While apologising profusely for not posting a recipe, or anything else really during the past few days, I can say that the busiest time of the year for me has officially started. It began a few weeks ago to be honest, but only now I am feeling it. It – as in what-the-heck-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing type of thing. What’s worse is that Christmas food is at the bottom of my list, and that almost never happens. I have, with the help of my lovely mum, put up some decorations, tree and all, but as much as I have decided not to stress about the trivial things, I’m stressing more as a result. Does that happen to you too? Mind you I cannot complain too much you know – I am prepping for a simple meal and I just have to see that I have all the ingredients I need. That’s all. However as much as I’m trying to put on my Nigella anxiety-lessening supercape, I’m failing miserably. But things can only get better. (No, I’m not quoting D:Ream.)
It’s the second week of December and it’s about time I posted a festive recipe, don’t you think?! Having said that I’d better take the decorations out of their storage boxes before the end of the year. I have been busier than usual for the past few months, to the point where I have neglected C&T. I’m proud though that I have managed to be quite consistent and post something for you at least once twice a week. My dream is to post three days a week but planning good content isn’t easy. The philosophy behind this blog has always been quality over quantity and that has been my game plan for the past five years. It will continue to be that way I promise.
I cannot remember whether I have talked about my love for the simple ħobż biż-zejt before. I think I did, though very briefly. My search in this blog has failed to give me any useful results, but I will remedy this right now.
I can’t believe there is nothing here about it. Luckily I also have some good photos to show you. The Maltese are nuts about the stuff, and so am I!
Spring has not quite arrived in the UK. I’m not going to say anything else about this – I’m really afraid I might jinx it, but I must post this before the weather becomes warmer. Two weeks ago it snowed here. OK. Stop. But in case you’re wondering, that’s why we’re still drinking mulled wine in April.
In general I think it’s best to go for a fruity full-bodied red, but this depends on personal taste. If you like to drink the wine you choose on its own, then you will like it when it’s mulled. This is J’s simple recipe which always worked for us. The roles were reversed this time: he was by the stove, I was taking the photos. Except the one with the glasses. (Was going to forget that! He wouldn’t have minded but I said it for the sake of completeness.) I don’t really need to say this but If you’re in Malta, forget about this until December!
We started to use this recipe with these quantities while in Michigan; that’s why I have also given cup measures. The equivalent ml measures are an approximation, but still valid. A slight variation will not make much of a difference here.
- 2 cups/500ml water
- ½ cup/100g caster sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 2 small star anise
- 2 large oranges, cut in slices
- 1 bottle of red wine
Place the water, caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and star anise in a deep pot, on medium heat, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat. Steep the sliced oranges into the syrup mixture for around 15 minutes. Pour in 1 bottle of red wine (the deeper, the better).
Reheat the wine and fruity syrup mixture, but do not boil. Strain the wine, using a sieve and serve hot.
The recipe is here, ready for the cold weather, whenever that hits you! You guys in Oz – are you next? Enjoy.
This should come with the following disclaimer: boy, is this rich! You’ll see that from the ingredients, but it does make a lovely thing to have on hand at Christmastime for friends and family who might drop in for a coffee at home. (Make that Irish, won’t you?!) I guess one advantage of having so much sugar in one cake is that it will remain moist for two weeks give or take, stored in a cool place and covered with kitchen foil or wrapped in greaseproof parchment. The taste of ginger is not so prominent, so it could potentially be devoured by almost everyone. Also you won’t need to take a large piece either. This recipe is taken from Nigella Christmas, with just small changes just because I didn’t have some specific ingredients. It really doesn’t need any tweaking. It’s classic and simple, and all you need is some icing sugar to make it look pretty.
You will need:
- 150g butter, unsalted
- 200g golden syrup
- 200g molasses or black treacle
- 125g dark brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon whole cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda), dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- 250ml semi-skimmed milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 300g plain flour
Grease a square cake tin with some butter or margerine and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper or kitchen foil. If you are using the latter, make sure to grease it too. Make sure you have some extra paper overlapping at the sides so that you can lift it up easily from the tin later. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4.
Melt the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, treacle, ginger, cinnamon and crushed cloves in a saucepan over medium heat. When these are melted, switch the heat off immediately or take it off the heat if you use an electric hob.
Add the milk, eggs and bicarbonate of soda (remember: dissolved in water) into the melted ingredients.
Put the plain flour in a large bowl and add the liquid mixture, and beat in well until combined. The batter is very liquidy which will make the cake extremely sticky, but that’s the fun of it really!
Pour the batter into the lined and greased tin and bake for around 40-50 minutes. Always keep an eye on it. Mine was ready in 40 but it depends on the oven. The cake will rise and it will carry on cooking for a while even while it cools.
Let the gingerbread cool in the tin for a while, before removing it altogether on a serving dish. Decorate with some icing sugar if you wish. Happy times indeed!