Christmas

C

We may all flirt with the idea of doing something different for Christmas and occasionally we do, but inevitably, despite the deliciousness of the maverick choice there are always whimsical remarks tinged with nostalgia about the traditional roast turkey or goose with all the trimmings.

So this year let’s have ‘the works’, but in the interest of self-preservation in this season of peace and goodwill, make a detailed plan.

Countdown to Christmas – A week or two before the big day snatch a few quiet moments, make yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, put your feet up and make a few detailed lists. I love to set up the crib first, to remind me of the raison d’être for the whole celebration and to get me into the true spirit of Christmas. Our grandchildren gather round to help, wide-eyed with wonder as they hear the story of Joseph and Mary and then place the little baby Jesus in his tiny crib. They love to help to bring in the holly and of course to decorate the Christmas tree. There’s nothing co-ordinated about our decorations, all the jingles and baubles collected over the past three decades, each with its own little story, hang in a haphazard way. Its fun to include some edible decorations on the tree, even tiny children can help to make popcorn garlands with a darning needle and thread, Dolly mixtures or little jellies also work well and can alternate with the glittering tinsel on the tree.

Older children can help to make little star-shaped biscuits. We thread a narrow ribbon through the top and they can be dangled from the branches. Finally the little candle holders are clipped onto the branches and the tiny wax candles are lit. Memories of my childhood come flooding back, for me this moment has always been one of the most magical parts of Christmas. We play Christmas carols and the grandchildren sing Jingle Bells and Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer with gusto and delight – Christmas is truly here.

Back to the kitchen, if you haven’t made the cake and pudding don’t worry, there’s still time. When the children were small I once made the cake on 23rd December, iced it on Christmas Eve and it was one of the nicest cakes we ever had, crumbly and delicious. Plum puddings too can be made close to the time. This year we’ve made lots of tiny pud bowls, just enough for 2-4 not very hungry people. We’ve even more individual ones in espresso cups, which worked really well and looked adorable. They’ll only take 20-30 minutes to cook through on Christmas Day.

One week or so ahead – make mincemeat and leave to mature. Make Cranberry Sauce. Order the goose or turkey if you prefer.

Weigh up mulled wine spices and wrap in twists of cling film or greaseproof paper.

Herb and bread stuffing can be made ahead and frozen. Extra bread crumbs can be stored for the bread sauce.

Several days ahead – make pastry and mince pies and freeze.

1-2 days ahead make smoked mackerel pate and refrigerate. Remember to buy some delicious crusty bread and pop a loaf or two into the freezer as a standby.

Made the trifle, some homemade mayonnaise, cover and refrigerate. Make the yule log, cover but don’t roll up.

The day before you plan to eat – lay the table and decorate – lots of holly, party poppers and Christmas crackers. Prepare the celery and sprouts and potatoes. Toss the latter in extra virgin olive oil, put into a plastic bag, twist the end tightly and pop it in the fridge. The potatoes will keep perfectly and taste delicious. Just cover the vegetables with damp kitchen paper – no vegetables benefit either flavour wise or nutritionally from being soaked in water overnight. In fact if the celery is cooked it will reheat perfectly.

If using the prawns, cook in the shell, cool and refrigerate, they would make a delicious light supper if you decide to have the pate for the main meal. Wash and dry the salad and make the dressing, (you’ll need it to aid the digestion).

On Christmas Day – decide on the time of the meal. Weigh the turkey or goose, calculate the cooking time. Pop into the oven and relax. Roll up and decorate the Yule log. Decorate the trifle and put on the sideboard.

Forty five minutes to one hour before the end of cooking time, put the potatoes on to roast. Put on the bread sauce (this can also be made ahead if you’d prefer). Make a little toast or a few crostini, top with smoked mackerel pate and dill, arrange on a plate. Chill wine or bubbly.

Just before serving, make the gravy, cook or reheat the vegetables. Pop the bird on your poshest serving dish and keep warm. Open a bottle of bubbly or prosecco, relax and pass around the crostini, have a toast.

Make your way to the table, tuck in and enjoy and all the rest of you don’t forget a hug for the cook and do all the washing up.

Merry Christmas to all our readers and may all your dreams come true in 2005.

Ballycotton Prawns with Homemade Mayonnaise

We get the most wonderful juicy prawns straight from the boats in Ballycotton.We eat them in several ways but they are best freshly cooked and served with homemade Mayonnaise and some crusty bread.
Serves 4

24 large very fresh prawns

4 pints (2.3 L) water
2 tablespoons salt

Accompaniment
4-8 tablespoons home-made Citrus Mayonnaise (see recipe)

Garnish
Wild watercress leaves
4 segments lemon

First Cook the Prawns
Bring the water to the boil and add the salt. Put the prawns into the boiling salted water and as soon as the water returns to the boil, test a prawn to see if it is cooked. It should be firm and white, not opaque or mushy. If cooked, remove prawns immediately. Very large ones may take ½ to 1 minute more. Allow to cool in a single layer.

Note: Do not cook too many prawns together, otherwise they may overcook before the water even comes back to the boil.

Put 5 or 6 cooked whole prawns on each plate. Spoon a tablespoon or two of homemade Citrus Mayonnaise into a little bowl or oyster shell on the side of the plate. Pop a segment of lemon on the plate. Garnish with some fresh wild watercress. Serve with fresh crusty brown soda bread and Irish butter.

Citrus Mayonnaise

Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard or pinch of English mustard
1 dessertspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
250ml(8 fl oz) oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) - We use 175ml (6 fl oz) arachide oil and 50ml (2 fl oz) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1
grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon

Put the egg yolks into a medium size pyrex bowl with the mustard, salt and the lemon juice (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don't get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and lemon juice if necessary. Add the grated lemon rind.
If the mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. Should this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it re-emulsifies.

Smoked Mackerel and Dill Pate with Cucumber Pickle

Serves 4

175g/6oz un-dyed smoked mackerel, de-skinned and boned
50g/2oz softened unsalted butter
25g/2oz soft full fat cream cheese
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve
dill fronds
clarified butter
dressed watercress leaves

Cucumber Pickle – see recipe

Place the mackerel, butter, cream cheese and lemon into a liquidiser. Blitz to form a smooth consistency. Tip into a bowl and fold in the herbs. 

Season to taste and then divide between four ramekins. Place dill fond on top and our over a little clarified butter. Chill for at least and hour.

Serve with Melba toast and watercress salad and cucumber pickle.

TIP
If you are not going to use this within 48 hours, cover the tops with a layer of clarified butter and they will keep for up to one week. To make clarified butter, simply heat butter gently in a small pan until melted. Remove from the heat and allow to settle for a minute or so, then carefully pour the clear liquid butter into a jug leaving all the milk solids behind.

Cucumber Pickle

Serves 10-12
1 kg (2 lb 4 ozs) thinly sliced unpeeled cucumber
3 small onions thinly sliced
340 g (12 ozs) sugar
2 level tablespoons salt
250 ml (8 fl ozs) cider vinegar

Combine the cucumber and onion sliced in a large bowl. Mix the sugar, salt and vinegar together and pour over cucumbers. Place in a tightly covered container in refrigerator and leave for at least 4-5 hours or overnight before using.
Keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare a Duck or Goose for the Oven

1. First gut the bird if necessary and clean well.
2. Singe carefully over a gas jet.
3. Remove the wish bone from the neck end.
4. Goose - Tuck the wings in close to the body
Duck - use a sharp chopper to trim the wings just above the first joint nearest the
body
5. Goose legs leave intact.
Duck - chop off the knuckle just above the 'knee'
6. Season the cavity. Stuff with cold stuffing just before the bird goes into the oven.
7. Truss loosely with cotton string.

NB* It is not absolutely essential to chop the wings and legs of a duck unless you want a more formal restaurant presentation.

Old fashioned Roast Turkey with Fresh Herb Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce

Serves 10-12
This is my favourite roast stuffed turkey recipe. You may think the stuffing seems dull because it doesn’t include exotic-sounding ingredients like chestnuts and spiced sausage meat, but in fact it is moist and full of the flavour of fresh herbs and the turkey juices. Cook a chicken in exactly the same way but use one-quarter of the stuffing quantity given.

(4.5-5.4kg) 1 x 10-12lb, turkey with neck and giblets, free-range and organic

Fresh Herb Stuffing
170g (6oz) butter
340g (12oz) chopped onions
400-500g (14-16oz) approx. soft breadcrumbs (check that the bread is non GM)
55g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm
salt and freshly ground pepper

Stock
neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone and wingtips of turkey
2 sliced carrots
2 sliced onions
1 stick celery
Bouquet garni
3 or 4 peppercorns

For basting the turkey
225g (8oz) butter
large square of muslin (optional)

Cranberry Sauce (see recipe)
Bread Sauce (see recipe)
Garnish
large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress

Remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey, for ease of carving later. Make a turkey stock by covering with cold water the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, wingtips, vegetables and bouquet garni. (Keep the liver for smooth turkey liver pate). Bring to the boil and simmer while the turkey is being prepared and cooked, 3 hours approx.

To make the fresh herb stuffing: Sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for 10 minutes approx., then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half-fill with cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end.

Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time. Allow 15 minutes approx. per lb and 15 minutes over. Melt 2 dessertspoons of butter and soak a large piece of good quality muslin in the melted butter; cover the turkey completely with the muslin and roast in a preheated moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 3-3½ hours. There is no need to baste it because of the butter-soaked muslin. The turkey browns beautifully, but if you like it even browner, remove the muslin 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Alternatively, smear the breast, legs and crop well with soft butter, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. If the turkey is not covered with butter-soaked muslin then it is a good idea to cover the whole dish with tin foil. However, your turkey will then be semi-steamed, not roasted in the traditional sense of the word.

The turkey is cooked when the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy. Cover loosely with greaseproof paper and roast in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 1-1½ hours.

The turkey is done when the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices, they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.
To make the gravy: Spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. De glaze the pan juices with fat free stock from the giblets and bones. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat.

If possible, present the turkey on your largest serving dish, surrounded by crispy roast
potatoes, and garnished with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly. Make sure no one eats the berries.
Serve with Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce

Bread Sauce

I love Bread Sauce but if I hadn’t been reared on it I might never have tried it – the recipe sounds so dull!

Serves

1 pint (600ml) milk
3-4 ozs (85-100g) soft white breadcrumbs
2 onions, each stuck with 6 cloves
2 ozs (55g) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4 fl ozs (75-100ml) thick cream
2 good pinches of ground cloves or quatre epices

Bring to the boil in a small, deep saucepan all the ingredients except the cream. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and simmer gently on a very low heat or cook in a low oven 160C/325F/regulo 3, for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and add the cream just before serving. Correct the seasoning and add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick. Serve hot.

Quatre Epices is a French spice product made of equal amounts of ground white pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.

Cranberry Sauce

Serves 6 approx.
Cranberry Sauce is also delicious served with roast turkey, game and some rough pâtés and terrines. 

170g (6oz) fresh cranberries
4 tablespoons water
85g (3oz) granulated sugar

Put the fresh cranberries in a heavy-based stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan with the water - don=t add the sugar yet as it tends to toughen the skins. Bring them to the boil, cover and simmer until the cranberries >pop= and soften, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Serve warm or cold.
Note: Cranberry Sauce will keep in your fridge for a week to 10 days.
Creamed Celery
Serves 4 - 6
1 head of celery
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Roux
4-6 fl ozs (120-175ml) cream or creamy milk

Garnish: chopped parsley

Pull the stalks off the head of celery. If the outer stalks seems a bit tough, peel the strings off with a swivel top peeler or else use these tougher stalks in the stockpot. Cut the stalks into 2 inch (1cm) chunks.
Bring 3 pint of water to the boil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the chopped celery, cook for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, until a knife will go through with ease. Remove celery to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. Thicken the remaining liquid with the roux, add the enough cream to make sufficient sauce to coat the celery. Allow to bubble for a few minutes, pour over celery, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Note: Can be reheated successfully

Roast Potatoes

Everybody loves roast potatoes, yet people ask over and over again for the secret of golden crispy roast potatoes.

Duck or goose fat gives a delicious flavour to roast potatoes. Good quality pork fat or lard from free range pigs is also worth saving carefully for roast or saute potatoes. All three fats will keep for months in a cold larder or fridge.

Well, first and foremost buy good quality ‘old’ potatoes eg. Golden Wonders, Kerrs Pinks, Rooster or British Queens. New potatoes are not suitable for roasting.
For perfection peel them just before roasting. Do not leave them soaking in water or they will be soggy inside because of the water they absorb. This always applies, no matter how you cook potatoes. Unfortunately, many people have got into the habit of peeling and soaking potatoes even if they are just going to boil and mash them.
Dry potatoes carefully, otherwise they will stick to the roasting tin, and when you turn them over you will lose the crispy bit underneath. If you have a fan oven it is necessary to blanch and refresh the potatoes first, then proceed as below.
Heat the olive oil or fat in a roasting pan, toss the potatoes to make sure they are well coated in olive oil or fat. Roast in a hot oven, basting occasionally, for 30-60 minutes depending on size.
For perfection, potatoes should be similar in size and shape.

Traditional Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing and Bramley Apple Sauce

Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing is almost my favourite winter meal. However, a word of warning. A goose looks enormous because it has a large carcass. Many people have been caught out by imagining that it will serve more people than it does. Allow 450g (1 lb) in cooked weight per person. This stuffing is also delicious with duck but use one quarter of the quantity given below.

Serves 8-10

4.5g (1 x 10 lbs) approx. goose

Stock
Neck, giblets and wishbone of goose
1 sliced onion
1 sliced carrot

Bouquet garni
A sprig of thyme
3 or 4 parsley stalks
A stick of celery
6 or 7 peppercorns
Cold water to cover

Potato Stuffing
30g (1 oz) butter
450g (1 lb) chopped onions
450g (1 lb) cooking apples e.g. Bramley Seedling, peeled and chopped
1 fl oz (2-3 tablespoons) fresh orange juice
900g (2 lbs) potatoes
1 teaspoon each thyme and lemon balm
3 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
Salt and freshly ground pepper

To make the stuffing: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes; add the apples, herbs and orange juice. Cook covered until the apples are soft and fluffy. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked, peel, mash and add to the fruit and onion mixture. Add the orange rind and seasoning. Allow it to get quite cold before stuffing the goose.

To prepare the goose: Gut the goose and singe off the pin feathers and down if necessary. Remove the wishbone from the neck end. Combine the stock ingredients in a saucepan, cover with cold water and simmer for 12-2 hours. Season the cavity of the goose with salt and freshly ground pepper; rub a little salt into the skin also. Stuff the goose loosely and roast for 2 hours approx. in a preheated moderate oven, 180 C/350 F/regulo 4.
Prick the thigh at the thickest part; the juices which run out should be clear. If they are still pink, the goose needs a little longer. When cooked, remove the goose to a serving dish and put it in a very low oven while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy: Spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin (save for sauteeing or roasting potatoes – it keeps for months in a fridge). Add about 1 pint (568 ml) of the strained giblet stock to the roasting tin and bring to the boil. Using a small whisk, scrape the tin well to dissolve the meaty deposits which are full of flavour. Taste for seasoning and thicken with a little roux if you like a thickened gravy. If the gravy is weak, boil it for a few minutes to concentrate the flavour; if it=s too strong, add a little water or stock. Strain and serve in a hot gravy boat.
Carve the goose and serve the Bramley Apple Sauce and Gravy separately.

Roast Duck with Traditional Potato Stuffing

Use ¼ or 1/3 of the Potato Stuffing recipe depending on the size of the duck. Serve with Bramley Apple Sauce.

Bramley Apple Sauce

The trick with Apple Sauce is to cook it covered on a low heat with very little water.

Serves 10 approx.

1 lb (450g) cooking apples, e.g. Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
1-2 dessertsp. water
2 ozs (55g) sugar, depending on how tart the apples are

Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut the pieces into two and put in a stainless steel or cast iron saucepan with sugar and water. Cover and put over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, beat into a puree, stir and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.
Note: Apple Sauce freezes perfectly, so make more than you need and freeze in tiny, plastic cartons. It is also a good way to use up windfalls.

 

Ballymaloe Mince Pies with Irish Whiskey Cream

Makes 20-24 mince pies

Pastry
225g (8oz) plain flour
170g (6oz) butter
a pinch of salt
1 dessertspoon icing sugar
a little beaten egg or egg yolk and water to bind
egg wash

450g (1lb)Ballymaloe Mincemeat, see recipe below

Ballymaloe Mincemeat
Makes (3.1kg)

2 cooking apples, eg. Bramley Seedling
2 lemons
450g (1lb) minced beef suet or Kerrygold butter, grated
110g (4oz) mixed peel (preferably home made)
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
225g (8oz) currants
450g (1lb) raisins
225g (8oz) sultanas
900g (2lb) Barbados sugar (moist, soft, dark brown sugar)
62ml (2½ fl.oz) Irish whiskey

Core and bake the whole apples in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4 for 45 minutes approx. When they are soft, remove the skin and mash the flesh into pulp. Grate the rind from the lemons on the finest part of a stainless steel grater and squeeze out the juice. Add the other ingredients one by one, and as they are added, mix everything thoroughly together. Put into jars, cover with jam covers and leave to mature for 1 week before using.

Next make the shortcrust pastry.
Sieve the flour into a bowl, cut the butter into ½ inch (1cm) approx. cubes, toss into the four and rub in with the finger tips. Add the icing sugar. Mix with a fork as you gradually add in the beaten egg (do this bit by bit because you may not need all the egg), then use your hand to bring the pastry together into a ball: it should not be wet or sticky. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out the pastry until quite thin – about of an inch, stamp out into rounds 3 inches (7.5cm) diameter and line shallow bun tins, put a good teaspoonful of mincemeat into each tin, damp the edges with water and put another round on top. Egg wash and decorate with pastry leaves in the shape of holly berries etc.
Bake the mince pies in a preheated moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, for 20 minutes approx. Allow them to cool slightly, then dredge with icing or castor sugar.
Serve with a blob of whiskey flavoured cream.

Irish Whiskey Cream

225ml (8fl.oz) whipped cream

1 teaspoon icing sugar
12-3 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Fold the sugar and whiskey into the cream.

Traditional Irish Sherry Trifle – Elizabeth O’Connell

Sherry Trifle

The pudding to be avoided at all costs on most restaurant menus, can be a revelation when it=s made as it should be, with good home-made ingredients and lots of best-quality sweet sherry.

Serves 8-10

1 lb (450g) approx. home-made sponge cake or trifle sponges
(trifle sponges are lighter so you will need less)
1 pint (600ml) custard made with:
13 pints (750ml) rich milk
5 eggs, free range if possible
13 tablespoon castor sugar
: teaspoon pure vanilla essence
8 ozs (225g) home-made Raspberry jam
5-6 fl ozs (150-175ml) best quality sweet or medium sherry
– don’t spare the sherry and don’t waste your time with cooking sherry.

Garnish
1 pint (600ml) whipped cream
8 cherries or crystallised violets
8 diamonds of angelica

1 x 3 pint (1.7 L/72 cups) capacity glass bowl

Sandwich the rounds of sponge cake together with home-made raspberry jam. If you use trifle sponges, sandwich them in pairs. Next make the egg custard. Whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla essence. Heat the milk to the ‘shivery’ stage and add it to the egg whisking all the time. Put into a heavy saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard coats the back of the wooden spoon lightly. Don’t let it boil or it will curdle.
Cut the sponge into : inch (2cm) slices and use these to line the bottom of a 3 pint (1.7 litre) glass bowl, sprinkling generously with sherry as you go along. Pour in some home-made egg custard and then add another layer of sponge. Sprinkle with the remainder of the sherry. Spread the rest of the custard over the top. Cover and leave for 5 or 6 hours, or preferably overnight, to mature.
Before serving, spread whipped cream over the top, pipe rosettes if you like and decorate with cherries or crystallised violets and diamonds of angelica.

Sponge Cake – Whisked Method

Serves 8

5 eggs
5 ozs (140g) castor sugar
5 ozs (140g) flour

Filling
a of a pot approx. home-made raspberry jam
Castor sugar for sprinkling on top
2 x 9 inches (23cm) tins

Grease the tins carefully with melted butter, dust with flour, cut out a circle of greaseproof paper and fit it neatly onto the base of each tin. Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl and whisk until it is a pale and fluffy mousse. When you lift the whisk, make a figure of 8 on top: it should hold its shape for several seconds. Put the flour into a sieve and sift about one-third gently over the mousse; fold in the flour with a spatula or a long-handled metal spoon (not a wooden spoon) and then sieve in some more; repeat until all the flour is lightly folded in. Turn gently in the prepared tins and bake in a preheated oven, 190°C/375°F/regulo 5, for 20 minutes approx., until cooked. Turn out on a wire tray, peel off the greaseproof paper and allow to cool.
This sponge would also be delicious filled with fresh fruit and cream.

Swiss Roll

Serves 8
4 ozs (110g) plain flour
4 eggs
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoon vanilla essence
6 tablespoons warmed home-made raspberry jam

1 x 10 inches (25.5cm) x 15 inches (38cm) Swiss Roll tin

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/regulo 5.

Line a large Swiss Roll tin with greaseproof paper cut to fit the bottom of the tin exactly. Brush the paper and sides of the tin with melted butter, dust with flour and castor sugar.
Sieve the flour. Put the eggs and castor sugar into a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Take it off the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool again. (If using an electric mixer, no heat is required.) Add the water and vanilla essence. Sieve in about one-third of the flour at a time and fold it into the mousse using a large metal spoon.
Pour the mixture gently into the tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. It is cooked when it feels firm to the touch in the centre. The edges will have shrunk in slightly from the sides of the tin. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper on the work top and sprinkle it evenly with castor sugar. Turn the Swiss Roll tin onto the sugared greaseproof paper. Remove the tin and greaseproof paper from the bottom of the cake. While the cake is still warm, spread it sparingly with home-made raspberry jam. Catch the edge of the paper nearest you and roll up the Swiss Roll away from you.

Suggestions for other fillings: If you are not using the Swiss Roll as a basis for Trifle there are many other fillings you might like to try, but roll the greaseproof paper into the Swiss Roll while warm and unroll it later when cold to fill if you are using whipped cream.
1 Mashed banana with lemon juice and whipped cream
2 Melted chocolate and whipped cream
3 Fresh strawberries or raspberries mashed with a little sugar and whipped cream
4 Other home-made jam and whipped cream.

Chocolate Yule Log

Chocolate Yule Log is usually made with a chocolate sponge Swiss roll but I prefer this sinfully rich version. There’s no need for any icing, it’s rich enough as it is!
Serves 10 approx.

6 ozs (170 g) best-quality dark chocolate
5 free range eggs
6 ozs (170 g) castor sugar
3 tablespoons water

Filling
½ pint (300 ml) double cream
1-2 tablespoons rum
icing sugar

1 x shallow Swiss roll tin
12 inches (30.5 cm) x 8 inches (20.5 cm)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.

Line a Swiss roll tin with oiled tin foil or bakewell paper. Separate the eggs. Put the yolks into a bowl, gradually add the castor sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick and pale lemon coloured. Melt the chocolate with the water in a saucepan over a very gentle heat, then draw aside while you whisk the egg whites to a firm snow. Add the melted chocolate to the egg yolk mixture. Stir a little of the egg white into the mixture, cut and fold the remainder of the egg whites into the mixture and turn it into the prepared tin. Cook in a preheated oven, bake for 15-18 minutes or until firm to the touch around the edge but still slightly soft in the centre. Wring out a tea-towel in cold water. Take out the roulade, cool it slightly, then cover with the cloth. (This is to prevent any sugary crust forming.) Leave it in a cool place. Provided the cloth is kept damp, it will keep for 2 days like this.

To Serve
Whip the cream and flavour with the rum. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a table and dust it well with sieved icing sugar. Remove the damp cloth from the roulade and turn the tin upside down onto the prepared paper. Remove the tin and peel the tin foil off the roulade carefully. Spread with the rum-flavoured cream and roll it up like a Swiss roll. Cut about one-third off the roll at an angle. Lift the roll onto a serving plate, arrange the smaller piece so it looks like a branch and dust well with icing sugar. Decorate with Christmas cake decorations, e.g. holly leaves, Santas, robins etc., sprinkle again with a little extra icing sugar and serve.

Mulled Red Wine

One of the easiest ways to entertain some of your friends before Christmas is to serve Mulled Wine and Mince Pies with lots of Whiskey Cream. At that stage they are still a novelty, whereas after Christmas people tend to groan, >Oh no, not Mince Pies again!=

Serves 8 approx.

1 bottle of good red wine
4 ozs (110 g) sugar
Thinly-pared rind of 1 lemon
A small piece of cinnamon bark
A blade of mace
1 clove

Put the sugar into a stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan, pour the wine over, add the lemon rind, cinnamon bark, mace and the clove. Heat slowly, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved. When it is hot but not scalding serve in glasses with a wedge of lemon in each one if desired.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

Letters

Back to List
Latest Letter
All Recipes
Back to Website
All Darinas Letters are published each week in The Examiner

Past Letters

  • Recipes