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Mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme, garlic and roasted bone marrow

This is without doubt one of the most deliciously mouth watering recipes I’ve ever devised, for obvious reasons I guess. Roasted bone marrow spooned over garlicky mushrooms and salty jewels of bacon and perfumed woody thyme… what’s not to love? These mushroom toasts would be ideal for a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner party. Just go easy on the garlic so as not to knock your guests side ways with your garlic breath.

This recipe really packs a punch in terms of flavour and it’s just so simple. Aside from waiting for the bone marrow to cook it only takes about 10 minutes to throw together, so even when you’ve still got some last minute wrapping to do you can find 10 minutes right?

Bring some restaurant elegance into your home

It is easy to bring a little bit of restaurant into your own kitchen. In fact, Christmas has to be the ideal time. Your guests will really appreciate the touch of elegance it brings to the dinner table, plus you’ll look extra chefy. All you have to do is ask your butcher for some femur bone cut into small discs and pop it into the oven. Job done! Well almost…

The inspiration for the recipe

The inspiration for this recipe came from a book I recently bought for a friend. It’s a book I feel compelled to share with all foodies I know. ‘The Flavour Thesaurus’ is always on hand in my kitchen. If you’re a foodie and you’ve not heard of it or read it I urge you to pop out and grab a copy. As the title suggests, the book is set out like a thesaurus and is a bible of parings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. On many an occasion I’ve taken inspiration from the book, perhaps when I have a random ingredient left over and I’m not sure what to pair it with. I can always count on The Flavour Thesaurus to come up with the goods.

The recipe

Garlic mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme and roasted bone marrow
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter, Main, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g mushrooms (I used Chestnut and Shiitake), roughly chopped
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 disks of femur bone (bone marrow) - ask your butcher for this
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Turn the oven on to the highest temperature and pop in the bone marrow (in a roasting tin). It will take about 35-40 minutes.
  2. When the marrow has only 10 minutes from being done heat the butter and olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then add a splash of wine and allow to cook until reduced. Season to taste.
  5. Pop the slices of sourdough bread under the grill. Remove when lightly toasted and whilst still hot rub them with a garlic clove.
  6. Remove the bone marrow from the oven and carefully spoon out the soft marrow from the middle - stir this through the mushroom mix.
  7. Pile the mushroom mix on to the toasts and garnish with a little fresh thyme.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

 

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Adorable teddy bear sugar cookies

It’s no secret, I have an absolute obsession with Pinterest. I can idle away hours scanning through the images and picking up inspiration for recipes, tips and ideas. Back in September it was Jemima’s first birthday, so I began searching party ideas on Pinterest in the July… I was a rather excited mother. After all, it was her very first Birthday. I happened across this teddy bear picnic idea and I actually knew someone who had hosted this type of party before, so the idea was cast and I embarked on two months of party planning.

Who knew planning a party for a one year old would be so fun? Obviously from a food point of view the pressure was off as a traditional teddy bear picnic would mean everyone bringing their own lunch along. This meant that I was able to decide what food to offer without the pressure of having to provide a huge variety of sandwiches, meats and sweets etc. And, I didn’t have the worry of catering for exact numbers.

Having seen the adorable teddy bear picnic ideas on Pinterest I just had to decide which ones to run with. I’d never attempted iced sugar cookies before so it seemed a fitting time to try. I’ll be honest and say this is by no means a quick task and it requires a certain level of patience – the kind of patience I don’t normally have. However, it being Jemima’s first Birthday it warranted all the time and effort.

Everyone seemed to be greatly impressed with the effort . The food on the day turned out great and everything was so fitting with the theme. Richard’s niece Emily is an amazing baker and made Jemima a wonderful teddy bear Birthday cake – she’s also a blogger so you can check out her amazing creation here.

If teddy bears are not your thing, you could of course make any design you like. With Christmas just around the corner I’ll certainly be trying my hand at some festive designs. Most of us have made biscuits before right? So we know about making a dough that won’t spread in the oven meaning we lose the desired shape? Well, if you are shaking your head, don’t worry… there are a couple of super simple tips that will guarantee your biscuits are perfect every time.

Top tips for perfect sugar cookies

  • Don’t use baking powder – even if a recipe states you should
  • Don’t open the oven – even if you’re really tempted to check
  • Roll the dough out so it’s no thicker than a one pound coin
  • Place the cut out biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  • Chill the dough for 45 minutes in the fridge/freezer

Chocolate teddy bear sugar cookie recipe

Iced teddy bear biscuits (sugar cookies)
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Sweet
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 230g softened butter
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g coco powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredients and bring together using a wooden spoon
  5. Turn the mixture out on to a floured work surface and knead until you have formed a smooth dough (try not to handle it too much).
  6. Flatten out the dough, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for a minimum of 45 minutes
  7. Remove from fridge and roll out to the thickness of one pound coin
  8. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your cookie shapes
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet
  10. Place in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 8 minutes

 

 

To make the flood icing

Outline the biscuits using thinned royal icing mixed with food coloring of choice (I actually used coco powder for my teddy bears), use a thin piping nozzle. Once you have piped the outline, immediately flood the rest of the biscuit with icing using a slightly thicker nozzle. Use a wooden skewer (or a scribe if you have one) to evenly distribute the icing. Gently tap the biscuit to settle the icing. . If using other colours such as the black and white you can add these after the initial colour has set for about 30 minutes. Allow 8-12 hours for the icing to thoroughly set

I found YouTube a great help when learning how to flood the icing.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

… and toys are most certainly everywhere… all over my lounge floor that is. As if pulling out the Christmas decorations and untangling the yards of spaghetti entwined lights isn’t a task in itself. Try doing it with wooden blocks and various other toys underfoot. We figured, rather than trying desperately to adorn the Christmas tree with lights before Jemima pulled the whole thing over, we’d wait until she was asleep. A genius plan I know!

Before your life is blessed with the joy of children you have no concept of just how difficult the smallest tasks become. There are thousands of smug child free people out there right now admiring their wonderfully glistening, beautifully decorated trees. Spare a thought for us parents who, by Christmas day, will be sick of the sight of our half decorated, bare and withered looking trees that have been abused by small human beings. In my desperation to keep the tree looking it’s best I have imprisoned it in a child proof play pen (picture below).

I already know Christmas is going to be more exciting this year. Jemima is at such a wonderful age for it. Sure she’ll enjoy ripping the paper and playing with the boxes more than the toys, but who cares? Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year and Richard is just as keen on the festive season as me. We love nothing more than to get busy in the kitchen making mince pies, gingerbread muffins, sausage rolls and Christmas cocktails. Then of course there’s Richard’s famous Christmas lunch. I’d say that makes me one lucky girl.

We often host Christmas lunch for a large crowd, but this year is very much an exception. It’s just me, Richard and Jemima and I wouldn’t have it any other way. That said, we are going to a family party in the evening, which means, drinking, laughing and an inevitable hangover on Boxing Day.

Friday is my last working day before I have two weeks off work. Hurrah! And, family time means cooking time! I’m really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen and turning out some delicious festive treats. I have finished all of my Christmas gift shopping which means I’ll have plenty of time to make a whole host of edible Christmas gifts, so keep a look out for the recipes.

The greatest joy

Becoming a parent is the greatest joy you’ll ever experience. Becoming a parent and working full time is the greatest tiredness you’ll ever experience. It means I rarely have time to blog. I feel completely out of sorts with the blogging world as I knew it. Having a break from blogging has made me realise that the priorities in my life have so much more meaning now. Sure I love blogging, but I love Jemima unconditionally (tantrums and all) and that’s pretty special. Over the Christmas holidays though, I am going to forge out some time to read other food blogs and get busy in my own kitchen working up some content for my blog.

Every year I say that my new year’s resolution is to blog more and every year find myself reviewing that progress in December and I find I’ve yet again not had the time to keep this resolution. So this year, I’m not going to pledge to blog more, cook more or be regimented in the way I write this blog, I am simply going to remember the reasons I began writing this blog. Cooking and writing are my hobbies and a much needed distraction from everyday life.

And, do you know what? If only a handful of people read it, that’s okay with me.

Merry Christmas one and all… happy cooking!

Mummy & Jemima at the Christmas Market
The Jemima proofed Christmas tree