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The Year's Best for 2010

I've just spend several hours going through my archives trying to pick out some of my best recipes that I've cooked and presented to you over these past 12 months. It was a really hard job! I never put anything on here unless it is wonderfully scrumptiously tasty! It was really tough narrowing it down to just a dozen or so! There are ever so many more tasty recipes than just these ones I am showing you at the moment . . . you'll just have to dig around and hunt for them.

I think I just gained ten pounds just looking at these! Happy New Year to you all and all the best to you in the months to come! I'm looking forward to an even tastier 2011, and I hope you are too!!

Strawberry and Mint Scones - I am fairly certain that when you bite into one of these you will be in scone heaven. The dough is buttery and short, with just the faintest hint of mint throughout. The strawberry jam is like a sweet surprise in the centre and that lemon drizzle, well . . . it's just the perfect capper! Printable Recipe

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Icing - Now these dear friends . . . are totally moreish. I think it's the lemon glaze . . . that is, well . . . the icing on the cake! (Of course the preserved ginger in syrup on the top doesn't hurt either!!) Printable Recipe

Creamy Parsnip Soup with Ginger and Cardamom - I think the hazelnut/dried cranberry garnish on this soup makes it something really special. I really hope that you will try it. I just know you will love it as much as we do. And that, my friends, is quite an awful lot!!! Printable Recipe

Sticky Toffee Cake - This cake moreishly filled with dates with a scrummy toffee icing gilding the top is just to die for. You'll find yourself getting up in the middle of the night and raiding the larder for . . . just . . . one . . . more . . . piece. Printable Recipe.

Creamy Courgette Lasagna - A tasty vegetarian Lasagna filled with lovely courgettes, lots of cheese and a spicy sauce! Printable Recipe.

Lemon and Pistachio Cake - A lovely moist and buttery cake, filled with crunchy pistachios and lemon, and topped with lucious candied lemon and lime slices and of course, some more crunchily addictive pistachio nuts. (I love, LOVE pistachio nuts!) Printable Recipe.

Creamy Mustard, Sausage and Pasta Hot Dish - Imagine little meaty bites of a well flavoured sausage, in a creamy sauce filled with not one . . . but two tasty mustards, caramelized onions and cabbage, and a rustic homestyle pasta . . . perfectly shaped to hug and soak in all those lovely juices. Printable Recipe.

Bakewell Whoopie Pies - My attempt to create a truly "British" Whoopie Pie. What could shout out England more than the good old Bakewell Tart! These tasty little cakes have all the characteristics of a traditional Bakewell tart . . . an delicious cake batter, containing ground almonds . . . raspberry jam, the almond icing on top and the glace cherry. The only thing that is not traditional is that gorgeous whipped marshmallow filling. Printable Recipe.

Fudge Brownie Pie - A fudgy mouthful of rich moist chocolate brownie . . . stuffed with toasted pecans and then topped with oooey, goooey, sweet marshmallow . . . all smoothed over with a rich chocolate fudge frosting. Printable Recipe.

Tasty Tuna Baguettes - A fantastically delicious tuna baguette! Filled with lots of lovely flavours . . . lemon, onion, celery, mayo, sweet pickle, Dijon mustard . . . Perfect Picnic Food. Printable Recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Oat Bars - Deliciously oaty bars with a creamy peanut butter filling, and stogged full of rich chocolate chips and crunchy toasted walnuts. Printable Recipe.

Rice Pudding - Perfectly baked rice pudding . . . with creamy, milky, sweet rice beneath a scrummy golden buttery crust . . . a feast for the eyes, stomach and soul . . . Printable Recipe.

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings - The meat . . . fork tender and the gravy thick and rich and filled with deliciously simmered root vegetables . . . the dumplings . . . rich and meltingly tender on the insides . . . herbily soaking up that lucious gravy. Comfort food at it's very best. Printable Recipe.

Bakewell Scones - Yummy sweet seedless raspberry preserves, sandwiched between two scone layers made all buttery and flakey with marzipan and butter having been rubbed in . . . with a touch of flaked coconut (not traditional I know) for some added texture, and then topped with an egg wash and flaked almonds. Baked until scrummily flakey and crisp on the bottom and top and then drizzled with an almond glaze and topped with a glace cherry half. Printable Recipe.

Sticky Ginger and Orange Chops with a Parsnip, Potato and Mustard Mash - Deliciously sticky chops with a hint of warmth, atop a bed of luscious parsnip and potato mash. Scrumptious! A feast for the eyes and the stomach! Printable Recipe.

Christmas Pudding Trifle - Without a doubt, hands down . . . this has to be the most delicious Trifle ever! There is just enough Christmas Pudding in it to give you a gentle hint of spicy flavour, without it going over the top. I don't think any die hard Christmas Pudding hater would be assaulted by it in the least . . . don't even tell them it's there. They probably won't even notice what it is, and even if they do, they will forgive you because it is that delicious that they will wonder how they ever got by in life without it thus far! Printable Recipe.
Marie Rayner
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Baked Potato and Leek Soup

Potato and Leek soup is a real favourite over here in the UK. Thick and creamy and filled with lovely leeks and potatoes. Filling and delicious.

I like to put my own spin on things though, and so today I made a baked potato and leek soup.

Lovely leeks, softened in lots of butter along with some garlic . . .
and then simmered in rich chicken stock. Blitzed with a whole baked potato until smooth and creamy . . .

Rich and tasty cheddar cheese is then stirred in to melt, along with some milk and sour cream. What could get any better . . .

Nothing . . . well, not unless you consider adding a topping of more grated cheddar cheese, some chopped spring onion and fried bacon . . .

Everything tastes better with bacon, does it not!!!!

*Baked Potato and Leek Soup*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

A delicious version of the always popular leek and potato soup!

2 medium baking potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
4 TBS unsalted butter
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts) washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint of chicken stock (2 cups)
1 pint water (2 cups)
4 ounces milk (1/2 cup)
250ml of sour cream (1/2 cup)
4 thick slices of dry cure smoked streaky bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 ounces of strong cheddar cheese, grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Wash the potatoes really well, pick with a fork in several places, and then place into the heated oven right on the rack and bake for about 1 hour, until tender. Let cool completely.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic. Cook ,stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with some salt. Add the chicken stock and water. Simmer until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

While the leeks are cooking fry the bacon pieces in a skillet over medium heat, until crisp and browned. Drain well on paper towelling and set aside.

Cut one of the baked potatoes in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Remove the skin and chop it up. Set the potato flesh aside for later. Cut the remaining potato into chunks. Add this along with the skin of the other potato to the leeks. Puree the soup with an immersion (stick) blender until smooth. Whisk in the milk, sour cream and half of the cheese, whisking until the cheese is melted. Cut the potato flesh into 1/2 inch chunks and add to the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as required with salt and pepper. Keep warm, but do not allow to boil.

Serve hot and ladled into heated bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar, some of the bacon bits and some spring onion.
Marie Rayner
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Peppermint Brownies

I love Brownies . . . all chocolatey and fudgy . . . I can't get enough of them. I also love the white version . . . called blondies. Filled with chocolate chunks, or nuts, they are moreishly scrumptiously good!

Sometimes though . . . I get to craving a brownie that's a little bit different . . . like brownies filled with caramel, or after dinner mints, or turkish delight thins . . . You've seen them all on here before.

No less scrummy or delicious than regular brownies.

Today though I made a fabulous brownie which is peppermint flavoured and topped with a yummy chocolate glaze and white chocolate trim!

It gets it's deep peppermint flavour from peppermint tea leaves, which you blitz with the sugar in the food processor until very fine and peppermint essence, which you can buy here. (It can be a bit hard to find over here in the UK, although I have no idea why?) You can also get it in some of the better grocery stores like Waitrose.

These brownies are wonderfully fudgy . . . beautifully pepperminty . . . and moreishly chocolatey!

If you can stop at eating just one of these . . . you're a much better person than I am!

*Peppermint Brownies*
Makes about 30, depending on how large you cut them
Printable Recipe

Delicious brownies that get even better tasting after a couple of days! Fantastic!

8 ounces of unsalted butter (1 cup)
8 ounces of good quality unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp peppermint tea leaves
14 ounces caster sugar (2 cups)
4 large free range eggs
2 tsp peppermint essence
pinch fine seasalt
4.5 ounces plain flour (1 cup)

For the chocolate glaze:
2 ounces unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
2 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces semi sweet chocolate
2 TBS golden syrup

For the White chocolate trim:
2 ounces white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking tin and line with parchment paper, allowing it to overhang by at least 2 inches above the long sides so that you can lift them out easily once baked and cooled. Butter the parchment paper.

Heat 2 inch of water in a small pot to a gentle simmer. Place the chocolate (chopped) and butter (chopped) for the brownies into a heat proof bowl. Set over the simmering water without allowing the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Cook and stir, until the butter and chocolate have melted and are uniform, some 6 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the bowl over the water.

Place the sugar and the peppermint tea in a food processor. Blitz until the tea is finely ground. Stir this mixture into the melted chocolate mixture. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then stir in the peppermint essence and salt. Sift the flour over top and then fold it in. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bang lightly on the counter to settle and then bake in the heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until well set and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. Allow to cool to room temperature in the pan, on top of a wire rack, before proceeding. Once cool, lift out by the paper handles and peel off the paper. Place onto a foil lined board, or tray.

To make the glaze bring the water in the pot back to a gentle simmer. Place both of the chocolates (chopped) along with the butter (chopped) into a bowl and set over the simmering water, again without allowing the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Cook and stir until smooth and melted. Stir in the golden syrup. Spread the chocolate glaze over the brownies in an even layer using an offset spatula.

Place the whit chocolate in another bowl and set over the simmering water, stirring until completely melted. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over top of the chocolate glaze in lines. Run a toothpick the opposite way through the white chocolate lines to make a decorative pattern. Allow to set for several hours before cutting into squares to serve. Keep well covered and serve at room temperature.
Marie Rayner
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Barbequed Turkey Pizza

I opened up the fridge today and looked in at all the leftovers I still have from Christmas . . .

What do you do when you still have Turkey in the fridge, needing to be used . . . and you are fed up to the eyeballs with turkey pot pies, soup and casseroles . . . when all you really want for supper is Pizza . . . but you don't want to waste the turkey???

Of course one answer is to just freeze the turkey and take it out to enjoy in a few weeks time . . . but . . . it just never tastes the same to me once it's been frozen . . . it kinda gets all stringy and yukky too . . .

Why not turn it into something unsual and different . . . combine your love of turkey and pizza together???

Why not indeed! You've heard of Barbequed Chicken Pizza, I am sure . . . but here is a delicious Barbequed Turkey version with a sauce that is to die for!!!!

A wonderful homemade crust slathered with a delicious cranberry barbeque sauce, and then topped with balsamic caramelized red onions, chopped turkey breast and a combination of tasty cheeses . . . mozzarella, cheddar, gouda and Parmesan!

Oh mama mia . . . this is fantastic! That sauce is to die for . . . and the caramalized onions . . . so so good! Sometimes I even surprise myself!

*Barbequed Turkey Pizza*
Makes 1 (12 inch) pizza
Printable Recipe

A delicious pizza that is perfect for using up some more of that leftover Christmas Turkey!

For the dough:
250ml warm water ( 1 cup)
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast
13 ounced white bread flour ( 3 cups)

For the caramelized onions:
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
a glug of olive oil
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS balsamic vinegar

For the sauce:
4 fluid ounces of barbeque sauce
a dessertspoon of whole berry cranberry sauce

To Top:
8 ounces cubed cooked turkey breast (1/2 pound)
8 ounces mixed grated cheeses (mozzarella, gouda and cheddar)
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put the dough ingredients into your automatic breadmaker according to the directions for your particular breadmaker, following the dough cycle. In the meantime heat a bit of oil in a frying pan. Add the onions. Cook and stir over medium heat until they begin to wilt. Add some seasoning and the balsamic vinegar. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until golden and caramelized. Set aside to cool.

Once the dough cycle has completed on your machine, remove the dogh and punch down. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out to fit into your pizza pan leaving a bit of an overhang. Butter the pan with some white vegetable shortening. Sprinkle with some fine polenta or cornmeal if desired. Place the crust in the pan, and fold the edge over to make a lip. Stir together the barbecue sauce and cranberry sauce. Spread over the top of the crust. Top with the caramelized onions and chopped turkey breast. Sprinkle with the cheeses and Parmesan.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 5. Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, then move it to the top rack and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Optional Topping additions:
Slivered green peppers
sweetcorn kernels
sliced mushrooms
chopped roasted green chillies
Marie Rayner
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Pina Colada Cupcakes

I know you probably aren't in the mood for any more decadence after all the rich foods of the past few days . . . but . . . humour me!

You probably still have company in the house . . . and, you may even be expecting more company!

You are probably filled up to the eyeballs with Christmas Puddings and Mince Pies, and fruit cake!

You may be looking for some small indulgence that is completely different than all of this Christmas fare you've been throwing back over the past couple of days . . .

Look no further! These tasty little cupcakes fit the bill perfectly! Intensely flavoured with chunks of dried sweetened pineapple and coconut . . .

Topped with an indulgent tasty cream cheese icing . . .
Covered with a tasty drift of flaked coconut and more dried pineapple . . .

What's not to like???

(It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!)

*Pina Colada Cupcakes*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

Deliciously moist with the flavours of coconut, pineapple and . . . um . . . rum!

225g of plain flour (1 2/3 cups)
1 tsp baking soda
5 ounces caster sugar (2/3 cup)
2 ounces softened butter (1/4 cup)
2 ounces soft margarine (1/4 cup)
2 large free range eggs
the grated zest of one lime
50g of sweetened dried pineapple, chopped coarsely
1/4 pint milk (1/2 cup)
1 ounce dessicated coconut (1/4 cup)

For the icing:
150g cream cheese (1/2 large tub)
2 1/2 ounces icing sugar, sifted (1/2 cup)
1 - 1/2 tsp of lime juice, or rum

To decorate:
dried sweetened pineapple, chopped
coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cups. Set aside.

Place the flour, soda, sugar, butter, margarine, eggs and lime zest in a bowl. Beat with an electric whisk for several minutes, scraping the mixture down halfway through. Fold in the pineapple with the milk and coconut. Divide the batter equally amongst the paper cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and they spring back when lightly touched. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing beat together the sifted sugar, cream cheese and lime juice (rum) until smooth. Spread over cakes and decorate with the pineapple and coconut flakes. Store in the refrigerator.

Note - You can toast the coconut flakes if you wish.
Marie Rayner
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Boxing Day Leftovers

So here you are. It's boxing day and you have a whole fridge filled with leftovers. What to do . . . what to do . . .

I thought I would give you some tasty ideas this morning to help you use up some of those scrummy leftovers. Of course you could just have a reheat of the leftovers, but it's also nice to dress them up in a few different ways too!

Ham Leftovers:

We like to have ham, cut into thick slices and fried in butter along side of our fried eggs for a special boxing day breakfast. Just melt some butter and add the ham once it begins to sizzle. Cook until it begins to get crisp on the edges, flip over and repeat on the other side.

You can chop it up and add it to your favourite macaroni and cheese recipe, or to a pan of scallopped potatoes.

Combine it with some of the leftover turkey, and some of that Stilton in a tasty salad!

*Boxing Day Salad*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

100g bag of baby leaf salad greens (about 4 cups)
1 head of red chicory
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
100g of cooked turkey (1/4 pound)
100g of cooked ham (1/4 pound)
50g chopped toasted walnut pieces (1/4 cup)
2 ounces stilton cheese, crumbled
4 TBS reduced fat caesar salad dressing

Place the salad greens in a large shallow bowl. Break up the red chicory leaves and toss into the bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil Tear the turkey and ham into bits with two forks. combine in a bowl along with the walnut pieces and stilton cheese. Add the salad dressing and mix to combine. Pile this mixture on top of the salad leaves and serve.

It's delicious chopped and mixed with grated cheese and then stuffed into a nice big fluffy baked potato.

Turkey Leftovers:

Of course you can have a plain old turkey sandwich, but why not dress it up a bit and serve it open faced on a rustic piece of bread, topped with some leftover cranberry sauce, some of the leftover stuffing heated and crumbled on top of the cranberry, then the heated sliced turkey and some heated leftover gravy ladled over top. Delicious with a few sliced pickles and some potato crisps on the side!

My mom always made Turkey Pot pies, or Beef Pot pies. We loved them! You can follow the roughly outlined recipe below, which is only a rough guideline of what to do. You can adapt it to whatever it is you have in your fridge. If you are using beef, then use the leftover beef gravy of course!

*Turkey Pot Pie*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

2 mugs full of leftover turkey, chopped
2 mugs full of leftover cooked vegetables, chopped
(peas, carrots, corn) If you haven't got any, then you can
use 2 mugs of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
a handful of roasted potatoes, chopped
1 mug full of leftover turkey gravy
1 mug full of milk
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp summer savoury
salt and black pepper to taste
Pastry to cover
milk and beaten egg yolk

Mix together all the ingredients except for the pastry in a large bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper. Spread into a large round, or oval shallow casserole dish. Roll out your pastry to cover and place over top, venting to allow steam to escape. Brush with a bit of milk and beaten egg yolk. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes in an oven which has been preheated to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Serve warm.

I think one of the most popular things to do over here in the UK with the leftover turkey is to make a Turkey Curry, but how about Coronation Turkey Salad! Yummo!!

*Coronation Turkey*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS curry powder
1/2 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric
125ml of coconut milk (1/2 cup)
125ml of chicken stock (1/2 cup)
200g of mayonnaise (about 1 cup)
425g of leftover turkey (1 pound)
2 TBS dessicated coconut, toasted in a dry pan until golden brown, then cooled
fresh coriander leaves to garnisn (optional)

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil, until lightly browned. Mix in the spices and let them sizzle for about a minute. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock. Let simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat until the mixture has reduced and you have a thick, creamy, spicy onion mixture in the pan. Allow to cool completely. Whisk in the mayonnaise. Cut the leftover turkey into cubes and place in a large bowl. Pour the curry mayonnaise over top and toss to mix. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, and garnish with a few torn coriander leaves.

Serve with warmed Chapattis, sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and torn lettuce.

Leftover Vegetables:

We can't be forgetting the leftover Christmas Veg!! I know we all buy in far more than we need, and then end up with it hanging about the fridge. Here's a few different recipes for some dishes using some of that leftover veg so it doesn't get all wilted and go to waste!

*Spicy Parsnip and Sprout Hash*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

800g of parsnips, peeled and chopped into chunks (1 1/2 pounds)
300g of brussels sprouts, peeled and finely shredded (1/2 pound)
a large handful of frozen peas
the juice of 1/2 lemon
50g of butter (1/4 cup)
1 TBS cumin seeds
1 TBS garam masala
1 red chili, deseeded and chopped
1 bunch of coriander, chopped (reserve a few leaves to garnish)

Place the parsnips in a pan of cold water to cover. Add a pinch of turmeric and salt and bring to the boil. cook for 12 minutes. While the parsnips are cooking, blanch the sprouts in another pan of boiling water for about 3 minutes, until tender, adding the peas for the final minute. Drain all the vegetables well. Tip the drained parsnips back into the pan along with the lemon juice and half the butter. Mash roughly. Beat in the cooked sprouts, peas, cumin, garam masala, chili and coriander. Season to taste with some salt.

Heat the remaining butter in a medium sized non-stick skillet. When it begins to sizzle, tip in the parsnip mixture, pressing it down to form a flat cake. Cook, until it is browned underneat. Turn over carefully with a fish slice. (It may break up but that's ok) Continue cooking until crisp on this side as well. Keep flipping and turning until you have a nicely crisped cake. Slice out onto a heated plate. Garnish with the coriander leaves. Cut into wedges to serve.

*Roast Vegetables with Stilton and Chestnuts*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

3 TBS French Walnut oil
4 large parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthwise
4 large red potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
4 large carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 large onions, peeled and cut into wedges
200g pack of peeled and ready to use chestnuts (1 cup)
(roughly chop)
the juice of one lime
sea sald and freshly ground black pepper
200g Creamy Blue Stilton cheese, crumbled (1/4 pound)

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark6. Place 2 TBS of the oil in a large roasting tin and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Toss iin the prepared vegetables, giving them a stir to coat with the oil. Roast for one hour until tender, turning occasionally.Mix in the chopped chestnuts and cook for a further 10 minutes. Whisk together the lime juice, remaining TBS of oil and a bit of seasoning. Divide the roasted vegetables between 4 heated serving plates. Scatter with the crumbled stilton and drizzle with the lime dressing. Serve immediately.
Marie Rayner
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