The Christmas Starter

Smoked Trout & Avocado recipe

There’s a touch of vintage to day ten of the Christmas Countdown. 

If you want a nod to the 70’s you could fill the centre of this ring -when you have turned it out-. with good old Prawn Cocktail. This would make a substantial starter, or a fishy addition to the Boxing day Buffet. You could even serve Melba toast as an accompaniment.

For myself, I would fill the centre with some fresh leafy shoots & herbs, in a light lemon dressing.

This recipe can be make a couple of days ahead & kept, covered in the fridge. When the time comes to serve,  dip the mould in hot watet for a few seconds, place a plate on the mould & quickly turn over, to release. Place back in the fridge, until ready to decorate & serve.

avocado, smoked trout, greek yoghurt, mascapone, dill
Smoked Trout & Avocado

Smoked Trout & Avocado ring.

Serves 6.  G/F, V.  Allergens:  Dairy, Fish      Equipment: 800ml ring mould

Time taken:  45 mins + chilling time 

INGREDIENTS 

200g Pack Smoked Trout         

2. Ready to eat Avocado’s  Peeled & chopped 

Fresh Dill to decorate

225g Mascapone Cheese

225g Greek Yoghurt

1/2 level tspn salt

White pepper

1 Tbspn Creamed Horseradish

150ml Cold Water

15g powdered gelatine (Vegetarian)

METHOD

Measure the cold water into a small saucepan, add the salt & sprinkle over the gelatine. Allow to soak for 5mins, & heat gently, stiring, until the gelatine has dissolved. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL Remove from the heat & allow to cool.

Rinse out the rind mould with cold water & line,  with the smoked trout slices.

Place the Mascapone, 1/2 the yoghurt, horseradish & pepper to taste into a bowl & mix well to blend.

Stir in the cold gelatine & chopped avocado & gently fold in the remaining yoghurt.

Spoon the mixture into the fish lined mould. Cover with cling film & place in the fridge until set.

When ready to serve, turn out, see above. Decorate & serve.

Variations: 

Substitute the trout, for thinly sliced parma ham, & the avocado for diced sundried tomatoes & olives.  Fill the centre with rocket leaves, dressed in olive oil & shaved parmesan.

For a vegan option. Line the mould with thinly sliced cucumber. Replace the cheese & yoghurt with vegan substitutes.

I am sure you can all get your creative caps on & experiment with many different variations on the above recipe.

That all for today. As always, if you have any questions about your festive cookery. Please ask, by leaving a comment in the box below. I will answer tomorrow.

Have a great evening.

Marzipan or Sugarpan?

Make your own Marzipan

Day 8 of my Christmas countdown, as promised yesterday in my Late Christmas Cake recipe  today’s recipe is for home made Marzipan.

Although I personally do not favour a traditional Christmas Cake, preferring something lighter & less sugary, I know, for a lot of people, Christmas would not be complete without one. The cake in yesterdays recipe is a variation on the good old traditional theme. Today’s marzipan recipe is prepared using fresh natural ingredients & also makes you aware of the additives & preservatives used in most store bought Marzipan or Almond paste, as it is also known.

Do you head to the super market & grab a pack of ready -made Marzipan? Have you read the small print on theback?  It should really be called Sugarpan, because the main ingredient is, guess what, SUGAR!!  OK, most recipes call for half ground almonds & half sugar, but even in the more respected stores, ground Almonds only account for 25% of the product, the rest being made up with the afore mentioned sugar & other additives. So here goes:

HOME MADE MARZIPAN

. G/F. V. Low Fodmap  Allergens: EGG. Cooking Time Nil. Covers 1 10cm Cake or smaller cake with enough left over to make chocolate marzipans.

Ingredients:

450g Ground Almonds (Good Quality)

225g Icing Sugar

225g Caster Sugar

2 Small Eggs

Juice of half a lemon

1. Tbspn Rum or Sherry

1.Tbspn Orange Flower Water

Few drops Almond Essence

METHOD

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl & mix together well.

Pour in the lightly beaten eggs & add the other liquids, mixing with your hands, to form a smooth paste.

DO NOT USE A FOOD MIXER. When the ingredients have bound together, forming a smooth paste, wrap in cling film & chill for a couple of hours. Over working the paste will result in an oily paste, caused by the oil being released from the almonds. Ifyou do not wish to use alcohol in the recipe, replace with Elderflower Syrup.Use fresh, free range eggs, as the rich yellow yolks, produce a good coloured Marzipan.

Use as required, rolling out on a board which has been dusted with icing sugar, to prevent sticking.

Any left- over Marzipan can be rolled onto balls or cut into shapes & dipped in melted chocolate & used for decoration. If you are feeling creative, you can always whip up a boozy Christmas Stollen with your lovely home made Marzipan in the centre.

Until tomorrow, when the recipe will be “The Icing on the Cake”. Have a lovely evening

Ground Almonds,Marzipan,Marzipan recipe,Cake covering,Icing
Christmas Stollen with Home made Marzipan

Chocolate & Coconut Truffles

Recipe for Dairy Free Truffles

Day 3 of the Coundown to Christmas recipes & tips brings you the delight of chocolate. In particular dairy & gluten free Coconut Truffles, very apt for Truffleicious you may think.

We all love chocolate, but there are varying degrees of this comforting confectionery. Many of the cheaper varieties are mainly made up of sugar, & additives. Food regulations state that the ingredients list must show the components of the product in a decreasing scale. Therefore, if the first ingredient listed is sugar, then sugar is the main ingredient of the product. So, my mantra for purchasing any food product is “Always read the label”.

For the recipe below you must use chocolate that has a cocoa butter content of above 72%. Block creamed coconut must also be used, not a tin of coconut milk as this is all part of the setting agent in the finished truffles.

Coconut & Rum Truffles.

Gluten free, Dairy free, Vegetarian, Vegan.  Time taken, 45mins + chilling

Makes 40.

INGREDIENTS

250 g Dark Chocolate (above 72% cocoa mass)

1/2 Pack of solid creamed coconut 

60 g Desicated Coconut, (fine variety)

150 ml Rum, OR Malibu OR Water if you want to avoid alcohol.

150g Coconut, or Cocoa Powder for Rolling.   These can also be dipped in melted chocolate when set.

METHOD

Place the the coconut cream & your prefered liquid in a saucepan & bring to the boil, stirring.  Cool for 10mins.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks & place in a large bowl.

Pour the coconut mixture onto the chocolate, stirring briskly, from the centre, until you have a thick glossy emulsion. Stir in the fine desicated coconut.

Chill & roll into balls, with you fingers. Coat each ball with your chosen coating, or dip in melted chocolate. 

Leave to set & there you have it, the perfect gift for friends & relations or if like me, you are a bit of a Piggy, Eat them yourself.

Chocolate, truffles, liqueurs, home made, Coccoa fat,
A little of what you fancy.

Until tomorrow Foodies, have a lovely evening.

Don’t forget, if you have a question or would like to see a particular recipe on The Christmas Countdown. Please leave a comment in the box below.

Perfect pastry

How to make perfect pastry

Day 2 of our Christmas countdown deals with pastry. Ok, there are plenty of ready made pastries on the market, but there is nothing nicer & more satifying than making your own.

Apart from the fact that there will be no hidden, additives in your homemade pastry, you also have the opportunity, to ring the changes, by using different flours. You need to experiment with this, as some flours, Rye for example, produces a lovely nutty tasting pastry, but it can be quite heavy, needing the addition of a bit more liquid than when using normal plain flour.

Always, use the best quality flour that you can afford, cheap flours contain bleaching agents, to retain the whiteness & the quality of the wheat used in the milling, is not always of great quality. All this reflects in the final taste & texture of your finished result. I personal use Mathews Cotswold flours, in all my baking. In the photo above, you can see pastry made with their Maize flour, which make a beautifully crisp, golden pastry, suitable for quiches, tarts etc.  Recipe below:

Short crust pastry. 

Makes 1kg enough to line 4 x 20cm Quiche or Tart tins.  Allegens:: Wheat, Egg.

450g Maize Flour

115g Unsalted butter- chopped into small pieces.

115g White Cooking Fat – chopped into small pieces.

1 medium free range egg, beaten & made up to 8 tbspns with ice cold water.

Large pinch of salt.

METHOD

Place the flour & salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Using the K beater, mix on speed 3 until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. DO NOT OVER MIX.

With the mixer running, gradually add the egg & water. Until the mix forms a ball. Remove from the bowl & lightly knead on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film & chill for 30mins, untill ready to use. Never over work your dough, & keep all ingredients chilled. Warm over worked pastry, results in oily, heavy pastry. Always bake in a metal tin, placed on a pre heated oven tray (place in oven, when switching on). This conducts the heat better. NO soggy bottom. As a general rule, this pastry bakes at 200f 400c Gas 6 for 15mins, reducing to 180f 350c Gas 4 for a futher 20mins, depending on your recipe & oven.

The above recipe makes, 1kg of pastry. you can halve the quantity, but I think it is always better, from a time point of veiw, to make a larger quantity, & divide it into portions & freeze for later use. You can line 4 tins with the pastry & pop into the freezer. When needed you have them ready to fill & bake.  

To make a gluten free version of Shortcrust pastry. Replace the above flour with the following:

200g Buckwheat Flour

250 Brown Rice Flour.

Omit the egg & use nine tablespoons of chilled water. Follow the method as above.

Apple, shortcake. tart, pie
Fill you flan.

Have fun choosing your fillings, both sweet & savoury, get creative

On tomorrows Christmas Countdown, we will be dealing with Rough Puff Pastry & Christmas Cake Pies?

A Cook in the Baking

Here at TRUFFLEicious/Wiltshire Artisans we know all about the small food business, not because we have done a couple of baking courses & think we know it all, but because over the years, (about 40), to be precise, we have done it. Several times. I am definitely a cook in the baking.

cake, chocolate, homemade, small business, cookery
A chocolate treat

We have never been, or wanted to be a large food business, small & exclusive, I think are the words that describes us best. Circumstances prevailed, when it was not always possible to continue those businesses, but never the less our passion for food & creativity has led us down different paths, over the years.

Learning the basics of cookery, like most girls in my youth (this was 40 yrs ago), from my mother, I had various jobs in kitchens during the school holidays where I learnt even more about food & my passion was born.

Leaving school, my teachers thought I was bound for Art College, but it was not to be “out to work & earn some money” my father told me and so off I went. The Lady Magazine, a publication which still exists today, was the key to my short term future.

“Cook required for small family of 5. Large Rectory in the rural Cotswold’s. Simple daily cooking & some entertaining at weekends”. Putting pen to paper, (no e-mails in those days,) I applied & two weeks later I was installed in my first proper cooking job. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 years I spent here, the family were lovely, I had a cosy little cottage in the grounds & learnt a lot – about people & food.

During my time at the Rectory I was introduced to many interesting people, made even more fascinating because my cookery skills were in demand. I made steak & kidney pies for local pubs, cakes for cafe’s & cooked dinner parties for friends of my employer. One particular lady, the grand-daughter of a famous composer, lived in a beautiful Elizabethan Manor House. Finding times difficult, she started a bed a breakfast business for visiting Americans. Dinner in the evening was becoming a necessity, my services were needed on an ad hoc basis, a cottage became available on her estate, & the rest, as they say, is history.

cooking, history, small business, food, changing world
A Cook in the baking

Farm Cottage was started from my kitchen in rural Gloucestershire. Having obtained a list of names from my landlady I set about creating a mail shot. This was hard work in the pre-internet years. I hand wrote menus on vellum paper, stapled them into booklets and popped them into 25 large envelopes. I then sat back & waited for the phone to ring & ring it did.

Read more of my journey, in a later post on this site.

menu, mail shot, advertising, small business
A menu from the past