Thursday, 17 November 2011

3, 2, 1... Blast Off

Its been a very busy few weeks, my little boy has turned 7 and its been birthday mayhem for a week.
To add to the chaos the oven temperature dial decided to break just in time for my attempts at making a space rocket birthday cake for his party, nevertheless with stress levels rising and much checking on the cake we managed to pull it off and were quite proud of our end result. ( Thanks to my wonderful husband for doing the icing ).

Now its all over I have some time to gather myself together and start preparing for the next celebration... Christmas and our long anticipated visit from my sister and her family whom I haven't seen in a year and the children haven't seen in over 2 years  - the excitement is building. This is where I am in my element planning and organising and then finally putting it all together.

So we started on our Biberlie - a Swiss Christmas cookie, which you bake at least 4 weeks ahead to give the flavours time to mingle and mellow and also for the cookie to soften. Its has a filling of ground almonds, apricot jam and honey and the dough has Christmas spices in it so my house smells like Christmas.
Here's what they look like at the moment -

Recipe : Swiss Biberlie ( Christmas Cookies )

340g honey
134g cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons brandy, rum, or kirsch
512g unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground anise
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

 300g blanched almonds
200g sugar
 1/2 cup apricot jam
 1/3 cup honey
 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
 3 tablespoons lemon juice
 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
How to make Swiss Biberli

Make the Dough: 
In small saucepan , combine the honey, sugar, and 2 tablespoons water.
Heat, stirring, just until sugar dissolves—do not boil.
Let cool until lukewarm—about 20 minutes.
Stir in lemon peel and the brandy.
Into large bowl, sift flour with baking soda, anise, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and coriander.
Add honey mixture; mix with wooden spoon to a stiff dough; then knead until smooth.
Shape into a ball.
Refrigerate, covered, 2 days.
Make Filling: Grind almonds, using fine blade of grinder, or use electric blender.
In medium bowl, combine almonds, sugar, the jam, honey, lemon peel, juice, extract; mix until blended.
Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Divide dough in half; return half to refrigerator.
On lightly floured surface, roll out dough, 1/4 inch thick, into a 10-inch square.
Cut crosswise, to make 4 strips.
Place 5 to 6 tablespoons filling in a 1/2-inch-wide mound down center of each strip of dough.
Bring edges of dough over filling, to overlap; press gently, to seal.
Place rolls seam side down.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Cut filled rolls into 1-inch pieces, using sharp floured or moistened knife.
Place seam side down on prepared cookie sheets.
Bake 20 minutes, or until light brown.
Cool completely.
Pack in airtight containers, to mellow for several weeks.
Enjoy !!
I am also busy working on my christmas menu and this is what I have so far:-

Christmas Eve -
Buffet of cold meats and cheeses with pickles and chutneys ( homemade of course ) .
Homemade bread
Chocolate dipped strawberries and figs
And the childrens contribution - a decorated gingerbread house.

Christmas Morning -
Cinnamon pancakes

Christmas Lunch - 
Spinach, strawberry and mango salad
Smoked salmon toasts

Roast Chicken
Roast Pheasant - stuffed
Roast Guineafowl
Cranberry sauce

Ice-cream santas grotto cake ( shop bought I confess )
A french fruit tart ( hoping it will look something like this -  it will depend on what fruit I get.)

Mince pies and Brandy cream. ( of course )

So far its all falling into place , but no doubt there will be some variations and changes as the big day draws nearer. I'll post some pictures of all the exciting things we've made.