Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Stollen spirals and other festive gift goodies

Stollen spirals - really just festive Chelsea buns I guess...

BBC Good Food recipe

Take 1 (test run, not a gift):

All went fine except I crammed too many in the tin and the middle ones were too doughy. Next time space them out better/use more tins. Also use more fruit, and slice the marzipan rather than using a big wodge in the middle.

Take 2:

Made these dairy free by subbing in coconut oil for butter, and soya milk for the milk. Not a deliberate choice, just what I had in the house to make them for a dairy-intolerant recipient. Also made the changes as above, and happened to use more sultanas and cranberries, no mixed peel, no nuts, and no icing, purely for time reasons. They fit perfectly, with room to expand, at 12 to my big roasting tin, with the remainder (I hesitate to say rejects) in a smaller tin. The 12 were frozen as soon as they were cool, defrosted in the car while travelling, reheated in a low oven for half an hour or so, and hoovered up in no time, so this recipe is definitely a keeper!

Take 3:

Easterised as follows: soak the fruit (a sultana/cranberry/cherry mix) in a mix of tea and amaretto; sprinkle it in the buns along with grated marzipan and dark chocolate chips. Serve warm so the marzipan and chocolate are a bit gooey.

German cinnamon star biscuits

Outdoor Chics recipe

These went OK but cooked too quickly in my oven at 200°C, so were a bit toasty. They have a chewy macaroony texture. I put allspice in the icing, as I'd run out of cinnamon, and some lemon zest. The icing was very sticky to apply, and I also found the mixture a bit crumbly and liable to get stuck in the points of the star cutter,

Nigella's bar nuts


Sweet, salty, spicy, herby roasted nuts. Yum. Again, made with coconut oil not butter - no difference.

Ginger cupcakes

A Jamie Oliver recipe

I was a bit worried by the amount of oil in these but they didn't come out greasy at all. Would be good with some sort of spicy dark chocolate topping.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The best squash lasagne?

The original recipe comes from Serious Eats, a food site I enjoy but which is US-based and it does show - like in this recipe, which I think is a bit too rich. So while it's badged as the best, I'm not so sure.

The lasagne consists of layers of a cheese sauce, creamy buttery squash puree, and sauteed squash with apple. As well as the overwhelming use of butter, cream cheese and Gruyere, the proportions of each layer seem off. There was lots of cheese sauce (which was quite thin), not so much squash puree (which was not as smooth as I'd like), and the sauteed squash and apple was more like a garnish. So while I'd try it again, I'd modify it as follows:

- make my usual cheese sauce (more butter/flour to milk, and some mustard powder for zip). ditch or reduce the garlic, which was a bit overpowering.
- roast more squash, for longer.
- try and find pumpkin or kabocha, as I could only get butternut this time and it is more solid.
- make the pumpkin puree less creamy and rich, perhaps by adding more (bramley?) apple in there, maybe a splash of cider vinegar, and skipping some or all of the cream cheese/butter.
- have more of the chopped apple and squash.
- add variety and boost the veg count by adding cooked leeks, or or add protein in the form of canellini or butter beans.
- less cheese on top, maybe some breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese.

So, worth another try, but more work needed to achieve "the best" I think.