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Wednesday 19 December 2012

Last Minute Gift Ideas

I'm not going to lie. I am in a state of panic that I haven't quite yet got Christmas in the bag and I have less than 48 hours to get myself ready. (Can one ever be ready for Christmas?)

Since I cannot be the only person in this position, and since I would never suggest anybody attempt a visit to 'the shops' at this late stage, here's a quick selection of ideas should you be needing them. I am doing the biscotti this afternoon, so don't think I'm all mouth and no trousers about this.

My criteria is simple: multiple gifts from one kitchen session, easy-to-grab-from-the-local-shops ingredients and less than an hour to make from start to finish. Hope you are soothed!

This year's biscotti are flavoured with orange and contain hazelnuts and almonds - use whatever nuts you fancy in this recipe, and don't bother with the egg wash. I mean, do you really have time?

Make some jam. Grab a bag of frozen berries from the freezer of the supermarket and some jam sugar, and you're good to go.

Macarons are so much easier than you think. Don't be scared. Not for the faint-hearted, but cheap and impressive.

This gingerbread is the best recipe on my blog for Christmas gift giving. Help yourself. Treacle can be a pain to find - use golden syrup, or at a push, marmalade. You'll just have orange gingerbread instead. Who wouldn't like that?

If you have the power tools (a blender will do), make some peanut butter. I would love a jar of this!

Am I crazy to suggest this ice-cream? Flavoured with spices and brandy, it would be a great Christmas gift. Just package it up in paper cups with lids. Brilliant. No ice-cream maker required.

Have a wonderful Christmas if I don't get to post again beforehand!

Friday 14 December 2012

OXO Salad Spinner Winner (What a great title!)

Now. By my reckoning we had 45 comments for the salad spinner giveaway. I need to think of a new system for this. Writing all the names down is killing me.

Anyhoo, we have a winner: Number 36, who is Laura. She told me, in no uncertain terms that -

My favourite salad would have to be a simple, rocket, Parmesan & balsamic vinegar - oh with a pinch of rock salt.... so simple and delicious!

Now, I disagree. Rock salt can break teeth. But the rest of it sounds great! Laura, please get in touch so I can get your spinner sent out to you. 

The rest of you, have a great weekend. I'm off to buy a tree tomorrow!

Thursday 13 December 2012

Pink Grapefruit Marmalade

There's a lot of Christmassy stuff happening on the Internet right now. Hoardes of people are posting on Facebook about what they are buying for who, and some of the blogs I follow have posted gift buying guides for the greedy gourmets in your lives.

I'm not dismissing their efforts (who wouldn't want one of these?), and I am NOT deliberately being a bore, but I can't help feeling the need to point out that it does not mean that you have to spend money on over-priced tat to show someone that you love them at this time of year.

Make them something instead.

There's been a rule in my family since time immemorial that we don't buy gifts for everybody. It's a complicated system based on age (as opposed to merit), and since I am now thirty, I don't qualify as a child by any means. Historically, we've never bought gifts for extended family (aunts, uncles etc.), so that puts me in a pickle as an adult, because I'd like to. Cooking is my way of getting around the ban.

I haven't always been successful at making things people actually want. The first batch of chutney I ever made was completely un-delicious (although my family ate it). But I got better. And there are things I've made that some people actually get in touch with me about in early December to see if I'll be doing them again. I might round them up later this week actually, since some of the recipes are on the blog.

That's pain poilâne, btw, and I have a terrible OCD relating to its consumption. 
The curved, top crust has to be facing my right and the flat bottom, my left. 
This way I can nibble from the top of the loaf to the bottom. Am I making myself at all clear?

This marmalade is a new addition to the hamper hit-parade. I wanted to make some in January with Seville oranges, and add dried cranberries to it, but it never happened. So this is my pink grapefruit version. It's delightfully bitter (Campari Soda alone cannot keep me in this perpetual bad mood), and can be personalised easily. You say you'd prefer thicker shreds? Slice accordingly. Don't like the idea of grapefruit? Use limes (maybe add some ginger!), lemons, oranges or even clementines. Or a mixture.

A pot of marmalade and a loaf of gingerbread is the perfect way to say Happy Christmas. Especially to the people who hated your chutney and ate it anyway.

Pink Grapefruit Marmalade

You will need:

750g pink grapefruit (2 of them)
1.5 kg granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons

  1. Half the grapefruits. Juice them, and then slice the rinds (literally, the whole thing - everything that's left after juicing) as thinly or thickly as you like. I think very thinly is better, but will allow you the freedom to choose.
  2. Put the juice, rinds and 1.9 litres of water into a large bowl, and leave to soak overnight.
  3. Transfer the grapefruit, water and juice to a large (LARGE!) pan, and cook gently for a few hours until the rind is soft. The liquid will have reduced by about a third.
  4. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly until the setting point (* see note) has been reached. This took about 30 minutes for me, though start checking at 15.
  5. Turn off the heat. Stir gently for a few minutes, to disperse any bubbles, and pour into hot, sterilised jars (* see note). Seal immediately with new lids. Use within 2 years.
NB: To check for setting point: when you start boiling the marmalade, put a saucer in the freezer to chill. After boiling for the required time, drop small dribbles of the marmalade onto the saucer and wait a moment. If, when you poke the puddle of marmalade with your finger the surface forms a wrinkle, the setting point has been reached.

I re-use jars. This recipe will fill 6-7 regular sized ones. To sterilise them, wash the jars (remove any labels) in hot soapy water, then rinse them. Place right side up on a baking sheet and dry them off in a 100°C oven. I leave them in there at that temperature until I'm ready to fill them. I also sterilise the lids by boiling them for 10 minutes. I buy my lids new. Get them from your local kitchen supply store.

Monday 10 December 2012

OXO Salad Spinner Review and Give-Away: Carrot and Peanut Salad

I hate this blue-hued photo. But I had to leave the house soon afterwards so we're sticking with it. There's a cake I can post in a few days that will rid the front page of this monstrosity and all will be well at Delicious Delicious Delicious once more.

I look back at this salad series and I think 2 things. The first is that my efforts look pretty half-arsed, which I don't like, because I don't DO half-arsed, I do full-force. The second is that I think it's really obvious from looking at them how I treat a salad. It's rarely the centre of my meal, but then it's not just green leaves at the side of a plate either. I like to load my salads with vegetables and fruit. They're my vehicle for getting 5-a-day.

This  one, despite my dislike of the photo, is my absolute favourite. My mum used to make it, but I never tell anyone that because I like them to think it was my idea. If you take this to a friend's BBQ, people you meet for the first time there will come and tell you how amazing you are for thinking it up. I promise. And you don't need to tell them you got the idea from me, since, well, everything tastes better with peanuts. Right? It really COULD be something you just thought of.

You can add ginger too - a little fresh, grated stuff makes all the difference. Literally: it turns it into something quite different. But it's perfect with just these two ingredients, so don't sweat it if you have none in.

RE: the fabulous Give-Away - I'm not home until Wednesday, so take an extension if you like. It's not like you'll turn into a pumpkin if you comment after midnight or anything, is it?

A re-hash of the giveaway rules, because rules control the fun:

  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favourite salad is. Maybe you hate salad and you want this for someone else. That's fine. I'm not going to judge you.
  • If you prefer, leave the comment on the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. You can like us as well! We'd love it if you did.
  • Comments will close at midnight on Monday 10 December 2012 Wednesday 12 December 2012. Winners will be selected at random shortly after. 
  • Open to all people, everywhere.
  • Email entries not accepted. 
Carrot and Peanut Salad

You will need:


  1. I don't mean to be stupid about this, but well... Peel and chop the carrots. Stir in the nuts. You're done.

Monday 3 December 2012

OXO Salad Spinner: Review and Give-Away - Beetroot and Grapefruit Salad with Wild Rocket

Giving away one of these, blah blah blah.

So many people are anti-grapefruit and even more anti-beetroot that I don't really know if I dare do this. But, well, I have the picture, we ate the salad... It sort of makes sense to continue.

Rocket does fall into both the 'ridiculously overpriced' and 'bagged' categories of the salad world, but despite this, also seems to sit at or near the top of the unspoken hierarchy that exists among leafy greens. I both love and hate it. Love it for it's peppery kick; hate it because it's become so frickin' trendy that it's all the supermarkets will stock anymore. You want radicchio in my area? Chicory? Well, get an allotment, Baby Doll, because The Co-Op's not going to help you.

Rocket always reminds me of when Perce and I were visiting our friends Dorota and Szymon in Poland and they drove us to Hel (all very Chris Rea, I know, but bear with me). They had a, well, a bit of a disagreement on the way over where to stop and eat (so glad it's not just us who argue in front of other people!), and while staring out of the window waiting patiently for them to finish, I noticed that the whole of one side of the peninsula was covered in a thick, green carpet of rocket leaves. I felt quite pleased with myself for identifying it (a hunter gatherer through and through, that's me) but was even more pleased to try the spear-shaped leaves 'in the wild'. They are crazily hot. 'Peppery' doesn't really describe what proper wild rocket tastes like - if you ever see some, make sure to pick a little to make a salad, because it's nothing like cultivated stuff. I know how annoying it is to hear things like that, but I'm just telling you the truth.

A quick note: this salad looks prettier un-tossed, which is why it's not in the photo. But the dressing is what makes it, so don't skip that step.

Beetroot and Grapefruit Salad with Wild Rocket

You will need:

(For 2 people.)

2 hands full of rocket leaves
2 grapefruit (I like pink - don't look so surprised)
2 or 3 small cooked beetroot, chopped into chunks
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Put the rocket and beetroot into a bowl.
  2. Peel and de-segment the grapefruits over another bowl to catch the juice. I cut the fruit away from the membranes too, but you don't have to: just sliced is fine. Add the grapefruit to the bowl of rocket and beetroot.
  3. Make a dressing of oil, the reserved juice and salt and pepper. Make sure to taste it. It should be sharp and not too oily. Add a little lemon juice if your grapefruit are very sweet.
  4. Dress the salad and toss well. Serve immediately.

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