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Gill Books 12 Feasts of Christmas: the special house guests


21-12-2016 16:10
Gill-Christmas-special-visitors.jpg

The Gill Books 12 Feasts of Christmas celebrates the festive season with twelve feasts featuring recipes from our wonderful authors. Recipes that will impress the visitors, sustain you, make the children smile, help you survive after overindulgence, celebrate in style and most importantly, taste delicious. Here we share recipes that will impress your special house guests this Christmas.

 

Irish Country Women’s Association Irish Cream Truffles

 

The ICA Book of Christmas lets you in on secrets and tips that have been passed down and perfected through generations of Irish families. These Irish Cream Truffles are delicious, perfect for any special visitors.

 

MARY SHERRY, BALLINODE GUILD, MONAGHAN


These little truffles are delicious served with after dinner coffee on Christmas day, or they make a lovely homemade gift.


Makes approximately 24–30
110g (4oz) chocolate, dark or milk
2 dessertspoons strong black coffee, hot
50g (2oz) butter, flaked
1 dessertspoon Irish cream liqueur
1 dessertspoon double cream
50g (2oz) ground almonds


To finish

 

unsweetened cocoa powder, sieved


Break up the chocolate into pieces and, in a small pan, melt it to a thick cream with the hot coffee.


Remove the pan from the heat and blend in the butter, spoonful by spoonful. Stir in the Irish cream liqueur, double cream and ground almonds. Mix thoroughly, allow to cool and chill until firm.

 

Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into small balls and toss in the cocoa to coat them, coating twice if necessary.

 

Shake off any excess cocoa and place in small paper cases.


ICA Tip


If stored in the fridge, these fresh truffles have a relatively short shelf life of about three days from being made, but that can be extended by freezing them on the day you make them. They will take about four hours to defrost.

 

Brother Hubbard’s walnut and orange blossom baklava

 

Discover a new way of eating and drinking with The Brother Hubbard Cookbook fresh, pure flavours dedicated to sharing and happiness.

 

Baklava bought in shops can often taste old and dull and pales in comparison to a fresh, homemade version. It’s often a revelation when people try a homemade version and it always gets a great response when we serve it as part of our dessert platter for our Middle East Feast.


125g butter
125g walnuts
50g icing sugar
zest of 2 oranges
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 packet of filo pastry (20 sheets)


For the syrup

 

250g caster sugar
250ml water
zest of 2 oranges or 1 tsp orange blossom water


Preheat your oven to 170°C. Melt the butter gently and set aside. Roughly chop the walnuts until it resembles gravel, then mix in a bowl with the icing sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and cardamom.


Brush a 21cm x 31cm baking tin with some of the melted butter. To build the baklava, start by placing one layer of filo in the base of the tin. Brush with melted butter and add another layer of filo. Continue this process until you have used 10 sheets of the filo pastry.


After you’ve made 10 layers, add a layer of the walnut, sugar and spice mixture, using all of the mix to form the layer. The baklava doesn’t need much of this mixture, but it should be an even layer 2–3cm thick all the way across the tin.


Now make the cap by adding the next sheet of filo and brushing with butter. Repeat until another 10 layers are completed, finishing with a last layer of butter.


Carefully cut the baklava into a neat diagonal or square pattern in the tin before baking – a small serrated knife is best for this job. You want to end up with diamonds or squares about 3cm long on each of its 4 sides.


Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then increase the heat to 200°C and bake for another 8–10 minutes, until it’s light golden on top.
(If you have a fan oven, I recommend putting a wire rack on top of the baklava as it bakes, as oftentimes the fan can blow some of the filo pastry around.)


While the baklava is baking, place the sugar in a small saucepan with the water and the orange zest or orange blossom water. Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring. Continue to simmer until all the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear.


As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, gently but liberally brush with plenty of the orange sugar syrup and then leave to cool. At this stage you may need to redo the original cuts to ease the individual baklava pieces from the tray.


The baklava keeps well if stored in an airtight container. It will be at its best for 3–4 days, but it will be fine for up to a week or more.


TIPS AND TRICKS


Mix it up by replacing some of the walnuts with roughly chopped hazelnuts, almonds or pistachios to bring the total weight of nuts up to the same amount (125g in total).


Though not as authentic or traditional, you could add some chopped dried dates, dried figs, dried apricots, dried cranberries or crystallised ginger to the nut filling. Just reduce the nuts by 50g and replace it with 50g of the dried fruit of your choice.

 

We hope that you found some inspiration to impress your visitors this Christmas. Happy feasting to you and yours, stay tuned for more fantastically festive recipes. Follow us @GillBooks on Twitter, @gillbooks on Instagram and like us on Facebook for the latest author news.



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