Friday, 7 December 2012

SUGAR AND SPICE – Make these special edible Christmas gifts for your family and friends this year..... they so delicious you may just treat yourself instead!





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Mango and passionfruit jellies
 A great gift for a dinner party host, find some lovely white cardboard boxes and your once opened your host will be delighted by the golden glow of these gorgeous jellies.
Makes approximately 48 jellies.

500ml mango puree (approximately 2 large mangoes pureed in a food processor)
¼ cup passionfruit juice (strained from the pulp of approximately 6 large passion fruit)
1 cup sugar
½ cup liquid glucose
1 tablespoon lemon juice
12 (20g) gelatin leaves
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup corn flour

1. Grease and line an 18cm x 28cm pan with baking paper.
2. Combine the mango puree, passionfruit juice, sugar and glucose in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over a high heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes until thick and ‘jammy’. It should be reduced and thick with a translucent appearance.
3. Add the lemon juice and cook for a further 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
Place the gelatin leaves into a medium mixing bowl and cover with cold water, allow to soak for 5 minutes.
4. Drain the gelatin leaves well and add to the hot mango mixture, whisk well to combine.
5. Pour into the prepared pan and refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours or overnight.
Once set remove from the refrigerator and turn out the jelly onto another piece of baking paper, allow to come to room temperature. Cut the jelly into 2cm squares.
6. Sift together the icing sugar and corn flour in a large bowl and toss the jellies in the mixture. Sprinkle a thick layer of the icing sugar and corn flour into the base of cardboard cake box and carefully pack in the jellies making sure they are not touching, layer with baking paper if needed. Sprinkle well with the remaining icing sugar and corn flour and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

food dept. fact: When packaging these for gifts use small cardboard boxes or paper bags and sprinkle liberally with the icing sugar and corn flour mixture. If they are stored in plastic bags or plastic containers they will sweat and become sticky.


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 Cardamom and orange truffles
A delicious and easy little chocolatey treat to serve with an after-dinner coffee.
Makes approx. 24 truffles

150g dark chocolate, finely chopped
100g 70% cocoa chocolate, finely chopped
1 orange
½ cup cream
4 cardamom pods, broken open to release flavour
1/3 cup Dutch cocoa, for coating

1. Combine the chocolates in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
2.Using a vegetable peeler cut off 2 strips of zest from the orange. Combine the zest with the cream and cardamom pods in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.
3. Once simmering remove from the heat and cover the cream with the lid of the saucepan. Allow to stand for 30 minutes to infuse the flavours.
4. Return the saucepan to a medium heat and bring back to a simmer. Strain the hot cream over the chopped chocolates and stir until the chocolate has melted.
5. Refrigerate until firm and then scoop teaspoonsful of the mixture, roll into balls and toss in cocoa. 

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Indian spiced nuts
These nuts were a huge hit at a local school night market in Sydney, they are deliciously spicy with just the right amount of heat. So keep them in mind for your next fete or picnic.

Makes approximately 500g

• 1 egg white
• ¼ cup raw sugar
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
500g mixed raw nuts eg cashews, pecan, macadamia, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts
¼ cup peptias (pumpkin seeds) 
1.  Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Place the egg white into a large mixing bowl and whisk until foamy.
2.Add the sugar, spices, garlic powder and salt to the egg whites and whisk through.
3.Add the nuts and pepitas to the egg white and spice mixture, mix well to ensure that all of the nuts are thoroughly coated.
4.Spread the nut mixture onto large, lined baking trays and spread out so that the nuts are in a single layer.
5.Bake for 15 minutes, remove the trays from the oven and reduce the oven to 125ºC (250ºF). Stir the nuts to break them up and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until the nuts are golden brown. Carefully watch for the last 5 minutes so that the nuts don’t burn.
6.Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the trays. Once cold break up the nuts and store in an airtight container for 2 weeks.

 
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Maple and cinnamon nuts
These nuts are totally and utterly irresistable, the festive spicy aromas coming from your oven, will fill your house with Christmas cheer. Watch them dissappear at your next drinks party.
Makes approx 750g

250g raw blanched almonds
250g raw pecans
250g raw cashews
60g butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Combine the nuts on a large lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes until the nuts are golden.
2. Melt the butter in a large deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt. Stir until the sugar has melted.
3.Increase to a medium high heat, add the nuts and toss well to coat in the sugar and spice mixture.
4. Continue stirring for 5 minutes until you can smell the sugar caramelizing on the nuts. Be careful not to burn the nuts and sugar.
5. Pour the nuts onto a large lined tray and allow to cool. Once cold break up the nuts and store in an airtight container for 2 weeks.





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Strawberry and vanilla conserve
When strawberries are at their peak and inexpensive make a batch of this beautiful conserve to give away as gifts.
Makes 4 cups conserve

1 kg strawberries
750g sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 lemon
1. Hull the strawberries and if any of the strawberries are large, cut in halves or quarters to make them all roughly the same size. Do not wash the strawberries, if needed, give them a quick rub over with a damp cloth.
2.  Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large open boiler and toss gently. Allow to stand at room temperature for 3-4 hours and stir gently every hour.
3. Place 3 saucers in the freezer; this is used later in the recipe to test the setting of the jam. Place the strawberries and sugar over a medium-low heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved, stir occasionally.
4.  Cut the vanilla bean in half both lengthways and cross ways to end up with 4 pieces. Scrap the seeds from the beans and add both the pod and seeds to the strawberries.
5.  Juice the lemon and add juice with any collected pulp to the pot. If there are any lemon seeds add these to the pot, be careful to remember how many go into the pot so you can remove them later. As strawberries are naturally low in pectin the lemon pulp and seeds help set the conserve.
6. Bring the pot to the boil over the highest setting on your stove. Once it is boiling rapidly begin to time for 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the conserve onto one of the chilled saucers. Allow it to stand for 1 minute and then run your finger through the conserve to check if it is jelling. The conserve should wrinkle and remain separated. If this does not return the pot to a high heat and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Test again.
7. Once the conserve is jelling allow to stand for 15 minutes. Skim off any remaining scum and remove the lemon seeds.
8. Pour into sterilized jars and cover with the lids.
9. Store for up to 6 months, refrigerate once opened.


 
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Spiced gingerbread star garland
You can make this cookies into a festive garland but you could also hang them individually with a beautiful ribbon on your Christmas tree.
Makes enough gingerbread stars for 2 garlands, this will depend on the size of star cutters you use.
           
125g butter, at room temperature
½ cup, firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 egg
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
plain flour, to dust
1 tablespoon finely grated glace ginger, use a microplane
½ cup demarara sugar
decorative ribbon, for threading
                       
1. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.
2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 180 ºC (350ºF). Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out to 4mm thickness. Use a selection of different size star cutters to cut out shapes. Place on to lined baking trays and using a 1cm plain piping nozzle cut a hole in the centre of each star.
4. Using your finger tips rub together the glace ginger and demerara sugar in a small bowl.
5. Sprinkle over the star biscuits and bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
6. Once cold thread the star biscuits on to the decorative ribbon and sprinkle with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container for 2 weeks.


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Mulled wine pears
So you like wine and cheese? These beautiful spicy poached pears are magnificient as part of a cheese platter, try them on a cracker with some stilton or a creamy camembert. For a sweet sensation serve warm as a dessert with double cream or a rum and raisen ice cream.
Makes 8 pears

2 bottles dry red wine
3 cups sugar
2 oranges
4 cardamom pods, broken open to release flavour
4 small sticks cinnamon
4 cloves
4 star anise
1 vanilla bean, split
8 packham pears

1. Combine the wine and sugar in a large deep saucepan. Peel the zest from the oranges with a peeler and add the peel to the saucepan.
2. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes to infuse the flavours.
3. Carefully peel the pears leaving the stems attached. Stand the pears in the wine mixture in the saucepan. Cut a piece of baking paper that is the same size as the saucepan, push the paper down on top of the pears to keep them submerged in the wine.
4. Bring the wine and spices to a simmer over a medium-low heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, turn the pears, recover with the baking paper and continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until the pears are tender when pierced with a skewer.
5. Carefully arrange the pears in a large sterilized jar and pour over the wine and spices, cover the jar and allow to stand for 2-3 days before serving. Once opened store in the refrigerator.



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Oat, pistachio and cumin crackers
Looking for something different to have with your cheese? These crackers make a delicious addition to a cheese plate. Package up with a delicious brie or crumbly cheddar and give to a foodie friend.
Makes approximately 36

2 cups rolled oats
1½ cups wholemeal flour
80g raw pistachio kernels
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
100g butter, diced
½ cup water
extra, sea salt and pepper, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (350ºF).
2. Place the rolled oats into the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds until the oats are finely chopped but not as fine as flour.
3. Add the wholemeal flour, pistachios, cumin seeds, brown sugar, salt and butter; pulse until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.
4. Add the water and pulse until the mixture comes together into a ball. Turn onto the bench and roll into a log, 5cm in diameter, wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm. Slice into ½ cm rounds and place onto a lined baking tray and sprinkle with extra salt flakes and pepper.
5. Bake in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container 2 weeks.










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