Gastronomically Terrific

December 30, 2010

Merry Muffins

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , — thinkingdan @ 11:15 am

Otherwise known as Christmas Muffins, these guys are the result of a mad scientist’s experiment breeding mince pies with cute fluffy innocent muffins, and the result is tasty indeed.


Would you still get presents if you left Muffins and Latte out for Santa? I think so...


Looking at the ingredients, there is a lot to be worried about here.  Alongside innocent things like cranberries, raisins, mixed spice and brandy, there is apple, Greek yogurt, and mincemeat.  No, I don’t know why.  I’m guessing that the consistency gets all messed up by the mincemeat and the yogurt is needed to offset it.  It does result in a somewhat more solid muffin than the common or garden kind*but in a good way.  There is some slight resemblance to scones, although they are fluffier than that.  They taste like nothing else, but are definitely good fun for a change and the whole sordid mess works out beautifully in the end.

* My Granny had a muffin garden and would often have a good crop in August when we visited for the summer holidays.  Alas, modernisation and climate change have taken their toll and the muffin gardens and sponge-cake fields of the past are now a lost art and are becoming thing of legend.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cakes, bakes, puddings and prayers by Susan Over, page 42.


Classic Rich Christmas Cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:59 am

Every year Anna makes a tasty Christmas cake, in a variety of styles.  This year we had the classic christmas fruit cake.

Christmas cake just like your Granny makes it.

This style of Christmas Cake is a bit bonkers to make.  You start it in September, and feed it Brandy once a week like some strange creature under the stairs.  This gets it good and moist and delicate, and probably keeping it sloshed stops it escaping in the middle of the night after tearing up the soft furnishings in the living room.  Anyway, when its time you cover the whole thing in marzipan and then again in royal icing as the British have done since time immemorial.

The main problem with this cake is that store bought ones are actually pretty good.  There is a slight juiciness (and a real brandy hit) present here that you wouldn’t otherwise get, and for those of us who don’t want nuts in the cake its good to make one without.  Of course, this cake tastes great if you like fruit cake, and it keeps forever so I can be merrily stealing slithers well into March if it’s not gone by then.  A foresighted sort of chap like myself sees this as a great reason to make your own Christmas cake, preferably two sizes too large.

Who made it: Anna did all the work, Dan helped with the decorations.

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, page 91.

Nearly-Christmas food

Filed under: main — Tags: , , — thinkingdan @ 10:41 am

A quick post mostly to remind me what we had when my brother and his girlfriend came over – I didn’t take pictures so I’ll just summarize.

Starter: Coconut and Sweet Potato soup, World Food Cafe 2 by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, page 140. This tasty soup never disappoints: the buttery sweet potato goodness is mouth meltingly tasty.  I always seem to make it a bit thick though; I really ought to remember to add more vegetable stock before blending.

Main part 1: Feta cheese and cranberry tarts, The Daily Cook Book by Love Food, December 27th. These very simple tarts are good appetizers, or shrunk would be good canepes.  They taste quite simply of the main ingredients: Feta cheese, cranberries and onions.  Because you can buy filo pastry pre-rolled, and the ingredients just get dumped in together, they are very easy to make, though I think could do with being held together by a sauce.

Main part 2: Mushroom and nut Wellington, The Co-op magazine Winter ’09. I really like this variant on nut roast, mostly because the whole thing gets wrapped in pastry making it a lot less dull than most nut roasts.  Another neat trick is to caramelise some onions with some butter and sugar to act as a bottom layer, adding a great little zing.  This one will probably appear sometime in the future with a proper post and instructions.

We has some other stuff, it was yummy.  Just imagine a tasty roast and you are probably there.

Light blackberry cheesecake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 12:17 am

This isn’t really cheesecake, and came as a bit of a disappointment.  Still, it was interesting…

Cheesecake that is arguably neither cake, nor made from cheese...

Alarm bells started ringing when we noticed there was no base.  No base means no chocolatey biscuity goodness.  The air raid siren followed: this has cottage cheese and semolina in it.  Um…?  And it even has flour in it, making it into something of true cake like consistency, though it tastes more like… well… nothing.  Not bad, just a slightly strange consistency and a plain flavour.  You get excited eating the blackberries, which admittedly are tasty when baked but really shouldn’t be the highlight.

In conclusion: avoid cheesecake made from semolina and cottage cheese.  Just sayin’.

Who made it: Anna and Dan both deny any part in the making.

Recipe: Cheesecakes, pavlovas and trifles by Woman’s Weekly, page 19.

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