Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is around the corner, you can almost hear the bells jingling. All over the world the temperatures are dropping. Smells of spices and freshly bakes cookies will soon fill the house. It is a time for family and friends, for tradition and treats to come together. It is an opportunity to look forward to warm hearted puddings and minced meat pies. But, let’s face it, when the pressure to feed and entertain builds up, the festive season can begin to lose its sparkle. 

Where are you celebrating Christmas this year, and what are you serving? There are a vast number of options one can choose from, a regular variety of food will just not do. Christmas means different things to everyone; for some it means a huge and lavish meal and for some it is just a simple but romantic dinner with a loved one. 

Local specialties and secret family recipes for Christmas food are exactly what you need to create just the right feeling. Use some of our ideas, guaranteed to bring comfort and joy and make sure the season of good will stays that way. Just use our easy-to-follow recipes and to keep in mind that planning and cooking ahead can be a great asset.
Here is a lovely recipe that is rich in fruit, nuts and lots of love.

Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups coarsely chopped mixed nuts (pecans, hazelnuts, or pine nuts, walnuts, almonds)
3 cups dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, dates, blueberries figs, dried pineapple
Apricots) chopped
3 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with oil spray, a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 12 cm) (8 cup) loaf pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, walnuts, and dried fruits. Use your fingers to make sure that all the fruits and nuts have been coated with the flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer) the eggs and vanilla until light colored and thick (this will take several minutes). Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter. Spread into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.
Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. (If you find the loaf over browning, cover with aluminum foil.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When cool, lift the loaf from the pan. To store, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This loaf is best after being stored for a couple of days. Will keep for about 2 weeks at room temperature or for a couple of months in the refrigerator. Cut into small slices with a sharp knife and serve with a spiced custard.

 *recipes designed for Natures Basket by Celebrity Gastronome Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal.


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