Monday, 5 December 2011


With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I'd share a few favourite recipes of mine - those that I dig out each year because I know they work, and take minimal effort! Maybe you would like to try them too. 
 The pictures are not my own, but copied from the web, just to give you an idea of what the food will look like. I will replace these with my own photos when I make the recipes again this year.

The first recipe is a standby on Christmas Day, if vegetarian guests are expected. It is always enjoyed as a substitute for Christmas roast meats.

315g unsalted mixed nuts, finely chopped
100g peanuts or sunflower seeds, or cashews, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs made from stale bread
125g ricotta or cottage cheese
2 teaspns chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspn chopped oregano
125mls tomato sauce/ketchup
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients and season with S&P to taste.
  2. Press mixture into a lightly greased 15 x 25cm loaf tin. Bake at 180oc for 45 minutes or until firm. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Turn out to cool.
 This shortbread recipe is great to use for Christmas gifts. You could include the recipe with the shortbread as a bonus gift!

500g butter
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup brown sugar
5 cups plain flour
castor sugar
Lemon rind and juice of ½ lemon (optional)
  1. Cream butter and vanilla. Add sugars (and lemon rind/juice if using) and mix well.
  2. Mix in flour a little at a time, beating very well between each addition. Dough is done when it pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and feels slightly dry (rather than sticky) to the touch. This may take slightly less or more than the 5 cups of flour.
  3. Knead dough lightly and press out ½ inch thick onto a baking tray, and score the dough into fingers – this is the easiest way. Sprinkle with castor sugar.
  4. An alternative is to roll the dough to about ½ inch thickness and cut into shapes with biscuit cutters (stars, hearts, etc.). Place biscuit shapes on a baking tray lined with baking paper (optional). Sprinkle with castor sugar.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 150C, or until light brown. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with more castor sugar.
  6. If you have used my easy method of pressing into a tray and cutting fingers, immediately rescore the cuts on the tray to make sure the fingers will break cleanly when you separate them.
  7. Leave shortbread to cool.

 This is by far my favourite Christmas cake recipe, and terribly addictive.
1 kg mixed fruit (or 250g. chopped Raisins, 125g chopped glace cherries, 125g chopped mixed peel, 250g. Sultanas, 250g. Currants)
125g. chopped blanched almonds
2/3 cup brandy OR orange juice
210g. plain flour
60g. self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
250g butter
250g. light brown sugar
2 tablespoons marmalade OR dark jam, 1 dessertspoon vanilla essence
4 eggs
Optional Topping: see below.
  1. Line an 8" round cake tin with two layers foil and two layers greaseproof paper. Mix all the fruits, peel and nuts together and sprinkle with the brandy OR orange juice.
  2. Sift together the flours, salt and spices.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the jam and vanilla essence and beat again.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each one, then alternately add the fruit and flour mixtures.
  5. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Place the mixture in the prepared tin. Topping 1: Decorate top of cake with blanched almonds. Topping 2: see step 8 below.
  7. Bake in a slow oven for approximately hours. Cool in tin.
  8. Topping 2: The day before you use the cake arrange on top of the cake pieces of your favourite nuts, e.g. walnuts, almonds, pecans - cherries, glace pineapple, ginger, Raisins and Sultanas.
  9. Make a toffee glaze by boiling together equal quantities sugar, water and sieved apricot jam. Drizzle this over the fruit 'n nut topping and leave to set.