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Forget the gingerbread house. Your holiday dessert should be simple to prepare, so you can spend more time with your family (that is what Christmas is about, right?). Here’s a quick chocoalte mousse recipe from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast.

Nigella says that most mousses need to be made the day before, to allow the egg yolk to set. Here’s her “instant” alternative. She does away with eggs, which not only saves time but allows you to safely feed it to young children.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) soft butter
9 oz best-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup hot water from a recently boiled kettle
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Pour the marshmallows, butter, chocolate, and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2. Melt over gentle heat, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
3 Whip the cream with the vanilla until it’s got a thick consistency. Fold it into the cooled chocolate mixture.
4. Pour into individual dishes or cups and chill until ready to serve.

Watch Nigella’s regular TV show, Nigella Express on the BBC Channel for more recipes and tips.


Children love christmas time. Maybe it’s because of the joy in the air or maybe it’s because of the gift giving. They definitely enjoy the decorating that is done for this holiday.

The gingerbread house is a fun christmas tradition. It allows you and your kids to work together to be creative. It also makes a great item for your christmas decorating. You might want to buy extra bits of the ingredients as some might get nibbled before you finish making your gingerbread house.

The gingerbread house starts with the form. Most use a cardboard house as a base. You can usually buy these in stores if you don’t want to make your own or try creating your own template, it is really easy. Of course you can always print out guides from online.
For the rest of the gingerbread house, try this recipe from Chef Bobby Flay. He introduced this recipe on his show, Food Nation.

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups dark molasses
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Frosting, either store-bought or homemade
  • Brightly colored candies such as gumdrops, licorice, peppermint sticks, etc.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix 5 cups of flour, the ginger and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer. Add molasses and lightly beaten eggs. Blend well. Gradually add dry ingredients. Knead in remaining flour, if necessary. Chill dough 1 hour for best rolling results.

Lightly grease cookie sheets. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick directly onto cookie sheets. Cut patterns, removing excess dough. Chill 10 minutes before baking. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes.

Let cookies cool.

Next, to assemble house, you will want to make a simple cardboard house to use as your base to help hold the house together. Begin applying cookies to the cardboard using your frosting as glue. Once cookies cover the entire house you can decorate with colorful candies such as gumdrops, peppermint sticks and licorice.

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Art Smith is most known for being Oprah’s personal chef and his concoctions can grace our own tables during this season – thanks to Oprah’s web site. I found this roast chicken recipe by Art Smith which might prove to be a good alternative to turkey. Though Christmas is over, I am sure you still have a lot of meals to prepare. Why not try this out?

Ingredients:
Makes 8 servings
• 2 (4-pound) chickens
• 4 cloves garlic
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 lemon , halved
• 2 medium onions , chopped
• 2 medium carrots , chopped
• 2 ribs celery , chopped
• 2 cups homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth

Position a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 400°. Clean chickens inside and out with cold water and pat dry. Arrange on racks in a large roasting pan.

Chop garlic, then mash with salt to make a paste. Transfer to small bowl. Add oil, tarragon, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano and pepper, and mix. Slip your fingers under the skin of each breast to loosen; rub as much herb paste as you can under skins. Rub remaining paste in body cavities, then place a lemon half in each cavity. If desired, tie chicken legs together with kitchen twine.

Place chickens, breast side up, on rack in large roasting pan. Roast 30 minutes, basting twice. Scatter onions, carrots and celery in pan. Roast about 20 to 30 minutes longer, basting once or twice, or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh, without touching a bone, reads 180°.

Transfer chickens to a platter. Pour pan juices into a small glass measuring cup. (Discard vegetables in roasting pan.) Let juices stand 5 minutes, then skim off any fat from surface. Place pan over high heat on stove. When pan is sizzling, pour in degreased juices and broth. Bring to a boil, stirring up browned bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Strain into a sauceboat. Carve chicken and serve with pan juices.

All those herbs are making my mouth water!

I was going to post something else but I just could not resist the drink that Art Smith presented in the same menu that I found the recipes for the chicken and the cake (see the two previous posts here and here.) Dubbed Vanilla Citrus Punch, the drink is a perfect end to a sumptuous dinner. Here, take a look:

Ingredients:
Makes 4–6 servings
• 3 cups fresh orange juice
• 1 orange , sliced
• 1 cup fresh or unsweetened canned pineapple juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 whole vanilla bean
• 1 1/2 cups ginger ale or club soda , chilled

Combine all the juices in a large pitcher. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the juice. Stir with a whisk to separate the vanilla seeds. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, add the ginger ale (or club soda). Serve in ice-filled glasses.

As you have probably noticed, the drink is HARMLESS! That was actually the first thing that I noticed – what? No alcohol??? Well, this version is for the kids. For those of you who are looking for a little more kick, just add a dash (or two, or three, or more!) of your favorite dark rum. I was actually thinking of using some coco rum. How does Malibu Rum sound? I think it’s perfect! I wonder if I would be ruining Art Smith’s creation if I used it?