about not getting our 5 a day! The gravy was made from a stock made from the duck giblets, some red wine and cranberries. And finally, on the side was the cranberry sauce that I prepared on Christmas Eve.  Unbelievably, we forgot to do the sausages wrapped in bacon, and so ended up having them for supper on Boxing Day!

For pudding we had chocolate Souffle – the recipe comes from The Green & Blacks Unwrapped cookbook, the source of so many of my favourite recipes. It’s a simple recipe, as long as you don’t open the oven door mid cooking, then it should successfully rise.  The quantities quoted are to serve 6, but I managed to get 4 portions out of half the quantities – so I guess it depends on the size of your ramekins!

Ingredients:

  • 100g (4oz) dark chocolate (min 60% cocoa)
  • 60g (2.5 oz) cocoa powder
  • 8 egg whites
  • 60g (2.5 oz) caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 190ºC / 375ºF / Gas Mark 5.

Melt the chocolate and butter using a basin over a saucepan of simmering water.

Put the cocoa into a saucepan, along with 150ml of cold water. Whisk to blend well, and heat until it boils. Boil for 10 seconds, and then add to the mixing basin of melted chocolate.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.  Add a quarter of the egg white to the chocolate mix, and gently fold in until completely mixed. Fold in the rest of the egg white, keeping it gentle to keep air in the mixture.

Prepare the ramekins by brushing the insides with melted butter. Fill each ramekin to the rim, and level off.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

You can also make a caramel sauce using caramel chocolate and thick cream, but I cheat and use Dulce De Leche Caramel Toffee from Merchant Gourmet.


Chocolate Mousse

Posted in Chocolate, Cooking, dessert, Home Cooked Food, recipe with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2008 by helenphillips

We had friends over for dinner last night, and needing little encouragement to use chocolate, I decided to make some chocolate mousse.

I took my inspiration (as always from the Green & Blacks Cookbook) but as none quite fitted my needs, I made my own adjustments.

My recipe uses a combination of dark and milk chocolate, giving a good dose of high quality chocolate without it being too bitter. The quantities serve 4:

  • 50g Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 50g Milk Chocolate (cooking)
  • 40g Unsalted Butter
  • 2 large eggs (separate the yolks from the whites)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar (I used my vanilla sugar)

Melt the chocolate and butter using a basin over a saucepan of simmering water.

In the meantime, whisk the eggs white until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat, and stir in the egg yolks until the mixture is smooth.

Add a spoonful of the egg white to the chocolate mix, and gently fold in until completely mixed. Fold in the rest of the egg white, keeping it gentle to keep air in the mixture. Once completely mixed in (so that there are no white spots), the mixture can be decanted into serving bowls. You can use 1 large one, or individual portions.

Cranberry Sauce

Posted in Cooking, Dinner, events, Food, Home Cooked Food with tags , , , , on December 24, 2008 by helenphillips

I’ve never been a big fan of cranberry sauce, but I’ve only really had the jarred stuff, and I am starting to enjoy more fruit & meat combinations.

So, when I came across Jeannie.H’s wonderful looking recipe on Flickr, I thought maybe I should give it a try. I’d bought some fresh cranberries anyway to go with the duck that we’re having for Christmas dinner, so all the ingredients were already available to me.
As there are only 2 of us, I scaled down the recipe to use just 100g cranberries, and adjusted the rest of the ingredients accordingly. I also found that it cooked a lot quicker because of the reduced quantities, so it’s best to keep an eye on how the mixture is doing!

100g of fresh cranberries
Juice of one small orange and it’s zest
25g golden caster sugar
35ml of Port

 

Place the all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer dissolving the sugar. Taste the sauce at this stage, I found this amount was quite sweet enough but more sugar can be added if required. Simmer gently and the cranberries start popping (don’t worry, it’s a gentle pop, they won’t start flying around the kitchen!). Turn the heat down and gently simmer (the sauce gets quite frothy) until the mixture thickens. I found this took around 6 minutes.
Spoon into a bowl, cover with some cling film, and leave to cool, before storing in the fridge.

I couldn’t believe how simple this recipe was, and am really looking forward to tasting it properly tomorrow!