Make your own Mulled Wine

15 12 2010

What is more festive than a warming glass of hot mulled wine?  With its heady mix of fruit and spices it is quite literally Christmas in a glass.

I know that a lot of people buy those prepared bags of spice mix that you can get in the supermarket and they are all very well and good but once you have made your own mulled wine from scratch you will never even think of going back to the pre-made sachets or bags.

Ingredients:

75 cl bottle cabernet sauvignon red wine

75 cl bottle of port

25 cl apple cider

1 orange

12 cloves

2 clementines

3 lemons

6 tbsp honey

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp ground ginger

3 fresh bay leaves

1 vanilla pod

2 star anise

1 whole nutmeg

2 measures of brandy/cognac – optional

Method:

This really couldn’t be any easier to make;

Take the orange and stud it with the cloves and chop the clementines and two of the lemons into slices, this can be done in advance

Add the port and the wine to a large saucepan and pour in the honey, cider and brandy, if you are using it, along with 2 pints of water. Give everything a good stir and pop the saucepan over a low heat to simmer.

Zest the remaining lemon and squeeze in half of the juice

Grate approx 1/3 of the nutmeg into the pan

Split the vanilla pod in two and  add to the pan along with the sliced fruit and the rest of the dry ingredients.

Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the mulled wine boil or you will cook off all of the alcohol.

Serve warm in 1/2 pint mugs

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Spicy Breaded Mozzarella Balls

2 12 2010
 I am at a loss to think of many things that are better than gooey melted mozzarella cheese and crunchy fried  breadcrumbs with a little hint of spice. That is why I simply love these little fried mozzarella balls, they are delicious either by themselves, with a spicy tomato sauce or a sweet chili dip.
 
 Your guests will love how they taste and you will love how easy they are to prepare.
 
Ingredients:
1 lb drained bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
3 large eggs
1 cup panko dry bread crumbs
4tbsp white flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1tbsp milk

Method:

Drain the liquid from the mozzarella balls and pat dry with some kitchen paper

Beat together the eggs and the tablespoon of milk with a little bit of salt, the milk will help make the egg wash really smooth and the egg will break down the membrane in the egg helping it stick better.

Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag and then poured in the drained mozzarella balls making sure that they get an even coating. Shake off any excess flour.

Dip the balls into the eggwash ensuring they are well coated

Mix the garlic powder, cayenne and paprika in with the breadcrumbs and make sure everything is well combined before adding the mozzarella balls

place the balls back in the egg wash and then dip them again in the breadcrumb. This double breading will help ensure an even coating and will make the balls extra crunchy and delicious.

Fry the balls in vegetable oil for about 1 – 2 minutes until they are lovely and golden.

Serve immediately with a nice dipping sauce or keep warm until needed in a low oven





Homemade Guacamole

1 12 2010

 No party would be complete without some sort of crisps or chips and something to dip them into.

 For me that “something” has to be guacamole and I’m not talking about the rank tasting plastic tubs of crap that most is sold in most supermarkets and that personally I wouldn’t give to my chickens. I like guacamole to have texture and flavour as opposed to just being green coloured mush.

So here is my recipe for great homemade guacamole

Ingredients:

2 ripe hass avocados 
1 tomato
1 onion
1 handful of coriander
2 spring onions
2 jalapeños
Juice of 1 lime
pinch of cayenne pepper
fresh ground pepper
sea salt
2 cloves of garlic

Peel and chop all of the ingredients other than the avocados. This garlic and onion should be as fine as you can get them and the tomato should be in a fine dice with the seeds removed, you can also deseed the chillies if you so wish.

Take the skin off of the avocados and ensure that you keep one of the stones.

Using the back of a fork mash the avocados until you have a nice salsa like consistency with some definate chunks of avocado left intact.

Mix the avocado in with the rest of your chopped ingredients and the lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a little extra coriander.

Take the avocado stone that you kept hold of and pop that into the middle of the bowl holding the guacamole, this will help to keep the avocado from going off quite so quickly. Cover the bowl in clingfilm ensuring that there is as little air trapped under it as possible.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.





Fresh and Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche and Cucumber Dressing

30 11 2010

This recipe is for one of my party favourites; a mixture of smoked and fresh lime marinated salmon is combined with a wondering cucumber, creme fraiche and dill dressing that is fantastic on melba toast or with a nice light salad of crisp leaves and some new potatoes.

Ingredients:

500g smoked salmon

500g fresh salmon

300ml creme fraiche

Juice of 3/4 limes

1 cucumber

1tbsp pink peppercorns

2/3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Fresh dill

Method:

First things first you need to remove the skin from your fresh salmon and cut it into small cubes of about 1/2 inch.

Place the fresh salmon into a bowl and squeeze in the juice of 3/4 limes ensuring that you have enough to cover the salmon, as with ceviche the lime juice is going to “cook” the fresh salmon.  Cover the bowl with some cling film and set aside for at least 3 hours.

When the fresh salmon is suitably marinated you can start to prepare the rest of the dish; cut the smoked salmon into the same size cubes as before and place into a clean bowl.

Drain the liquid from your fresh salmon and mix in with the smoked salmon. Set aside in the fridge for the time being.

Cut the cucumber into 4 lengthwise and remove the seeds and discard, cut the flesh of the cucumber into small cubes and place into a bowl with enough white wine vinegar to cover the cucumber and add in a good handful of fresh dill.

Cover the bowl and pop into the fridge for about 30 minutes before draining off the vinegar.

Take the salmon from the fridge, again discarding any liquid that has come off of it and add in the cucumber and dill.

Mix in the creme fraiche and the pink peppercorns, you can also add some more dill for extra colour.

Refridgerate if you are not serving immediately.





Mini Chicken & Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

29 11 2010

Continuing on with my selection of top party foods for the festive season I have decided to post my recipe for delicious mini chicken satay.

Obviously the satay marinade can be used with whatever you want but in this case I have chosen bite size pieces of chicken and beef so as to make the skewers easier to hold and eat.

These chicken and beef satay sticks are particularly good served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce for which I have also included my recipe.

I know that a lot of people like to include peanuts or peanut butter in the marinade itself but I prefer not to. Not only is this recipe better in my opinion but it is also safer for people with nut allergies as they can still enjoy the marinated skewers and can avoid the dipping sauce.

Satay:

12 skinless chicken thighs  or breasts cut into bite size cubes

1kg  flank steak cut into bite size cubes or thin strips

 Marinade:

250g lemongrass

2 shallots or 2 small onions

6 cloves garlic

4/5  fresh red chilies

4 inch piece of fresh ginger

2 tsp turmeric

4 Tbsp ground coriander

4 tsp cumin seeds

6 Tbsp dark soy sauce

8 Tbsp fish sauce

4 Tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

10  Tbsp brown sugar

Method:

Soak the wooden skewers in water over night so that they don’t burn, if using metal skewers this step is not needed.

Cut the chicken and beef into pieces and place into 2 separate bowls

Peel the onion/shallots,the garlic cloves and remove the woody section from the lemongrass.

Place all of the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor and blitz until everything is combined together and you have a suitable consistency for a marinade.

Try a little of the marinade to make sure that it tastes ok,  the main tastes you are looking for are salty and sweet with the chilli in the background. Adjust accordingly.

Pour equal amounts of the marinade over both the chicken and beef ensuring that all of the pieces are well coated.  Cover the bowls and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour ideally a whole day.

When you are ready to cook thread the meat onto the skewers ensuring that you leave space at the bottom of the skewer for them to be picked up.

Cook the meat under a hot grill or ideally on a BBQ.  Depending on the thickness of the meat used you will need to cook for between 10 and 20 minutes turning every 5 minutes or so.

If you have any left over marinade at the bottom of the bowls you can baste the skewers each time you turn them.

Serve immediately with the spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

225g sugar free smooth peanut butter

60ml rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp ponzu sauce / lime juice

1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp hot chilli sauce (or to taste)

1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

60ml sesame oil

2tbsp water

Handful of peanuts to garnish

Method:

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz for a few seconds until you a sauce with a nice thick consistency.

Crush the whole peanuts and scatter over the sauce as a garnish along with a few red chilli flakes








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