Post Christmas delights, to keep away the blues!

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DELICIOUS: Steven’s homemade Christmas cookies. Photo: Steven Saunders

This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook &Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Calauses up some Christmas leftovers for the in between Christmas and New Year period!

AS I grew up Christmas was getting more and more difficult to guarantee that our family came together as we all had our own families. So the days in between Christmas Day and New Year’s eve were and still are the only opportunity to invite over friends and family that we had missed on Christmas Day or Boxing day.

When I was a boy one of things I loved most about the Christmas period was making Christmas cookies with my mum. She used to make the most amazing shortbread and gingerbread men, which we would spend hours icing and decorating. Then they would come out with coffee or wine for everyone that visited in between Christmas and New Year.

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This post Christmas period had become as important as Christmas day itself. It was often our only opportunity to exchange gifts and sit with some wine and catch up.

Things haven’t changed much and in fact they have become more difficult since I moved to Spain. Moving to Spain was my way of wanting to slow down since the business in the UK employed around 2,000 staff and the bureaucracy of it all became stressful.

A small restaurant with a handful of staff somewhere in the sun sounded like a solution! Then The Little Geranium was born and hey…I work harder now than ever before!

So getting away at Christmas to be in the UK with my daughters , brothers and father is difficult, so they come and see me during this in between period.

Serena my eldest daughter lands on the December 27 and is here for a week, so apart from going out for meals and eating at the Geranium I have plans to make my famous Turkey and Ham pie (just like old times) and I’m going to make some gingerbread cookies with her ( I tried them out with Michele’s help last week see picture!)

Wash this down with some mulled wine after a long walk with the dogs on the beach and the feeling of Christmas suddenly hits you! That feeling isn’t totally here as you know if you live here, we all miss the Christmas feeling that we get back in the UK, so in order to bring some of it to Spain, follow these recipes and rejoice!

By the way, my family says that my pie is the best meal that I make all year! Im not sure that this is a compliment!

Steven’s Turkey and Ham Pie

Ingredients

Approx 500g of cooked turkey

Approx 500g cooked ham cut into thick chunks 

For the Sauce

75g butter

75g of plain flour

250ml double or thick cream

50 g of mature cheddar grated

25g of Parmesan grated

1 leek washed and chopped finely

200ml of Turkey or chicken stock  ( warmed)

1 tbsp of Dijon mustard

1 heaped tbsp. of chopped fresh or dried tarragon

For the homemade Pastry

500g of plain flour

75g of suet (optional)

185g of cold butter diced

150 ml of cold water

2 egg yolks for glazing pastry 

To make the sauce

Heat the butter in a thick saucepan and add the leeks and cook gently until soft but not coloured. Stir in the flour and pour in the stock and whisk in and bring to the boil and immediately add the cream, reduce heat to gentle simmer until sauce thickens. Finally add the mustard and the tarragon. Leave to cool if not using immediately.  (This sauce can be made a day or so in advance) 

To make the pastry

Tip the flour into a food processor or mixer. With the salt. Add the butter and the suet and whizz in until it looks like breadcrumbs.

With the motor running slowly pour in 150ml of cold water until the pastry comes together. Tip the dough onto the surface and use a little extra flour to knead the dough until smooth. Wrap in cling film and rest the dough for 15 mins if time allows.

To construct and cook the pie

Get your pie dish ready and heat the sauce until bubbling, taste the sauce to check seasoning. Tip in the turkey and ham pieces and then pour the mix into the pie dish. Roll the pastry out ¼ inch thick and drape over the pie with plenty of hang over. Trim the hangover and crimp the edge all the way around neatly. Cut a little hole in the centre to let the steam out and brush the pie with the egg yolk evenly.

Bake in a pre heated oven 200c and cook for 30 -45 minutes until golden brown.

Ingredients for Christmas Cookies

  • 350g/12oz plain flour plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

To decorate ( Royal Icing)

Approx 4 egg whites with 8 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar. Whisk eggs whites first and then stir in sugar spoonful at a time to create an icing which you can pipe. Add natural food colourings like green red and blue and decorate each cookie differently.

Method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line baking trays with greaseproof paper or butter and flour them.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
  5. Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing recipe above.

Christmas Mulled Wine

Ingredients

  • 750ml bottle red wine
  • 1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • 2 strips approx. 1 inch thick of the zest of lemon
  • 4 tbsp soft brown sugar

100ml brandy

100ml gin

150ml of stones ginger wine

Method

  1. Put the red wine, brandy, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 20mins.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the stones ginger wine and the gin, leaving it to infuse for about 20 mins.
  3. To serve, heat without boiling, pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.

 

You can email Steven any queries or questions this Christmas on [email protected]

Steven Saunders FMCGB

The Little Geranium

La Cala De Mijas

(Behind the Town Hall in central La Cala)

For bookings and Information visit ….www.thelittlegeranium.com

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