Monday, 30 November 2015

Gingerbread Star Trees

Having spotted this recipe in the Waitrose Christmas Harvest cook book, we decided to try the recipe for gingerbread, tweaking it to be gluten free.

The ingredients we used were -
125g unsalted butter
100g dark soft sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
325g Dove's Farm gluten free plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Waitrose Signature Spice (ground) (this is a blend of spices - cinnamon, ginger, etc)
To decorate
100g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
20ml egg white

We also used a set of 5 star-shaped cookie cutters, plus a 1.5cm round cutter, non-stick baking sheets and a silicone sheet for rolling out the dough on.

Preheating the oven to 170°C, we put the non-stick baking trays in the fridge to cool.

First of all we melted the butter, sugar and syrup together in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, then removed from the heat and combined well with a silicone spoon.

Having sifted the gluten free flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a bowl the melted ingredients were stirred

in to make a stiff dough.

Turning the dough out onto a silicone sheet, it was cut in half.  Half the dough was put to one side to be frozen for later use.  The remaining half was rolled to a thickness of about 5mm.

Using the cutters, we cut out one of each size star and 4 of the rounds. After cutting the stars, we also cut out additional small stars, gingerbread men and holly leaves for icing later.
The cut biscuits were then placed on the chilled baking sheets before chilling for 10 minutes until firm.

Baking the biscuits for 10-12 minutes, we checked they were just turning a light golden brown, before cooling on the tray for a couple of minutes.  Next they were transferred to a wire rack and left to cool.

When we were ready to ice the biscuits, we mixed together the icing sugar and egg white until smooth then spooned into a small greaseproof piping

Assembling the tree, we used the icing to stick one of the round biscuits onto the centre of one of the largest stars. We then added the next star biscuit on top and continued to build layers using one small round and the next size of star, descending in size, to form each layer.

We used two of the smallest star biscuits, sandwiched with icing, on a cut cocktail stick to form the tree's top.

Dusting with icing sugar, the gingerbread tree was placed inside a plastic pot (reusing a meringue pot from Sainsbury's in-store bakery) ready to be eaten later.

We decorated the remaining biscuits with first white, then coloured icing.  Turning the gingerbread man shape upside down and icing it as a reindeer (a jelly bean was used as the nose!)  We made small snowflakes out of the stars and turned the holly leaves and rounds into a holly spray..... these were stored in a seasonal tin to be eaten later.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Parmesan Polenta Chicken Mini Fillets

This recipe was developed as a response to the thought 'what can we eat tonight?'  The oven was going to be in use to bake some shortbread for J and we were out of the 'usual' items we'd use to coat chicken (ready salted crisps, crushed)   With a small remnant of parmesan and a bagful of polenta to hand, a plan (recipe) presented itself.  It's really simple and turned out well too.

Doing a fridge audit and seeing we had a pack of chicken mini fillets and needing something that could be baked in the oven, we decided coating the chicken would be a good idea.  

We grated some parmesan (about 40g) and added it to a handful (80g) polenta and seasoned with freshly ground black pepper.  Placing the coating in a bowl, an egg was beaten in another bowl and these were then used, in turn, to coat the chicken mini fillets.

Dipping the chicken in the beaten egg

it was then added to the parmesan/polenta mix and coated.

Once coated, the chicken was placed on a non-stick baking sheet before being baked in a 170ÂșC oven for 20-25 minutes until completely cooked through - adjust cooking time depending on the thickness of the pieces used.

When cooked, the parmesan/polenta coating was starting to brown.  The chicken was removed from the oven and served with chilli potatoes, stir fried kale and sweetcorn...

This coating and technique could also be used with chicken pieces to make nuggets or, if you flattened some larger chicken pieces, it would also be a good way to make escalopes.  Adding a dash of chilli powder to the parmesan/polenta will result in a spicier coating too.