Week Twenty Seven

It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow!…This week has been manic in my house, as I’m sure it has been in yours! I’ve been busy in my kitchen cooking things which I can keep in the freezer or fridge to have over Christmas, these include a few of the recipes I’ve already shared with you – Anchovy Puffs (and the ice cream), Chocolate Slab & Drunken Cherries and, of course, Sausage Rolls. I have also been getting some of the elements of our Christmas Dinner ready, I will be roasting a goose on Christmas Day. I like to serve it with Armagnac Prunes, so those are marinating right now. Later today I will prepare the red cabbage, to be cooked Christmas eve and reheated on Christmas day – I find the flavours develop if it is prepared this way. In addition to Christmas pudding, I like to serve a ‘Passion Fruit Parfait’, I will make these tomorrow and keep them refrigerated, ready to serve Christmas Day. So things are almost under control. Oh, and I almost forgot, I have some last minute wrapping to do…and  the Christmas table to lay…and a few last minute groceries to get…and…

Anyway, relax(!), here are a few last minute treats to think about…this week I am sharing a fantastic Venison Casserole with Maderia Wine, it would be the perfect meal for New Year’s Eve! I like to serve it with a Potato and Celeriac Puree, both recipes are by Delia Smith so are foolproof and of course very tasty. I am also sharing my favourite recipe for Madeleines, I love this recipe, I have discovered that it works just as well with gluten free flour as it does with ‘normal’ plain flour, so it is a great treat if you are gluten free! The good thing about Madeleines is that the mixture once made will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and there is enough for at least 3 or 4 batches, so it’s perfect to have at hand – they only take 10 minutes to cook! So, if you haven’t already got one, nip out and get a ‘Madeleine Tin’ (as if you didn’t have enough to do with Christmas!!)…or dare I suggest Amazon...

Finally, a treat which I felt I had to try and test out quite a few times before posting – I had to get the measurements just right, I’m sure you understand(?!)… ‘Irish Coffee’, the perfect end to a lovely festive meal, or simply to snuggle up to the fire with.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!…and remember you can listen to my Christmas Music playlist here!

(Also, continuing with my ‘Yorkshire Dales’ travels, I have posted a new restaurant review, The Angel at Hetton, on my Eating Out Page)

Menu One

Venison Casserole with Madeira, Chestnuts & Mushrooms served with Potato & Celeriac Purée with Garlic (Serves 4)

This casserole is perfect on a cold winters night – the rich Madeira sauce is the epitome of comfort! I like to serve it with a Purée of Potato and Celeriac to soak up all the beautiful sauce. This is certainly a dish that is good enough to serve to guests, and the really good news is that it freezes particularly well so you can always make it in advance. Simple but impressive – my kind of dish!

This is a recipe from Delia Smith, so like all of her recipes, it is almost foolproof!

900g venison shoulder, cubed

225g cubetti di pancetta

200g cooked, peeled whole chestnuts

20g dried porcini mushrooms (rinsed, any large bits broken up)

570ml Madeira wine

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

175g chestnut mushrooms, halved if large

1 rounded tablespoon plain flour (gluten free if required)

A few sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large casserole dish, when hot, add the onions, cook for 5-7 minutes until dark and caramelised. Then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or so, before removing them all to a plate.
  2. Next add the pancetta to the casserole and cook until golden, remove these to join the onions on the plate.
  3. Now add the rest of the olive oil and brown the venison in batches – don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove each batch to join the onions and pancetta.
  4. Finally, add the fresh mushrooms to the casserole and toss in the hots juices for another minute or so, then return the venison, pancetta and onions to join them in the pan. Stir well, adding a seasoning of salt and pepper and the flour.
  5. Gradually add the Madeira, stirring. Then add the thyme, bay leaves, chestnut and dried porcini.
  6. Bring to simmering point, cover and place in a preheated oven, 140’c fan, cook for 2½ hours.
  7. Serve with either Purée of Potato and Celeriac with Garlic (recipe below) or Mashed Potato (recipe here).

(If freezing: when cold transfer to a plastic container and freeze till needed. Defrost at room temperature and reheat in a preheated oven, 180’c, for 35-40 minutes)

Purée of Potato & Celeriac with Garlic (Serves 4)

The combination of flavours in this purée are perfect to accompany dishes such as stews and casseroles, particularly those made with game, like Venison Casserole with Maderia (above).

500g celeriac

225g potatoes (such as Maris Piper)

2 cloves garlic, peeled

25g butter

75ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Peel the celeriac and cut into 2cm cubes. Peel the potatoes and cut into slightly larger cubes.
  2. Put the celeriac and potatoes into separate pans, each with a clove of garlic. Cover with boiling water, add some salt and simmer for about 10 minutes, until they are tender.
  3. Drain, place them together in a bowl, add the butter and cream and use a hand held electric whisk to purée them.

Menu Two

Madeleines (with a gluten free option!)

I adore Madeleines, particularly as the mixture, once made will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and there is enough for at least 3 or 4 batches, so it’s great to have at hand – they only take 10 minutes to cook! They are best eaten when still warm, they do not keep well, so you should eat them straightaway (they tend to go a little sticky if kept overnight). Eating them quickly is no hardship – they are very light, I can almost eat one batch myself!! The best news is, is that if you are gluten free, like me, they can be made just as well with gluten free plain flour (I use Doves). You can add either orange blossom water or lemon juice and zest for flavouring – I must admit I prefer the delicate flavour of orange blossom.
I find that buttering the tin with melted butter and then dusting it with flour stops them sticking to it, likewise allowing them to sit just 5 minutes after cooking and then removing them whilst they are still hot, stops them sticking to the tin.

135g unsalted butter, plus extra to butter tray

2 tablespoons honey

3 large eggs

130g caster sugar

135g plain flour (gluten free if required – I use Doves)

2 level teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons orange blossom water or 1 lemon, zest and juice (see note above)

Icing sugar to sprinkle

  1. Melt the butter with the honey in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter browns. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the eggs with the sugar in an electric mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy and triples in size, this can take as much as 10 minutes.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder, orange blossom water (or lemon zest and juice), and the butter and honey mixture. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least three hours.
  4. Melt a large knob of butter in a pan and use to butter a madeleine tray, then dust with a little flour, tipping off the excess.
  5. When ready to serve, fill the moulds with the mixture to two-thirds full.
  6. Place in a preheated oven, 170’c, for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown and firm to touch.
  7. Allow to sit in the tin for five minutes, then remove from the moulds before they cool otherwise they will stick!
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve whilst still warm – delicious!

Menu Three

Irish Coffee (Serves Two)

Irish Coffee

Oh, it’s a tough life testing recipes for this blog…I felt I had to test a few of these to really make sure that the ingredient quantities were just right! This really is a delicious winter warmer! It is important to use good quality, strong, filter coffee, I have a Nespresso machine and I use the ‘lungo’ setting with an ‘espresso’ capsule.

You can see the video of this cocktail being made here!

300ml hot, freshly brewed coffee (see note above)

20g soft brown sugar

150ml Irish Whiskey

4 tablespoons double cream, very lightly whipped (or more if desired)

  1. Warm the glasses with hot water.
  2. Add the sugar and stir in the whiskey.
  3. Pour over the hot coffee, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  4. With the aid of the back of a spoon pour the lightly whipped cream over the top of the coffee.
  5. Enjoy!!

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