Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day 2011 - Come and gone.....

Well after much preparation, lists, shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping presents, eating (too too much) drinking, talking, singing and excitement waiting for Santa to arrive...........its over for another year!

The house is now quiet and dark with just a twinkle from the christmas tree lights, most of the washing up is done and the man has gone to bed exhausted poor love!
The Red Dress made an appearance I am pleased to say and I can now tuck into another mince pie and glass of bubbles and put my feet up, proud of myself that another year's Christmas Day has gone off without a hitch.

Tomorrow Boxing Day is the first day of left overs!!!! Ham and eggs with bubble and squeak for brekkie, turkey sandwiches and cranberry sauce for lunch and something imaginative with turkey or ham for dinner.

Slowly  we will get back to being tidy, once all the wrapping paper is bagged for the rubbish bin and the empty bottles recycled.  A place will be found for all the presents and more exercise will be done in the next few days to compensate for the enormous consumption of food.  I love it !

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Carols - a lovely surprise!

The Block Arcade fronting Collins Street Melbourne
Shoppers rushing about

Still doing Christmas shopping? Thank goodness the 25th arrives otherwise I would still be shopping for it!

You do come across some special things when you are out and about that actually makes you stop and enjoy the spirit of the season.

The singers with their "shopping bag" disguise in the beautiful Block Arcade

People were rushing everywhere in the Block Arcade in Melbourne the other day when some shoppers stopped and started to sing "Silent Night" there were only about four of them (I was then expecting some other peorple to join in like you see on YouTube).

Everyone stopped to watch and listen to the beautiful voices.  When they finished everyone clapped and the choir wandered off, I suppose to their next venue.  It was a lovely surprise.

I wished I could have found my mobile phone quicker to film, but by the time I had rummaged about in my bag and got myself sorted they had finished - I was lucky to click off a couple of snaps.

The spirit of Christmas was left behind with everyone smiling as we all strolled away saying how lovely it was - something special in the middle of the day - so unexpected.

An appropriate Christmas Card I found this year and sent to my sister

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mince Pies de luxe

Tonight I finished off my mince pies. they made the kitchen smell all Christmasy, mincemeat cooking can do that.  The thing that makes these mince pies so luxurious is the dollop of cream cheese inside with the mince - trust me it really works.

This recipe is from Josceline Dimbleby's Christmas Book which is well used!


250g(8oz) full fat cream cheese (Philadelphia)
50g(2oz) caster sugar
500g(1lb) Orange pastry
butter for greasing
500-625g mincemeat
milk to glaze
caster or icing sugar to decorate

Put cream cheese and caster sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy
Knead pastry lightly and roll out (rather more thickly than usual)

Using a 3 inch pastry cutter cut 24 rounds, re-rolling as necessary

Line greased patty tins with the rounds

Fill with spoonfuls of mincemeat and a good dollop of cream cheese mixture - smooth the top

Roll out the remaining pastry and with a smaller 2 inch cutter cut out 24 round tops

Moisten the underside of the tops and place on the filled pies

Press lightly together and make a small slit in the top of each pie

Brush the tops with cold milk and bake in the centre of the oven preheated to Gas Mark 7/220C/425F for 15 -20 minutes until light golden brown.

The pastry is so crumbly that you need to let them cool in the tins before removing with a round bladed knife.

Sprinkle generously with icing sugar.  Serve warm or cold I love them either way! Might have one for breakfast.

Merry Christmas and goodwill to all.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Orange Pastry for Mince Pies

 The wreath is on the door the tree is up and some of the house is decorated and the orange pastry for my best ever mince pies is wrapped and in the fridge ready to be made tomorrow night! This recipe is from Josceline Dimbleby's Christmas Book that I bought in Sainsbury's in Oxted UK back in 1987 and I use it every year.

 This is enough pastry for 24 pies

500g plain flour
175g icing or caster sugar
375g butter
finely grated rind and juice of 1 large orange

 Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl - I love my Donna Hay sifter
 Cut the butter into small pieces and stir into flour
 Rub butter into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs

Stir in the grated orange rind then using a knife stir in the orange juice 

Gather up the dough and pat into a ball, 
wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before using.

All ready now to just roll out and add the secret ingredient to the mincemeat. 

I feel so much better now I have all this done.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Coffee Shortbread

These silver studded stars came to work with me and went in a flash!
My daughter arrived on Sunday night after demonstrating these coffee shortbreads at a party.  She unpacked all her tupperware gear and we threw together this quick and easy shortbread in a few minutes.

1 3/4 cups plain flour,
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup rice flour
250g butter (room temperature)
1tbs instant coffee
2tsp hot water

5 tbs icing sugar and warm water to mix

Sift flour into a bowl and add sugar and rice flour.  Add chopped butter 
Dissolve the coffee in hot water and set to one side
Mix the dry ingredients and butter together - I used my hand but you could use a spatula
Add the coffee - if it is too wet add a little rice flour so it can be turned out on to the bench top

 Add more flour so the dough does not stick

 Roll out (not too thin) cut out stars 
place on baking tray and cook in a low oven 120 deg for 45 mins 

 When they cooled I dribbled a little icing and added the silver studs  

 I kept a few plain ones for me!

They packed up very nicely in my lovely Christmas tin and toddled off to work. 
A Merry Christmas treat for everyone in the office. 
They loved them.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

All in a days work

My Christmas Mugs are out

The boys are hard at work in the back yard

My  coffee shortbread that went to work for morning tea
My Christmas tin
Melbourne The view from Vue de Monde (looking across the river out to the bay) tonight where I had drinks with a friend after work