Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Angels on Horseback



This is one of my very favorite things for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.  I’m not saying that the night would be incomplete without them, but I will say it would not be the same celebration.  If you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that our family Christmas Eve menu is all appetizers.  You may not know that our New Year’s Eve menu is identical. 

I don’t know if it is because we have moved a lot (The moving guys were here to pack up our 500lbs of air freight today and the leader asked how many times we had moved.  “Twelve,” answered my dear husband – and all I could think was, “Really?!”  We’ve only been married 25 years – I guess I’ve never really wanted to count, although I can list the countries in succession for you.) but once we start a tradition, we have a hard time varying from it.  Traditions that remain constant no matter where we are, ground us and give a feeling of normalcy in a strange place.   Isn’t that why all the immigrants the world over, since time eternal, have tried to keep their traditions in a new and foreign land? 

Anyhoo, on to angels on horseback.  So easy, so simple, so rich, so delicious.  You don’t think you will like smoked oysters because you don’t eat raw ones?  Give this a chance.  They aren’t the same at all.  If you like salty, you will love these.  Especially with champagne. 

Ingredients
1 can or tin of smoked oysters, or more if you are making these for more than a few people
(Our most recent one had 13 oysters which made counting the bacon slices tricky, but, you’ll be glad to know, I managed the math.)
Half as many slices of smoked bacon as you have oysters
Toothpicks

Method
Preheat your oven to 400F or 200C.  

Cut the bacon slices in half.
Put one oyster on the end of a piece of bacon.  Roll up the bacon around the oyster.  Secure with a toothpick.



Bake for about 10 minutes in your preheated oven.  


Turn the angels over and bake for a further five minutes or until the bacon is crispy. 


Okay, stop counting.  Yes, I ate one before I took the final photo.  Do not judge me till you have made these and managed NOT to eat one before serving!  

Drain on a paper towel, then serve.  Enjoy!

P.S. These are also good cold, later Christmas Eve, when all the gifts have been wrapped and you are still drinking red wine and watching reruns on television.  True story.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pecan Fudge



The holiday season is not over yet and many of you will need to be bringing hostess gifts to parties and open houses.  This fudge, on a pretty plate, is a great gift.  I have been searching for a fudge recipe that reminds me of the one my maternal grandmother used to make and this one, with pecans, seems pretty close.  Wish my mother were here to taste and confirm.  

Ingredients
2 scant cups or 440g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons or 85g butter
1 cup or 237ml heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 cups or 205g of marshmallows
3 cups or 525g of semisweet chocolate in bars, chopped up, or chips
1 teaspoon or 5ml vanilla extract
1 cup or about 105g of pecans

Method
Chop half of your pecans rather coarse and the other half into finer pieces.


Line a 9in x 13in (approx. 23cm x 33cm) metal baking pan with parchment paper.

Add the sugar, salt, butter, cream, and marshmallows to a large saucepan.


Cook the mixture over medium heat until the marshmallows and butter begin to melt, about five minutes.

Once the marshmallows have melted, bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for five minutes. It will bubble all over the place and darken slightly. Take the pan off of the heat.



Add the chocolate and vanilla and mix it all together until the chocolate has melted and everything is nice and smooth.  The oil started to separate out a little so I just mixed quicker and it seemed to come together again.
My chocolate was a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and semi-sweet baking chocolate chopped up from squares.  The 16 oz bag of Nestle Tollhouse morsels is only 453g and you need 525g for 3.5 cups.
This is VERY chocolatey!

Working quickly, add in your coarsely chopped pecans and mix thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into your lined baking pan, spread out with a spatula or spoon and sprinkle quickly with the finely chopped pecans.



Let this sit at room temperature for at least three hours or chill it in the refrigerator atop a cooling rack so that air can circulate around the pan for about half an hour before you slice it. 

Cut into squares. This fudge will keep at room temperature for 10 days in an airtight container.  Or on a plate covered tightly in cling film.


Enjoy!

Adapted from this original recipe.


This post has been shared as part of a chocolate/cocoa round up. Please follow this link to see all of the wonderful recipes at Spice and Sugar Tales.



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Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary



Still on the empty-the-freezer-before-moving program!  It’s Christmas Day in KL and I have prepared all the usual dishes including a roast turkey breast instead of a whole turkey, but we have been invited to a Boxing Day party at my lovely friend Katie’s house, so I am also seasoning and roasting a whole leg of lamb.  We were asked to bring Christmas leftovers so this doesn’t exactly qualify but I hope it will be welcome.

Ingredients
1 whole leg of lamb – ours is 5 lbs or 2.26 kg
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
5-6 cloves of garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper
Olive oil

Method
Pull the leaves off the rosemary stalks and mince them.


Cut your garlic cloves in half so you have two wide pieces.  Cut these into long strips.


Add the garlic to the rosemary with several good grinds of fresh black pepper and about two teaspoons of flakey sea salt.   Moisten liberally with olive oil and mix.



Score the leg fat with a sharp knife.


Using a sharp, pointed paring knife, make holes in the lamb by inserting and twisting about every two inches or four centimeters. 


Open the holes further by sticking your index finger in them.



Insert a strip of garlic along with some rosemary, salt and pepper mixture in each hole.  Do this all over the leg.  Some holes will be deeper, some shallower.  Such is the nature of a leg of lamb with a bone. 



Rub any leftover seasonings all of the leg.  Add an extra couple of grinds of black pepper. 


If you are not roasting the lamb immediately, refrigerate it, covered until an hour or two before you are ready to cook it.   When you are ready to roast, take it out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature or close.   Preheat your oven to 325°F or 165°C.

Add a cup of water to the pan and roast for about 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes, depending on how you like it done.   I find an instant read thermometer handy for this.  (Mine is quite simple, like the one in the link, but there are also thermometers that can be changed between Fahrenheit and Celsius.  (A quick web search in your country will give you a good idea of what is available.) Your internal temperature should be 140°F or 60°C for rare, 160°F or 71°C for medium and 170°F or 70°C for well done.  


Serve with gravy and mint sauce.  Merry Christmas!





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Friday, December 23, 2011

Vegetable Stir-fry - a healthy meal for before or after the indulgence



Younger daughter and I spent some time making up our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus.  Needless to say, there are lots of high calorie items on the list.  Woo hoo! And since Thursday’s dinner included a rich cheese fondue and chocolate cake for elder daughter’s birthday, a vegetable stir-fry with ramen noodles seemed just the ticket for last night.

Ingredients
Ramen noodles – 2 packets – to serve three to four for people with lots of vegetables
Lots of vegetables of your choice
Tonight we had:
1 carrot
About 200g or 7 oz of snow peas or mange-tous
250g or 9 oz of mixed mushrooms or your favorite
200g or 7 oz of firm salted tofu
300g or 10.5 oz broccoli
300g or 10.5 oz cauliflower
2 large red chilies
3 cloves of garlic
1 knob of fresh ginger
Sea salt
Olive oil
Cayenne pepper
Soy sauce

Method
Start heating your large non-stick pan.  Cut your firm soy into cubes.



Drizzle olive oil into the pan and tip in the soy cubes.


Pan fry until the soy is browned on all side and sprinkle with a little sea salt.  When the soy is nicely caramelized, sprinkle it with cayenne (red) pepper.


 With the pan still hot, but turned off, add a goodly drizzle off soy sauce and stir like crazy.  It should bubble up immediately in the heat and coat the soy curd, adding a layer of salt and flavor.  When the pan is dry, remove the soy to a side plate.   This is a vegetarian dish so the browned soy and, soon, the mushrooms will add a satisfying “meaty” flavor to the vegetables.


Chop your vegetables into pieces, starting with the mushrooms.  Heat your pan very hot and tip in just the mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt and allow the mushrooms to brown.  



Meanwhile, add boiling water to the dried noodles.  After about 7-10 minutes, drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.




Once the mushrooms are browned, add them to the soy plate.



Mince the ginger and the garlic.  Chop the red chilies into small pieces.  If you don’t like spicy food, take the seeds out of the chilies before chopping.

Heat your pan once more and add a generous helping of olive oil.  Tip in the garlic, ginger and red chilies.














Sauté the seasonings for about 7-10 minutes, or until the peppers look soft.  Do not let the garlic burn.  Drizzle in some more olive oil.  Add in the other vegetables and stir-fry until they are al dente.



Add in the rinsed noodles, then the mushrooms and soy cubes.  Drizzle with soy sauce to taste.  Toss and warm through.  Enjoy! 





Each person can drizzle on a little more soy sauce if desired. 


Enjoy!




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