Still looking for a quick and easy dessert to make for Christmas Day? Look no further than my Chocolate Ripple Christmas Wreath! It’s also as pretty as a picture and delicious to boot!
Making this could not be easier. Get a pack of plain chocolate biscuits, whip up some cream. Add a hefty splash of booze – I chose amaretto but you could use limoncello or Baileys or Kirsch, whatever you have or like. Add a large spoonful of icing sugar into the cream and stir through.
Then sandwich your biscuits together with the cream mixture and shape into a wreath.
Don’t worry too much about getting the shape perfect at first. Once you have the general shape you can push the biscuits together to make a neater circle. Then cover the top and sides with the remaining cream mixture.
Pop this into the fridge for a few hours to set. Then decorate – I used cherries, blueberries, strawberries and mint leaves.
Wow! Has anyone else felt that 2016 was a tumultuous year? I am so glad to be coming to the end of it. I am exhausted and looking forward to the break. No work for me until 6 January so I have a lot of time for some much required r&r.
Coming back to Melbourne in winter after a tropical holiday has been a shock to the system. I’m not sure if it is the cold or getting back onto germ-laden public transport but I have come down with a whopper of a cold. Sore throat, blocked nose, and a head that feels like it is about to explode. When I have not been in bed this weekend, I have been craving comfort food and what better way to rally one’s flagging spirits than with a Brigade Pudding. And not just any Brigade Pudding but a Bourbon laced Brigade Pudding! Because alcohol kills germs right?
To quote The Rolling Stones “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”. Such was the case with the recipe for Brigade Pudding. There I was flicking feebly through the A-Z of Cooking, trying to muster the energy to get out of bed / the house / my sense of lethargy. And to quote Marcy Playground (who knew illness would bring out my musical side, or maybe it was those weeks of Balinese cover bands).
“And then there it was, Like double cherry pie, Yeah there it was, Like disco superfly, ”
Right in the sweet spot of L (Leave it to Cook) in the A-Z of Cooking, Brigade Pudding.
Definitely what I needed!
Not even the Lemon Pond Pudding debacle of last year was going to stop me from making the Brigade Pudding. Yes, the number of suet puddings I have made to date is 1 and the number of failures I have had making suet puddings is also 1 but due to that disaster and a yet untouched bottle of fruit mince from a Christmas hamper I also had all the ingredients for the Brigade Pudding in the house. No need to shop! Yay to making food in one’s pyjamas! Yay to comfort food! Yay to The A-Z of Cooking providing just what you need!
I am not sure which Brigade, if any, the Brigade Pudding was named after. I did some cursory research but please see above for head that feels like it is about to explode. What I can tell you is that it consists of layers of apple and fruit mince sandwiched together by layers of suet pastry and then steamed to pudding perfection. I added a little Trans Atlantic twist to my Brigade Pudding by adding in a good splash of bourbon into some warmed golden syrup to help give that lovely shiny glaze and also allowed my apple and fruit mince to soak in another good splash of bourbon whilst the pastry chilled in the fridge.
The verdict? The Fussiest Eater in the World who grew up with stodgy British suet puddings loved it! My opinion was not quite so positive. Personally, I found the suet pastry a bit heavy going. I would have preferred the apple, fruit and bourbon mix with a lighter sponge pudding. He also liked it as is, whilst I really thought it needed a little something-something to go with it. Custard would have been super but we didn’t have any. What we did have some was some of Sabrina Ghayour’s Pistachio, Honey and Orange Blossom Ice Cream which gave it just the lift I felt it needed. Pudding perfection! I also love that combination of hot pudding and cold ice cream! So good.
Bourbon Brigade Pudding
A lovely old fashioned British Pudding. Perfect comfort food for a winter night!
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and add the suet or butter. Rub in well then add enough water to make a soft dough. Leave this to chill in the fridge for around an hour.
Put the golden syrup in a small pan and gently heat with half the bourbon. Set aside.
Take your pudding bowl and place it on a piece of baking paper, small side down. Trace around the bowl and cut the paper to size. Then, turn it over so the widest part of the bowl is on the papder. Cut three circles this size. You will now have one small circle and three large. Trim two of the large circles down so you now have four circles of varying sizes.
Mix the mincemeat, the apples and the rest of the bourbon and allow to sit for half an hour so the flavours can develop.
Grease the pudding bowl and our the golden syrup & bourbon mixture into the bottom, swirl around so it coats the sides.
Now, roll pastry out thinly. Using your paper circles as templates, cut four circles from the pastry. Place the smallest in the pudding bowl and top with a third of the apple and mincemeat mixture. Repeat until all the apple is mixture is used, topping with the largest circle of pastry.
Cover the basin with greased paper and foil tied on with string.
Steam over boiling water for 2.5 hours.
Serve with custard or ice cream.
By Taryn Fryer
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking, 1977
Adapted from The A-Z of Cooking, 1977
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Hello world, here’s a song that we’re singin’ Come on, get happy A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’ We’ll make you happy”
– The Partridge Family
What I’m bringing today is a Christmas Cocktail called The Partridge.
To make you happy.
Unlike his blue friend, currently residing on the Christmas tree, my little Partridge looks like a bit of a bruiser! Which is quite appropriate seeing as it’s namesake also has some bite in its…well, not bark but cheep? Tweet? What noise does a partridge make??? What I”m trying to say, in the most convoluted way possible is that with white vermouth, triple sec and whiskey making up the layers, The Partridge is all killer, no filler.
The three layers in The Partridge were slightly easier to see with the naked eye but the triple sec on the white vermouth was not highly noticeable. Even so, I think the gold band of whiskey across the top is very pretty. And I am like a child when it comes to layered cocktails. It’s my form of marvel!
The flavours in the Partridge worked nicely together. It was a bit smoky from the whiskey, herby and sweet from the vermouth and citrussy from the triple sec.
I actually found it a bit too strong and had to drop a couple of ice cubes in the glass to dilute it down a bit before I could really enjoy it.
Having said that though, I think the weather may have had something to do with it. I made, and drank, The Partridge in the middle of one of the hottest spells Melbourne has had. It was over 40 degrees on the day I made it (that’s 100 to you folks in the States) which was way too hot to be drinking some thing this potent.
I think this would be perfect sipped by a warm fire with snow falling outside – it could certainly warm the cockles of the coldest heart! I almost want it to be winter again so I can taste this in what I think would be it’s element!
Now, just in case you are wondering if I have a pear tree for my partridge the answer is yes/no /maybe.
I bought a pear which I was going to use to garnish The Partridge and then promptly forgot all about it. Enter the A-Z of Cooking which has a Pear and Blue Cheese Salad.
I always take a salad and the desserts to my mum’s for Christmas. The Christmas Pudding was bought and taken round there weeks ago. Earlier today I made a white chocolate and raspberry Tim Tam Cheesecake (stay tuned for that) and my plan was to also make the Pear and Blue Cheese Salad. However, the pear I had was totally tasteless. So I am currently pickling it.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Then again, I could be delirious. It’s 8:15pm and my phone is telling me it’s 33°C outside. Which could have also lead to….
I really wanted to have ginger in the pickling mix but had none in the house. I have already been to the supermarket twice today, I refuse to go back for round three of Christmas Eve parking and queues in 30+ heat so instead of sugar and ginger and water with the vinegar, I am using ginger beer.
Eeekkkk…..This could either be a total fiasco.If I post some pictures of our lunch and you see a big bowl of what looks like plain lettuce with some lonely specks of blue cheese you’ll know!
And instead of a Christmas Carol to leave you on, here is another Partridge inspired treat for your ears!
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! I hope you’ve all been not too naughty so Santa leaves you exactly what you want! Personally, I am leaving a Treasury of Great Recipes shaped space under my tree…fingers crossed!
If Christmas has an official fruit, to my mind it would have to be the cranberry. We smother our turkey in it, serve it up with some brie for an oh so yummy canapé and knock it back by the bucketful in Christmas inspired cocktails.
If retro cooking had an official dish, it would have to be the jellied salad.
And if these two met at a party and got a little tipsy on a few too many festive sherries and had their very own love child? It would look a little like this:
And you know what? If there’s any rationale for hiding your love children in the attic? The Cranberry Party Salad from Salads For All Seasons could well be it.
I wasn’t the worst thing I made this year. Oh, no, that is a dead heat tie between the Paleo Muesli and the Paleo bread…
It wasn’t awful like these, it was just way too sweet for my taste to have as a savoury dish. It’s a problem I have in general with Cranberry sauce. Sometimes it feels as if someone snuck up whilst I wasn’t looking and smeared my turkey with jam. To me, the thing, the whole raison d’etre of the cran is the tang.
I was also a little disappointed that the fruit and nuts and…yep ok…spoilers ahead…celery…floated to the top which became the bottom once I turned it out. Then I looked at the picture in the book and it looks like her fruit is all chunked at the bottom too.
Also, look at her terracotta water cooler in the background. And look at my Kris Kringle present this year…we do the one where you can steal gifts and believe me, there was nothing coming between me and this baby. Sadly, I stole it off one of the nicest people in the world. And she really wanted it because she had stolen it from one of the boys. Caitlin, if you read this, I’m sorrynotsorry.
I am seriously a couple of oddly placed copper moulds away from having that retro kitchen!!! That woman also has weirdly large man hands like me too. And that blue salad? Will be made. I promise. I have to see how that particular combination of ingredients becomes blue…we will find out together in 2015. I may even wear a badly fitting blue dress and have my water cooler in the background for some happysnaps.
Rosemary says this is to be served with light meats and poultry. But how? You have to remember that this type of dish is most definitely not in any kind of ancestral memory I have. Well, having said that, I did ask my mother WEEKS ago to give me the recipe for a salmon and jello type thing she used to make. Which, I have STILL not got. Someone’s game needs to be lifted….
Given the spread between chunky at the bottom and clear at the top, it seemed sensible to slice it. To my mind that just looked way too weird on the plate. In the end, I treated it like a cranberry sauce and ate it on crackers with ham and cheese.
Huh…it doesn’t look too bad in the photos and, in all honesty, this wasn’t awful….just waaaaaayyyy to sweet for my taste. And I tarted it up by adding fresh cranberries into the mix….
Leave this one with me. I’m going to ponder it over the next 12 months and next year, I’m going to bring you the best cranberry party salad ever!!!
A few of the recipes in Salads For All Seasons have odd names that have little bearing on the contents. Take the Sportsman’s Saturday Salad I made a few weeks ago. This one however is exactly what it says on the box. With it’s gorgeous shades of green and red, it’s very festive. It’s duck. And it’s salad.
And it’s deeeelicious!!!
I have a weird issue with duck. I love to eat it. Really love to eat it. But I find it very hard to cook correctly. I also have an issue in that we live very close to a lake. The ducks there are so tame; when they see you coming they come racing all the way across the lake because you might have food for them. Which we never do. Because we already have two walking, barking dustbins that are more than ready to consume any scraps. But seeing them and particularly the ever so cute ducklings in Spring does make me feel a bit guilty about eating them. Also I’m sure I heard somewhere that ducks mate for life and it always makes me sad that somewhere out there is a lonely duck who has lost the love of it’s life and will spend the rest of his or her life alone.
Ok, so now that I’ve put you off eating my yummy salad, let’s talk about something else for a while so we forget the lonely ducks.
Oscar also has a complicated relationship with the birds on the lake. The swans more than the ducks though. A swan at Williamstown beach had a go at Lulu when she was younger. She keeps her distance. He is just fascinated…. And now feels like a good time to tell you the Oscar story because it is our personal Christmas miracle.
December 2012, I was working at a place that I hated and was day by day destroying my will to live. Seriously. One of the few days of joy in those last 6 months was that, as a team, we worked with the RSPCA on Santa Paws. Santa Paws is a fabulous initiative where people bring in their pets for a photo with Santa that then gets printed onto Christmas cards, keyrings etc. It’s pretty cool. And not just dogs, people were bringing in goats and kittens and goldfish. It was awesome.
After our shift finished I asked if I could go have a look in the kennels. There was a very cute beagle but it was going to Beagle rescue the next day. In the next cage was a big lolloping gangly boy who came running over and as soon as I patted him fell over for a belly rub. And he was lovely and an incredibly weird combination of a Greyhound and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Which seems like a combination that doesn’t work however you play it.
But there he was.
And then I read the sign on his cage. It said something like “I have been here for nearly 100 days and lots of people have looked at me; then they leave with their new puppy. I just want a home with a family who loves me as much as I will love them.”
OMG, it makes me cry even now.
The poor little fucker was two years old and it was his third time at the RSPCA. He had been born there; the last owners had brought him back because they could no longer afford to feed him. We also strongly suspect he has been massively ill-treated because even now, he will cringe at any loud noise, like a door slamming for the wind, he is pretty much scared of his own shadow.
So I went home and Mark was “So how was it, did you have a great time?”
And I started to tell him. And I got as far as “There was a dog and he had a sign…” and then I cried. For hours. And when he could finally get the story out of me, he cried. And then he sighed and said “So, when do we go get him?” Bear in mind at this time, we were living in a one bedroom apartment, and we already had one dog. A second dog was also going to be a stretch and a real life changer, and not in a good way, for us. But we reasoned, it would only be a couple of months until we moved into the house we were building so we all had a bit more room to breathe. That couple of months turned out to be nearly a year….
But who could resist that face?
The next morning we took Lulu and we went to get him. Our get-out card was that if Lulu hated him he couldn’t come. She is so bossy that we couldn’t have another dog that challenged her authority and fought with her all the time.
So we drove for an hour in a huge rainstorm where you couldn’t even see ten metres in front of the car and I was really scared driving in such bad weather but I did it because I was so happy that we could take him home. When we got there he came running up but then he turned away. He was really disinterested in us – as if he was sick of investing in people who weren’t going to take him.
Mark liked him and Lulu didn’t kill him. So it was pretty much a done deal that we were taking him.
Until they told us that we couldn’t.
Their dog psychologist had deemed he was food possessive and could not be in a house with another dog.
We argued and argued the point. We said Lulu is such a dominant dog she would NEVER let anyone come between her and her food but they stood firm. We could not take him.
I cried all the way home.
About four days later, I got a call from the RSPCA. “Are you the girl who wanted to buy Thor?” Oh, yeh, his former name was Thor….we didn’t want a dog called Thor so we renamed him. Anyway, yes that was me. “Well the psychologist has reevaluated him. He’s all yours.”
Two years on, I can’t imagine life without him. He is the sweetest, most gentle, most affectionate boy in the world. With an increasing cheekiness as his confidence grows. He knows this is his home and I hope he knows we will never abandon him. I am confident we have given him the best life he has ever had. We love him to death and, yes, the sign was true, he absolutely loves us in return.
If you’re wondering why so many of the photos show Osky sleeping or in some type of bed, it’s because greyhounds are surprisingly, incredibly lazy. He and Lulu get walked for about an hour every day and we are lucky enough to have an off leash park close by where, ideally, he can run with another dog. Ten minutes of flat out running during the walk and that’s him done for the day. He’ll snooze for most of the rest of the day, waking up only to eat. And there’s always time for a cuddle…
And then, it’s time for a bit more snoozing….
We might be good to get back to the salad now. The original recipe is here if you want it. I wasn’t taken by the idea of orange and egg so I omitted the egg and added some cranberries to my version. Also, I used homemade mayo, also from Salads from All Seasons but you can use store bought if you wish. Having said that, this one is super easy and tasty!
I cooked my duck according to the Gordon Ramsay recipe here and it worked pretty well. It was certainly the most successful I have been with duck.
You could also make this with some leftover turkey post-Christmas. It will lack some of the richness of the duck but will still be pretty good!
I”m going to try to get one more post in before the big day but just in case life gets in the way, Merry Christmas to you all from me and a special Christmas Angel.