BOXING DAY EXTRAVAGANZA!

A tradition has grown in this family in recent years, for ANOTHER delicious meal to be cooked on Boxing Day. It’s the opportunity to indulge in more scrumptious food that, unlike Christmas day, moves away from traditional recipes and this year I have to say my Mum truly out did herself.

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ALASKAN SNOW CRAB LEGS!!

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DIPPED IN ZESTY GARLIC BUTTER!!

Snow Crab is my all time favourite, but a treat you’ll struggle to find here in England and, if you do find it, it won’t be cooked with the same love and devotion as the crab I inhaled 26th December! “Thank you” doesn’t cut it on this one… I’m still in awe! What a feast!

Christmas Dinner and Kitchen Promotions!

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This has been, I think, the best Christmas of my life. The family all together on the 25th, the gifts I gave seem very much appreciated (particularly a cardigan to my Grandfather), the gifts I received were just WONDERFUL (such as a number of useful books and equipment for my travelling!) … And my Mum cooked a terrific lamb Christmas dinner with a prawny starter!

Every Christmas for years now, my Grandmother and I have played happy helpers to my Mother in the preparation for Christmas dinner. My Grandma is responsible for the peeling and chopping of veg and the ever important carving of the meat. She’s notoriously good at it, while I’m yet to learn how to slice anything thinner than a dictionary. My role is to provide assistance with the afore mentioned veg as appropriate, but THIS YEAR I’m so proud to say I was promoted! This year I was IN CHARGE of Roast Potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings!

This decision was made by my Mum after she tried the spuds and puds I cooked alongside the Mulled Beef for us a couple of weeks ago! They went down a treat with her, and I’m pleased to say they received a similar response with Christmas Dinner!

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FUDGE DUDGE

There was one more festive fudgey favourite I could resist making this Christmas…

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Inspired by the Christmas classic The Grinch, this was a special fudge for my Mum and Sister who, like me, can not get through Christmas without our annual tradition of watching The Grinch and proceeding to quote it at each other non-stop for the remainder of the holiday!

To make Grinch fudge you will need…

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Merry Fudge-mas!

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This Christmas, I wanted to take on a new challenge to show the people I love how much they mean to me at this special time of year. Fudge, I decided, was something I had never done before AND something I could get experimental with when it came to choosing flavours!

After a little research and ensuring I had the correct equipment (mainly a food thermometer capable of exceeding temperatures of 150c) I finally managed to limit myself to the following 3 festive fudges:

Traditional Vanilla
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Chilli Chocolate
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Bailey’s Coffee
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before portioning them into bags and decorating to sit on Christmas Tree branches, or posting off to loved ones!

It was an intimidating quest, but once you get into it it’s not too hard… You should have a go!

So! Here’s how it’s done.

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The Cookie Decoration Station

Friday/Saturday just gone, I shared an early Christmas with Diana before she jetted off back to Spain on Sunday to celebrate Christmas and The Three Kings with her family. We indulged in Asti, Festive Sausage Rolls and exchanged presents by the tree.

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Among a number of kind and thoughtful gifts, I received a new set of Christmas themed cookie cutters! As you can imagine, as soon as I returned home, I couldn’t resist getting another few batches on! So, I did my traditional vanilla for some candy cane shapes, then swapped the vanilla for 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg for bells and stars! Soon the whole house smelt of Christmas as, from what I’ve been taught, so it should; my Grandma tells me “nutmeg just IS Christmas”, while my mother tells me with identical enthusiasm and intonation “cinnamon just IS Christmas”! To my amusement, these conversations took place on completely separate occasions, and so now cinnamon and nutmeg, to me, just are Christmas!

These batches were ready just a few hours before my sister was due to arrive at the family home for the holidays. And what better way to welcome her home for Christmas than the Cookie Decoration Station!

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We let our festive artistic sides EXPLODE through the delights of buttercream icing, edible glitter and decorative candies! And you know? I think we did a pretty good job!

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They’re joyful and triumphant!

Mulled Beef Christmas Dinner

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Yesterday, my Mum and I put up and decorated the magnificent Maitland Family Christmas Tree! It’s a lot of fun, very exciting but also damn exhausting, which is why I prepared a dinner worthy of The Three Kings to reward us after!

The Mulled Beef is effectively Roast Beef but with a 24 hour marinade based on- you guessed it- mulled wine! The flavours permeate and complement the beef beautifully and make an unforgettably festive gravy to accompany the dish. The marinade keeps it a fairly straight-forward dish to put together. For anyone struggling to think of something new to cook 25th December that moves away from the traditional turkey, but still has overtones of Christmas with every bite then this is certainly a recipe for you to consider!

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Santa and His Sleigh

Look at this lovely decorative treat my Mum made!

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A Kit-kat base, candy cane runners and round minty chocs for the sides all strung together while a chocolate Santa rides inside delivering chocolate coins to all the boys and girls…

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With a little help from his elves, of course.

A perfectly festive display!

Festive Family Secrets

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Yesterday was a very special day on the Family Calendar- the day my Grandmother starts the secret Family Recipe Christmas Pudding.

I’ve been very proud the last couple of years to have assisted my Grandmother with this, and be taught each loving step of this recipe. This is definitely one to be added to my lovely new recipe book, but if you think for one moment it’s something I’m going to blog about on the world wide web, think again! However, when our hard work was done and the puddings were steaming away, I seized the opportunity to badger another recipe out of my Grandma… Shortcrust Pastry.

You may recall, a few months ago, I made some “proper sausage rolls” and threatened there and then that I would have my Grandmother teach me to make Shortcrust Pastry so I could produce a Festive Sausage Roll idea I had when the Christmas season arrived? Well, here we are!

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For me, these taste just like Christmas as they’re based VERY much on an Apricot & Almond stuffing the family all enjoy once a year with our Christmas dinner! I’ve been very excited to make them and share them with the family, and now based on everyone’s reaction I think a few more batches will be on the way too!

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T’is the Season!

It’s the first week of December, and in my world that means only one thing…

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TUACA PIE!

This recipe, inspired by the Hot Tuaca Apple Drink that Diana and I had in Lewes, is one I save specially for this chilly time of year! Tuaca, for those of you who don’t know, is a caramel based brandy which is delicious moreish. I start soaking raisins in it around September… They soak up the scrumptious  flavours then pump them around the pie during the cooking stage.

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Don’t worry if you don’t have 3 months free to leave fruit soaking, a week should suffice or if you only have a day just slosh a little extra liquor in the pie when you cook it. But the longer you leave them, the more they will boozily swell! Mine were near enough the size of olives when I returned to them!

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So. Raisins ready? Apron donned?

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It’s pie time.

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