Christmas 2010

27 12 2010

The Christmas holidays is a time of year that is inextricably linked with the cooking (yay!) and then eating (hurrah!) of food.  This year I was fortunate enough to be able to travel back to the land of All Blacks and Hobbits where I celebrated the festive season with my kiwi family and friends.  Unlike Christmas 2009 I wasn’t responsible for a full multi-course meal, however I did spend some time in the kitchen cooking.

The cooking started at my friend Cat‘s house with a group of us and an all day Bake-a-Rama. The goal was to create a treasure chest of treats that could be brought out when required for visitors during the Christmas holidays.  After the measuring, sifting, mixing and baking Cat’s kitchen table was flooded with dozens (and dozens and dozens) of cookies. Clockwise from the top we created the following:

Gingerbread Cookies
White Chocolate and Strawberry Cookies
Dark Chocolate and Apricot Cookies
Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Passionfruit Melting Moments (still to be iced)
Cathedral Cookies
Iced Spice Cookies
Iced Sugar Cookies


A Caramel Fruit Cake was then also added to the booty of culinary treasures:

Needless to say, visitors to Cat’s house have had a selection of baked goodness to choose from while having their cuppa tea.

More time was spent in the kitchen on Christmas Day where I cooked breakfast and then dinner for my brother and his young family.  Since I was spending Christmas with small children I knew that the big day would start early…which meant that I had to start even earlier.  I set my alarm on Christmas Eve and by 0630 on Christmas Day I was up and about cooking the pancakes, moving around the kitchen extremely quietly so as to not wake the smaller members of the household.  I finished the double batch of batter just before the small ones invaded the lounge and the carnage that is a children’s Christmas started.

Once the carnage had ended and the little ones were out visiting the Grandparents I started on a batch of Delia Smith’s Vegetarian ‘Sausage’ Rolls (the same recipe that I used last year) and the Christmas dinner.  As I mentioned in the Christmas 2009 post, a roast Christmas dinner is a tradition in our family.  This year I opted to not do a full roast and instead settled on a smaller cut of cow for the family which I served with roasties, fresh peas, maple-glazed baby carrots and onion and mushroom gravy.  I reckon the peas and carrots were the best bit, especially the peas.  I love fresh peas, I even love shelling them, bizarre but true.

Being able to spend this festive season with family and friends that I haven’t seen for over two years has made Christmas 2010 just that little bit more special.  I hope that this festive season was just as enjoyable for you as well.

See you in the new year,




Chocolate Coffee and Cream Pie & Chocolate Cake

2 08 2009

Despite any impressions you may get from the following post, I’m generally not a big chocolate eater, I tend to go for the savoury, salty variety when it comes to foodstuffs that come from a vending machine.  I also generally prefer fruity desserts or just fresh fruit (especially in summer).  However, over the last month I had not one, but two, blocks of dark cooking chocolate at my disposal and a couple of recipes that had interested me enough to warrant making them animal friendly. 

The first was “Mary’s Chocolate, Coffee and Cream Pie” from The Vegetarian Adventure Cook Book.  This cookbook is somewhat of a New Zealand vegetarian bible.  Or maybe it just is for me as it was the first veggie cookbook I remember reading as a youngster – that and it is in every cookery section in every bookshop back home.  The ingredients are something of a fantasy list for a decadent dessert: chocolate, coconut and coffee. 

The base of the pie is chocolate melted with a bit of “butter” and a hugely generous amount of coconut.  This mixture is then smushed together, forming a shell, chilled and then filled with creamy (but not heavy) concoction of chocolate, very strong instant coffee, a little bit of sugar, a mixture of soy milk and cream and agar flakes to get it to set.  The verdict? Very nice!  Not too sweet at all (as I prefer my desserts) and with a real coffee hit.  This one has certainly made the “Definitely Make Again” list.

Mary's Chocolate, Coffee and Cream Pie

Number two was the “Chocolate Cake” from Rachel Allen’s Bake.  I flicked through this book in detail in Waterstones while passing time one day.  My first impressions were that it was a pretty decent collection of recipes, most of which I could modify to my heart’s desire (and probably quite easily) and therefore worthy of purchase – one day.  Well, a well-known Internet retailer recently had it heavily reduced, and somehow it ended up passing from my wish list, to my shopping basket and finally to my front door and into my kitchen! 

I’ll admit that I feel somewhat compelled to like chocolate cake, such is the social perception that women-kind has a kryptonite weakness for chocolate, and especially chocolate in the cake form.  But truth be told I often find chocolate cake to be disappointing and rather anti-climatic.  So if  I am to make it there are certain conditions that must be met: one of those is the use of chocolate and not just cocoa powder in the recipe (why make chocolate cake without chocolate?).  Luckily this recipe does use dark chocolate in the cake batter.  I then subbed the eggs with blended tofu but stuck with the butter ingredient, using an animal friendly option instead.  Often in cakes and similar baked goods I’ll sub in oil for the butter, however this time I didn’t and I’m glad, because the result was extremely pleasing: very much like a Victoria Sponge in texture (though I doubt the WI would have approved of it).  In a fit of domestic goddess-ness I also whipped up the chocolate butter icing and sandwiched the cake together with this and then dusted it with icing sugar.  The final result with very sweet (due to the icing) but still rather nice and not anti-climatic at all. 

Bake's Chocolate Cake