Sumptuous Festive Treats and Edible Gifts this Christmas!

By Margaret Sexton

And so it begins……..the making a list and checking it twice. We all do it, whether on paper or in that little bit of head space that is left. Everyone wants the perfect Christmas, the perfect gifts, the perfect food, the perfect company. And so panic sets in and we fill our trolleys with what we need, what we might need and what we definitely do not need! Fridges bulge, bellies bulge and there are not enough hours in the day to possibly consume our purchases.

2019 has been memorable for many reasons and I have noticed a subtle change, a drive towards a simpler way of life that benefits not only us but also the environment.

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, sharing our time, giving gifts, breaking bread and giving thanks for the abundance of wealth and health we are blessed with. The cost of your gift or the number of courses you are serving do not or should not feature.

I remember fondly the Christmas’s of my youth. Of course Santa came but for me it was about the smells in the kitchen, my mother sharing her tips for keeping the turkey moist. The swapping of Christmas recipes, went on every year, as her friends called for a chat and we nibbled happily on these homemade treats. I was part of that, I treasure those memories (and recipes) and I savor the season that allows me to create memories for my own children.

I would like to share with you a few of my favourite Edible Gift recipes. These make a statement. Yes they are delicious, but moreover, they tell the person that you valued them enough to gift your time, a precious commodity, to make them something to share with their family. It cost so little but means so much. It is not a piece of plastic or a highly proceeded, heavily packaged protein and avocado cake. It is a simple homemade gift, to you from me. How special is that!

Thanks to Roscommon Credit Union for allowing me to sharing some thoughts this Christmas.  Amidst the mince pies and turkey sandwiches, may your hearts be filled with Peace and Happiness this Christmas!

Margaret. X

Viennese Mince Pies, not just an ordinary mince pie! 

Mince Pies are synonymous with Christmas.  A custom from the middle ages tells us that if you eat a mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas, you will have happiness for the next twelve months! Not that anyone needs a reason…..

Viennese Mince Pies are a modern take on the traditional mince pie and are now commonplace in many a posh eatery but I think we all need a little posh from time to time. 

225g plain flour, sieved
110g butter
50g icing sugar                                 
Ice cold water
Mincemeat (good quality shop bought or homemade)

250g butter
50g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence           
250g plain flour
50g cornflour
1 tablesp milk

1. To make the pastry, using cold finger tips or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Sieve the icing sugar and mix into the butter and flour mixture.
3. Add the cold water a little at a time and using a cold knife, bring the pastry together into a stiff dough.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Wrap tightly in baking paper and refrigerate for a minimum of half an hour.
5. Meanwhile, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.
6. Sieve the flour and cornflour and using the mixer on low setting, slowly add to the creamed mixture. Continue to mix until fully combined.
7. Add the milk and again mix to soften the dough. Set aside.
8. Preheat the oven to 170 C/330 F/GAS mark 3 . Lightly grease two shallow pastry case tins.
9. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out thinly. Using a round cutter, cut out pastry bases and line the pastry tins.
10. Spoon mince into the pastry cases, careful not to over fill.
11. Spoon half of the Viennese mixture into a strong piping bag, fitted with an open star nozzle. Pipe swirls of dough on top of the mincemeat. Top up the piping bag as required.
12. Place in the preheated oven for 15/20 mins. Allow to cool in the tins. Dust with a little icing sugar.

Orange and Cranberry Cookies, a holiday classic!

Everyone loves a good cookie and these Orange and Cranberry Cookies are a holiday classic. They bring the flavours of Christmas to the next level and guess what, Santa loves them! I gift them as a log that can be sliced and baked as required.

Orange and Cranberry Cookies
125g butter
50g icing sugar
125g plain flour
50g cornflour
Zest and juice of an orange
50g dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1. Grate the zest and squeeze the juice of the orange into a small bowl. Add the cranberries to rehydrate them.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Sieve the flour and cornflour and add in slowly, until a dough starts to form.
4. Strain the cranberries and add them and the orange zest into mixture. Using your hand, bring the dough together and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
5. Roll the dough into a log shape and wrap in grease-proof paper. Refrigerate for an hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 160 C/325 F/Gas Mark 3.
7. Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and cut into 1 cm thick rounds. Place on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden in colour.
8. Allow to cool on the baking tray and store in an airtight container.

NOTE: If gifting, use a second layer a recyclable brown paper to wrap the log. Keep refrigerated for 3-5 days.

Caramelised Red Onion, the perfect all-rounder!

So…..Just when you think you’ve experienced every taste and flavour that Christmas brings, along comes Caramelised Red Onion! This is a super gift as it’s so versatile and will last for weeks in the fridge (not in this house!). It makes a great accompaniment to your Stephens Day feast of leftover turkey and ham.

2 large red onions, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 medium sterilized jars

 1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, warm the oil to a low/med heat.
Add the red onions and stir to coat, then cover and allow them to ‘stew’ in the oil for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally. (It is important that the onions don’t sizzle,so keep the heat down).
2. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and sugar for a further 5-10 mins until the sugar has dissolved and the balsamic has reduced slightly.
3. Allow to cool and then fill your jars with the caramelised onions. Some simple Christmas ribbon can be used to finish the look!

We hope you enjoy making, sharing and eating all these wonderful recipes!

Wishing all our Members a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year! 

From all the Team at Roscommon Credit Union Ltd.

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