Leiths Advent - DEC 15 - Gift Cooking with Leiths

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Leiths Advent - DEC 15 - Gift Cooking with Leiths

GINGERBREAD HOUSE

Makes 1 house using templates

INGREDIENTS

700g plain flour

1tsp bicarb

2tbsp ground ginger

1tbsp ground cinnamon

180g salted butter, softened

250g light brown muscovado sugar

1 medium egg

3tbsp golden syrup

3tbsp treacle

4-6tbsp water

For the Stained Glass Windows

Selection of different coloured hard boiled sweets

For the Royal Icing

1 egg white

250g icing sugar

1-2tsp lemon juice, if needed

For the Decoration

Mixture of candies:

  • Mini marshmallows
  • Candy Canes
  • Jelly tots
  • Etc,.

Equipment

23cm square cake board

Baking sheet lined with baking paper

Selection of Christmassy cutter shapes

Small Piping Bag

Large piping bag

Mortar and pestle


METHOD

1. To make the dough place the flour into a large mixing bowl and toss together with the bicarb, ginger and cinnamon. Add the softened butter in chunks, and rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, syrup, treacle and 4tbsp water then add to the dry ingredients and stir together – this will be a very thick, stiff mixture, so a lot of elbow grease is needed. If the mixture doesn’t quite come together into clumps, add the remaining 2tbsp of water.

2. When the mixture is clumping together, tip it out onto the counter top and knead it for a few minutes until it is a coherent biscuit dough. If it’s a little soft, flatten it out into a large disk, wrap well in cling and chill for 20 minutes or so.

3. To make the house, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Take a chunk of dough and roll it out on a well floured worktop using a well floured rolling pin. Using the roof template, cut out 2 shapes of dough and gently move these over to the baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until just browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and very carefully trim the edges to neaten, then allow to cool.

4. Repeat the process with 2 of side templates and 2 of the front/back templates. With the front/back, when the pieces are aligned on the baking sheet, using a cutter (I used a heart shape), cut out a little ‘window’ from the centre of the pieces. Then, take some of the hard boiled candies, crush them to a powder in the mortar and pestle, then fill those shaped holes with crushed candy powder – bake as above, and allow the slices to cool on the tray so that the stained glass window hardens.

5. When all of the pieces are baked and cooled, make the royal icing. In a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg white to foamy, and then add the icing sugar. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and white and falls from the whisk in smooth stream. If necessary, slacken the mixture with 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of lemon juice.

6. Fill the small piping bag with some of the royal icing and snip off a tiny end to make a small hole – with the remaining icing in the mixing bowl, cover the entire surface with a damp piece(s) of kitchen roll to stop a crust forming.

7. Pipe decorations onto the structure: tiles on the roof, door and windows on one of the piece Bs and other swirls and spirals. Make it look as Christmassy as possible.

8. Fill a larger piping bag with some royal icing and snip off a little of the end.

9. To assemble the house, take a ‘front/back piece’ (the one with a window) and pipe a generous line of icing on the thin, outer edge of the flat side (don’t ice the triangular top piece yet). Place this onto the back of a side piece, so that the thin edge of the front\back piece, is on the edge of the back of the side piece. Repeat this adding another front\back piece to the other end of the side piece, then stick a second side piece onto the two front/back pieces. This will take some time as you need to the royal icing to start setting before you can let go of the structure.

10. To attach the roof pieces pipe lines of icing onto the 4 exposed triangular edges, then hold the roof slabs onto them until the icing sets and they are stuck fast.

11. To fortify the structure, pipe more icing along all the seams, but do so as decoratively as possible to make it look like snow.

12. Continue decorating with plenty of candy, more royal icing (don’t forget to make some icicles hanging off the roof).

13. Use the remaining icing (or make some more) and spread it over the cake board and stick the house into this. Peak the icing up to make it look like snow.

SPICED MULLED SYRUP

INGREDIENTS

300ml water

300ml light brown sugar

2 x cinnamon sticks

2 x star anise

2 x fresh bay leaves

6 x whole cloves

2 x clemetines, strips of zest

50ml Brandy (optional)

1 x Vanilla pod, seeds scraped & pod

Serving: 500ml of syrup is enough for up to 5 bottles of wine


METHOD

1. Place a pan on a low heat with the sugar and water, gently dissolve the sugar. Agitate the sugar with a wooden spoon if necessary.

2. Prep the clementines, ensuring the pith is removed from the underside of the peel. Place the vanilla pod and seeds into the pan with the rest of the ingredients (holding back the brandy if using).

3. Once the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat and boil until it reaches light syrupy consistency is reached (Vaseline stage).

4. Once the syrup has reached the correct consistency switch it off, place the rest of the ingredients into the pan, including the brandy if using. Ideally leave to infuse over night.

5. Strain the syrup and either use immediately or pour into a sterilised bottles for future use. It will keep for up to 1 year.

6. To serve, combine 100ml approx. of syrup with a bottle of spicy red wine such as Chianti and gently heat before serving. Serve with additional slices of clementine.

NB: Boiling the wine rapidly will burn off the alcohol and potentially make the result bitter if boiled for an extended period.


COLONEL HILARY HOOK'S HOT SAFARI CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

3.5kg/8lb almost ripe tomatoes, sliced

450g/1lb onions, sliced

12 fresh or dried red chillies, chopped

900g/2lb granulated sugar

2 tablespoons salt

570ml/1pint red wine vinegar


METHOD

1. Place all the ingredients except for the vinegar in a large saucepan.

2. Bring up to the boil and simmer, stirring every so often for 1½ hours.

3. Add the vinegar and simmer again for a further 2 hours or until very thick and syrupy. Stir every so often so that the chutney doesn’t catch at the bottom of the saucepan.

4. Pour immediately into warmed dry jars and cover with jam covers if to be eaten within a few months, or more securely with non- metallic lids or stoppers if to be kept longer.


SPICED POPCORN

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp Maldon salt


50g of popcorn kernels

1 tbsp vegetable oil

30 g butter

½ tbsp. fresh dill, chopped


METHOD

1. Lightly toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry pan, allow to cool in a bowl. Grind the spices and salt together in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, combine with the rest of the spices and set aside.

2. To serve, melt the butter and cool slightly before adding the chopped dill. Pour the butter over the spiced popcorn and toss the popcorn in the butter until evenly combined. Serve immediately.

3. To make the popcorn, place the oil in a large pan, have a fitting lid to hand. Place the pan over a medium/high heat until the oil is hot (it should not be smoking this will burn the corn). Test the heat with a spare corn kernel, the corn should pop almost immediately.

4. Place the remaining kernels in the oil, cover with the lid. You should hear the corn popping, shake the pan to ensure all the corn is evenly popped. Remove the popped corn from the heat, pour the ground spices into the pan and toss the popcorn evenly in the spices. If storing before serving, allow to cool before placing in an airtight container.

5. To serve, melt the butter and cool slightly before adding the chopped dill. Pour the butter over the spiced popcorn and toss the popcorn in the butter until evenly combined. Serve immediately.


If you're short of time and are searching for a foodie gift to purchase, head to online shop for everything from Leiths aprons to our branded KeepCups!

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