The Indulgence List

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“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head. He jumped out from under it.
“Good thinking,” said Luna seriously. “It’s often infested with nargles.”

-J.K Rowling (5th Potter Book)

Hello all ye followers, joyful and terribly full of food- or soon to be! The lead up to the most gluttonous time of the year has begun and I promise to not let you down on the naughty front. Over the past few years, I’ve always felt like I’ve wished the days away until 25th, so in an attempt to pace myself and actually enjoy the big build up, I’m planning to make a selection of delicious Christmas inspired treats along the way. Expect maple glazed gammon, lots of juicy birds (nudge, nudge) and a variety of amuse bouche to entertain your winter palate. I should inform you now that, my December blogs are not for the food, faint-hearted. Fore, ample servings brings you a Christmas that spares no expense. There WILL be goose fat, there WILL be port and by God, there will be butter! Now, I suggest you pull on your trainers and go for a quick jog before you continue reading.

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On 19th December I am due to have the infamous ‘Drinking Gang’ chez-moi for an evening of merriment. It’s been in the diary for some time now and I want to do my menu justice. I’ve already been caught leafing through Nigella’s Christmas cookbook (she is definitely on the naughty list this year!) and searching the web high and low for the best canapés recipes. Feel free to judge me all you like, but nothing gets me more excited than a cold glass of Prosecco and a honeyed cocktail sausage on a stick. Do stay tuned into my blog for a list of tried and tested delights to make you’re cocktail party or day of festivities a guaranteed success!

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This weekend I was yet, again playing with some salted caramel, the most popular food fad to date. I’ve found that it not only makes lovely truffle centres but it also turns regular brownies into something a little more special. This recipe is terribly rich and therefore, suits the Christmas theme down to the ground. These are perfect with a cup of tea or with a dollop of vanilla ice on the side, homemade ice-cream of course!

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Nigella’s naughty list brownies

375 g soft unsalted butter

375 g best quality dark chocolate

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

500 g caster sugar

225 g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

300 g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line your approximatley 33 x 23 x 5 1/2cm brownie pan with foil or baking paper. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy based saucepan. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar mixture, and then the nuts and flour. Beat to combine and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined brownie pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. When its’s ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. Keep checking the brownies as they cook; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.
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Like I said before, I added salted caramel to the recipe above. The best advice I can give you is simply to ignore the sugar content. I used Rachel Khoo’s salted caramel recipe again (150g caster sugar melted in a pan, then add 150ml of double cream and a tsp of salt) and remember NOT to stir the caramel, swirl the pan to combine and shake the sugar about. I poured most of the salted caramel into the chocolate mixture before placing it into a baking tin and I kept a little to pour upon the top, making a nice pattern.
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If you’re still able to function after the brownies, I have a slightly lighter option to keep your mouth preoccupied this winter. I consider this recipe a more interesting flapjack that incorporates oats, fruit and a few seeds to give it an extra crunch. Ideal for a four o’clock pick me up and lunch box snackettes. You can exchange the jam for any flavour you wish and feel free to add chopped nuts and dried fruit to spice it up a little.

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http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-thornton/raspberry-crumble-bars-recipe/index.html

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Finally, I have a little technique that I wish to share with you today. I am fully aware that salad takes a back seat during winter and yet, it’s always good to learn something new and to top up those long lost vitamins and minerals! This culinary technique is wonderfully easy and yet, looks beautiful. I call this ribboning as it does exactly what is says on the tin (or vegetable) and it works perfectly in making a fairly average salad look great. Often on Boxing Day, my family eat all the cold cuts left over from the day before alongside a big jacket potato and usually some greens. A few lettuce leaves, some raw carrot and cucumber with a honey mustard dressing may seem dull but I assure you, it comes as a welcomed gift to both you and your body. Plus, look how lovely this salad looks!

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To use this technique, simply take a vegetable peeler and ‘peel’ said vegetable over and over again in the same place. I saw Jamie Oliver use this method in his fifteen minute meals and it truly works a treat. Then, arrange the ribbons on the plate similar to my salad above and huzzah! It’s ready. Until next week festive followers!

Love,

E. Wells

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