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Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’

Two last minute items that we’re making – both of which will be included in our mini Christmas hampers!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Spiced Nuts were a perfect way to use up the leftovers from our Fruit and Nut cakes (thanks for sending me the recipe, Joanna!). The instructions are here, and the only changes I made were to omit the five spice powder, which I didn’t have on hand, and to replace the muscovado sugar with regular brown sugar (I’m not going anywhere near the shops today!).

. . . . .

These are my attempt at Speculaas, a Dutch spice cookies similar to gingerbread. I know it’s tragically corny, but we’ve been referring to them as “Spectacular Speculaas”.

My friend Maureen emailed me her recipe a week ago, and I’ve made two batches – the first batch rolled thinly with flaked almonds scattered over the surface, and the second with the almonds worked into the dough.  The latter are thicker, with a small hole in each, allowing the cookie to be hung on the Christmas tree.

  • 500g plain flour
  • 250g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seed
  • 150 g flaked almonds
  • 2 large (59g) eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence (we used homemade)

1.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices.  Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Add the eggs and vanilla and work the mixture together to form a dough.  You can gently add in the almonds at this point if you wish, although it does make the dough more crumbly and therefore harder to roll out.  Wrap well and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

3. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to soften slightly.  Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160C with fan).

4. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out half the dough using a floured rolling pin. Roll to a thickness of approximately 3mm, or slightly thicker if you’re planning to use the cookies as ornaments.  If you haven’t already worked the almonds into the mix, scatter half of them over the surface of the dough now, then cut with cookie cutters into Christmassy shapes.  Use a drinking straw to add a stringing hole if desired.  Repeat with the  remaining dough.

5. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.

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A very easy recipe inspired  by the tv series River Cottage Treatment (we’re big Hugh FW fans!). It was originally made with butternut pumpkin (squash), feta cheese and basil, but butternuts were stupidly expensive at the markets last week, so I used a small jap pumpkin instead.

Give the pumpkin a good scrub to clean it, then cut it into quarters and scoop out the seeds.  If you’re using butternut, just cut it in half.  Put a small pat of butter and a peeled clove of garlic into each quarter, lay them out on a baking tray and bake for about an hour at 190C until tender.  You’re supposed to brush them with oil before baking, but I forgot to.

Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin, leaving a 1cm border to hold the skin together, then mash it with a generous amount of feta cheese and pine nuts.  Season well, then spoon the mixture back into the shells and bake them for another 15 minutes.  Absolutely delicious and each quarter pumpkin is substantial enough for a meal in itself!

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