Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas Eve

For the second year running I decided to make the Christmas Eve meal. After much deliberation I decided on the below menu and it was mostly very successful. 

Cappesante in Salsa di Zafferano {Sea Scallops in Saffron Cream Sauce}


Special Salmon en Croute


Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache Torte

I was pleased with all of them but less so with the starter, although I think this was mostly because of the sheer number [for seven people] I had to cook at once and I was in a hurry to get the food on the table so rushed the sauce a little, so it was a bit runny.

The starter was found on Pinterest. I found there to be too much butter and oil for the scallops to cook in. I did double the whole recipe but used two large pans and the scallops were still practically swimming. Next time I'd use half the amount of butter, so I've modified the original recipe below.
Cappesante in Salsa di Zafferano
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 large sea scallops – patted dry
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
pinch of saffron threads

Into a nonstick pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. Season scallops with salt and place 

that side down in the pan when hot. Season tops with salt and sear well on both sides. Careful to turn only once {you don’t want scallops to tear} Remove scallops from pan and keep warm in an oven but make sure to keep some juices with them so they don't dry out.
Add wine to hot pan and deglaze pan. Reduce temperature to medium – low and allow wine to reduce by half. Add cream, remaining butter and allow to combine. Once butter has combined, add saffron threads. Stir well to combine.
Return scallops to pan. Turn to coat. Serve immediately.

Unfortunately I was so rushed I totally forgot to take a picture. There are good pictures on the original link though!
The main was recommended to me by Bailey, and what a good recommendation. I'm not sure where the original recipe is from but below is my modified version. Bailey's version was to make separate salmon bundles but I did one big one. Bailey's version was meant to serve 4 people but mine served 6 easily in addition to a side of green beans, and leftovers!

Special Salmon en Croute10 fresh asparagus spears
4 hard-cooked eggs, lightly mashed
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
250g Philpadelphia Cream Cheese, divided
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pre-rolled circular puff pastry sheet
4 large fillets salmon, skin removed
1 egg, for egg wash
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Blanch asparagus spears in boiling water for 3 minutes; drain and submerge in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain, then pat dry and cut into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a medium glass bowl.

Mix in eggs, red onion, 2 Tbsp. dill, 1/2 the cream cheese (62 g), mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place two fillets along the middle of each pastry piece. Season with salt and pepper. Top with egg mixture.

Fold sides of pastry over salmon . Brush with egg wash. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F/160C degrees and bake for 15 minutes more or until pastry is flaky and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, bring lemon zest, lemon juice and remaining dill to a simmer. Add remaining cream cheese and cook until melted, stirring constantly with whisk. 

Cut the Salmon en croute into slices and serve with a spoonful of lemony cream on the top.

The dessert was also found via Pinterest on Fifteen Spatulas. I barely changed anything in this recipe, it was perfect. I did make a small mistake at the beginning by combining everything at the same time instead of according to the directions but it turned out great and was much easier, so will modify it accordingly. Caution: cut small slices! It is incredibly sweet.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache Torte
Cookie Crust
1.5 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c + 2 tbsp butter (room temp)
1/2 c icing/powder sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla
Salted Caramel
2.25 c sugar
3/4 c light corn syrup or 1 tbsp corn flour mixed with water
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter (room temp)
1.5 c heavy/double cream
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache
115g bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c heavy/double cream
Coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees. 
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, butter, powder sugar, egg yolks and vanilla until the dough is crumbly but moist enough to come together when pinched between your fingers.
Press the dough into your tart pan, prick all over with a fork and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes then let cool completely.
For the caramel, place the sugar, corn syrup and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Stir initially then don't stir until the mix turns clear, starts bubbling and takes on a caramel colour.  Stir in the butter (careful of spluttering!) and remove the pan from the heat. Add the double cream and vanilla. Pour the caramel into the crust and refrigerate until set (about 3 hours).
For the chocolate ganache, heat the cream to a simmer then put the chocolate in. Let it sit for 60 secs then stir it until smooth. Pour the ganache over the caramel and refrigerate until set.
Garnish with sea salt.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas Bread

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. This year I made the now-traditional Christmas bread. I did post about it before but modified the recipe this year and [I think] definitely improved it, so will note the changes here!

Christmas bread 75g raisins 50g raisins
125g sultanas 75g sultanas
50g dried apple, roughly chopped 100g dried apple and apricot, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp apple brandy  2 tbsp normal brandy and 1 tbsp prune liquor
500g strong white flour
150ml warm milk
100g butter, softened
100g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs
7g dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice 2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon 3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract 2 tsp vanilla extract
60g hazelnuts, roughly chopped 40g ground hazelnuts 
2 tsp mixed peel 1 tsp mixed candied peel
Zest ½ orange   zest of 1 orange
squeezed juice from 1/2 orange

Please see the link for the directions. The only difference was that I left the mixture to rise overnight for the second time and the finishes bread was much less stodgy than last year.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Apple Butter

I have finally [successfully] have used my new/freecycled crockpot! I did try to make baked potato soup before but it failed miserably, mainly because I don't have a blender.. I decided to make some Apple Butter for a Christmas meal I was attending to go with some puff pastry mince pies. I modified the recipe a little by taking away some sugar and adding a bit more spice and it was very sweet and delicious. I also don't have a blender so I cooked for about 6 more hours (so 16 in total) and used a potato masher. It wasn't puree but close enough.

6 large apples
1/3 white sugar
1/3 brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker, mix well and cook on low/medium low for 14 hours. Blend or mash then cook on high for 1-2 hours. Jar when cool.