Well, we're in the final countdown. To say I'm feeling a tad disorganised would be an understatement. I still have 4 machines that haven't arrived yet which I'm hoping to get here and have delivered by Christmas Eve. I haven't wrapped ANY presents yet (and, in fact, still have to go and buy half of them). The builder is out the back building my boys' Christmas present as I type (they're getting a much anticipated and long awaited fort for Christmas) and once he's finished on Wednesday we have to get out there and finish painting it, putting sand in etc. I've got a plan for my Christmas cooking, but it's all waiting for the arrival of my Christmas pressoir (my new oven!) and so I'm not starting it until Wednesday night.
So, like everyone else, it is all systems go here this week. We're taking it easy with some simple meals, but I'm also taking the chance to cook a couple of dishes from Tenina's Dinner Spinner. I downloaded the Dinner Spinner App on the weekend and it is fabulous. After selecting a meal (with a very cool spinnery thing which I just kept playing with over and over again because I liked watching it spin), you can select which ingredients you need to purchase and then email the shopping list to yourself. When you start cooking, the method screen also lists the ingredients required for each step, which is very handy!
So, Dinner Spinner in hand, this is what we're chowing down on this week:-
Monday & Tuesday: I'm off to do some late night shopping and finally finish the presents off, so Paulie's in charge tonight. His specialty is the Ragu sauce from the EDC and we'll use the leftovers tomorrow night - if we do a big salad with it and some fresh rolls, it makes enough to do us for 2 nights.
Wednesday: We're having the Black Bean and Beef Nachos from Dinner Spinner. I'm also starting Christmas cooking on Wednesday night with the Pastilla from In The Mix, Blue Cheese & Walnut Shortbread and Caramel Fudge.
Thursday: We plan to be painting all day on Thursday, so I'm aiming for something quick and easy with Spiked Lemon Chicken Salad. I'm continuing the Christmas cooking with Irish Creme and Chocolate Coconut Ice Slice. I'm also keen to try a couple of other treat recipes I've been printing out the last couple of days, but we'll just wait and see exactly how much time I end up with!
Friday: We have a massive snapper in the freezer that Paulie caught a few weeks ago. We're going to bake that with some potatoes and tomatoes and serve it with a giant green salad.
On Saturday, the Christmas prep will really get into full swing tidying up the house, cleaning down outside after all the building work and prepping the desserts for Christmas Day. We're having Christmas here on Sunday (so the boys can spend endless hours between the pool and the fort). Christmas morning we'll start with Christmas Fruffins while we open presents and laze about for a bit. We'll have a late breakfast of Eggs Benedict which will take us through to late lunch/early dinner.
It's a big week for everyone but I hope you all get to relax and enjoy the lead up to Christmas. Link up to Quirky Jo's Menu Planning link and let us know what you're planning for the week and for Christmas.
If you've been reading my blog for more than say, 1 recipe post, you'll know that I have the world's dodgiest oven. It heats about 30 degrees higher than it actually says it does, the door barely closes and so nothing ever cooks for the time recipes suggest. Due to the door closing issues, it works brilliantly as a heater for the whole house which is somewhat okay during winter but makes me loathe to turn it on at all during summer.
So, when we had to make something for an impromptu afternoon tea the other day, and it was already about 39 degrees outside, turning the oven on was not an option. I decided to try this quick no-bake slice from Annabel Langbein's Free Range In the City cookbook teaser.
It's super sweet and definitely not on the list for lunchboxes, but we'll make it again this week because everyone loved it and it will make lovely Christmas pressoirs wrapped up in bars.
Chocolate Coconut Ice Slice
(Annabel Langbein - Free Range In the City)
300g condensed milk
60g golden syrup
130g desiccated coconut
25g cacoa powder
150g raw sugar or 100g rapadura sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
375g plain biscuits (e.g. Marie)
200g dark chocolate
300g raw sugar
3 tbsp boiling water
130g desiccated coconut
Line a 20cm x 30cm slice tray with baking paper.
1. Mill sugar to icing sugar on Speed 10 for 30 seconds. Set aside.
2. Crumb cookies (in two batches) on Speed 6 for 6 seconds per batch. Set aside.
3. Melt butter for 2 minutes at 80° on speed 2.
4. Add condensed milk and syrup and cook for 3 minutes at 60° on speed 2.
5. Add coconut, cacoa, icing sugar and vanilla and mix for 5 seconds on speed 4.
6. Add biscuits and mix for 30 seconds on speed 4.
7. Press into baking tray. Refrigerate for an hour.
1. Mill sugar to icing sugar on Speed 10 for 30 seconds. Set aside.
2. Melt chocolate and butter for 3 minutes at 50° on speed 3.
3. Add icing sugar, water and coconut. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 4.
Okay, so the word fruffin doesn't actually exist. Or, at least, so I thought when I decided to use it yesterday. Then, a quick search on trusty google revealed to me that indeed it does - apparently to describe a muffin with frosting on it. (Ugh!) So, I can't call these fruffins. The problem is, they aren't a muffin but they aren't a friand - they're something in between. So, we'll just call them tasty and be done with that!
I've made Nigella Lawon's Christmas Morning Muffins for years now on Christmas morning. They fill the house with a perfect Christmas smell and are a lovely way to start the festivities. When I pulled my friand pan out to use up some extra egg whites the other day, it suddenly occured to me that I could combine that recipe with a friand one. I use Toni Coward's friand recipe as a base and usually mix in whatever fruit or nuts I'm using that day.
So, combining the two, the Christmas Fruffin (insert whatever you want to call them here) was born. They are super delicious - try them and you'll be hooked!
Christmas Fruffin/Muffin/Friand Tasty Things
85g rapadura sugar
75g self raising flour
4 egg whites (120g)
Zest 1/2 an orange
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 180.
1. Place almonds, sugar and orange zest into TMX bowl. Grind on Speed 10 for 10 seconds. Set aside.
2. Place butter into TMX bowl. Melt on 80° for 2 minutes on Speed 2.
3. Return almond mix to the TMX bowl and add all other ingredients. Combine on Interval Speed for 30 seconds.
4. Spoon into friand tray and cook for approx 15 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out cleanly).
This yields about 10 friands, which is plenty for my family for a breakfast munch. If making them for more people, just double the quantities.
You can replace the freshly grated nutmeg with ground nutmeg, if you prefer. I like to grate it freshly with the microplane because it is literally like spraying the scent of Christmas through the kitchen.
It has been a massive week in our house mainly due to the fact that my youngest son, Sam, had his last day at kindy. I'm trying to console myself with the thought that there'll be so much more time to get through the massive pile of recipes on my "to try" list and that is helping, slightly! When I asked Sam what he'd like me to make as a treat in his lunchbox for his last day at kindy, he wanted these cookies. So, I'm sharing them with you.
Adapted from a Vegie Smuggler recipe but with a couple of additions and changes, they are quick, easy and full of goodness. If you don't have coconut oil you can use vegetable oil, but the former makes them that little bit more tasty.
Apricot & Yoghurt Cookies
(Adapted from Vegie Smugglers)
180g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
55g rolled oats
140g dried apricots
180g natural yoghurt
65g coconut oil
Preheat oven to 170° and line two trays with baking paper.
1. Finely dice apricots on Speed 7 for 3-4 seconds. Set aside.
2. Grind almonds to a meal on Speed 10 for 10 seconds.
3. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, oats and sugar to the bowl. Mix on Speed 5 for 2-3 seconds.
4. Add apricots, yoghurt, coconut oil & honey. Mix on Speed 4 for 6 seconds on reverse.
Using damp hands, roll teaspoon fulls into balls. Place onto trays and flatten with a fork (the cookies don't spread during baking). Cook for 20 minutes or until golden.
This recipe has been a labour of love. One of my all time favourite desserts is pecan pie - what's not to love!!! What that means, of course, is that I'm very picky about what makes a good pecan pie. It can't be too sweet, it can't be too wobbly/jelly like. It can't be light on the pecans. The pastry needs to be short, but light and thin - a mouthful of pastry just overpowers the pecans.
So, in preparation for Christmas, I set out to find the perfect pecan pie recipe to convert. Which resulted in *A LOT* of pecan pies coming out of my dodgy little oven. Which resulted in two things:-
1. Paul isn't particularly keen to have pecan pie on Christmas Day now, being somewhat pecan pie-d out.
2. I finally ordered my new oven!!!
The combination of recipes I ended up with is a bit of a magpie's nest: bright and shiny bits and pieces stolen from everywhere. The pastry is basically the almond pastry from The Everyday Cookbook (but I use raw almonds, not blanched - the skins actually really add to the nuttiness). The pie filling is based on Melissa Clark's recipe in Cook This Now and is absolutely sensational! The egg nog ice cream is just a variation of the world's best ice cream recipe ever - the Salted Caramel Maple Ice Cream on the Thermomix Forum.
The great thing about both of these recipes is that they can easily be done the day before Christmas, saving you valuable drinking time time socialising with your relatives on Christmas Day.
SPICED PECAN PIE
Pastry (from EDC):-
210g plain flour
½ tsp mixed spice
130g hard butter, cut into small chunks
¼ tsp salt
1 egg yolk
3-4 tsp water or orange juice
320g maple syrup
1 strip orange rind
8 whole star anise
360g pecan halves
3 large eggs
2 tbs dark rum
¼ tsp salt
1.Place maple syrup, sugar, orange rind & star anise into TMX bowl.Cook for 15 minutes at 100°, on reverse, on speed soft, with the MC off.Set aside to cool and infuse for at least an hour.
2.While the syrup is infusing, make the pastry. (See below)
3.Preheat the oven to 200° and toast the pecans for approximately 10 minutes.Don’t let them burn!!!! Reduce oven to 170°.
4. Place butter into TMX bowl and melt for 3 minutes at 60° on speed 1.
5.Remove the star anise and orange peel from the syrup (I reserve them and use them to decorate when serving).
6.Place syrup, eggs, rum and salt in with the melted butter.Whisk together for 10 seconds on speed 4.
7.Add pecans to bowl and whisk again for 5 seconds, on reverse, on speed 1.
8.Pour into pie shell and cook for 35-40 minutes.
9.Cool and serve with Egg Nog Ice Cream.
1.Place sugar into TMX bowl and pulverise for 3 seconds on speed 9.Set aside.
2.Place almonds into TMX bowl and mill for 5 seconds on speed 8.
3. Add flour, butter, sugar, spice and salt and mix for about 10 seconds on speed 6, until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
4.Set dial to closed lid position.Add egg yolk and water/juice.Knead on interval speed for 10-20 seconds to form dough.
5.Turn mixture onto floured board and knead lightly.Roll into a disc and cover with cling film.Refrigerate for 15 minutes before rolling out.
6.Roll out to cover pie dish (I use a 24cm loose bottom flan dish).Prick with a fork and blind bake at 200° for 15 minutes.
7.Allow to cool before adding filling.
EGG NOG ICE CREAM
300g raw sugar
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ tsp salt
100g full cream milk
1.Place sugar into TMX bowl and pulverise for 15 seconds on speed 9.
2.Add alcohol, butter, vanilla and nutmeg.Cook for 15 minutes at Varoma temp on speed 1.
3.Add salt, cream and milk and whisk together for 30 seconds on speed 5.
4.Reduce to speed 4 and add eggs one at a time.
5.Cook for a further 5 minutes on 100° at speed 4.
6.Pour into a cold metal tray (I use a baking tray) and freeze for approximately 3-4 hours.
7.Remix for 1 minute on speed 5.
8.Repeat these two steps – freeze for a further 3-4 hours and remix.
We are officially on school holidays (Sam still has 2 days of kindy to go, but I'm just ignoring that). The mood in the house is already far less stressed and a lot more fun than it has been for the past fortnight where I'm sure it took 7 requests (or, more to the point, requests that escalated to nags and then screaming banshee episodes) before anything I asked to be done got done!
However, the playdates and sleepovers are starting this week, I'm still got demonstrations happening, have something on every night this week AND I haven't even written a Christmas Menu or started to think about Christmas presents. So, the mood in the house has calmed down but in my head there's still a band of little men jumping up and down and screaming at me "Get Organised, Get Organised".
So, this week I'm trying to listen to the little men and accept that it's not the week to be trying a bunch of new recipes. Rather, it is the week to get the gazillion recipes I've been testing finished and blogged! I'm starting off on the right foot - menus for the week are organised and the fridge is stocked and ready to go!
Monday: Baking: Bible bread, Gluten Free bread, Chocolate Coconut slice, Apricot & Yoghurt biscuits, Pecan Pie (*please* let this be the final run of the Pecan Pie!). Dinner: lefover's from last night's sensational Almond Chicken Curry from Tenina's Dinner Spinner.
Wednesday: Leftovers for the boys, while Paul & I are at Anise.
Thursday: Another Dinner Spinner Winner, Sweet & Sour Meatballs.
Friday:Steph Berg's Okonomyaki from In The Mix was a huge hit a fortnight ago, so we're having that again to celebrate Sammie's final day at kindy.
The weekend is full of Christmas parties and the boys are feasting at my Mum's place on Saturday night (where she's already planning to feed them Apricot Chicken Rissotto from the EDC - I can't stand apricot chicken in any style (too many Maggi versions fed to me as a child, I think!) whereas the boys love it, so she's sure to be popular). On Sunday, we're doing a re-run of Jo's sensational Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.
Now, I'm off to heed my Get Organised mantra of the week!