Originating in England the traditional Christmas Pud can be dated right back to 1420! Serve on Christmas day with a healthy pouring of brandy. (Also know as Plum Pudding)!
Serves: 8 (easily)
Preparation time: 1 day
Cooking time: 8 hours 30 minutes
150g dried apricots, roughly chopped
30g mixed peel, finely chopped
150ml brown ale
2 tbsp dark rum
100g fresh white breadcrumbs 100g suet
50g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of salt
225g dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
zest and juice of half an orange
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 dessert apple, cored and grated or finely chopped (peel left on)
1. Start this recipe the day before by soaking the dried fruit in the rum and brown ale, cover and leave at least 12 hours or overnight. (The longer you leave the fruit soaking the stronger the taste!) Some traditional recipes leave the dried fruit soaking for weeks before!
2. Lightly grease your pudding bowl. Sift the flour and spices into a separate large basin then begin to add the suet, breadcrumbs and brown sugar. Add the eggs, zest and juice from the orange and lemon, the fruit with all its juices, the nuts, (if using) and the grated or chopped apple. Mix thoroughly then spoon into your lightly greased bowl.
3. All important! - How to steam your pudding: Cover the pudding by using two sheets of greaseproof paper cut slightly larger than the basin with your mix in. Lay them on top of each other and make a pleat down the middle by folding the layers over on themselves, about an inch wide. This allows for the pudding to rise while steaming. Do the same with a piece of foil and place on top of the greaseproof paper. Lay the paper and foil on top of the basin and tie a string tightly around the rim of the basin, thus securing the paper and foil. It is helpful to make a ‘handle’ with another piece of string to help you remove the basin from the pot. Trim some of the excess paper and foil.
4. If you have a steamer large enough to hold the pudding basin, fill the bottom with water and bring to the boil. If using a large saucepan, place the pudding inside and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the basin but not touching the string or paper. Cover the steamer or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for eight hours. Keep the kettle full of boiled water, checking the pan from time to time and topping up with water. Whatever you do, don’t allow the pan or steamer to boil dry!
5. After eight hours, remove the pudding using the string handle and allow to cool completely. Remove the string, greaseproof paper and foil and re-tie with fresh.
6. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year (again this recipe is all about time the longer you can leave your pudding the stronger and more flavorsome the end result) If you want to feed the pudding with more rum, unwrap and poke long holes with a cocktail stick or skewer. Drizzle a tablespoonful over the top and rewrap, remembering to make another string handle.
7. When ready to serve on Christmas Day, steam for another two hours. Carefully unwrap the hot pudding and invert onto a serving plate. To fire the pudding, fill a large soup ladle with rum or brandy and carefully light with a match. Gently ladle the flaming liquid over the pudding and garnish with a sprig of holly. Serve with brandy butter, rum sauce or cream . Delicious, the traditional English Christmas Day desert
A traditional recipe that originates from America, this is the perfect way to get you in the mood for Halloween.
Preparation time: 1hr 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
125g butter or margarine
1/3 cup cold water
1. Mix in a large bowl the flour, salt and butter until the mixture starts to form into breadcrumbs. At this stage ad the water and mix (with your hands) until the ingredients are firm enough to form a ball
2. Place the ball of pastry into the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.
3. Once chilled and firm roll out a sheet 1/2cm thick and enough to line your pie dish.
1 medium sized Pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
225g brown sugar
1/2 pint of milk
2 eggs, beaten
100g / 125ml cream
1. Peel, remove the seeds and stew your pumpkin until it is soft enough to mash finely.
2. Once the pumpkin has been mashed and sieved to ensure a smooth fine texture ad the salt nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger and mix together.
3. Add the remaining ingredients: eggs, sugar, then milk and cream and beat very hard until the ingredients achieve an even consistency.
4. Pour your mixture into the uncooked pastry shell and cover with pastry as well.
5. Bake in a moderately heated oven (190 degress celcius) until it is set (you should be able to tell this by gently poking with a knife)
6. A traditional American dish enjoyed across the states especially at Christmas! Bon Apetitt.
For those that have a craving for the sweet stuff try this choco-tastic treat this Christmas. The yule Log or “Bûche de Noël” originated in France in the early 19th century as a large yellow cake spread with frosting. We prefer this version…
Preparation time: 1 day
Cooking time: 30 minutes
18 Chocolate Cookies Small pot of double cream – 250 ml / 225g
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon icing sugar
1. Mix the cream, sugar and cocoa in a basin. Whisk together for about 5 minutes or until the cream is stiff enough to stand in peaks.
2. Using half the cream spread consistently over the biscuits, when all the cookies are coated evenly sandwich them together to form a long chocolate log roll.
3. Wrap the roll of cookies in foil and then place into a fridge and leave overnight to harden.
4. The following day remove the cookie log from the fridge, unwrap and cover with the remaining double cream.
5. Gently drag a fork over the cream to make a a texture similar to ‘bark’ on the ‘log’ and finally decorate with icing sugar (as snow) and holly.
6. Enjoy as a great Christmas day desert!
To have a proper Victorian Christmas feast, you must have roast goose with the classic sage and onion dressing. The onions are parboiled first, so the stuffing will be pleasantly mild, and with the addition of apples, it is milder still.
9 pound goose 2 teaspoons coarse salt
For The Stuffing:
3 medium onions, peeled
4 large apples, peeled, cored & chopped (use tart apples, Granny Smith are best)
2 tablespoons loosely packed dried sage leaves, crumbled
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, cut into tiny bits
Garnishes: sliced apples, parsley or watercress
For The Brown Gravy:
Gizzard, neck, heart, liver and wing tips of the goose, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1-2 tablespoons rendered goose fat or cooking oil
3 cups stock or beef bouillon
½ bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
For The Port Wine Sauce
½ cup port
1 teaspoon mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Rub inside of goose with salt and set aside.
Parboil onion in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and, when cool enough to handle, chop them finely.
In large bowl, combine onions, chopped apples, sage, pepper and butter. Stuff cavity of goose and Sew or skewer the openings and truss in the usual way.
Roast goose at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and turn the goose onto its side. After 1 hour, turn goose onto its other side. For the final 15 minutes, roast goose on its back. Baste every 20 minutes during entire roasting time. (Allow approximately 15 minutes per pound for the total weight of the stuffed goose, or 2 ½ hours for a 9 pound stuffed goose. The internal temperature should register 180 degrees when done, the legs should move up and down freely, and the juices should run a pale yellow.)
Prepare the gravy while goose is roasting. In a large saucepan, brown the goose parts, onion and carrot in the fat. When they are nicely browned, add the stock and seasonings. Simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour, skimming occasionally. Strain, degrease and pour into a warmed sauce-boat for serving.
For the optional port wine sauce, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan. Just before serving the goose, slit open the breast and pour the sauce on top.
A Charleston radio station is observing Valentine’s Day with a reminder that Cupid sometimes misses his mark. WKLC-FM, better known as Rock 105, is giving away a free divorce. Valentine’s Day isn’t all hearts and flowers, says WKLC Program Director Jay Nunley. There is a darker side, he said, “where maybe you despise your spouse and resent the entire day.”
Through 4 p.m. on Thursday, Valentine’s Day, applications for the free divorce will be accepted on the classic rock station’s Web site, http://www.wklc.com. The winning name will be drawn at 5 p.m.
Nunley cautions that this is a real divorce and people shouldn’t enter if they aren’t serious. Also, people expecting a long, drawn-out legal battle should hire a lawyer because the Rock 105 contest is for a relatively uncomplicated divorce.
“Sure we can give away concert tickets, and we do,” said Nunley. “That’s going to make you happy for a little while. This is the chance to make someone happy for the rest of their life.”
Source: Google News (US)
For those of you that aren’t aware, the Happy Christmas head office is based in Tonbridge, a quaint little market town based about half way between Royal Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks in the South East of England.
Tonbridge holds a few distinct landmarks including: a medieval castle, the river Medway, Tonbridge School, and, oh yeah, the site for the largest robbery ever to take place in England!
Our office is just a 10 minute walk away from where the biggest heist in England took place, a £53 million ($106m) raid on a Securitas depot. Yesterday announced the news that five men have been convicted of kidnap, robbery and firearm charges. Sentencing takes place on Tuesday.
Our new website, laptops, company cars and office expansion is a pure coincidence, I was in the office all day!
I stumbled across this exhibition of illumination whilst driving through South London late last year. I kid you not this house is real!!!
How they afford the electricity bill is anyones guess.
Most people are now checking their bank balances and working out the exact cost of Christmas. A quick tally up around the HC office proves that like most people we seem to have spent way more than anticipated (as per usual!)
UK retailers recorded their worst December figures since 2004 according to The British Retail Consortium. However, e-consultancy.com recorded the opposite for online traders who experienced a bouyant Christmas, fuelled by customers seeking a good deal.
Now for the stats…
4.4 million people in the UK spent a total of £84 million on Christmas Day, 269% more than last year with an average of £19.09 per person. While in the US £14.9 billion was spent in December up 19% on last year.
In reference to an earlier blog I mentioned that I was given an unusual Christmas gift, a night in the Lowengraben Jail Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland (Jail Hotel). In fact it is the only jail hotel in Switzerland!
Below are a few pictures from our stay, not the most luxurious of hotels but quirky none the less!
2007 has been a very fun and hectic time for us, so with another year over with, everyone at HappyChristmas.com would like to wish you all the very best in 2008.