My mother in law was a simple cook, using only basic ingredients and recipes that were easy to make. Every now and then I go through her single tiny recipe book, written in her neat meticulous writing, with minimum instructions. She used to call these cheese puffs, and the ingredients were put together in a flash, and ready to eat hot with butter within 30 minutes. It is not always multiple ingredients that make a recipe great, sometimes it is good to go back to basics for a good old fashioned winner.
Wishing everyone a fabulous festive season. May you and your families be blessed with happiness, love, fun, and lots of delicious food to eat. If you are looking for a few Christmas recipes to make over the holidays, here is a roundup of a few of my favourite traditional recipes I have made many times over the years.
I would like to say that these are quick and easy to make, and yes they are, if you buy frozen shortcrust pastry, which unfortunately is not available to us in South Africa. Why is it that we can only get puff pastry in this country? So if you hail from countries that abound in grocery stores filled with goodies that help make life easier for you, then this recipe is the one for you. Its just a matter of rolling out the pastry, filling it, baking it, and hey presto you have a delicious dessert in no time. Sorry for my South African friends though, you will have to spend another 15 minutes making the pastry, which I know requires a little effort for some of you.
Everyone needs a great vanilla cake recipe and I love how this one is firm enough to hold any type of frosting. It has a classic vanilla flavour and it bakes up beautifully, and stacks perfectly so is wonderful if you want to make a layered cake. It’s also very versatile, an allrounder, for birthdays, weddings, as a simple afternoon tea cake, or with succulent berrries for a beautiful dessert.
I love Nigella’s Clementine Cake, which can be decorated with a sprinkling of icing sugar, or an icing drizzle. I have added dried clementine slices which add an extra tang to the cake, and I served it with a delicious citrus curd creme fraiche. It is great as an afternoon tea cake or with whipped cream, or ice cream as a fabulous dessert .
There is nothing more comforting than chocolate and cake, and this chocolate slab buttermilk cake ticks all the boxes. It is quick and easy to make, and can be made in one pot without having to use every bowl in your kitchen. Less washing up and minimum fuss gives you more time to enjoy it. Make it from slabs of your favourite dark chocolate to suit your personal taste, and I can promise you the result will be perfect.
These light buttery lemon shortbread rounds are perfect to serve with tea or coffee. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity, as they have a wonderful lemon tang to them, and sometimes that is all you need to add a little extra to a winter hot drink. If you like you can coat them with white chocolate to make them sweeter.
Winter has suddenly arrived here in South Africa, and what better way to keep warm than with this Spiced Thai Butternut Soup. Colds and Flu abound and the warming goodness of ginger and garlic and roasted butternut is a perfect way to help recover and spend a cozy evening under a blanket in front of your favourite TV series.
Photo: From Pastry by Richard Bertinet
This beautiful tart with creamy, soft filling is from the french “Pastry” cookbook by Richard Bertinet. The book is an amazing reference for anyone wanting to learn the art of pastry and comes with step by step details of any pastry you would ever need to make. It is my constant reference for salted and sweet pastries, and it has never failed me. This Chicken and Tarragon Tart is just the perfect example of a delicious savoury pie with the most delicious crispy pastry. The filling is heavenly with the beautiful addition of French Tarragon.