Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas from Germany

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I'm spending Christmas as usual with my family in Germany this year and have been here for nearly a week already. Therefore apologies for my posting and leaving comments still being rather sporadic. As I have said before, once I'm back in the UK in January my intentions are to get back to blogging more regularly and also to get back into making time to leave comments on all your wonderful blogs out there!!!!!

I'll be cooking Rolled Stuffed Loin of Pork with Rubied Gravy from Nigella's Christmas book, Roast Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots for our family Christmas dinner tomorrow. There'll be eight of us, so please cross your fingers that it all goes swimmingly and without disasters, so that nobody has to go hungry.

I'm not sure when I'll get to share the pictures and recipe with you, as I have brought my camera, but I'm not sure I can edit the pihotos on my Dad's computer. So, it might have to wait until January. We'll see.


For now, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and
Frohe Weihnachten
and leave you with a recipe for a lovely party snack, that's easy and quick to make and perfect for any of the parties that seem to be happening at this time of the year.


Ham and Leek Roll Ups

1 block of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 package cream cheese
1 package cream cheese with herbs
125gr ham, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced finely
150gr gouda, grated
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas 6.

In a bowl mix all ingredients, except the puff pastry and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the block of puff pastry into a large rectangle. To make it a little easier, I divide the block into two and roll out two rectangles.

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the pastry.

Starting from the long side, carefully roll up the pastry.

With a sharp knife cut the roll into 1/2 inch thick slices and place them cut side down onto a non-stick baking tray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool on a wire rack, before serving.

These can be made a day ahead.


Saturday, 13 December 2008

Mexi Cashews

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The party is over, the place is tidy once more, all the dishes are washed, just my headache hasn't quite stopped yet. It doesn't matter though, it was a lovely evening and I think everyone else enjoyed it, too.

So, I'm not up to much writing today, but thought I'd share this really easy recipe for some great, slightly spicy cashew nuts.

Mexi Cashews

1 egg white
2 1/2 cups cashews
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat oven to 150C.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white with a few drops of water until frothy.

Add the nuts to the egg white and toss to mix.

Transfer the nuts to a large bowl, using a slotted spoon to get rid of any excess egg whites.

Mix all the spices and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss to coat evenly.

Spread the nut in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring once after about 15 minutes to make sure they get toasted evenly.

Place the nuts onto a cool surface to cool and crisp up.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Holiday Wreath Bread

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When I was uploading images to yesterday, I came across pictures of a Holiday Wreath Bread and thought that it'd be a lovely addition to the list of finger foods I'm preparing for a party I'm having on Friday.

As I don't have the 'magic' no-kneed bread dough always ready in my fridge, I used the recipe for bread dough from my Olive and Parmesan Bread. Once it had risen for the first time, I divided it into three equal parts and followed the instructions given on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day blog, to make three bread wreaths.


It was really easy, as promised, and looks wonderful. I just wished I could break a piece off right now and eat it, rather than putting it in the freezer for Friday.


Sunday, 7 December 2008

Nussecken - Christmas Baking

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Nussecken are a popular treat in Germany. You can go into any bakery and buy them all year round. They are usually about the size of an Eclaire or Danish, and you could certainly cut them to that size, but I made bite sized ones to go on the Christmas cookie tray.

This is my sister's colleague's wife's recipe, which my sister (Hello I., I know you're reading this. So, please tell your colleague to say a big thank you to his wife!)) has been going on about for ages, saying they are even better than my mum's recipe. She finally typed it and e-mailed it to me last week. Well, now that I have made them and of course eaten one, or two or three...., I'll have to agree. They are fantastic, with a shortbread like bottom and a moist nutty topping.


In Germany you can buy ground hazelnuts in the baking section of any supermarket, but here in the UK they are not really available, apart from a couple of times a year when Aldi does a baking special. I usually pick up a couple of bags for the pantry, but was out of them this time. So, I bought whole hazelnuts instead and ground them with my stick blender. I have to say I might keep doing this in future as well, as the result is less 'uniform' and you're left with a few nice crunchy bits of hazelnut. If you decide to grind your own as well, just make sure you cover the bowl with a cloth when switching on the blender, as they go flying everywhere otherwise, as I found out! I also used vanilla essence and a mix of 1/4 caster and 3/4 brown sugar in the nut topping as I ran out of caster sugar, but I'll share the original recipe here as it was given to me, with my alterations in brackets.


Weltbeste Nussecken - World's Best Nut Triangles (makes about 60)

200gr butter
150gr caster sugar
1 egg
2 sachets vanilla sugar (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence)
375gr flour
2 heaped tsps baking powder

approx. 6 generous tbsp aprikot jam

200gr magarine
200gr caster sugar (or caster sugar/brown sugar mix)
2 sachets vanilla sugar (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence)
2 tbsp water (if you're using vanilla essence reduce the amount accordingly)
400gr ground hazelnuts

120gr dark chocolate, 75% or more cocao content

Preheat your oven to 175C/340F/Gas 3 1/2.

In a large bowl cream the butter with the sugar, using a hand held electric mixer.

Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat.

Add the flour and baking powder little by little. You might have to change to using you dough hook attachments.

Once all ingredients are combined use your hands to bring it all together until you get a ball of dough.

Spread the dough out onto a large square baking tray lined with baking paper. Press it well into a the corners and up to the edges, until the whole sheet is covered and the dough has an even thickness.

Spread the jam over the dough until it's evenly covered with a thin layer.

For the topping, heat the margarine in a pan on the hob, once it's melted add the sugar and vanilla and stir until disolved. Take of the heat and stir in the ground hazelnuts.

Pour the nut mix over the dough and jam and spread out until it covers the whole tray and has an even thickness.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

While it's still warm cut into triangles using a sharp knife, by first cutting it into squares and then cutting the squares diagonally.

Once cool take the triangles and dip the corners of each triangle into the melted chocolate.

Place on a wire rack to set.

These will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight biscuit tin, layered between grease proof paper, if they don't get eaten first.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

A sign of life

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It's been such a long time since I've posted anything on here that I thought I'd better let people know that I'm still alive. The second half of November passed in somewhat of a blur, both a busy, hectic kind of blur and a feverish, fluy kind of blur.

I'm better now though and even though there are so many things on between now and Christmas, I'll make sure that I'll be cooking and of course there is always some Christmas baking to look forward to as well.

Therefore, unless it turns out to be a complete disaster, look out for the recipe for 'Die Weltbesten Nussecken' or 'World's Best Nut Triangles', which I'm gonna bake tomorrow!

Thanks for being patient and sticking with me.