Green herb sauce

Sea Bass with a Simple Green Herb Salsa

Sea Bass with Simple Green Herb Sauce

Sometimes the simplest ways of eating fish are the best.   It may be a clichee used to excuse a lack of imagination.  But not always.  Sometimes it’s really true.   This simple green herb salsa served with sea bass is one of the times when simple really is the best and not just a popular catchphrase.

To make the simplest things taste great it really helps to have the best quality ingredients.   In this case fresh herbs and garlic, good vinegar and of course a tasty extra virgin olive oil.  I had been sent some Italian Antichi Frantoi Francescani extra virgin olive oil and I wanted to use it in a recipe where a good olive oil would make all the difference.

Once I’d made up the green herb salsa with the oil I had a fiery, garlic and herb paste that was a perfect match for the fish but it could be so versatile.   I think it would also be great with halloumi or chicken, drizzled or dotted on a salad, or even used as a marinade.  The Antichi Frantoi Francescani olive oil has a strong green olive taste and would also be lovely for dipping bread in.   You could imagine you were on holiday in Italy even if you weren’t.

Simple Green Herb Sauce

Sea Bass with a Simple Green Herb Salsa

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Large handful of coriander
  • Small handful of parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 green chilli pepper
  • 2 tbsp white wine vineger
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 2 fillets of sea bass (or another white fish)

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients except the fish into a food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Taste. Add a little extra oil, vinegar or seasoning if necessary.
  3. Cook the fish and serve the salsa with it.
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I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Cook Blog Share at Hijacked by Twins.

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Kabocha Squash stuffed with black quinoa

Kabocha Squash Stuffed with Black Quinoa

Kabocha Squash stuffed with black quinoa

Welcome to this month’s Recipe Redux post.   As the new year kicked off we were challenged to create a recipe using an ingredient we’d never tried before.   Well, to begin with this seemed like a difficult challenge as I have a whole cupboard full of different grains and pulses which I don’t use nearly as often as I should, but I couldn’t use any of them as I had at least used all of them once.

I have however been hearing a lot about black quinoa recently and even though my cupboard doesn’t need another half used bag of grain, I decided that this one would be worth it.   After all, quinoa is apparently a supergrain: gluten-free, high in b vitamins, fibre and minerals, as well as being a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids.

One of the lovely thing about quinoa is its texture and the slight crunchiness as you eat it.   If you haven’t tried black quinoa then the difference is that it’s even more crunchy than white quinoa.   And of course it looks great.   Colourful food is always that little bit more enticing than white food.

I decided to make aroasted kabocha squash black quinoa salad and use it to stuff a .   I have to admit that the kabocha squash had been in the bottom of my fridge for a few weeks and really needed to be eaten up.  The great thing about squashes is that they last really well but even so, this one was ready to be eaten.

The bright orange flesh of the squash contrasted beautifully with the black quinoa salad dotted with pine nuts, cucumber, tomato and fresh mint leaves.   It made a delicious vegan meal, although I did have to cut the squash in half to serve as a whole half for one person would have been just too much of a good thing.

Kabocha Squash stuffed with black quinoa

Kabocha Squash Stuffed with Black Quinoa

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 kabocha squash
  • 200g black quinoa
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 10cm piece of cucumber, diced
  • Handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 50g pine nuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slice the kabocha squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft
  2. Boil the quinoa for 20 minutes then drain.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix together all the ingredients except the squash. Add a little extra lemon juice or olive oil if necessary.
  5. Scoop the salad into the squash halves and serve.
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I am linking this to Extra Veg, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy, the #FoodYearLinkUp at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

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wild rice and pea salad

Spiced Wild Rice and Pea Salad

Spiced Wild Rice and Pea Salad

January is definitely the time to eat healthily but some salads just don’t suit cold wintery weather.   The good news is that there are plenty of salads which are just right at any time of year and this spiced wild rice and pea salad is one of them.

The beauty of this salad is that it is so versatile.   You can serve it as a main meal or it can just be a side.   It keeps well in the fridge so you can make a big batch and then eat it up over the next few days.  Like many people, I need to try and save time in the kitchen and this is a perfect #CookOnceEatTwice meal.  If you’re looking for more ideas for meals that are great eaten as leftovers then do take a look at my #CookOnceEatTwice posts.

The most important thing is that it is healthy and healthy is exactly what I’m looking for right now.  I adapted it from A Salad for All Seasons by Harry Eastwood and it’s an easy salad to adapt.    You could use any long grain rice or a grain such as spelt would be lovely too.  Diced peppers could replace the carrot and sunflower or pumpkin seeds could be used in place of the pine nuts.

I always think a few spices and fresh herbs do so much to add flavour to a dish and although you could use dried herbs instead, the fresh parsley goes really well.  Coriander would also be lovely.

Although I didn’t consciously realise it when I made this spiced wild rice and pea salad, it’s also a vegan salad and although I am not following Veganuary like some food bloggers this month, it’s always healthy to eat more plant based meals.

spiced wild rice and pea salad

Spiced Wild Rice and Pea Salad

Serving Size: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250g rice (I used Red Camargue and Wild Rice)
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 250g frozen peas
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice with the cardamom pods and bay leaves.
  2. Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and toast them gently until they are golden. Set them aside.
  3. Put a little oil in the frying pan, cook the carrots gently for about 5 minutes then stir in the ground spices
  4. Add the peas to the rice a couple of minutes before the rice has finished cooking then drain the rice and put it in the pan with the carrots. Stir the carrot and spices into the rice
  5. Chop the parsley and finely dice the red onion. Stir them into the rice too.
  6. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add a little extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top when serving.
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This is my #CookOnceEatTwice post. I am also linking to  the #FoodYearLinkup at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, Cooking With Herbs hosted by Lavender and Lovage and No Croutons Required hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and on alternate months by Tinned Tomatoes.

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Whole roasted celeriac with pearl barley and curried mushrooms

Whole Roasted Celeriac

Whole Roasted Celeriac with pearl barley and curried mushroom sauce

Welcome to this month’s Recipe ReDux post and my whole roasted celeriac.   You could even call it Zombie Brain!  As it’s Christmas and as the Recipe ReDux has been around for 54 months now, we were challenged to play a little party game and ‘redux’ the recipe on page 54 or 154 of one of our cookbooks.   I have a lot of cookbooks and I looked in quite a few before I found a recipe I could redux on the right page.   It’s not that page 54 seems reserved for dishes I don’t like but rather page 54 already seems to be dedicated to delicious healthy recipes that need no reduxing.

Luckily it wasn’t long before I turned to Save with Jamie and there on page 54 was, Zombie Brain, a recipe I’d looked at before and considered making but never had.   It was perfect for this challenge: a real vegetable showstopper of a dish with a delicious sounding creamy mustard sauce that certainly could be made a little healthier.   The zombie brain is actually a whole roasted celeriac served with pearl barley and mushrooms.

I stuck closely to Jamie’s method for most of this recipe but changed the flavours of the sauce to make a curried yoghurt sauce rather than a cream-based sauce.   The yoghurt meant the sauce was still creamy but it was a healthier substitute for the cream.  I also omitted the butter.

The recipe redux is all about creating healthy dishes and making healthier versions of already delicious dishes.   I’m sure Jamie’s whole roasted celeriac is amazing but I was more than happy with the way my take on it turned out.  From now on it won’t just to squash that I roast whole.

Whole roasted celeriac

Whole Roasted Celeriac

Ingredients

  • 1 whole celeriac
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or use a sprig of fresh thyme
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, in their skins but crushed slightly with the back of a knife.
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 200ml stock
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Scrub the celeriac to make sure it's really well cleaned as you don't peel it.
  2. Take a large piece of aluminium foil. Put the celeriac in the middle, drizzle with the olive oil, season with a little salt and pepper and sprinkle over the thyme and the 2 whole cloves of garlic. Wrap the celeriac up well.
  3. Cook it for 2 hours in the oven at 180C until it is soft all the way through.
  4. While the celeriac is cooking, cook the pearl barley.
  5. About 30 minutes before the celeriac is ready, cook the onions gently with a little olive oil until they are soft then add the crushed garlic. Cook for about a minute before adding the mushrooms and the curry powder. Add the stock and turn up the heat a little. Let it simmer until the liquid has almost disappeared. Stir in the yoghurt at the end.
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Filo Venison Wellington

Individual Filo Wellingtons

Individual Filo Wellingtons - Filo Venison Wellington

A few years ago I made beef wellington for the first time and loved it.   It’s the perfect meal for a special day as it looks as well as tastes great and who doesn’t want to impress their guests?  This time I decided to make individual wellingtons and to make them a little lighter I used filo pastry rather than shortcrust or puff.   If you’re looking for an alternative to turkey for Christmas dinner then these individual filo wellingtons would be just the thing.

Wellingtons are normally made with beef but as Christmas is coming and it was a special day, I went for venison, although I had to make a beef one for my husband!  I’ll let you choose.  The beef and venison steaks were wrapped in  crisp filo pastry, parma ham and a layer of chicken and mushroom pâté.   They were easy to put together but certainly didn’t lack anything in flavour.

The pastry was deliciously crisp and the pâté added extra richness to the meat and the sauce.  I experimented for the first time by making a red wine jus and actually going to the effort of reducing the sauce properly.   It was worth it.

Although I could have used any wine for the jus, I wanted it to be worthy of the Wellingtons and so I used Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon.   Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favourite reds.  It’s perfect with red meat and rich hearty dishes, such as these individual wellingtons.  Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon is a Pays d’Oc certified wine with rounded tanins along with mocha and forest fruit aromas.  Luckily I had two bottles and only needed a little for the sauce.  The wellingtons are very rich and the French red wine was perfect both for the sauce and for drinking with the meal.

Individual filo wellingtons - Filo venison Wellington

Individual Filo Wellingtons

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 venison steaks (or substitute for beef fillet steak)
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • 60g butter
  • 8 slices of parma ham
  • 100g pâté (I used chicken forestier)
  • For the Red Wine Jus
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 500ml beef stock (you could use venison stock if you have it)
  • 25g butter
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the venison for about 30 seconds on each side to seal in the juices. Leave to cool.
  2. Heat the butter until melted. Lay a piece of filo pastry on the work surface, using a pastry brush, brush it with the melted butter. Lay another piece on top and repeat with a third piece.
  3. Repeat with the other three sheets of filo. Using a sharp knife, cut each stack of filo sheets in half so you have 4 smaller filo rectangles.
  4. Lay 2 pieces of parma ham in the middle of each filo rectangle. Divide the pâté into 4 equal amounts and spread on top of the parma ham.
  5. Put a venison steak on top of each piece of parma ham and pâté and wrap the filo pastry around. Use a little more melted butter to stick the ends of the pastry together and tuck them underneath the filo parcel. Brush the top with melted butter.
  6. Bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes.
  7. Make the red wine jus while the wellingtons are cooking. Put a little oil in a saucepan and cook the onions and garlic gently for 10 minutes. Add the bay leaf, rosemary and red wine.
  8. Turn up the heat until the sauce has reduced by about half. Add the stock and continue to cook vigorously until it has reduced again by about half.
  9. Strain to remove the onion and herbs.
  10. Return to the pan and stir in the butter. Add extra seasoning if necessary.
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You can buy Domaines Paul Mas – Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon at Olivers Wine Warehouse.   For more information about French wine then go to http://www.paysdoc-wines.com/ and you can also follow @paysdocigpwines on Twitter.

Disclosure: This post is for a competition. I was sent two bottle of Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon and invited to create a twist on a traditional Christmas dish to serve alongside.

Mint and Lamb Meatballs

Mint and Lamb Meatballs

Mint and lamb Meatballs

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  I love being assigned a random blog and searching through for recipes I would like to make.    This month I had no problem finding something I liked and wanted to make as my blog was The Hobo Kitchen written by Ellie.   If you haven’t discovered this blog yet it’s definitely worth a look.   It has a simple layout with beautiful pictures and I promise you that you’ll want to eat almost everything you see and these mint and lamb meatballs in a mint and tomato sauce are a good place to start!

Lamb goes so well with spices and the addition of the fresh mint really brings it alive.   So much better than using dried herbs, although I know it’s not always practical.   These meatballs contain cinnamon, cumin and dried coriander as well as few flakes of dried red chilli pepper to add a touch of heat.   The spices are in the tomato sauce too which means you can still really taste them and the sauce doesn’t become just another tomato sauce, especially not when you add the fresh mint as well.

I served the mint and lamb meatballs with couscous but you could serve them with rice or flatbreads if that’s more your thing.

One thing I’m certain of is that I’ll be coming back to the Hobo Kitchen again to see what other tasty dishes Ellie’s been making.   I love her mix of dishes from various cultures and especially the use of fresh herbs and spices in many of them.  Of her recent recipes her butternut squash and goats cheese quiche looks amazing, as do her slow cooker bbq chicken taco bowls and I am hoping my husband does not see her shredded baklava cups because if he does I’ll have no choice but to make them!

Mint and Lamb Meatballs

Mint and Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients

    For the Meatballs
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1/4 onion, finely dice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of white bread, made into breadcrumbs (toast, leave to cool then crumble up)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • For the Tomato Sauce
  • 3/4 onion, finely diced (use the rest of the one used for the meatballs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 100ml stock ( I used vegetable stock but you could use lamb or chicken)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Handful of chopped fresh mint

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix them together with your hands.
  2. Take small pieces and roll them between your hands to make the meatballs.
  3. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs, turning until they are slightly browned on all sides.
  4. Remove the meatballs and set aside.
  5. Add a little more oil and start making the sauce by frying the chopped onion gently so it softens.
  6. Add the garlic and stir into the onions then add all the other sauce ingredients except the mint. Bring to the boil then add the meatballs. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with rice or couscous.
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I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Cook Blog Share at Snap Happy Bakes and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

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Garlic Roasted Chicken

Garlic Chicken Roasted in a Bag

Garlic Roasted CHicken

Roast chicken makes a great meal in our house.   I especially like it as it’s so easy to make and there is usually enough chicken leftover to feed us the  next day too.   This time I tried a new way of preparing roast chicken by cooking it in an oven bag with lots of garlic butter and all the vegetables too.  After all,  who could say no to garlic roasted chicken with buttery vegetables and a buttery garlic sauce?

It sounds simple and it was.  I was trying out my new Look Oven Bags for Roasting from Just Catering Supplies and I wasn’t disappointed.  The idea behind roasting in a bag is that the meat will stay moist and tender as it cooks and because everything is in a bag it definitely saves on washing up afterwards too.   No more scrubbing away at stubborn burned bits on the roasting tin!  And no need to clean the oven either!

Garlic chicken in an oven bag ready to cook

Ready for the oven!

I put the chicken, vegetables and stock into the bag so I had a perfect one pot meal.   I just needed to reduce the sauce a little afterward.   Normally I would have roasted the potatoes to go with the roast chicken as we love crispy potatoes and of course with this method the potatoes aren’t crispy but they have absorbed the buttery garlic flavours of the sauce and the chicken and so are still really tasty, as are the carrots and sweet potatoes.

As the chicken is in a bag you can’t insert a skewer to test if it is cooked but you should still be able to pull on one of the legs using an oven glove, if it comes away from the bird easily then the chicken is ready.

Garlic Roasted Chicken

Ready to serve!

Garlic Chicken Roasted in a Bag

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 30g butter at room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Whole chicken (mine was 1.7kg)
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 50ml chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 180C
  2. Mash the garlic into the butter and then spread it over the chicken.
  3. Put all the vegetables into the roasting bag on a baking or roasting tray. Put the chicken in the bag on top of the vegetables. Pour the stock into the bag and fasten the bag using one of the ties that comes with it.
  4. Put it in the oven for 2 hours. If your chicken is much larger or smaller you may need to adjust the cooking time. As you can't check very easily if the chicken is cooked then it's best to overestimate the time as it will still stay moist in the bag.

Notes

Feel free to add more vegetables or to use different root vegetables depending on what you like best. If you are unable to get these oven roasting bags then the same dish could be created by covering the roasting dish with some aluminium foil but removing it for the last half hour of cooking so the skin browns too. You might also need to add extra stock as more would evaporate as it cooked.

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This is my Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Recipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays

 

Tomato and nigella seed soda bread

Tomato and Nigella Seed Soda Bread

Tomato and nigella seed soda bread

When the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was announced I have to admit that I wasn’t especially excited.   The theme was Quick Breads and although I love recipes that can be prepared quickly and with minimal hands on time, I do actually prefer my breads to have yeast in them.

I’ve only made a quick bread once before, a plain soda bread and I said then that I doubted I’d make one again, or at least not a savoury one.   Well, everything deserves a second chance and although I was tempted to go down the sweet route, I decided to give savoury the benefit of the doubt.

One of my favourite bread recipes  is these tomato and nigella seed bread rolls and so I decided to take the same flavours and try them in a quickbread.   Nigella seeds are also known as black onion seeds and kalonji seeds and are used a lot in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.  They have a slightly bitter onion flavour and I love them in bread, any bread.

With some of my favourite flavours in, it would have been hard for me not to like this tomato and nigella seed soda bread.   As well as flavouring the bread, the tomato puree gives it a warm orange colour so it looks very inviting on the table.   I served it with a homemade vegetable stew and yes, luckily I did like it!

I have to say, given the choice I wouldn’t choose a quickbread over a more traditional yeasted loaf, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to eating this again or to making another savoury soda bread in the future, which is a definitely improvement since last time.

Tomato and nigella seed soda bread

Tomato and Nigella Seed Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 200g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250ml yoghurt
  • 50ml water
  • 50ml tomato puree
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds

Instructions

  1. Put the baking tray in the oven and preheat to 200C
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  3. Add in the wet ingredients and mix together until fully combined but don't over mix.
  4. Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands to form a loaf shape.
  6. Take the baking tray out of the oven. Put the dough onto it and use a knife to cut down almost to the baking tray to make a deep cross on the loaf.
  7. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes.
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Honey roasted cashew nuts

Honey Roasted Cashew Nuts

Honey roasted cashew nuts

There is nothing more tempting than a bowl of honey roasted nuts on the table so when I was sent two gorgeous jars of Helt honey I knew straightaway what I wanted to make: Honey Roasted Cashew Nuts.   With Christmas just around the corner and the weather turning colder, snacking on a handful of nuts is so much more appealing than eating a few grapes, as nice as that may be.

Helt Honey is an artisan honey produced in Denmark in a range of incredible flavours such as hazelnut and cocoa, raspberry and even liquorice!  I tried the Helt Honey with Cinnamon and the Helt Honey with Ginger.  Both honeys were delicious and I was happy to eat them with a spoon straight from the jar but of course I wanted to try  a little of the honey in a recipe too.

Helt honey

Honey roasted nuts are obligatory in our house at Christmas but until now I’d never made them myself.   If like me they’re something you always buy then let me tell you just how easy it is to make them instead, which gives you the chance to add your own flavours too.  I made two batches of honey roasted cashew nuts.  In one batch of nuts I used Helt Honey with Cinnamon and in the other one I used Helt Honey with Ginger.  The only other ingredient I needed was butter and a pinch of salt. You can eat them without the salt but I felt a light sprinkling of finely ground sea salt brought out the flavour and made them even more morish!

I have to say that once the nuts were roasted the cinnamon and ginger flavour was subtle so my next experiment would be to add a pinch of either ground cinnamon or ground ginger to the melted butter and honey to intensify the flavours a little.   That is , if I use these delicious honeys to make honey roasted nuts again.   They are so tasty just on hot buttered toast that it’s almost a shame to use them in cooking.

One thing is certain though, I will be make more honey roasted nuts.

honey Roasted cashew nuts

Honey Roasted Cashew Nuts

Ingredients

  • 20g butter
  • 30g Honey
  • 250g cashew nuts
  • Freshly ground sea salt

Instructions

  1. Put the butter and honey in a bowl and heat in the microwave until melted.
  2. Stir the cashew nuts into the honey and butter mixture.
  3. Put the cashew nuts onto a baking tray lined with aluminium foil.
  4. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Stir half-way through. They may need a couple more minutes. Be careful as they can very quickly burn.
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I am linking these to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too, Cook Blog Share at Hijacked by Twins and Festive Food Friday at Taming Twins and Kerry Cooks.

Tasty TuesdaysRecipe of the weekCook Blog Share

Disclosure: I was sent two jars of Helt honey but the opinions and recipe are my own.

christmas cake pops

Christmas Cake Pops

Christmas cake pops

Recently I was asked by Waitrose if I would like to create a twist on a traditional Christmas cake or pudding.   Well, I love Christmas cakes and puddings and so I was delighted to have a go at something a little different but decided to still use the traditional Christmas cake elements: fruit cake, marzipan and icing.  And chocolate.  Hello Christmas cake pops!

What I love most about Christmas cake is the marzipan.   Of course I love the cake but the marzipan has to be my favourite bit and so one of the best things about these Christmas cake pops is the ball of marzipan in the centre.  It’s the last bit of the cake pop you eat and don’t we all save the best till last?

Christmas cake pops

You may be reading this and wondering where the icing is.   After all, Christmas cakes are normally covered in a layer of white icing.   Well, when I eat Christmas cake I often peel a lot of the icing off and just eat the cake and the marzipan.   You may disagree but I’d say the icing is there to look good and the marzipan is there to taste good.   With that in mind I’ve left just a little icing in the form of a few festive sprinkles.

I know chocolate is not traditional in a Christmas cake but no one could complain about chocolate though could they?   I’ve coated the cake pops with a layer of dark chocolate.   I normally prefer milk chocolate but for these cake pops it has to be dark.   The brandy along with the sweetness and richness of the fruit in the cake goes so well with a bit of dark chocolate.

If you’re making these for children  you could leave the alcohol out or use a little orange juice instead.   I rarely cook with alcohol but I felt these cake pops needed it.   I have used cider in my Christmas cake for the last two years but for these Christmas Cake Pops I’ve gone traditional.

You may notice in the recipe that I’ve made enough cake to make two cakes.   I’ve gone both modern and traditional.  One of the cakes is wrapped up and waiting for Christmas.   I’ll be feeding it liberally with more brandy over the coming weeks.   It will definitely be coated with a generous layer of marzipan, although now I’ve tasted these cake pops I may do away with the white icing altogether and have a chocolate coated Christmas cake instead.

Of course, if you don’t want  a traditional cake at all simply use both cakes for the Christmas cake pops, just double the amount of marzipan and chocolate.    And if you’re feeling inspired but don’t feel this is quite the right recipe for you, then do take a look at Waitrose’s Christmas Puddings with a Twist  page for more seasonal inspiration.

After all, stir  up Sunday, when Christmas cakes and puddings are traditionally made, is fast approaching on 22 November so now is a great time to start thinking about what to make this Christmas.

Half-eaten Christmas cake pop

Christmas Cake Pops

Yield: Makes 10

Christmas Cake Pops

Ingredients

    For the Christmas Cake
  • 450g currants
  • 175g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 60g mixed peel
  • 60g glace cherries, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 225g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • For the Cake Pops
  • 50ml Brandy
  • 70g marzipan
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Sprinkles to decorate with.

Instructions

  1. The night before making the Christmas cake put the currants, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel and glace cherries in a bowl and pour over the brandy. Cover with clingfilm.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and spices into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using either a stand mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs a little at a time and beat them into the sugar and butter mixture.
  5. Fold the flour mixture in.
  6. Stir in the dried fruit and golden syrup.
  7. Grease and line two 15cm cake tins. Divide the mixture between the two tins. Alternatively put all the mixture into a 20cm tin to make one larger cake.
  8. Bake the cakes in the oven for approximately 3.5 hours at 140C. Keep checking the cakes after 3 hours and testing with a skewer so they don't overbake.
  9. Cool the cakes on a metal rack.
  10. Wrap one of the cakes up in foil and save till christmas.
  11. Crumble one of the cakes a little, put it in a bowl and pour over the brandy.Cover with cling film until the next day.
  12. Cover a baking tray with baking parchment. Divide the marzipan into 10 equal pieces. Roll each one into a ball and insert a cake pop stick into it. Put the sticks onto the baking tray. Put in the freezer to set.
  13. A couple of hours later, squash the Christmas cake mixture between your hands and fingers until it becomes like soft sticky crumbs.
  14. Take handfulls of the christmas cake mixture and squash them onto the ends of the cake pop sticks around the marzipan. Put the sticks back in the freezer for a few hours.
  15. Melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave until is has just all melted.
  16. Put the sprinkles in bowls.
  17. Line another baking tray with baking parchment.
  18. Take a cake pop. Dip it in the chocolate and turn it around so it is completely covered in chocolate. Use a spoon if you need to spoon the chocolate over the cake pop. Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
  19. Dip the cake pop into the bowl with the sprinkles. Again use a spoon to reach the area where the cake pop meets the stick. Put the cake pop on the new baking tray. Repeat with all the cake pops.
  20. Put them in the fridge for the chocolate to set and for the centre of the cake pop to defrost.

Notes

If you're short of time you could replace the homemade Christmas Cake with a ready-made one.

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I am linking these to Bunny Eats Design’s Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Lauren from Sweet and Southern Lifestyle.  I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Cook Blog Share on Hijacked by Twins and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.  I am also linking to Festive Food Friday at Taming Twins and Kerry Cooks.

Our Growing edgeTasty TuesdaysCook Blog ShareRecipe of the week