The Marmalade Awards are now open for entries and I  am now dreaming of Seville oranges.  No I am serious,  I actually had a dream about Seville oranges, perhaps I am developing  a marmalade-itus.  Anyway, it will no be after Christmas before my preserving pans come out as with three young children to attend to their will be little time to get my award entries ready, instead I am looking forward to a full filled Christmas that is full of good home cooked food and the laughter of my children.

I have been busy preserving cherries in rum and brandy and have a pantry that is glistening with everything from  home-made pickled eggs and onions to preserved mushrooms and cranberry sauce. Many of my pickles are ready for devouring now, but sadly I will have to wait a few more weeks for the cherry brandy and rum soaked cherries, but they will be well worth the wait. I’ll dip some of the cherries in chocolate and use the other is tarts and pies and then of course the cherry brandy itself to enjoy. If you fancy making some cherry brandy this year here is the recipe:

Home Made Cherry Brandy Recipe

This takes six weeks to infuse, but it’s well worth the wait. Not only do you get fabulous cherry brandy to warm you up on a wintery night, but you also end up with luscious brandy soaked cherries that are great for eating immediately or for a divine treat dip them in dark chocolate.

Ingredients

1 kg cherries
1 litre brandy (I used the cheapest bottle on the shelf, because there is absolutely no point using a fine cognac in this recipe)
300g  golden caster sugar

Method

 

Find a jar that has a tight-fitting lid that is large enough to take the cherries and the liquid. Sterilise the jar, I wah my jar in warm soapy water and then pop it in the dishwasher on a hot cycle.

Prick the cherries several times and place into the jar. Leave the stones in. Add the sugar and the brandy.  Give the jar a good shake. Place the jar somewhere where you will see it daily to remind you to shake every day for the next week.   For the remaining five weeks,  shake the bottle weekly, tasting it occasionally to see if the taste is ‘cherry’ enough for your taste buds. Once it is ready, strain back into sterile bottles. You can now drink it or if you can manage to keep your lips off it,  leave it for 12 months to mature.  The strained cherries are ready for eating or using in recipes.

Unfortunately, I still have a bit of last minute Christmas grocery shopping to do as when I ventured out yesterday to get the soft fruits I need for my boozy festive trifle there was not a strawberry or raspberry in site. Indeed many supermarket shelves were empty and whenever  I see people wandering around the supermarket aisles with heaving trolleys I wonder how much of that food will be wasted and end up in landfill. It’s a sad fact that in Britain food waste has become a major issue and indeed the great Christmas dinner throw away has been reported on many times, indeed in 2015 it was reported that the equivalent of 4 million Christmas dinners would be thrown away.  According to Unilever in 2015, this figure is the equivalent to 263,000 turkeys; 7.5 million mince pies; 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding; 17.2 million Brussels sprouts; 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes, it’s a shocking state of affairs and I must say that this is not something that happens in my household. I love using up festive leftovers and creating new recipes with them one of my favourite Christmas leftover recipes is one for sprouts, give it a try it’s a great way to use these little green gems up.

Creamy Green Goddess Bake

If there are Brussels sprouts lurking at the back of the pantry from the Christmas dinner, get them out and give them a tasty make-over with this innovative dish. I promise your guests won’t even notice they are eating these little festive green goddesses

 

1 kg small, even sized Brussels sprouts (outer skin removed)

250ml double cream

3tbsp port

100G Stilton cheese crumbled

Pinch sea salt

Black pepper to taste

 

Method

 

Preheat the oven to 200◦C, (180◦C fan assisted), gas mark 6

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the sprouts and boil for 1 minute. Drain and plunge into cold water to refresh them, drain well , slice them in half and put in an oven proof dish and set aside.

Heat the cream gently and add in half of the stilton and the  port, stir until smooth, pour over the sprouts and sprinkle with black pepper and the remaining stilton. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until bubbling. Serve immediately.

Makes a tasty supper served with warm crusty bread or for a more substantial treat top with bacon or a nice poached egg.

Cooks Tip

To avoid soggy sprouts, do not cut a cross in the bottom as this lets in too much water during the cooking process

                            

Well, I’m afraid it is off to the shops now for me and on my return I’ll be baking yet more mince pies, having a go at a chocolate truffle Christmas tree cake and making up a jolly nice batch of eggnog. Well, until next time I bid you a very festive farewell from chilly West Wales.