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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.

 

 

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

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
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Festive Nibbles

On Friday night I hosted a festive cocktail evening for the girls, a sort of Christmas party, so I decided to make an array of festive treats – they went down a storm with everyone – and they are so easy make! If you are looking for inspiration check out Pintrest – just type in festive food and you’ll get hundreds of ideas. No recipes necessary here as the pictures speak for themselves…

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Mini Savoury Christmas Puddings (meatballs, glazed with cranberry sauce, topped with Greek yoghurt, dill and cranberries)
Santa hats
Santa Hats (mini double chocolate chip muffins, vanilla cream and strawberries)
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Mini Penguins (black olives, mozzarella balls and carrot)

 

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake

It’s the truth universally acknowledged that it isn’t a birthday without a cake, and I’ve been hard at work creating the perfect celebration cake. The combination of coconut and raspberries is something I adore and here it works beautifully. I’ve made coconut and raspberry cupcakes a few times, which are delicious, but a birthday calls for one big cake, rather than lots of individual ones. I hope you’ll agree that the cake looks really impressive. I guess this doesn’t have to be just a birthday cake recipe, you could make this cake over the Christmas time too.

I’ve used two layers of cake, but you could always cut the two cakes into four if you wanted more layers. My boyfriend was disappointed that I made this cake for my auntie. He moaned that I always make other people the ‘really nice ones’ – so I guess I’ll have to make another one soon. Coconut is his favourite!

You might have noticed that the ingredient quantities are quite large, that’s because I wanted a very large cake, a smaller one just wouldn’t have looked as good – and probably wouldn’t have been enough to go around.

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Coconut & Raspberry Celebration Cake
Cuisine: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The perfect Birthday cake (for adults)!
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 220g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g desiccated coconut
  • 440g self raising flour
  • Splash of milk
  • For the icing:
  • 125g softened butter
  • 300g cream cheese (I used light/low-fat)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g flaked coconut (or desiccated if you can’t find flaked)
  • 300g of raspberries
  • 100g of blueberries (optional)
  • About 4 heaped tbsp raspberry conserve (or jam)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line two 20cm round cake tins (using greaseproof paper) and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the coconut and flour.
  3. Pour the cake mixture evenly between the two tins and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  4. Once the cakes are cooked, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the icing by creaming the butter, vanilla extract, cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl.
  6. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread one with the raspberry jam and the other with a little of the cream cheese icing, sandwich the two cakes together. Then using the rest of the icing, ice the cake using a pallet knife, remember to do the sides too.
  7. Using your hands start to press the flaked coconut all over the cake, ensuring that the whole thing is covered. Then dip each raspberry into the icing and place on top of the cake until the top is completely covered, scatter over the blueberries if using.

 

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Gingerbread Muffins

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I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to post this recipe just yet, I mean it is only the beginning of November, but seeing as Food Network are already showing festive specials and my Facebook news feed is filling up with all things Christmas I decided that it isn’t too early after all. So this is a recipe for those of you who (like me) don’t mind Christmas being shoved at you from early November. We are big on Christmas in my house, in fact we love it, from wrapping gifts, choosing a massive Christmas tree and decorating it to baking some delicious goodies, we know how to celebrate the festive season.

In some respects Christmas has come early to our house anyway, I’ve baked about two hundred mince pies over the last week to give away as samples at a Christmas open day and have already taken lots of orders for them. I’m certainly going to have a busy December.

Apart from the obvious mince pies, there are some things you just associate with Christmas and gingerbread is definitely one of them. The aromatic blend of mixed spice; cinnamon and ground ginger give the kind of warmth only Christmas could, which makes them perfect for Christmas morning. They will make the whole house smell magical and the dry ingredients can be weighed out the night before – so you only need spend minutes whisking in the wet ingredients on Christmas morning. Let’s face it, we all have plenty to do Christmas morning without running around making muffins.

They make wonderful gifts for friends; package them up into pretty wicker baskets with beautiful red ribbons. But, whether you decide to eat them yourself or give them away to a lucky friend, they absolutely must be served with a pot of freshly brewed tea to really appreciate them.

This recipe makes 12 scrumptious muffins, but I’ve found that making two batches is sensible as they seem to disappear rather quickly. The children really seemed to enjoy them, which I imagine is because they taste like a gingerbread man, only in muffin form.

Gingerbread Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: Festive
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g softened butter
  • 220g dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 250g self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the spices, salt, milk and eggs, whisk for a couple of minutes until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour whisking until combined into the mixture. It will be quite thick (this is normal). Evenly spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

 

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The Ultimate Festive Feast Give-away & Cranberry Mince Pies

Click here to enter the give-away

Okay, so the title might have been a bit misleading, I’m not providing you with Christmas dinner ready prepared and cooked, nor am I supplying you with free mince pies. This give-away is for a book called The Ultimate Festive Feast – and I’ve thrown in the fabulous mince pie recipe for good measure.

Do you get bored of the same old festive fair at Christmas time? Once you’ve had one mince pie… and all that!

Well, I bought this book a couple of years ago and I’ve used it for the past two Christmases – It has a wonderful array of recipes and has been my go-to kitchen handbook for the month of December. It gives you some really interesting takes on classic Christmas recipes, as well as some perfect party nibbles that will knock the socks off those horrible supermarket party selection things (you know the ones that come in the freezer section and all taste the same). It’s such a great find that I just had to order another copy and run a give-away. This post isn’t sponsored in anyway – it’s just a great book that I wanted to share with you.

The book features a fantastic collection of seasonal recipes that will see you through the festive period in the most delicious way possible. It has some great tips on planning and preparing your ultimate festive feast. Many wonderful chefs contributed to it, including Mary Berry, James Martin, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Jr to name a few. The book has various chapters to help guide you through the festive season, staring with a Christmas countdown and on to starters, mains, sides, stuffing, sauces and desserts. There are also recipes for leftovers, party food and drinks, as well as useful menu planning ideas.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a free copy of this fabulous festive book then fill in your details using this link. This give-away is open to UK residents only. Entries will close at 5pm on November the 23rd and a winner will be selected at random.

Good luck!

Cranberry Mince Pies by Gordon Ramsay (from the book)

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Click here for the recipe! 

Click on the following link to enter: Enter Now

The Ultimate Festive Feast Book Cover

First

Festive Jam Tarts


Tis the season to be jolly *
For those that are regular readers of Miss Friday’s Feast you’ll know sweets really aren’t my forte, or should I say my preference? I really don’t have much of a sweet tooth and can’t seem to get as excited about the prospect of baking cookies as I can about cooking a steak. Nevertheless, I realise that Christmas is the time for indulgence, so what better time to take the plunge with my very first sweet blog post?
Well, technically speaking it isn’t my first sweet blog post. A few weeks back Stephanie over at Kitchen Frolicasked me to participate in her festive cookie calendar, so I have been experimenting with all things cookie ever since. You can see my white chocolate and macadamia cookies that I made for Steph over at her blog.
So, having decided to set aside some time for festive baking, I enlisted in the help of my mother, who has never really been much of a cook (sorry mum), but a few glasses of wine and a very messy kitchen later we were feeling rather smug with our efforts.


These festive jam tarts are truly great, not only do they look festive, but they taste it too. The wonderful vanilla pastry against the sweet raspberry jam works beautifully. In an effort not too eat them all myself, I brought them to work this week and my colleagues seem to agree that they taste good, either that or they are good liars!
This would be a great recipe to do with the kids, let them have fun cutting out the stars, although the top outline stars can be a little fiddly, that part may just be a job for mum, or indeed dad. It is really important not to miss out the freezing step. Freezing the pastry for 10 minutes will ensure it is stiff enough for you to handle.
This recipe was inspired by Sainsbury’s, but I made a few adaptations to suit my own tastes, such as swapping strawberry jam for raspberry, and icing sugar for coconut. I also made a few look like proper jam tarts rather than stars. But, that’s the beauty of them, you can make them however you like. I think I’ll make some heart shaped ones for Valentine’s Day.
You could also substitute the jam for mince meat if you like, personally I don’t like it. Just saying!   

* Fa la la la la, la la la la *

Mum made the broken ones 😛


Ingredients:
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g raspberry jam
1 tbsp desiccated coconut, to dust
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour and then, using your hands, lightly knead to form a ball.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 5mm thickness. Using a 8cm star shaped cookie cutter, stamp out as many stars as you can, then, using the smaller star shaped cookie cutter, stamp the little stars from the middle of half of the bigger stars. Place the biscuits onto a lined or greased baking sheet. Place these in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Spread a thin layer of jam onto the whole larger stars, placing the stars with the cut-out middles on top. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then sprinkle with desiccated coconut to serve.
Tip – You will have pastry left from the smaller star cut outs, you can either bake these separately, or roll out the pastry again and make a few more.