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Simon Holst's recipe - Christmas treats - 9 December

Simon Holst's Christmas Treats 9 December 2008

Spiced, Sugared Walnuts

These will keep for several weeks in an airtight jar.

2 cups walnut halves or large pieces
1 tbsp egg white
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp salt

  • Turn oven to 125degC.
  • Put walnuts in a bowl.
  • Tip the measured (don't use more) lightly beaten but not frothy egg white on to the walnuts.
  • Mix to coat the nuts thoroughly, using your fingers.
  • Shake the remaining ingredients through a fine sieve into a shallow dish two or three times to mix thoroughly.
  • Drop the nuts into the dry mixture and turn gently to coat evenly. Arrange nuts on non-stick liner or baking paper so they do not touch, and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly browned and very crisp when cold.

Devilled Almonds

These nuts make a great snack to serve with drinks, but they really are best eaten within 24 hours of being made. These are particularly good if they are heated slowly so they don't brown before they heat through.

1 cup whole almonds
1 tsp sesame or other oil
2 tsp Kikkoman soy sauce
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/8 - 1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt

  • Stir the blanched or skin-on almonds in a heavy frying pan to coat with oil. (Don't use more oil.)
  • Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 8 - 10 minutes, until a cut nut is very lightly browned.
  • While the nuts cook, mix the last four ingredients in a dry container.
  • Turn off heat, sprinkle the hot nuts in the pan with soy sauce and toss to coat, then sift the mixed seasonings over the nuts in the pan and stir to coat well.

Christmas Pudding Truffles

Making truffles together is something of Christmas tradition in our family. I guess it's because they're particularly well suited to making with (or by) children since there's little or no actual 'cooking', they're nice and hands-on, and best of all they taste great. Of all the varieties we made over the years, I think these are my favourite.

For 20-30 truffles:

1 cup currants
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
1/4 cup rum, brandy or orange juice
250g (2 1/2 cups) crumbs from a chocolate or plain cake
125g (generous 1/2 cup) chocolate chips or melts

To decorate (optional):

75g white chocolate melts
1 tsp oil
About 6 red glace cherries
About 6 green glace cherries

  • Measure the currants into a sieve and pour boiling water over them, then put them in a bowl with the finely gated orange rind.
  • Add the spirit (or juice) of choice or orange juice, them mix briefly.
  • Leave the currants to stand while you crumb the cake, and melt the chocolate chips. (The easiest way to do this is put them into the microwave oven and heat them for 2-3 minutes on medium (50%) power, stirring every minute, or, place them in a metal bowl standing in a pot of hot, but not boiling water.)
  • Add the crumbs to the currants then stir the melted chocolate.
  • Mix together well then roll into walnut sized balls. (If you are going to use decorative paper or foil cups, adjust the size accordingly.)
  • If you don't want to proceed with the more elaborate decoration described below, simply roll the balls in fine desiccated coconut and refrigerate until required. If you are planning to 'ice' them, place in the fridge (or freezer) until cold.
  • Mix the white chocolate with the oil in a small clean bowl.
  • Melt in the microwave, or over hot water (as above).
  • Stir until smooth.
  • Chop the cherries, cutting the red ones into chunks and the green ones into pointed (leaf-like) pieces.
  • Spoon a little of the white chocolate mixture onto each of the cold truffles, spreading it a little if required, so it looks like it's flowing down (it may take a few goes to get the knack).
  • Before the chocolate has completely set, place two of three of the red cherry 'berries' and a couple of green cherry 'leaves' on each truffle.
  • Refrigerate until required then enjoy!

Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Cream

These little smoked salmon savouries have savouries are another family favourite. They're so good (and so simple) we don't just restrict ourselves to Christmas time, and there's a pretty good likelihood they'll make a (brief!) appearance at any family gathering. The combination of a little horseradish and lemon juice with smooth cream cheese really gives these bagels a lift.

For about 1 cup of cream cheese-horseradish spread:

250g regular or light cream cheese
2 tbsp horseradish cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve:

Sliced French bread, blini or savoury pikelets
100g-200g thinly sliced smoked salmon
A little additional lemon juice
Fresh dill or parsley to garnish

  • Prepare the horseradish-cream cheese spread by stirring together the cream cheese, horseradish cream, lemon juice salt and pepper to taste. (This mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.)
  • To serve, spread each slice of breaf/blini/pikelet generously with horseradish-cream cheese spread. Add a slice (or part slice) of smoked salmon to each. Sprinkle with a drop or two of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, top with a sprig of fresh dill or parsley and serve!