Christmas Buffet – liven up your buffet table

A Christmas Buffet should look colourful and appetising. Whenever I plan a buffet I recall the adage “you eat with your eyes first” and try to make sure that the food is presented in an eye catching manner. I also experiment and try at least one new dish to keep my buffet exciting. Although mince pies are delicious how many of us get fed up with them before Christmas Day is here? I prefer to exclude the classic Christmas dishes from my buffets.  Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is a variety of foods – so not too much bread or pastry. Here are a few items taken from my latest Christmas buffet.

Christmas Fruit Tree

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Hunger in the UK – 15 Ways Caterers and Food Bloggers Can Help

Hunger is a craving or need that most people experience, often on a daily basis.  For the majority of people in the UK this need is satisfied pretty quickly with a snack or a meal. Indeed we, as caterers and food bloggers, like to exploit this craving by creating delicious meals and sharing our favourite recipes.  Tragically there is a growing number of people in the UK, including children, who experience hunger on a daily basis – but they do not have the luxury of being able to eat when they are hungry. Parents go without food so that their children can eat. Children go to bed hungry. They go to school hungry.  The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world yet we have people faced with the choice between hunger or the indignity of asking for help from charities.  What can we do to help?

blog on hunger in the uk and how caterers and bloggers can help

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Food Blog – Relaunching after an Eight Month Break

I’m sorry guys. I abandoned my food blog. I find it hard to believe that it’s been eight months since I last posted on my blog. It wasn’t intentional. Whenever I write my dogs lay by my feet, and sadly I lost my two Labradors within the space of a couple of weeks – Sasha aged 11 years and Holly who was only 5. I simply lost my motivation to write. I’m sure my fellow dog lovers will understand, but I am conscious of the fact that others have far greater losses to bear – so please accept my apologies.

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Valentine’s Day – How to Tempt your Loved One

Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world. Although the origins of the mystery saint are unclear, with some contending it’s a pagan celebration, what is clear is that millions of people exchange cards and gifts on 14th February every year. Romantic meals for two are also common on Valentine’s Day with restaurants getting booked up very quickly. Why not save your money and instead cosy up with your loved one on a cold winters night with a dinner for two? For dessert may I suggest a delicious chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce?

Valentine's Day. How to tempt your loved one

SERVES 4

Sponge

100g Margarine
100g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
150g Self Raising Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
2 tbsp Milk

Sauce

500ml Milk
30g Cocoa Powder
30g Caster Sugar
25g Cornflour

Beat the Margarine and 100g of Sugar together in a bowl until it becomes light and creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well into the mixture.

Add the flour, 50g of cocoa powder, vanilla essence and milk and fold into the mixture.

Distribute the mixture equally into 4 plastic pudding moulds.

Steam the puddings for one hour.

After 45 minutes, put the milk, 30g of sugar and 30g of cocoa powder into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Mix the cornflour in a cup with a tbsp of water. Gradually add the cornflour to the chocolate flavoured milk, stirring all the time until it thickens.

When the puddings are ready, serve with the chocolate sauce poured over the top.

Did You Know?

  1. No record of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day exists prior to a poem Chaucer wrote in about 1375.
  2. As well as being the patron saint of engaged couples and marriages, Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, the plague, fainting and travelling (history.com)
  3. In Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day Card.
  4. Approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year.
  5. 3% of pet owners prefer celebrating Valentine’s Day with their pets and buy them gifts.
  6. In the 1800s Richard Cadbury invented the first box of heart-shaped chocolates.

Single?

There is no reason to miss out if you’re single!! As an alternative to chocolate pudding you may like to consider some other comfort foods such as Guards Pudding or Steamed Raspberry Pudding.  Enjoy – and let me know what you think.

Stuffed Seafood Mushrooms

Stuffed Seafood Mushrooms

The Perfect Starter

Method

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Put the breadcrumbs, grated cheddar, prawns, crab meat and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, add the seasoning and mix well to combine all the ingredients.

Take each mushroom and spoon the mixture into them as equally as possible and place on a baking tray.

6 Large Flat Mushrooms
50g Wholemeal Breadcrumbs
60g Mature Cheddar Cheese
150g Peeled Prawns
170g Crab Meat
Juice of 1 Lemon
Seasoning
50g Melted Butter
10g Grated Parmesan Cheese

Total Cost:  £7.80

Cost per Portion:  £1.30

Melt the butter and spoon a little over each mushroom.

Finally sprinkle the grated parmesan over the top of each mushroom.

Place them in the oven for 45 minutes.

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How to eat Eggs with a Clear Conscience

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can buy and they are cheap.  Eggs are also one of nature’s most versatile ingredients – so many recipes contain them.  If you care about the welfare of hens, it’s okay to eat free range eggs, isn’t it?  The battery cage ban was introduced throughout Europe in January 2012, so why wouldn’t you want to eat eggs?

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Chicken Stir Fry

Stir Fry
This delicious stir-fry dish is not only healthy, it is quick and easy to prepare – and it’s cheap!  
 
 The tender and crisp vegetables retain more nutrients than if they had been boiled, and the fat content is extremely low as the dish only requires a small amount of oil. I used Frylight Olive Oil Spray, 190 ml cooking spray  as it only contains one calorie per spray.
 
Stir-frying is a Chinese cooking technique in which ingredients are fried in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok
 
The technique originated in China and in recent centuries has spread into other parts of Asia and the West (www.en.m.wikipedia.org – stir frying).
 
The term “stir-fry” was introduced into the English language in Buwei Yang Cheo’s book’How to Cook and Eat in Chinese’ (1945) to describe the chao technique. Chao being the modern word for stir-fry.
Chicken Stir Fry

Method

Place the Linguini into a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook until tender.

Put the butter and olive oil into a wok over a moderate heat and allow to heat up.

Cut the chicken breast into 2cm dice and add to the wok. Allow the chicken to cook for about 10 minutes until there is no sign of pink flesh. Add the garlic, tomato puree and seasoning and cook for a further 5 minutes.

 

250g Linguini
500g Chicken Breast
25g Butter
4 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Chopped Cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
Seasoning
640g Stir Fry Vegetables
180g Plum & Hoisin Sauce

Serves 4

Total cost:  £7.28

Price per Portion:  £1.82

Drain the linguini and then add to the chicken,  stirring in to thoroughly cover the linguini in juices. 

Then add the stir fry vegetables, again thoroughly mixing all the ingredients and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

Finally, add the plum and hoisin sauce and mix well.

Serve immediately.

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Delicious Christmas Cake

Delicious Christmas Cake
Delicious Christmas Cake Slice

Christmas Cake

If you are not keen on rich fruit cake, this recipe is ideal. Whilst filled with delicious ingredients it is not iced, it's lighter, more moist and costs less.

Method

Line a 20cm round false-bottomed cake tin.

Pre-heat your oven to
150 degrees C.

Cream the butter or margarine with the caster sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the golden syrup and gradually add the eggs, one at a time, beating all the time.

Stir in the lemon and orange rinds.

Fold in the flour, salt and milk, then add the sultanas, apricots and cherries.

(For the best dispersement of ingredients it is a good idea to snip the apricots into smaller pieces and cut the cherries in half)

November 1979

Website 

Ingredients

225g Butter or Margarine
125g caster Sugar
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
4 Large Eggs
Finely grated rind of 2 Lemons
Finely grated rind of 2 Oranges
300g Self Raising Flour
Pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp Milk
400g Sultanas
100g Dried Apricots
100g Glace Cherries

Recipe Cost:   £6.08

Regular Christmas Cake retail:  £10

You save approximately £4 

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, raising the mixture around the outside to produce a slight hollow in the middle. This will help to make sure your cake becomes level as it bakes.

Place a double sheet of greaseproof paper to act as a lid, on top of the cake before you put it into the oven.

Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour.Click here forThen reduce the temperature of the oven to 130 degrees C and bake for a further 1.5 – 2 hours.

To test if your cake is fully cooked, poke a pointed knife into the centre, if it comes out clean, remove from the oven and place on a wired tray to cool. If not, give the cake extra time (Check every 10 mins) and test again.

(Do not try to remove the paper linings from the cake until it is perfectly cool)

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Christmas – A time for laughing and sharing

Christmas will soon be upon us. Amidst the festive build up and associated stresses and financial concerns, I thought I’d share with you some amusing experiences and things that make me laugh.  I love Christmas. For me, it’s all about being with family and friends; it’s a time to forget (for a short period) the problems our world is facing and to simply enjoy being alive.  I will reflect upon past Christmases: happy times spent with my parents (now deceased), the beaming smiles on my children’s faces following Santa’s visit, and will look forward to the different kind of magic that Christmas brings now.

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