Gift ideas this Christmas
In the midst of all your shopping, cooking and feasting, wherever you are in the world, please spare a thought for those less fortunate and do your bit so they can also enjoy some Christmas cheer.
Why not start by donating to those suffering the effects of the devastating typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines?
Donate via Oxfam, The Red Cross and most banks.
Nearer home, you can also buy some festive foods like puddings, cookies, cakes and more and donate them at your favourite supermarkets.
Instead of buying yet another trinket or voucher for those who already have it all, why not donate to your favourite charity in their names?
Here's a gift idea that will not only please a keen baker, but also help the McGrath Foundation fight breast cancer.
Written by cupcake queen Jennifer Graham, The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook (RRP$24.49) is a great gift idea for anyone who enjoys making cupcakes or wants to learn how to make them.
Recipes are easy to follow and accompanied by delectable pictures.
Funds raised from the sale of the book will help expand the McGrath breast care nurse network, which supports families facing breast cancer.
Buy the book from your favourite bookshop and make a difference.
Meanwhile, try this recipe from the book.
Jennifer says the mocha spice cakes have the most amazing flavour, like hot spiced mocha in a cupcake.
Make it for Christmas or all the year round.
Makes 26, keeps 2 days, freezes 2 months.
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup instant coffee granules
1 cup boiling water
200g softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 200 C. Line muffin trays with 26 red foil cupcake cases.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt.
In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the chocolate, coffee and boiling water over low heat. Stir continuously with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon until chocolate has melted. Do not boil.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add half the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and beat for a further 2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
Add a third of flour mixture to the creamed mixture andbeat on low speed until combined.
Add half sour cream and beat until combined.
Repeat the process.
Add the remaining third of the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Do not over-beat as it toughens the mixture.
Use a rubber spatula to fold in the mocha mixture a third at a time. Be gentle and do not over-stir. The mixture will be very thin.
Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about two-thirds full, as mixture will rise quite a lot.
Bake for 15-18 mins. The cupcakes should look a little moist on top.
Leave cupcakes to cool in trays for five minutes only.
They will shrink considerably.
Remove cupcakes from the trays and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.
Decorate accordinig to instructions in the book, by making two quantities of quick royal icing on page144 and then using green and red fondant to form holly leaves and berries. Or use Jaffas for the berries!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Have a hammy Christmas!
Try these recipes from Australian Pork
Raspberry glazed ham
1.5 kg bone-in ham
½ cup seedless raspberry jam
½ cup cranberry juice
300 g mixed red berries
½ cup dried cranberries
Fresh red berries for garnish
1. Place the raspberry jam, cranberry juice, red berries and dried cranberries in a medium saucepan and heat over a low heat until ingredients have combined. Bring to the boil stirring. Continue to simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
2. Remove rind from ham and use a sharp knife to score ham in a diamond pattern.
3. Place ham. scored side up, in a large baking pan and brush over glaze.
4. Finally, place into a preheated oven or lidded barbecue at 180°C for 20 minutes per kg, basting occasionally, until ham is brown and warm through.
If Christmas day happens to be 30 degrees, why not enjoy a cold Pork terrine instead?
800g pork mince
10 bacon slices, approx
2 slices white bread
½ cup chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tbsp mixed or dry Italian herbs
¼ cup chopped parsley
70g pitted prunes
100g diced ham
100g pistachio kernels
4 tbsp brandy
Ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a long rectangle loaf tin with a layer of bacon.
Roughly grate or dice bread. Place all ingredients into a bowl and knead together until well combined. Fill loaf tin evenly, forcing and spreading the terrine mixture into all corners and in the centre. Top with any left over bacon.
Place terrine into an oven dish with a little hot water (1 cm high). Bake for about 70 minutes or until cooked through.
The terrine is cooked when the juices run clear when pieced with a clean skewer. Ideally, when internal temperature is 76°C.
Allow terrine to rest for 10 minutes, pour off any pan juices and turn out on to a large plate. Gently wipe off any loose bits, cover with plastic film and chill quickly in the coldest past of the refrigerator. Serve cold, sliced with salad. Ideal with chutney, redcurrant jelly and gherkins.
Additional seasonings can include thyme, celery salt, lemon zest and top with a few bay leaves. Eat within 4-5 days.
Place a light weight on top of terrine when cooling in coldest part of the refrigerator.
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année