Monday, 16 December 2013

Edible Christmas Wreaths

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I’m always looking for new ways to surprise my friends and family during the Christmas holidays and edible wreaths never fail to go down a treat. Loved by adults and children alike, an edible wreath will make the ultimate centrepiece for your Christmas dinner table. A shop bought wreath is great for decoration purposes but you can’t beat a handmade one if you want to impress your guests with a unique design.

Savoury Wreath Ideas
If you are hosting Christmas dinner this year, a savoury wreath can not only complement your main meal but it also works well as a sharing starter. You can create show stopping edible wreaths with olives, mozzarella balls, spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes. Simply stack one of each of the ingredients on a cocktail stick and arrange them in a circular shape. You can even use the space in the middle for dips. Alternatively you can create an edible wreath from pigs in blankets and serve as a stunning side dish.


Sweet Wreath Ideas
Kids will love the novelty of a sweet wreath. If you are looking for a tasty treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth, you can’t beat an edible wreath. When it comes to ingredients, the possibilities are endless. You can create a cute wreath out of gingerbread stars like this one on Pinterest or you can create a fabulous wreath out of Lindt balls for chocolate lovers. 



If you are making a wreath out of baked goods, you can buy all of the equipment you need online from somewhere like Bakery Bits. The shiny red Lindt wrappers make this design incredibly festive and it will not only taste great but look great too.

You will need:
  • A metal wreath frame
  • Leaves and Twigs
  • Lindt Balls
  • Moss
  • Pine Cones
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
If you don’t want to create a Christmas wreath that is completely edible, you can simply make a traditional one and add treats to it. Wrap the moss, leaves and twigs around the metal frame to create the base of your wreath. Add pinecones and bows to bulk out your design and then fill in the gaps with a few sweet treats.

A Christmas wreath will make a great addition to your festive celebrations. Hopefully this post will inspire you to make your own edible wreaths this Christmas.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

3 Yummy Christmassy Fondant Icing Decoration Themes

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Sometimes, deciding how to decorate your latest tasty baked creation with fondant icing can be tricky. When you’re presented with a blank canvas your mind can struggle to find come up with the goods. Even when you have a particular occasion it can turn into a creative nightmare.

Fortunately Christmas is one of those events that is wide open for inspirational decorative ideas. There are all kinds of different images associated with Christmas: snow, holly, Father Christmas and presents just to name a few. With all these options on the table you can take your pick to create some amazing Renshaw fondant icing decorations themes.

But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and too many options results in making decisions too tough to make. If you want to know what to do with all that fondant icing sitting on your work surface, here are three yummy, Christmassy fondant icing decoration themes.

1.     Snowman Christmas Cake. Spruce up your plain old Christmas cake with this cute snowman motif. Everything on the cake is made with fondant icing, and although it takes a steady hand to get some of those little details like the scarf fronds and holly leaves just right, it’s not out of reach for most of us. The bold colours make the cake come to life and will draw your guests around the table while they wait for a slice. The composition is beautiful too, with the snowman off centre and grinning at you against a perfect starry winter sky. 

 photo snowmancake_zps5b42936a.jpg
source: Renshaw baking

2.     Snowflake Cake. We’d all love a white Christmas wouldn’t we? And who knows maybe this year we’ll be in luck. But if fate doesn’t favour us why not create your own magical winter wonderland like this striking snowflake cake. What’s great about this theme is that you can get snowflake cutters to do the hard work for you. Simply roll out some white fondant icing and press the snowflakes out. That takes away the stress of trying to hand-shape them.

 photo snowflakecake_zps730f1db8.jpg
source: Renshaw baking

3.     Christmas Pudding Biscuit Pops. You don’t have to use fondant icing on cakes. It’s an incredibly versatile product, and because it also tastes good it makes for great decorations on biscuits and cookies. These lovely Christmas pudding biscuit pops will go down a storm over the festive holiday period. You’ll need to fix the fondant icing to the biscuit using some cooled boiled water. The holly leaves can be made with a cutter, but why not make them freehand for a bit of a challenge.

 photo cookiepops_zps19d877d5.jpg
source: Renshaw baking

Remember Christmas is a time of fun and frivolity, so don’t get too stressed out choosing your decoration theme. Hopefully these options will give you some food for thought. Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Go Local: 3 Amazing Food And Drink Producers In And Around Bristol

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British cuisine often comes in for a bit of stick, especially from our continental cousins. Our native recipes are stereotyped as bland, stodgy and uninteresting, all of which are unfair. Although efforts by celebrity chefs such as Gary Rhodes have done much to rehabilitate homegrown efforts it’s still something that haunts British food producers.

Bristol, however, is a place that pays no heed to stereotypes. It’s an innovative city, home to experimental, creative people in the arts and culture and food is no exception. There are food producers in and around Bristol that make top tier produce enjoyed across the country and around the world. Here’s a selection of the best.

1.     Bristol Beer Factory. Bristol has a pretty long association with quality alcohol. Back in the late 19th century John Harvey & Sons created the first cream sherry, known around the world as Bristol Cream. Beer has also long been produced in the city, and this fine tradition is carried on by the Bristol Beer Factory. This company makes award-winning ales and beers on a site that has been used for brewing beer for centuries. If you want an authentic British beer, with all the delightful hoppy flavours then Bristol Beer Factory’s selection is for you.


 photo bristolfooddrink1_zps41254ce0.jpg
(Credit: IdleFormat http://www.flickr.com/photos/idleformat/)

2.     Pieminister. Nothing goes with a bottle of quality ale like a chunky, delicious pie. Pieminister found its start in a Bristol cellar, where two enterprising brothers-in-law decided to create the best pies imaginable. They opened their first shop in the city in 2003 and from there they’ve been on an unstoppable upward spiral of success. They source as much of their ingredients from local West Country suppliers as possible, and serve up some of the most delicious pies ever. From old favourites like steak and kidney, to exotic goats cheese concoctions, there’s something for every taste.


 photo bristolfooddrink2_zps5dc701ba.jpg
(Credit Nick Piggott http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickpiggott/)

3.     In A Pickle. You know what would make the perfect complement to that Pieminister pie? Some locally-made pickle. In A Pickle only started up as a business in 2011, and in that short time they’ve won a variety of awards and accolades for their incredibly tasty range of pickles, chutneys and relishes. They use mainly local produce and always use fresh, seasonal ingredients, making them an ethical as well as tasty option. A big dollop of their Chuffin’ Ale Chutney will taste amazing with your pie and Bristol beer.


 It just goes to show that you don’t have to go to London or Paris to get some delicious food. It’s right there on your doorstep in Bristol, if you know where to look for it.



Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Cheat On Your ‘Bird’ This Christmas: 5 Tasty Alternatives to Turkey

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Christmas is built on a centrepiece of generational traditions and Christmas' past. From food and festivities to the opening of gifts, the traditions of Christmas time never grow old and none more so than the mammoth Christmas dinner.

In this modern day and age, people are often looking for new and exciting ways to merge the nostalgia of old with the experiments of today. So why not carry on this notion by experimenting with your Christmas dinner this year?

Plate Something Different This Year

Turkey is often the ‘bird’ of choice for many households and has been for centuries, and whilst the juicy texture of turkey is enough to water any mouth, why not broaden your horizons and try something a little bit different this year?

The kitchen is often a hub of activity around this time of year so having a fully-functional kitchen can help you be an efficient, productive and creative cook.  Whether you are cooking for the family, friends or the masses, check out these delicious dinner ideas for a festive twist for all. 

Beef

Beef is a sure-fire way to get those mouths watering with its tender cut and filling textures. Slow-cooked and juicy, glazing a rib of beef with a combination of horseradish sauce and mustard as well as slow roasted veg will create a concoction of taste in every bite. Complimented with a smooth red wine gravy and crispy Yorkshire puddings, Christmas can have a whole new taste.  

 photo beef-84534_640_zps2a2ce55a.jpg

Duck

Small birds bring a more delicate taste and don’t require an early morning wake up call to pre-heat the oven. Perfect for feeding large numbers, simply massage a garlic butter mixed with a handful of thyme and rosemary and stuff the bird with more garlic, herbs and lemon before tying the legs in pace with string.

Fish

A truly, eastern feel, fish has long been a part of other cultural traditions around the world. With carp, sea bass, turbot, salmon and Brill to name but a few, simply serve your selection in the centre of the table and allow everyone to dig in.

Vegetarian

The veggie roast is no longer the trimming-less dish of years gone-by. If anything, a vegetable Christmas dinner allows you to explore traditions further. Roasted butternut squash glazed in mango chutney, cranberries, thyme sage and chopped walnuts is a delicious main in itself, and that’s before the festive traditions of roast potatoes, applesauce and piping hot onion gravy.   

Goose

A big bird for big bellies, goose is a much juicier, flavoursome pallet with goose fat often used to soak the ‘trimmings’. Cooking takes time, but with a bit of prep, a good stuffing and beautifully rich baste, you can have a meal fit for any table size. Rub with salt, pepper, herbs and chopped fruit to really stir your taste buds.

Choosing what to have on your table this Christmas is the easy bit; the cooking, the organising and the preparation can prove the most challenging so give yourself plenty of time and practise your course a few times before the big day. 

 photo roast-76459_640_zpsb08c1ba7.jpg





Monday, 14 October 2013

Do’s and Do Not’s in the Kitchen

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Any homeowner will know that the kitchen can be a pretty hazardous place. Whether it’s worrying that your child will touch the hot oven or get in the way when you’re cooking dinner, or you’re more concerned about making sure the appliances are in good, safe working order, there are plenty of do’s and don’ts that will help maintain a safe hub of the home.

Don’t…
  • Pour oil down the sink. Pour it into a bottle or similar receptacle and throw it away with your other rubbish. Oil residue will build up in your pipes and increase the risk of a blockage. While blockages can sometimes be shifted by yourself, you may need the help of the Dyno blocked drains experts if the problem is a little stubborn. You can learn how to clean and unblock drains online if you want to try and tackle any issues yourself first.
  • Settle for poor lighting. The kitchen is one of those rooms where, if you are preparing food and cooking, you shouldn’t work in the dark, regardless of how much money you’re trying to save.
  • Leave pan handles pointing outwards – they are very easily knocked!

Do…
  • Scrape your plates, pots and pans before leaving them to soak in the sink. This will reduce the amount of waste that could block up your sink and cause issues and unpleasant smells later on.
  • Learn where the stopcock is so that if you do need to turn the mains water off to fix a blockage, you know where to go. It’s usually underneath your kitchen sink.
  • Ventilate well, so that you’re not faced with unpleasant smells – use the hood above your cooker to eliminate bad odours.
  • Recycle what you can. Check what facilities your local area has and use them. Use one of your kitchen cabinets as recycling storage, with different compartments.
If you’re sensible, you can be safe, energy efficient and cost effective in the kitchen every day, and can make it the happy heart of your home.


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