13.12

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A M P E D – U P   H O T   C H O C O L A T E .

Christmas is the time for many things- celebrations with family, mountains of food, bucks fizz in the mornigs- but it wouldn’t be complete without a little chocolate.

I always seem to crave chocolate more than normal during December, and reckon advent calendars are to blame. Because what’s the most surefire way of developing an insatiable chocolate craving? Why, eating a mini-mouthful of chocolate first thing in the morning, of course!

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I decided this week to have a go at making the kind of super thick and rich hot chocolate you get from the likes of Said and Angelina, and it turned out to be much simpler than I’d expected.

To make, simply pour 250ml of whole milk into a pan, along with 100g of grated dark chocolate. Heat slowly, stirring the whole time, until the chocolate has melted into the milk and become smooth and thick.

If you’d like to, add in a pinch of cinnamon, sugar to taste, and a spoonful of softly whipped cream on top. The amounts listed above make one large cupful of hot chocolate, but I reckon it’s best served in smaller portions, divided between two people.

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To serve alongside the cookies, how about some homemade sugar cookies? I used Hummingbird’s recipe (seeing as it’s an American cookbook, and what better place to get a cookie recipe from?), and it worked a treat.

   

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In other news though, royal icing is FAR harder than you’d imagine, isn’t it?! My first attempts were most definitely *not* worthy of having their photo taken! ;)

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08.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Panettone-French-toast-10

T H E   U L T I M A T E   F E S T I V E   B R E A K F A S T

Would it be presumptuous of me to say that this recipe could just be the answer to all your Christmas morning dreams? It would be, wouldn’t it…

Instead, let me say this- forget scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or crumpets and toast, or even a Full English- this panettone french toast is what Jason and I will be eating at approximately 8.30am on the 25th of December this year.

And that’s a fact!

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Panettone French toast really is the most festive breakfast imaginable- Christmas on a plate, you might say!

Thickly cut slices of sweet, fruit-flecked panettone are soaked in a cinnamon and vanilla infused egg mixture, then gently fried in butter until golden and fluffy.

The slightly dry cake becomes soft and pudding-like when cooked up French-toast style, and the addition of a little cinnamon to the proceedings adds a little ‘spice’ to balance out all that sweet.

And, what’s *most* important to know, is that the recipe is simplicity itself! Have I convinced you yet?

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Jason and I always pick up a panettone whilst buying our Christmas tree each year, to be eaten over the course of that happily festive day.

But now that this recipe’s become such a household favourite?

I think we might need to start buying more than just one…

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The ingredients as below produce 4 halved slices of French toast- enough to serve two people. The recipe is easy to multiply though- for every portion of French toast (i.e. 1 round slice, or 2 halved slices of panettone), you’ll need 1 egg, 40ml of milk, and 1.8th tsp each ground cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Ingredients ::
2 thick round slices of shop-bought Italian panettone
2 eggs
80ml, or 1/3 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp vanilla extract
Jam/fruit compote/syrup/icing sugar to serve.

- Take a good quality shop-bought Italian panettone, and cut two 1inch round slices- one slice per person.

- In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if the cinnamon is a little lumpy- it won’t matter a bit!

- Soak the panettone in the egg mixture one slice at a time, until between the two slices, pretty much all of the egg mixture has been absorbed.

- Heat a small knob of a butter in a large non-stick frying pan, then gently fry each slice of panettone in turn for a minute or two per side, until puffy and slightly browned.

{If you’re cooking for more than a couple of people, you might like to put the cooked French toast in a low oven to keep warm whilst you finish frying.}

- Cut each slice of French toast in half, and then serve with a dusting of icing sugar, a drizzle of your favourite syrup (I used golden syrup here, but maple, agave, or even honey would be just as lovely), and a spoonful of something fruity.

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Buon appetito, bon appetit, and…happy eating!

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Posted in BAKING, BREAKFAST, CHRISTMAS, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, SWEET

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03.11

Cider-with-Rosie-sloe-gin-8

S U R P R I S E   S L O E S .

For easily a good four or so years now, Jason and I have been desperate to make some sloe gin. The whole time we’ve lived in together, in fact!

There’s something about the idea of infusing your own alcohol at home with hedgerow bounty that’s always appealed to me, not to mention the fact that, aside from mulled wine, it’s our favourite alcoholic drink during the winter months.

Where to find sloes was always the problem we had…or so we thought.

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What I realised this weekend, however, was that there’s a sloe berry bush so close to our house, we can actually see it from our front bedroom windows.

I spotted it early on Sunday morning whilst out on the green with Teddy and my friend Jo (who’d stayed at ours the night before, following the little Halloween and RWC final get together Jason and I hosted) and after double checking that my eyes were not deceiving me, ran back to the house and proclaimed to Jason that sloe gin making was to happen that very afternoon!

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We picked them later that same day, in the middle of some of the thickest fog we’ve ever seen.

It had settled low over the pond an hour or so before sunset, and clung to cobwebs and my hair alike. In fact, I’m writing this a full 24 hours later and the fog’s yet to lift.

I think it’s just magic and so very beautiful, don’t you?

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We gathered some 800 grams of berries, burst the skin of each one in turn with a thin skewer and shook them up with about half their weight in caster sugar, before pouring in around a litre and a half of gin.

The gin is actually some that we had leftover from the wedding, and call me sentimental, but I like to think that the timing of using finally noticing the sloe berries that’ve been on our doorstep all this time, ready for us to make up a batch of ‘wedding sloe gin’ is too perfect for words.

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In other news, today is now Tuesday and I’m off to spend a couple of days in London (the very antithesis of this weekend and its quiet countryside activities!).

I’ll be Snapchatting my way through a few press previews, so do add me (I’m ‘ciderwithrosieb’!) if you’d like to follow along!

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05.01

Cider-with-Rosie-oeuf-en-cocotte

Oh, it feels so good to be back at my laptop after so many days away! As much as the past couple of weeks have been gloriously relaxed and indulgent and all that, I really am happy to be finding some sort of normality again, and to be getting myself back into a routine. A routine that doesn’t involve going to bed at gone 1am, waking late, eating cheese until I feel sick, and then starting all over again…;)

I hope you all had the greatest of Christmas breaks! Ours was just wonderful- almost two weeks straight of time spent with our families, amazing food, indulgent drinks, and a dedication to relaxation that bordered on obsessive ;) That’s not to say it was a particularly lazy one though! That little spaniel of ours, forever demanding long walks through field and forest and yet *another* evening game of fetch-the-toy up and down our hallway put paid to that! I’m kind of learning though that for both Jason and I, relaxation doesn’t come in the form of doing less, it comes from concentrating more on being in the moment. Less time being distracted by phones and emails and inner monologues, and more time focusing on each other.

All this was made 100 times easier by the realisation that kept washing over us both, time and time again during this Christmas, that this will be our last Christmas before we become husband and wife. We spent most of the past couple of weeks playing the ‘this time next year…’ game, and feel sort of giddily impatient for the summer to roll around so I can just change my name already! But, in the spirit of not rushing through these exciting months (savouring the moment, fighting our impatience, and all that…) we’re doing our best to not wish away these final few months of being engaged. Though really, can you even believe it’s coming up a year since we got engaged in Edinburgh back in April?! Where on earth have the past few months disappeared to!

But hey! I’ve been sidetracked from Christmas! Below are a few photos from the various Christmas days went spent with family during the past couple of weeks. Between my family and both sides of Jason’s family, we had a fair bit of celebrating to do! Which is fine by me, since family time is the best time, always and forever!

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What I wore {on Boxing Day!} :: Cardigan || Shirt (c/o) || Trousers

^^ Boxing Day this year was spent at my Mum’s house, eating bubble and squeak and ham braised in cider and, you guessed it, more cheese! My Godparents were there with their dog Freddie, and he and Teddy both behaved themselves impeccably. Surprisingly so, to be honest- we’d expected there to be a whole lot more chaos! We were proud of Ted for not minding a jot when Freddie took up residence in his bed, and both dogs were rewarded with plenty of chicken scraps. Well, it is *was!* Christmas! ^^
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^^ Wreaths make me so very happy. Can’t we just leave them up all year round? ^^

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^^ Oeufs en cocotte, as cooked by Jason’s Stepmum. She’s the most amazing cook and host- we always leave their house feeling full to the point of bursting! ^^

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Christmas morning this year, as with every year, started with a long walk that served both as a way of tiring Teddy out, and as a sort of warm-up for the day of feasting and merry-making that lay ahead of us. And this year, as with every year, we were running half an hour behind schedule so had to walk the route at an uncomfortably fast pace. I say this every year, but maybe this will be the one in which we learn time management? Who am I kidding! If we manage to turn up to our own wedding even vaguely on time, I think most of our guests will faint with surprise! ;)

The route-march of a morning walk made the breakfast of eggs, bacon, and cups of tea my Mum had waiting for us at her house all that much more satisfying. And really, you can’t beat a bit of hazy winter sunshine on Christmas Day morning, can you?

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What I wore :: Dress c/o Boden || Boots

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One of Jason’s gifts from my Mum this year was a pretty special one. After my Grandma died a couple of years ago, whilst we were sorting through the beautiful little cottage of treasures and memories she left behind, my Mum came across an old silver hip flask that’d belonged to my Granddad. It hadn’t been touched for as long as I’ve been alive (some 24 years) and my Mum can’t even remember when her Dad bought it, so it’s a vintage treasure through and through.

My Mum and I colluded a few weeks ago about giving the hip flask to Jason for Christmas (Mum was worried that he’d not like how many dents and scratches there are in it, and I assured her that he’d love it all the more because of them!), so we were pretty excited for him to open it. It was a pretty special moment, made even more special given that this is a kind of landmark Christmas for us. I have it on good authority that next time Jason takes Teddy out on a particularly frosty weekend, he’ll be bringing along a drop or two of sloe gin in his hip flask for good measure ;)
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And that was our very drawn out and totally blissful Christmas, rounded up into one concise little post! Did you have a wonderful break? Aside from the traditional festivities, how did you spend your time off?

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Posted in CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS TREE, FAMILY, JASON, LIFE LATELY, WINTER

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