Sunday, October 26, 2008

Time to begin Planning

The first recipe today is economical and was originally part of a Christmas menu - served with roast goose. Am including it because of the mention of using canned potatoes. These really are not comparable to the fresh small potatoes, but when 'tarted up' in the way described, could be acceptable. Canned new potatoes are very inexpensive compared to the fresh, even the cheapest own brand are not that much different from those higher priced. Worth keeping a few cans in stock.
Caramelised Potatoes: serves 8
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) butter, melted
24 cooked new potatoes...OR
...2 x 15 oz (425g) cans new potatoes, drained
In a heavy and dry frying pan, melt the sugar over a low heat, stirring continuously until it has turned golden but not brown. Add the butter and half the potatoes. Toss for about 5 minutes to heat through and become coated with the caramel. Remove to a hot dish, keep warm and cook the remaining potatoes in the caramel left in the pan. Serve at once.

Stretching the Christmas mincemeat makes sense, and a way to make one jar go as far as it can is to:
Add 1 large grated cooking apple
Add 1 - 2 oz (25 - 50g) ground almonds
Add finely grated zest of one orange and a tblsp of orange juice
Add 1 oz (25g) finely chopped almonds or mixed nuts
Add 1 tblsp brandy, rum, sherry, whisky or liqueur
Add handful of dried fruits soaked overnight in juice or spirit

Dutch Boterletter: serves 10 (F)
1 x 190g pack puff pastry
1 x 225g pack marzipan
1 egg, beaten
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to a strip 28" x 4" (70 x 10cm). Knead the margarine until it softens enough to roll easily into a sausage 26" (65cm) long. Place marzipan down the centre of the strip of pastry, dampen edges of pastry with beaten egg and roll up to enclose the marzipan. Seal the final edge. Put on a baking tray - and traditionally this is formed into the letter 'M' for mother but form it into any shape you wish (at this point it can be open-frozen and when solid, wrapped and sealed. Will keep for up to 3 months. When ready to use, replace on baking sheet then continue as for the following baking as for freshly made). Glaze the pastry with the egg and bake at 220C, 435F, gas 7 for half an hour (35 minutes from frozen) until golden brown. Cool and serve sliced.

Final recipe today is a useful one in that it is a biscuit recipe that - being 'thins' - makes the ingredients go a long way. Using a star shaped cutter (or cut round a cardboard template), a hole could be put in one of the points (before baking) and a cord threaded through so they could be hung on the Christmas Tree. Ideally, cover the surface of the biscuits with icing, then when set they can be stacked up to make a pretty gift to go into that hamper.
Ginger Thins: makes 15
4 oz (100g) plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch mixed spice
bare half a tsp baking powder
2 oz (50g) soft brown sugar
2 1/2 oz (65g) butter, cut into cubes and softened
Put everything into one bowl and rub in the butter with the fingertips until like breadcrumbs then gather and squeeze the mixture between your finger until it has formed a soft dough.
Roll out the mixtue between two sheets of baking parchment. Remove the top sheet of parchment and cut out required shapes from the dough. Remove surplus dough and place the sheet of shapes directly onto a baking sheet, reform the scraps and re- roll to make more biscuits. Place these on paper on a second baking sheet.
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 5 - 7 minutes until just golden, Remove from oven, leave for a couple or so minutes on the baking tray then remove to a cake airer to get cold. These (with or without the icing) can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
icing: Mix 2 oz (50g) sifted icing sugar with 2 tsp orange or lemon juice and when smooth spread over the top of the biscuits and leave to set. Add more sugar or juice if the mixture is too soft or firm.