Thursday, December 1, 2011
Peppermint Topiary Trees
Cut the dowel to 24". Finding the exact center of the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam cube, gently twist the dowel into the STYROFOAM™ at the center point until it is firmly embedded in the cube, approximately 4-5 inches deep. Secure the cube into the bottom of the container with hot glue.
With a glue gun, begin at the top of the sphere and attach unwrapped peppermint candies to the tape. Of course, you'll have to suck on a few of the chipped mints as you work. Just remember that they won't taste as good now as they will on Christmas morning. After the entire sphere is covered, spray generously with a polyurethane spray to keep the candies from becoming sticky or melting. Down in these parts we've been known to have 80 degree temperatures at Christmas time. That just feels wrong somehow.
I added green tinted glass gems to the top of my cardstock to give some extra sparkle, and a big bow for accent.
Depending on the length of your dowel and the size of your sphere and container, these Peppermint Trees would make a cute centerpiece on a table, a festive arrangement at the base of the staircase, or a welcoming display near the entry. As for me, my trees will be right next to the fireplace, waiting to welcome The Man in Red on his Christmas Eve visit.
Total Time: 5 hrs 50 mins
Active Time: 35 mins
Makes:8 to 10 servings
Similar to panettone in its sweet yeastiness, pandoro (“golden cake”) is also known as a Christmastime treat. With its long preparation time, special star-shaped mold, and tall stature, it is a bit of a challenge to make at home, but worth the effort. Traditionally, pandoro is flavored with lemon zest or citron, but here we used orange zest.
Special equipment: Star-shaped pandoro molds can be found at specialty kitchen stores or online.
Game plan: Some ovens come with a “proof” setting; if yours does, set it to 90°F. A consistently warm environment will help the dough rise more quickly.
For the starter:
•1/2 cup all-purpose flour
•1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 110°F)
•1/4 cup granulated sugar
•1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
•1 large egg yolk
For the cake:
•3 cups all-purpose flour
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•6 large egg yolks
•8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut into small pieces
•1 large egg
•1 teaspoon kosher salt
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•3/4 teaspoon orange zest
•Powdered sugar, for dusting
•Toasted, slivered almonds
For the starter:
1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk gently to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
For the cake:
1. Coat a large bowl with butter; set aside.
2. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the starter and, using the hook attachment on a stand mixer, mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 3 of the egg yolks, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 3 to 5 minutes more.
3. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Clean the mixer bowl.
4. Gently place risen dough in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 3 egg yolks, the whole egg, salt, vanilla, and zest. Turn the mixer to low and, using the hook attachment, knead until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with butter. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
5. Thoroughly coat a 9-cup pandoro mold with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter using a pastry brush. Sift flour into the mold to evenly coat, then tap out the excess (make sure to get all of the corners to prevent any sticking).
6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and transfer to the prepared mold (the dough should fill the pan about halfway). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough is about a 1/2 inch from the top of the pan, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
7. Bake the pandoro for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F and bake until the pandoro is dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes more.
8. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.
When the cake has cooled completely, turn it upside down and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve with Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream and toasted almonds.
Orange Marmalade Truffles Recipe
Total Time: 40 mins, plus refrigeration time
Active Time: 40 mins
Makes:About 60 truffles
These truffles are refreshingly simple: Just melt chocolate with cream, stir in all things orangy, let the chocolate set up, and roll into petite bites. Serve them to your sweetie for brownie points, or as a stellar finishing touch at your next cocktail party.
What to buy: Look for marmalade with lots of zest to ensure you’ll have a chewy orange bit in every bite. We like St. Dalfour brand.
Game plan: The truffles can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Their orange flavor diminishes a little each day, though, so they’re best the same day they’re made.
•1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
•1/2 cup heavy cream
•1/4 cup orange marmalade
•2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
•1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest, from 1 medium orange
•1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1. Place a medium saucepan filled with about 1 inch of water over medium-low heat until just simmering. Place chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl and set the bowl over (but not touching) the simmering water. Add cream and stir until chocolate is smooth and melted, about 8 minutes.
2. Remove chocolate mixture from heat, add marmalade, liqueur, and zest, and stir until combined. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch dish. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
3. Once set, scoop the ganache into teaspoon-size balls. Roll between the palms of your hands to create smooth round truffles, place on a baking sheet, and repeat with remaining ganache.
4. Place cocoa powder in a shallow dish and roll truffles in the powder to coat, shaking off excess. Reroll truffles in additional cocoa powder before serving, if necessary.
How to Make Granola
Granola is basically toasted oats. It’s incredibly easy to buy for exorbitant prices, yet incredibly easy to make at home. Here is a super-basic granola base to which you can add whatever dried fruit, nuts, or other tasty bits make you happy. Feel free to tweak this recipe if you like other spices, a little less honey, more salt—it’s pretty forgiving, and customizing your own blend is fun.
Here’s how to make your own granola:
1. In a large bowl, stir together three cups of old-fashioned rolled oats, three tablespoons brown sugar, a quarter teaspoon kosher salt, and a half teaspoon cinnamon.
2. In another bowl, stir together one-third cup honey, a quarter cup canola oil, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Dump this over the oat mixture and combine thoroughly. Get your hands in it to mix everything well, and to coat the oats evenly with the honey mixture. Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet and place on the center rack of the heated oven. Bake, stirring after 15 minutes, until the granola is a very light golden brown. It should take 20 to 30 minutes. If you like your granola crunchier with a toastier flavor, bake it a little longer, keeping a close eye on it—if it gets dark it will taste burnt.
4. Cool the granola completely, stirring it around so it doesn’t stick together. (It hardens as it cools.)
5. Once the granola’s cool, get creative: Now is the time to stir in all your extras like dried fruit, raw or toasted nuts and seeds, toasted coconut, etc. (See our sidebar for variations.) Store in an airtight container (this is very important—the granola goes stale easily) and eat within two weeks.
Mix It Up!
• Try adding in other rolled grain flakes with the oats such as spelt, kamut, or brown rice.
• Tropical: Add toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, and dried mango.
• Apple-Cinnamon: Add dried apples and toasted almonds to the mix, and additional cinnamon if you want.
• Date-Nut: Add dried dates and toasted pecans.
• Berry: Add dried mixed berries and toasted cashews.
• Experiment! Use other dried fruits (apricots, plums, raisins, cherries, currants) and toasted or raw nut-seed combos (sunflower seeds, mixed nuts, pistachios) and whatever spices you want.
10. Belfast Christmas Continental Market
A Traditional Continental Market in Belfast
One of Belfast landmark buildings the famous City Hall with its beautiful gardens provides a wonderful backdrop for the Christmas Alpine Village and is situated right in the heart of the City Centre and its wider retail shopping areas. The Market is situated directly alongside the central Bus link and taxi station so transport and travel are never far away.
2010 - Fantastic shopping experience
The shopping experience is everything you would expect from a Continental Christmas Market with over 28 different countries represented selling a great range of fresh and hot food, gifts and crafts. With traders from across Europe featuring some very special traders from Russia and the Lapp area of Finland to the Mad Yanks all the way from the USA and Daniel Aguirre from the foothills of Machu Picchu in Peru with his fantastic Alpacca Knitwear making the long journey to work at this market.
To warm you
The market features some fantastic refreshment areas such as the Continental Bar and Lavery's traditional Irish Bar where you can hear some great live music or wander around the German Gluwein and Bratwurst Stands where you can watch some great Fire Eating displays as well as enjoying a great glass of warming mulled wine.
And more !!
And if all that shopping, eating and drinking doesn't satisfy you, you can also take the family to visit to Santa in his specially designed Grotto and Magical Forest
Christkindelmarkt, Leeds - a little piece of Germany in the heart of Leeds City Centre
Christkindelmarkt, Leeds is one of the most established German Christmas Markets in the UK, with traditional wooden stalls, festive greenery, Christmas carousel rides and twinkling colourful lights all creating a unique continental style festive atmosphere in the heart of Leeds city centre.
The South West's Premier Christmas Shopping Event
123 traditional wooden chalets full of everything you’ll need to prepare for the perfect Christmas will adorn the streets. If you are looking for something extra special to make your Christmas perfect, Bath Christmas Market is the place you’ll find it, with all of the retailers selling unique, handcrafted items, many of which are made in the local area and the South West, giving the event a very individual identity. Festive food and drink, decorations, jewellery, accessories, crafts and children’s toys are all abundant, and with such a huge range of gift ideas any prospective present buyer will be spoilt for choice – even for those family members who are normally impossible to buy for!
7.Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre
Something for Everyone at Bury St Edmunds!
6.Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair
Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair
Open daily from 18 November to 23 December, 10am-9pm, it is the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria and is arguably one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK.
Christmas Market at Southbank Centre / London Eye
It will be a typcial German style Christmas Market – app. 60 wooden chalets will be situated between Southbank Centre and London Eye along Queen's Walk.
The carousel in the centre of the Christmas Market offers younger visitors an enjoyable attraction especially for them. Parents can relax with a glass of “Glühwein” (German Mulled Wine) while listening to traditional Christmas music and watching their little ones enjoying a ride on the merry-go-round.
Other seasonal culinary specialties such as the typical German Sausage “Bratwurst” do not need an introduction, gingerbread hearts for your loved ones, roasted almonds and candies to taste the “sweet" side of life or a delicious crepe.
3.A Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth
Traditional festive fun at A Victorian Festival of Christmas!
Friday 25th - Sunday 27th November 2011
On the first year of Christmas my true love gave to me… a Festival to make you happy! 12 years on and that is still the case as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will once again step back in time for the delightful Victorian Festival of Christmas.
This family favourite event set in the atmospheric dockyard surroundings, steeped in history, is the perfect way to start your festive season celebrations and preparations!
Christmas Markets in Vienna