In love with cheesecake

mini-raspberry-cheesecake

I love cheesecakes. Out of all the cakes in the world cheesecake is the one I find the most tempting. I have always known that cheesecakes take a lot of effort to make. Triple mincing the curd cheese, beating the egg whites, baking at strict and stable temperature – all required a lot of time and skills, which meant cheesecake was a rare and special treat. Only when I came to Ireland I discovered the non-baked cheesecakes. I was a bit apprehensive at first. It seemed like a “shortcut” sort of cheesecake. And I do not believe trying to cut the corners is worth it. That said, this cheesecake wowed me. Simple in every way. Yet special. And surely, always a treat.

mini-raspberry-cheesecake

Out of all cheesecakes I make this one is one the easiest, quickest and crowd pleasing. The recipe comes from one of my first, and one of my favourite, cookbooks Nigella Express however I gave it a little twist that makes it simply divine and irresistible. Even for those on a diet. Or for those not quite into cheesecakes. The idea to use frozen raspberries and raspberry syrup came, as with lots of great ideas quite spontaneously. I basically had no cherries or cherries compote and was trying to find a worthy substitute. The effect exceeded expectations and the raspberry cheesecake became a bit of my signature cake.

Raspberry Cheesecake

125 g digestive biscuits

75 g soft butter (make sure you get it out of the fridge a few hours ahead or use this little trick)

300 g  cream cheese

60 g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon juice

250 double cream

250 g frozen raspberries

3 tbs of raspberry syrup (could possibly be replaced with some melted raspberry sorbet)

raspberry-cheesecake

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor or with a hand held mixer until they turn into tiny crumbs.

Add the butter and blend together.

Place the mixture in a 20 cm springform (or a few mini ones that you can see in the pictures). Press to level it leaving a little bump round the edges. Put into the fridge while you prepare the cheesy filling.

In a medium bowl beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until smoothly combined.

In a separate bowl whip the double cream (be careful not to over-beat and stop as soon as you see little peaks forming). Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Spoon your white cheese and cream mixture onto the cold base and smooth the top. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to serve take the cheesecake out of the springform, sprinkle frozen raspberries on the top and pour over some raspberry syrup.

Best to eat straight away. I honestly never had to put it back in the fridge as it is gone in no time.

Hope you will fall in love with it too.

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The dog who loves to jump

dogs eyes

If there ever was a Dog Olympics and dogs could take part in the high jump competition Lucky would definitely be in with a chance to get a medal. As boy, he can jump.

It all started this October as Lucky discovered fallen leaves. Immediately, chasing and jumping after leaves blown or kicked into the air became his favourite game. Whenever and wherever he spotted a pile of leaves he would run there, lie flat on the ground and not moving a muscle but keeping the eye contact he would wait for you to start playing. dog jumping after leavesSoon our walks turned into a particular obstacle course. Part one. We let Lucky off the leash. Part two. Lucky makes a bee line to the first pile of leaves or pond of water, which may be up to 300 meters away. Part three. Lucky lies down and waits, ready and steady for the play. Part four (after a minute or two). We get to the spot and play with Lucky kicking the leaves and watching in awe his spectacular jumps. Part five. We decide we have had enough and move on. Lucky moves onto the next spot (see part two). The cycle continues until we reach the last spot. Needless to say, he never has enough and is always utterly disappointed when it’s time to go.

dog-jumping-kids-and-leavesLucky also discovered how much fun it is to chase the water drops. He has probably swallowed litres of water while catching splashes and sprinkles and got wet hundred times. Not that he minds, not at all.  Again, he runs and gets to the edge of water and then freezes. He doesn’t make a move, he doesn’t make a sound. He just watches. Splash! And he is in.

waiting for the splashNow, it does not really matter if it’s leaves, water, sand or snow, Lucky will simply chase after that into the air doing somersaults, back flips and twirl jumps. And he will be one happy dog.

jumping-through-water

We often get asked what type of dog Lucky is. We do not know. He is a mix of a good few, for sure. He’s agile like a sheepdog, he loves water like a retriever he is strong like a husky. But what we know is that he is certainly one of a kind.dog flyingLucky has officially turned one now. I told you his puppy adventures here, here and here. I think now that he has come off age it is time we stop referring to him as puppy, though it will be odd to stop calling: “Oh, Puppy”, when his dinner is ready and hearing him rushing down the stairs, paws bouncing on the wooden steps and tail wagging left to right.

Anyhow, this dog has certainly many many adventures ahead of him and I hope to write about some of them soon.dogs eyesHappy Birthday Lucky.

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T shirts that tell story

tshirts-collage

It all starts with a need for design. Typical. If you dream it, you can make it. It happens to me quite a lot. There’s a particular and very specific image in my mind and the only way to bring it to life is make it yourself. When it comes to T-shirts there are millions of designs in the shops but for every million available there are ten millions possible ones. T-shirts that make a statement. T-shirts that relate. T-shirts that mean. 

tshirts-collageMetro

I remember the first T-shirt I made. I was a teenager. And I was completely, utterly and absolutely in love. With MetroThe musical. I went to as mametro-tshirt-1995ny shows and as often as possible. I collected every single press release, article, interview and any brief note of the show itself or any of the cast. Not to mention I knew all the songs and I sang them. LOUD. Surely, I needed a T-shirt to make a statement. So when the summer 1995 came and I had time to spare I jumped on the little DIY project and for the first time (not to say the last one – but I am really lousy at sewing) trimmed, stitched and embroidered with all my heart to recreate the design that was only available on posters. And then I totally overwear it, as teenagers do with their favourite garments. The sun and the washing might have bleached it , yet I still do have it and, in fact, will be happily wearing it to the 25th anniversary of the show in a few days.

metro-diy-tshirt-cropPizza Friday

Pizza Friday is a real deal in our house. It happens, well, every Friday, apart from the very rare occasion when we opt in for fondue. It is our family movie evening and, to think of it,  we watched hundreds of films so far, including 20 or more views of the Ice Age series and at least similar amount of the Shrek movies, mostly back in the days when those were the only movies the 3-year-old Natasha would watch. We love our Pizza Fridays and would not trade them for anything else. So when it came to browsing birthday gift ideas for Maciek, we thought a special, home made T-shirt would be just the right thing. We used stencils and fabric markers for the text and then let our creativity go – splashing paints and mixing colours to get that tomato sauce and pepperoni look.

pizza-friday-diy-tshirtLet it go

Apparently, no one was expecting Frozen to get so popular and no one was prepared for such a mania. For the first time in … a long time, commerce was way behind the trends and demands. It actually felt great to be experiencing the long-forgotten need to hunt for items in the shop or to create home-made versions. It increased their value. It made them precious. It brought back the uniqueness. I came across a Frozen inspired design on Pinterest and thought it will work great for the little Frozen fan. In fact, I thought it will work great for both of us and made two matching ones. I used Avery Design and Print Online tool for T-shirt transfer sheets to create a mirror type design. The surprise and joy were one of a kind. And we received many complements on the T-shirts. Natasha has obviously outgrown hers yet I still have mine. It is most useful for all the moments when you want to Keep Calm and Let It Go.

frozen-diy-tshirtOffice gets creative

Social events were a big thing in my previous office. Throughout 9 years I spent there we did many get-togethers in the office canteen to celebrate weddings, maternity leaves or to say goodbye always trying to make it special and show we cared. The one I remember most was a retirement of our finance director, Betsan. One of us came up with this T-shirt idea and soon everyone contributed. Paddy and Janice created the design. Carolines sourced out the T-shirts. I ordered the iron-on paper. Row brought in iron and was secretly ironing on the image in the storage room. And on the day we were all wearing the T-shirts and having scones.

Betsans leaving 2009scone-tshirt-design

There’s another T-shirt project in my mind so keep on eye out for it on Instagram.

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Irena, harsh winter and the stove called Goat

winter-in-poland

It was 1945. The war ended and the aftermath relocation started. My grandparents, Irena and Feliks arrived in Szczecin. Previously German, now regained and completely destroyed town and seaport. It was far from stability and safety, though. Poles were fighting Germans, Russians were fighting Germans, Germans were transported out, Poles were transported in. And on top of that those looking for quick gain would loot or szaber anything valuable still  left. The times were hard, yet at least there was hope of starting anew. The young pharmacist and the railway officer were making plans and were ready to work hard. Soon enough, Irena found out she was expecting and decided to move to Bochnia to work in the same pharmacy she did during the war. A year later Feliks was promoted and offered a position in the Railway Headquarters in Zabrze so the family moved again. Irena worked in a manufacturing pharmacy – processing on average a 100 recipes per day. After her shift she would go around nearby villages to source food supplies – milk, eggs, potatoes, vegetables, meat if she was fortunate. Every now and then they heard from the family who lived in the Eastern province. Life seemed more peaceful and the grass looked greener there. There was plenty of food on the locals farms, and it was easy to get a house too. In 1949 Irena and Feliks packed their bags again and headed east to Nałęczów.

stara-apteka-arek_bednarczyk_naleczow
The Old Pharmacy in Nałęczów in the painting by Arek Bednarczyk http://www.naleczow.net/galeria-sztuki/arek-bednarczyk/868-naleczow-w-akwarelach-arka-bednarczyka.html

As soon as they arrived in Nałęczów, not even unpacking the few bits and bobs they brought along, Irena made her way to the only pharmacy in this little spa resort town. As luck would have it the pharmacist’s widow was looking for a manager. Irena was an ideal person for the job – well educated, experienced and very keen. She started the next day. The pharmacy was located in a beautiful building from the start of the century designed by a renowed Polish artist – Witkiewiecz and, as my grandmother recalled, was unfortunately completely unfit for a pharmacy.

losy-wojenne-i-przedwojenne-farmaceutki-part-3The only source of heat was an old metal stand alone stove located in the middle of the dispensary and connected to a huge pipe running right though the middle of the room. To keep the pharmacy fairly warm Irena kept the heat on all the time. Every now and then she had to excuse her customers and load the stove with coal or wood. At night, she would come by at least once to check on the fire and keep it alight. In the morning she brought up enough coal and wood for to whole day. Then washed her hands and get ready for another day in the pharmacy. She dispensed pills,  prepared ointments, distilled oils, measured ingredients.winter-in-poland

As the stove was very temperamental and would burst billowing with soot as if chocking on a particular hard piece of  coal, Irena chose to work on the prescriptions in the back room  of the pharmacy that was freezing cold yet sanitized. Chilled to the bone and with her winter gloves on, she still managed to precisely follow the recipes. Only many years later, when her hands got deformed, it revealed how much the cold affected her.

winterinpoland3

Finally, after days and days of asking and pleading she was allowed to install a furnace in the back room. All she needed now was tiles. And she needed then as soon as possible. It was the middle of January and the middle of harsh Polish winter. Those days the winters in Eastern Poland were much harsher and looked more like the winters in my favourite Dr Zhivago  – starting in middle of November all though till the end of March with piles of snow, frozen rivers and lakes and sub-zero temperature.

A scene from Dr Zhivago. Courtesy of IMBd
A scene from Dr Zhivago. Courtesy of IMBd

It was crucial to get the other stove in the pharmacy so Irena arranged a horse and carriage to go to the nearby Lublin and look for the tiles herself. She wrapped herself up in a fur coat and and extra blanket and promised to come back before it got dark. She was petite, yet determined. Whether she loaded the heavy tiles onto the carriage herself I don’t know. I truly hope there was someone to help her. More importantly, she came back on a carriage loaded full of tiles and a few days later the pharmacy was warm for the first time this winter. Everyone was happy.

list-od-babci-ireny-1list-od-babci-ireny-2On 21 of January we celebrate Grandmother Day in Poland. To all past present and future Grandmothers – thank you for spoiling us with your kindness.

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Of bread

bread-9

In Poland we greet the visitors with bread and salt. This old, old tradition dates back to the days when bread and salt were not that common and may have even been considered luxury goods. Bread meant prosperity and hospitality while salt was recognized for its magical power to preserve and keep from harm. The gift of bread was a sign of good will, and I do believe there is a certain magic in sharing bread even these days.

bread loavesNever waste bread

We grew up being taught respect for bread. Never, ever would you throw a piece of bread away. What is more, even if you have a freshly bought loaf of bread from the bakery but there was still a quarter of the old one left, guess which one you were only allowed to have. In fairness, I was never able to understand the logic behind this but that was what our parents and grandparents believed was right and they genuinely and wholeheartedly cherish these values. After all, they survived the war, often craving bread for days, so even when the bread became common again they still considered it special. My grandmother-in-law would always have a slice of bread in her bag so that she should never feel so hungry again. Simply, they appreciated their daily bread and they taught us to do so as well.

We also try to never waste bread. Surely, it is much easier if you have a good quality bread that doesn’t go stale for a week and tastes lovely toasted. But when there is too much bread, we feed the birds in the winter or make panzanella in the summer or simply keep it for breadcrumbs.

Daily pleasures

I must admit there are days when I don’t eat bread, but then again I never stay off bread for long, either. I could not even imagine going on a long-term diet (and I tried a good few of them) that does not allow bread or bread rolls. I truly think there is nothing more tempting than the smell of freshly baked bread. Even the mere promise of the smell could get me out of bed early in the morning and I would be going out to the bakery to get some fresh rolls or a loaf for breakfast. In fact, this is one of my favourite rituals when I visit my hometown – going to the nearby bakery and picking either a few slices of bread (yes, they do sell sliced bread there) or a wholemeal bread roll sprinkled with seeds or a rogal. 

3-loaves-of-bread

Sharing

Baking bread has always seemed to me a very sophisticated and long-lasting process, which is probably the reason why I haven’t baked any bread for the thirty -dot-dot-dot- years of my life. Unless we count banana bread that but for the name is more of a cake to me.

A few weeks back my friend, Iwona, brought us a loaf of homemade bread and a jarred sourdough starter. The bread tasted amazing and she swore it was so easy to make that even the most inexperienced cook – nothing implied – could do it.  And so one of the first things I did this year was baking a bread.

What I love about bread baking, apart from the obvious smell and taste is the fact it is a perfect opportunity to share. You share the sourdough starter in the beginning (let me know if you want some and we will find the way) and then sharing  a spare loaf with friends or neighbours. It becomes a complete circle.

sourdough-starter

Bread

a small jar of sourdough starter (if you can’t get one see here how you can make one)

1 cup of rye flour

1 + 3 cups of warm previously boiled water

1 kg of flour (I mix 800g of wheat flour with 200g of spelt flour)

1 cup of wheat / oat  bran and / or wheat oat germ

3 tbs salt

1 packet of instant yeast (or 1/4 packet of fresh yeast)

1 tsp sugar – to activate the yeast

sunflower and pumpkin seeds

bread with seeds

Day one

In a big bowl or pot mix 1 cup of the rye flour with 1 cup of warm, previously boiled, water and the sourdough starter. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 12 hours.

Day two

It’s a good sign if you can see little baubles on the surface of the dough the next day. First  – activate your yeast. Mix the yeast with half a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar and leave to rest for up to 5 minutes. Now, back to the dough. With a wooden spoon mix in the flour, salt, germ or bran, yeast mixture and the remaining water. Stir steadily until smooth and combined. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

after 2 hours

Your dough should have tripled in size and proudly stick out of the bowl or pot. Spoon some dough into a small jar to make sure you keep some for the next time. Grease 2 bigger or 3 smaller rectangular tins (I use linseed oil) and fill them 3/4 with the dough. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 200 °C.

after 30 minutes

Place in the oven for an hour. Halfway though turn the tins to make sure the bread browns evenly.

after an hour

Take out of the oven and place on a cooling wire while enjoying the overwhelming smell of freshly baked bread filling up the kitchen. As soon as it cools down a bit, take out of the tin and tuck in.

bread-9

Enjoy and share.

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My kind of muffins

There is something utterly satisfying about blueberries in baked goods. To me they’re one of the childhood  flavours – simple and perfect.

Blueberry muffins are the first I ever baked and indeed are the ones I mostly bake as they are always greeted with a smile and eaten greedily. They are a great combination of healthy fruit with a sweet bun – so even a conscious parent may allow they for breakfast.  Not to mention that, funnily enough, blueberries are a great cure if you feeling blue.

The recipe I always use, as I don’t like to change things that are truly good, comes from a Gwyneth Paltrow’s book Notes from my Kitchen Table. It uses a few simple ingredients and only takes 10 minutes to make (or 15 if your little helper does the measuring and the mixing). They’re perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast – when you do not need to rush things yet do not want too much of a fuss either. Give them a go to beat the January blues.

blueberry-muffin-breakfast

Blueberry muffins

125 g unsalted butter

2 eggs

125 ml milk

225 g flour

175 g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

250 g fresh blueberries

blueberry-muffin

In a small pot melt the butter over a very gentle heat. Turn off the heat when there are still little bits of unmelted butter, stir to melt them and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C / gas mark 5.

Line the muffin tin or mini-muffin tin with paper cases. The dough will make 10 regular muffins or 30 mini-muffins. I usually make mini-muffins as they’re better for sharing.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. In another bowl whisk the eggs with milk and butter. Stir in the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Mix but do not overmix. Gently stir in the blueberries. Fill your muffin cases – 3/4 will do as the dough will rise once in the oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (slightly less for the mini-muffins).

They are simply resistible so eat as soon as they cool down a bit.

bite-of-a-muffin

Have  a great morning.

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Driving home for Christmas

Christmas lights

If anything beats the excitement of Christmas countdown it must be the feeling of driving home for Christmas. In the years that home was not clearly defined and I was a student living in the dormitory, or a young teacher renting accommodation or a new immigrant I could not wait to go back to my nearest and dearest, to my home town, to my traditions.

christmas lights

I remember sitting in a cold, cold train, all wrapped up with woolen hat, a scarf and two pairs of gloves heading into snowy mountains. I was starving – the student pre-Christmas budget did not really allow for many hearty meals. I was freezing – the heating on the train was broken. Still, I was admiring the wintery patterns on the frosted  windows just being happy to be going home.

I’m driving home for Christmas, yea
Well I’m moving down that line

I remember driving through the thickest fog you could imagine. So dense that you would not spot a reindeer even if it was just in front of your car. It was white all around but surely not the type of white Christmas you are dreaming of. We were getting late and the chance of arriving at the bookbinder workshop before closing time to get that one last homemade present for my father was getting poorer. Still, slow as it only could have been, we made it. Just in time to celebrate.

It’s gonna take some time
But I’ll get there

Christmas lights

My best memory of driving home for Christmas is the one when we drove over 2000 kilometers, took one ferry, one under-the-sea tunnel and crossed seven countries. It was 10 Christmases ago, I was pregnant, and after a few months of setting up a new life in Ireland we were going to spend Christmas in Poland.

Oh, I can’t wait to see those faces

The car was packed with presents, mince pies and crackers. It was snowing. It was the longest night of the year. The Christmas lights were everywhere – on the streets, on the houses, on the petrol stations. Halfway through we picked my mum and her husband. The more the merrier. We drove all day, we drove all evening and now it was the second night of driving.

I sing this song
To pass the time away

We were not too far now and to keep us awake we were singing carols. Every single carol that we could think of. With all the verses that we could remember. Loud and clear. We must have been a jolly good sight. Four adults singing their hearts out in a car well after midnight. No wonder we were stopped by the Polish police. We sang  a line or two to them as well and they let us go. And soon enough we got there. Home for Christmas. Once again.Christmas lights

Save trip home for Christmas to you all.

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Oh Gingerbread

Guinness Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread is the Christmas treat of my childhood. Gingerbread is the Christmas smell of my childhood, to think of it. Throughout all these years there was always a time to make and eat gingerbread – either the Swedish crunchy flat biscuits or the German rich and moist ones. To me, it is the smell of ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves that makes it. From the minute you grind your spices in pestle and mortar, through the time the dough gets golden and brown in the oven till you place it proudly on the table and lean over to decorate it – Christmas is in the air.

Guinness seems like a natural addition to gingerbread. Dark, deep and rich in flavour, why wouldn’t you? The recipe below comes from one of my favourite, and most used cookbook – Nigella’s Kitchen and to me combines my Christmas past and my Christmas present. With no further ado …gingerbreadbakingtin

Guinness Gingerbread Cake

150 g butter, plus some for greasing the tin

300 g golden syrup

200 g dark muscovado sugar

250 ml Guinness

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tbs ground cinnamon

1/4 ground cloves

300 g plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

300 ml sour cream

2 eggs

a baking tin of approx. 23cm x 23cm or a gingerbread man tin

gingerbreadcake-out-of-oven

docoratinggingerbreadcakePreheat the oven to 170ºC / gas mark 3.

Grease your tin with butter and sprinkle with flour.

Gently melt the butter, syrup, muscovado sugar, Guinness in a pan.

Grind your spices in a pestle and mortar and add to the pan.

Once all is melted take off the heat and add the flour with the bicarbonate soda. It might get lumpy so take your time to whisk it into a smooth mixture.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and the sour cream then beat into the gingerbread mixture whisking again to get a smooth batter.

Pour into the tin and bake for about 45-50 minutes until it has risen and is coming away from the tin sides.

Let the gingerbread cool before decorating.

As with all gingerbread it is best eaten after a day or two … or three.

This year I’m going to serve it with some brandy whipped cream.

Guinness Gingerbread Cake

Enjoy at Christmas time.

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Christmas breaks

festiveshortbread

One of the things I will always miss about my previous job are the Christmas breaks. Office life never really got any better than that. Yes, they were a bit cheesy and kitchy, but all the same, as cheerful and festive as you can possibly imagine. They never got old, in fact, they got better every year.  And everyone, even the usual office scrooges and humbugs, loved them, talked about them and looked forward to them.

christmaschocolatecookiesThe weekly festivities usually started at the beginning of December. The plan was simple yet elaborate. A week before the office was split into three or four groups – mixing the departments and combining the pods. Each group, who came up with its own crazy, creative and catchy name, was responsible for one of the weekly Christmas breaks providing treats and getting everyone into the mood. So each week for a Christmassy half an hour the office canteen turned into a little Santa’s Grotto – with fairy lights and tinsel, with wrapping paper tablecloths and crackers on the tables, with music on and the fireplace on the computer screen.The treats went far beyond shop-bought mince pies and always wowed and pleased the crowd- homemade scones with cream, gingerbread cake, strawberry Santa’s hats, Pretzel reindeer, rice crispies Christmas trees not to mention the whole selection of savoury snacks including cocktail sausages, nachos and cheese board.

There was a good dose of competition between the groups so people went above and beyond and thought outside the box to outdo the others and set the new standards. Then, to make it even more exciting and to boost the Christmas, and team, spirit there was a quiz. Each year three Wise Men aka the Quizmasters would volunteer to prepare the set of questions that challenged all- the Christmas experts, the news followers, the soap watchers, the sports maniacs, and the techy geeks. Any question could be expected – even one asking for a number of chairs in the office! Anyone could win and in a late last week surge the runner up often became a leader.

Throughout the eight years lots and lots changed. People got more and more creative and competitive. Once there was a real uproar about the Christmas jumper competition and a number of emails were exchanged questioning whether a gift-wrapped cardboard box can be classified as a Christmas outfit. The music moved from Christmas CDs to online playlists. Christmas jumpers started flickering and jingling. Lastly, people came and went, myself included, yet every single person to leave mentioned they would miss the Christmas breaks.

What I cherish a lot are the two recipes that bring back the memories of the Christmas breaks and remind me of the great people I met there. I am so very glad to have these two – simple and truly delicious – recipes at hand when it comes to busy Christmas preparations.

Sam’s amazing shortbread

1 lb butter, softened

8 oz icing sugar

1 lb plain flour

8 oz cornflour

pinch of salt

festiveshortbread

  1. Cream the butter together until all lumps are gone.
  2. Mix the flour, cornflour and salt together and then gradually add to the butter and sugar. Mix until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Roll into small balls, flatten and place on a greased baking tray.
  4. Bake at 160°C fan oven from 25-35 minutes until golden
  5. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
  6. Enjoy!

Michelle’s fancy mini-puddings

1 package of plum pudding (approx. 500 g)

8 g icing sugar

1 large bar of dark chocolate

1 large bar of white chocolate

cherries and /or red and green  jellies

minipuddings

  1. Melt the dark chocolate.
  2. Mix plum pudding, icing sugar and chocolate together in a bowl.
  3. Make the mixture into small balls and put in the fridge until hard.
  4. Melt the white chocolate and dribble over the mini-puddings.
  5. Decorate with cherries.

Both recipes are super tasty while easy and quick to make. Hope you will enjoy and share them.

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The Story of the Advent Calendar

the-christmas-mystery-jostein-gaarder

This is a story-within-a-story-within-a-story.

It all started on one crispy morning when I was passing a second hand bookshop. I decided I had a moment, though I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and walked in. It was one of those old fashioned bookshops that smelt of books and paperbacks, with high wooden shelves and a little doorbell that rang to announce a new visitor. I enjoyed strolling through the narrow aisles, running my fingers along the book spines and checking some book covers.

It was in the children literature section. The name of the author – Jostein Gaarder, typed in gold, looked vaguely familiar. A quick glance at the cover and I knew why. I enjoyed reading Sophie’s World a lot. A wise book, talking of important things in a simple and beautiful way. What would be The Christmas Mystery about?

the-christmas-mystery-jostein-gaarder

I opened the book and new instantly that I wanted it. The contents was an Advent Calendar. The book was an Advent Calendar. What could be more fascinating than opening the book each day and reading a chapter. And only a chapter. Particularly, if the book is designed to lead you into Christmas.  the-christmas-mystery-contentsThe story starts – well – in a bookshop as well. A boy who is on a very last minute search for an advent calendar follows his hear and against all odds chooses an old one that does not even have chocolates in it. In fact, the calendar is not even on sale and the bookseller has no clue about it either. Still, Joachim leaves the bookshop with the mysterious advent calendar in his hands and so the daily countdown starts and excitement steps up. 3rd-december

If I told you anything more, I would reveal the secrets that you want to discover yourself – just as you want to open the windows in your advent calendar yourself. So let me just tell you that the book will take you on an incredible journey as you count the days of December and embrace the Christmas spirit.

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