Christmas is almost upon us, and no matter how cynical you are about the modern Christmas and all of its clinical marketing and sales techniques, there is still something magical about this time of the year. The excitement in our house is crackling in the air, especially with a mischievous 3 year old desperate to open some presents that Santa has somehow already managed to place underneath our tree.
I can still remember feeling the presents when nobody was around in a nervous effort to work out what they were. And on more than one occasion, the Sellotape was peeled carefully aside in order to have a peek. I can only apologise to my family right now as I admit this unscrupulous crime after all of these years. But I reckon everybody has tried this once or twice.
I also can't recall an event in which all forms of nature are painted and decorated with such lavish attention. From a tinsel necked dog to a town street tree, few escape the Western gaudiness of our Christmas decorations. And in my opinion, the world is a much better place when we can forget about our earthly troubles and don the tack to such effect. My house is covered in the stuff - taste has no place at Christmas time.
No surprises, but it is the food that gets me excited. At no other time of the year can you indulge yourself so heavily and not have to be made to feel guilty in some way. The smells of Christmas food are unique and just the waft of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves brings back a thousand memories in one swift sniff. So enjoy this mainstay of the Yuletide season - it is a lot easier to make than you might first think - and don't forget to get the kids involved when making it. After all, Christmas should always be about our little ones. Happy Christmas readers x
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml double cream
A splash of rum
1 tsp coffee granules dissolved in a little hot water
200g 70% cocoa chocolate
Icing sugar to dust
1 – Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/GM4. Grease and line a small baking tray with baking paper.
2 – Weight the eggs in their shells. Then weight out the same quantity butter, sugar and flour. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one by one then gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.
3 – Pour the sponge mixture into the baking tray and bake on the middle shelf for 10-15 mins until cooked. Allow to cool slightly.
4 – Place a piece of greaseproof paper onto your bench and tip the sponge out onto it. Peel off the baking paper then roll the sponge with the greaseproof inside. Leave to cool and shape.
5 – Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan then allow to cool and thicken. Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold in the coffee and rum. Unroll the sponge and spread with the cream. Roll back up without the greaseproof paper.
6 – Place onto a plate then spread on the chocolate butter with a palette knife, lifting off here and there to try to form a bark effect. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with holy.
Ingredients - Feeds 4 2 tbsp olive oil 4 spring onions, sliced 2 sticks of celery, diced 1 red pepper, chopped 2 cloves of garlic, sliced 2 ...
Here is my version of a true classic, which has a leek's mild onion flavour lifted somewhat with the addition of cheese, mustard and cr...
Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup with Black Bream Serves 4 1kg wild mushrooms, either single variety or mixed 4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil ...
It is a much used statement but I have to agree, breakfast is undoubtedly the most important meal of the day. I can't argue with my stom...