Boxing Day Pie : Recipe Advent Calendar 24th

To round off the calendar, here is probably my tastiest creation yet. It is based off of a meal served to me by a friend, which was in turn based on his mother’s Turkey and Ham pie. Hi Davi! Hi Davi’s mum!

Not only is the recipe delicious, it is also fairly simple, and probably most excitingly, uses up a whole heap of leftovers you could have from Christmas Dinner. Cooked turkey, the fresh sage that escaped the stuffing, double cream that missed the pudding, a glug of white wine forgotten in the bottle, leftover crisps that might have staled overnight, a scrap of cheese left from the cheese board and some bread, made into crumbs.

Boxing Day Pie

Serves 2

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 leek
  • A good handful of fresh sage
  • 1/3 vegetable stock cube (just pinch a bit off)
  • A healthy glass of white wine
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 portions of cooked turkey
  • Approx a slice’s worth of breadcrumbs
  • A large handful of crisps, preferably cheese and onion
  • 35g grated cheese

Chop your onion and leek finely and brown in a glug of oil. Roughly chop the sage and add it when the vegetables are just about done.

Pour in your liquid ingredients, plus the turkey, and stir to combine. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and the stock cube crumbled in to the mix. Simmer for 10 minutes or so until the sauce is reduced.

Meanwhile, make your crust. Make your bread crumbs in a food processor, then add the crisps. Blend until they are roughly crumbed too, then give it a couple of pulses with the cheese added, to mix.

When the filling is ready, add to your pie dish. Cover with a generous coating of the crust mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated over at 190 c until the top is golden and crisp.

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This pie can be eaten with pretty much any side, or on its own, scoffed out of the dish (don’t judge me- all this baking is hungry work!). I love that this method uses up so many leftovers, many of which might get thrown away. And whilst I love a good short crust pastry pie, the crumb crust is a lovely addition to this recipe.

This recipe also works with chicken, of course, or even leftover vegetables if you want to make a veggie version. And a splash of leftover gravy is only going to make the sauce tastier!

I hope your Christmas Day is merry and bright, and your Boxing Day delicious.

All my love,

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Speculaas Cheesecake : Recipe Advent Calendar 22nd

Speculaas, Spekulatius or Spéculoos, depending on where you are from in Europe, are traditional spiced biscuits made to celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas at the beginning of December. They are made with a specific set of spices (known as Speculaas Spices) which bring warmth and sweetness to the biscuit.

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I love the combination of cream and ginger and spice, so here’s a lovely dessert that’ll be a simple yet elegant showstopper at any seasonal feast.

Speculaas Cheesecake

  • 200g Ginger biscuits
  • 1tsp Cinnamon (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg (ground)
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves (ground)
  • 1/8 Tsp ground or 1 fat pod Cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp White pepper (ground)
  • 75g Butter
  • 400g Cream Cheese
  • 300g Mascarpone
  • 200g Icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Take your ginger biscuits, and break down in to crumbs. It is easiest to do this in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin. Wrap the bag in a tea towel first to prevent the bag splitting.

Melt the butter in a pan, and add your Speculaas spices and mix in. Then add the biscuit crumbs and mix through thoroughly until the mixture is uniform. This mixture will be your base.

Press the crumbs into the base of a greased 9inch springform or loose bottomed tin to form the base of the cheesecake. Pop it in the fridge to cool and set.

In a mixer, or with a handheld electric whisk, combine the cheese and mascarpone. Whip until light and aerated.

Sieve your icing sugar and whip into the cheese mix bit by bit. Finally, add your vanilla and do the same until you have a fully combined, fluffy mix.

Spoon your mix into the tin on top of the crumb base and gently spread out, smoothing the top with a spatula or palette knife. Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.

Are you going to make this treat soon? Be sure to tell me how you got on!

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Reindeer! Recipe Advent Calendar 14th

Savoury snacks are great at this time of year, and the humble cheese straw is the perfect thing to get you in the party mood. Now, I like cheese straws, but I *really* like cheese, so when it comes to my christmas time nibbles, there’s nothing better than my Cheesy Reindeer.

Basically a very short pastry with the cheese making up most of the fat content, these treats are so delicious, I get requests for these every year. And for me, they have to be in a reindeer shape. They just do.

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Cheesy Reindeer

  • 250g Cheese
  • 125g plain flour
  • 65g Stork or soft butter
  • 1tbsp Poppy seeds

Grate the cheese, then combine the ingredients in a food processor to form a crumb.

Knead the mix into a dough. You can use it immediately, but you may find it easier to use if chilled for 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness and cut out into your desired shape. Place on greased or lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180 c.

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Obviously these are great for parties the year round, but it’s also an great way to use up odds and ends from a cheese board, or whatever is in your fridge. You can use any flavoursome cheese to make these- obviously the softer the cheese, and the warmer the dough when rolled, the softer and potentially stickier the dough will be. I love the cheddar and poppy seed combo, but I have used Wensleydale with cranberries before, and a smoked cheese with a little paprika will also work a charm. You can substitute the poppy seeds easily for sesame, or use the latter to top the biscuits for extra flair, or use the same volume of chopped sun dried tomatoes for a pizza-y taste. The recipe is very versatile that way, and can be used right away if needed or stored in the fridge until required for several days, or even frozen. The biscuits do taste best within a day of baking, but they will last in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Make a whole sled-ful!

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Comfort Nosh

The weather has been truly abysmal the last few days. I’m a huge fan of Winter… when the weather behaves, and we have clear, crisp days (like today in sunny Portsmouth) or deep snow when we have nowhere to be. However, incessant rain, mud, gales and general horribleness that is driving me most of the way towards hibernation can go away, quite frankly. If Christmas wasn’t just around the bend, I’d be campaigning for spring already.

In the meantime, comfort food is the order of the day, and if you can sneak some green stuff into it, all the better. One wouldn’t wish to get scurvy in one’s bear den, would one?

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Macaroni and Cheese is my ultimate comfort food. It’s vegetarian, pescatarian, polloterian and omnivore friendly (sorry vegans and the lactose intolerant- I just really like cheese) so a mostly safefood if you have discerning guests, easy peasy to make, satisfying in that you can make the whole lot from scratch (and I do), and so tasty it’s easy to accent it with vegetables to pretend its healthy. I tend to go for peas and sweetcorn, because no prep of them is required and I’m inherently lazy, but broccoli, green beans and/or peppers fit the bill too… ok, now I’m hungry.

Everyone has a different recipe- some like it with a crust, some don’t; some prefer certain spices in their cheese sauce, some don’t; some are toffs when it comes to the cheese content, and some, such as myself, just grab what’s available.

Mac n’ Chee

  • 1 pint milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50 grams butter
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Black pepper to taste
  • up to 200-250g cheese (Cheddar, parmesan, gouda… pick your poison)
  • 200g Macaroni
  • Frozen peas and sweetcorn (about a mug/cup of each)
  • Optional: Grated parmesan

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Pop your macaroni on to boil while you make your cheese sauce.

In a milk pan, create a roux with the flour and butter. To do that, add your butter and then your flour in quick succession, and stir as the butter melts into a paste.

Add your milk, little by little, whisking as you go to try and avoid lumps. I wouldn’t be too anal about it though, as they won’t be obvious in the final concoction.

Once all the milk is in, add your spices and keep stirring as the sauce thickens. This can take a little while depending on the shape of your pan, so be patient. As soon as the sauce is good and thick, take it off the heat.

Stir in your grated cheese- the ambient heat will melt it into the sauce. I like my sauce REALLY cheesy, so I usually use at least 180-200g of cheese, but depending on how flavoursome you like it, or the cheese you use, you can use less.

Strain your macaroni, and add it to your oven dish. Next combine it with your vegetables.

Add your cheesy sauce and mix through until all the ingredients are coated with gooey goodness. For extra cheesiness, you can now add any grated cheese you didn’t put in the sauce to the top of the mixture. Otherwise, you can top it with a generous crust of parmesan, or leave it simply as it is.

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Bake in a preheated over at 190 for 35 -45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes. When done, let stand for a couple of minutes, then serve generously, and duly scoff, ideally with at least ONE other person, as this serves four…

You can shake up this recipe in all sorts of ways. Add bacon to give it a carbonara twist, and tinned tuna and broccoli make a great combo with the cheesy sauce. Seriously, make this little beauty your own.

And tell me how you get on, yes?

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