Click on the pic and it will take you to the post that features the image, see if you can spot the original!
In Other News, Team MDAS are off to a wedding today……..so excited!
“Why Brussels?” Is a question I have answered several times since choosing the city as a winter holiday destination. In truth we came upon a rather good deal on the Eurostar and were so in need of a break it really didin’t matter where we ended up. Time out was necessary and Brussels proved a perfect location for it. We discovered a very civilised city full of history, art, beer, chocolate and waffles which happen to be a few of my favourite things! There are many artisan shops to explore, fromageries, charcuteries and we even found a little shop devoted exclusively to honey. We visited a few galleries and museums, exploring the surreal world of Magritte, a beer museum in the grande place (which was more about the drinking beer than it’s history!) we found a few dinosaurs and spend a full 3 hours exploring the vast museum of art history. Brussels is also the birthplace of Art Nouveau and there are many fabulous buildings and restaurants so see and visit. There was so much to explore, we walked and walked until I thought my feet would no longer carry me, and then we walked some more! A great break from reality and I am now fully addicted to Belgian waffles!
Some of my favourite moments from 2012
February Hambleton Hall
May comfort food
June Jubilee Celebrations
July Road trip
August rowing in stratford
November Clandestine baking
For the last few years my friend S and I take a trip to Lincoln Christmas Market. A town steeped in history Lincoln is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year, but its particularly magical around Christmas time with the smell of roasted chestnuts and delicately spiced mulled wine drifting through the cobbled streets. The hill is incredibly steep, but fortunately there are plenty of vintage shops along the way so we could rest our tired feet and break up our climb. At the top of the hill we browsed the many market stalls and both picked up a Christmas present or two. We ate wild boar hotdogs and wandered through the fairground. The Cathedral is an impressive sight to behold at any time but it was truly beautiful lit up in the twilight as we made our way back down the hill. A wonderful day with great company, it really does feel like Christmas after a visit to Lincoln Christmas Market.
Happy Stir up Sunday!
Today is the last Sunday before advent which is traditionally the day to make your Christmas Pudding, so the fruits and flavours have time to develop and mature ready in time for Christmas Day. Rather than a traditional spiced Christmas Pudding I’ve decided to try something a little different this year, Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding. Chocolate and orange prove to be a winning flavour combination in many recipes and it certainly works here too, the recipe is based on a traditional christmas pudding but i’ve taken out the spice, replaced this with chocolate and the brandy is replaced with Cointreau. I’ve also added some ground almonds to make for a richer, nuttier Pudding. This recipe makes 3 16cm Christmas puddings, i’ve made a couple extra to give away as presents. Because Christmas Puddings need to cook very slowly and gently in a Baine Marie they take a little while to make and bake, but there really is nothing better than serving up a Christmas Pudding you have made yourself on Christmas Day! Even if you have missed stir up sunday, it’s not too late to make your Christmas pudding. I’ll be making another batch of these puddings next weekend due to popular demand! To make A Chocolate Orange christmas pudding the first step is to place the following ingredients in a bowl:
These ingredients need to be left overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours so the fruit can soak up the alcohol, this will help keep the Pudding moist and adds bags of flavour to the finished Pudding. To make the rest of the christmas pudding you will need:
Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees c or 130 degrees for a fan assisted oven, melt the chocolate by placing it in a non metallic bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl. Once the chocolate is melted take the bowl out of the saucepan and set aside. prepare the puding basins by lightly greasing them with a little butter. Crack the eggs into a measuring jug, sift together the flour and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer cream together the soft butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Slowly begin to add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mix looks likely to split add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and cocoa mix to help bind. Once all the eggs are well incorporated fold in the sifted flour and cocoa, add the milk gradually, stirring well after each addition. Next stir in the melted chocolate, ground almonds, breadcrumbs, the pre soaked fruit and lastly the flaked almonds.
Make sure every member of the household gets an opportunity to stir the pudding mix and make a wish!
Divide the pudding mix equally amongst the three pudding basins, the puddings are to be cooked very gently and slowly in a baine marie, some pudding basins are available with lids but a homemade one can be constructed by laying a sheet of tin foil shiny side down onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Cut a rough circle about two inches larger than the pudding basin, make a fold in the middle of the circle and place on top of the pudding basin. fold down the edges and fix in place with a length of string to make the pudding basin water tight, the pudding wants to be very moist but not soggy! Boil the kettle, place the puddings into the roasting tin and transfer to the central shelf of a pre-heated oven. Pour the boiled water from the kettle into the roasting tin so the water level covers the pudding basins to about 2/3 of the way up. This method provides a very even, gentle bake for the puddings. The result is a very moist pudding. The puddings will take around 4 hours to bake, once this time is up remove the lid from the pudding and gently press the surface of the pudding, if it is firm and springs back to the touch the pudding is ready, if your finger leaves a mark the pudding will need a further few minutes. Once baked allow the pudding to cool completely. Cover the pudding with a clean foil lid and store in a cool dry place until Christmas day. It will need re-heating as per the above baking method at the same temperature for an hour or so, until piping hot.
I’m feeling pretty festive now the puddings are baked!
How are your Christmas preparations going?