Friday 21 December 2012

Winter Rice Pudding with Dried Fruit Recipe

Because it's Christmas, and this will be my last post over the festive season, today there is a bonus Chinese-inspired dessert dish for you to enjoy. I've also added a seasonal twist as a way of using up left-over Christmas pudding.

Winter Rice Pudding with Dried Fruit Recipe

Serves: 6–8


1 tsp peanuts
1 tbsp pine kernels
1 tbsp lotus seeds
225g (1/2 lb) mixed dried fruit (eg raisins, kumquats, prunes, dates, prunes, pineapple etc)
4 water chestnuts, diced
50g (2 oz) dried cranberries (for a Christmas version)
50g (2 oz) dried blueberries (for a Christmas version)
1l (4 cups) water
115g (1/4 lb) sugar
225g (1/2 lb) glutinous (sticky) rice


Wash the rice, place in a large bowl, cover with water and set aside to soak for at least 2 hours.

Wash the peanuts, pine kernels, lotus seeds and pineapple (if using) place in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and set aside to soak for 1 hour. Soak the remaining dried fruit in warm water for at least 20 minutes, or until plumped.

Pour the 1l (4 cups) water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Drain the rice, nuts and mixed fruit and add to the pan. Bring back to a boil, cover and simmer over very gentle heat for 1 hour, stirring the mixture frequently.

About 20 minutes before the end of cooking add the water chestnuts. The rice should be sticky but not gloopy and the fruit and nuts should be soft.

Ladle into warmed dessert bowls and serve.

As a seasonal twist, if you have any left-over Christmas pudding, crumble this over the top before serving. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the blog's readers. Have a good holiday, and I hope the cooking goes well.

Below are some other classic Chinese recipes on this blog that you can use in conjunction with this recipe to produce a complete Chinese meal or banquet:

Soups and Starters

Main Dishes
Xinjiang Lamb Casserole

Fish and Seafood Dishes:
Szechuan Fried Aubergine (Vegetarian)

Noodle Dishes:
Seafood Chow Mein (Seafood)



Turkey Curry with Peas Recipe

If you want something different to make with your Christmas leftovers, then why not try this curry inspired by the Cape Malay cookery of South Africa? A traditional beef mince curry has been adapted here to be prepared with leftover turkey, yielding a dish that can either be served by itself with rice or rotis, or is used as a filling for rotis.

Turkey Curry with Peas Recipe



500g (1 lb) leftover turkey meat, minced
2 tbsp oil
2 large onions, sliced
1 large tomato, finely grated
2 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
1 tsp garlic, crushed
3 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
3 whole cloves
2 tsp toasted masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
250ml (1 cup) frozen peas


Heat the oil, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes, or until transparent. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more, or until they begin to break down. 

Scatter over the spices and stir to combine then bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes more before covering and cooking gently for 20 minutes. At this point add the potatoes, re-cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender. Stir in the frozen peas and the turkey meat re-cover and cook for 10 minutes more.

Serve hot, accompanied by rotis, boiled rice and chutneys.

For hundreds more Christmas recipes, and a look at the foods of Christmas past, why not visit the Celtnet Christmas Recipes home page.

For many hundreds of traditional South African recipes, see the Celtnet South African Recipes home page.

For more African recipes from this blog see the blog's African Recipes Collection page.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Biscuits de Noël (Christmas Cookies) Recipe

With Christmas only a week away, today's recipe is a classic French one for a a classic Christmas biscuit or cookie that is used for decoration and as gifts for children, particularly on Christmas eve. These traditional festive treats and gifts are very easy to prepare.

Biscuits de Noël (Christmas Cookies) Recipe


175g (9 oz) butter, softened

100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk (medium sized)
250g (10 oz) plain flour

Royal Icing for decorating
Silver decorations (sugar sprinkles, for example)


In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and beat thoroughly to combine then add the flour and bring the ingredients together as a dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead well until smooth and elastic.

Cover the dough in clingfilm (plastic wrap) then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. After this time, unwrap the dough then roll out to flatten. Place between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to 2.5mm (1/10 in) thick.

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and using festive cookie cutters cut out various shapes that evoke the spirit of Christmas. Arrange these on baking trays lined with parchment paper, ensuring that you leave a little space between each biscuit (cookie).

When all the dough has been used up (you can gather the scraps together, re-roll and cut out more shapes), transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180ºC and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly coloured and firm to the touch.

Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool you can decorate them as you fancy with plain and coloured royal icing. Sprinkle over the silver decorations then set aside for the icing (frosting) to dry and harden completely before storing in an air-tight tin or serving.

If you cut holes in the corners of the cookies before baking they can be hung on the Christmas tree and make an edible treat come Christmas morning. They are also ideal served on Christmas Eve with mulled wine.

For hundreds more Christmas recipes, and a look at the foods of Christmas past, why not visit the Celtnet Christmas Recipes home page.

For many hundreds of traditional French recipes, see the Celtnet French Recipes home page.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Mixed Wild Sorrel Soup Recipe

The weather has been glorious, so I have taken the opportunity for a few walks and to update my collection of wild food images, ready to have a go at writing my book.

What struck me was the range of wild food available, even in the midst of December. The wild carrots and sorrel were doing particularly well. Within a very short distance I had plenty of sheep's sorrel (Rumex acetosella), common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella).
Image showing sheep's sorrel, left (with the arrow shaped leaves) and common sorrel, tight with the more rounded leaves.
Though I only had my rucksack and my camera with me, I was able to collect several handfuls of sorrel leaves and I had a debate as to whether to make sorrel soup or sorrel tarts. The cold weather eventually made the decision for me and I made sorrel soup, predominantly with common sorrel, but with a little sheep's sorrel thrown in for good measure.

Though the soup made here was prepared with wild sorrel, it works just as well made with garden sorrel.

Mixed Wild Sorrel Soup Recipe

Serves: 2


2 generous handfuls of common sorrel leaves
1/2 handful of sheep's sorrel leaves
1 onion, finely chopped (or the equivalent of leeks)
1 leafy celery stick, finely diced
1 potato, peeled and cubed
500ml good meat or vegetable stock
oil or butter for frying
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


Heat the oil or butter in a pan, add the onion and celery and sweat down gently for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown.

Add the potatoes and fry for a few minutes more then add the stock. Cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender.

In the meantime pick over and wash the sorrel leaves and shred finely. Reserve about 1 tbsp of the shredded common sorrel leaves for garnish.

Add the sorrel leaves and simmer gently for about 10 minutes more. Take the soup off the heat and allow to cool slightly then turn into a blender and process until smooth.

Turn back into the pan and add a little water or milk if it's too thick. Adjust the seasonings to taste, allow to heat through then divide between two warmed soup bowls.

Garnish with the reserved shredded sorrel and serve accompanied by plenty of crusty bread.

For more wild food recipes on this blog, see the Wild Food Recipes page.

If you are interested in wild foods and preparing them, then the Celtnet Recipes site has over a thousand recipes for wild foods of every kind on their Wild Food Recipes pages.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge Recipe

Of all the various confections made, clotted cream fudge has to be the one most closely connected with Cornwall. This recipe is for the basic plain fudge, which makes an excellent Christmas gift for anyone.

Traditional Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge Recipe


275g (11 oz) unrefined caster sugar
100g (4 oz) golden syrup (corn syrup)
225g (9 oz) Cornish clotted cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves then bring the mixture to a boil, cover with a lid and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Take the lid off and continue boiling the mixture until it reaches the soft ball stage (116ºC [241ºF]), when a drop of the mixture placed in a cup of water forms a soft ball that you can squeeze between thumb and forefinger.

Take the cream fudge off the heat at this stage and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes thick and a little grainy (it can take up to 10 minutes continuous beating to reach this stage). When ready pour into a greased 20cm tin lined with greaseproof (waxed) paper.

Mark the fudge into squares with a sharp knife then set aside until completely set. At this point, divide into pieces then store in an air-tight container.

For many more Christmas gift recipes, and a look at the foods of Christmas past, why not visit the Celtnet Christmas Recipes home page.

For more traditional Cornish recipes, see the Celtnet Cornish Recipes collection, with over 320 traditional Scottish recipes.

For all the British recipes on this blog, see the British Recipes collection page.

UPDATE! The Cornish Recipes book has been published!
This recipe and over 250 other traditional Cornish recipes are found in my new eBook, Classic Cornish Recipes, which can be purchased via Amazon using the link on the left.

The book also contains information on both classic traditional and modern Cornish recipes. There is an entire chapter on Cornish Pasties (many kinds) that also compares the traditional Cornish pasty with other British pasties and pasties from around the globe. Wild Cornish foods and Cornish seafoods are showcased, along with some of the best of modern Cornish cookery.

The most comprehensive collection of Cornish recipes available anywhere!

Rich Christmas Cake

Today's recipe is for the traditional rich Christmas cake. I give the traditional recipe here,  which you can just about make before Christmas. But at the end I give a cheat method where you can turn this cake into a Quick Cake that you can even make the week before Christmas.

So if you have not made your traditional Christmas Cake yet, don't despair, you still have a little time.

Rich Christmas Cake Recipe


450g (1 lb) butter
450g (1 lb) brown sugar
450g (1 lb) plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin spice)
8 eggs, beaten
450g (1 lb) currants
450g (1 lb) sultanas
450g (1 lb) seedless raisins, chopped
225g (1/2 lb) mixed peel, chopped
225g (1/2 lb) glacé cherries
50g (2 oz) blanched almonds
finely-grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp rose water
5 tbsp brandy or sherry
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift together the flour, spices and salt into a bowl. Beat together the eggs in another bowl.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the beaten eggs in another bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients and beat until you have a smooth batter.

Line a 25cm (10 in) diameter springform cake tin with three thicknesses of greaseproof (waxed) paper. Scrape the cake mixture into the prepared tin then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 150ºC (300ºF, Gas Mark 5) and bake for 5 hours.

After 3 1/2 hours check the cake. If the top is colouring too quickly cover with a sheet of baking parchment.

When done (a skewer inserted into the centre will emerge cleanly), remove from the oven and allow to cool almost completely in the tin. Carefully turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Cover with parchment paper and then foil and store in an air-tight tin to mature for between 2 and 3 weeks before decorating.

This is a classic rich Christmas cake that is best covered with marmalade or apricot jam, marzipan (almond paste) and white icing (frosting).

Cheat's Method:

If you have not made your Christmas cake yet, but still want a traditional Christmas cake don't despair. Simply replace 500g (1 lb) of the fruit mixture in the recipe above with 500g (1 lb) of shop-bought mincemeat (any mincemeat with suet). This will make the cake slightly richer, but it will also mean that the cake will mature in a few days rather than a few weeks.

With this simple change you can make your cake just 3 days before Christmas day and it will still be ready to be iced.

For hundreds more Christmas recipes, and a look at the foods of Christmas past, why not visit the Celtnet Christmas Recipes home page.
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