31 Jul 2011

Mincemeat 'Haggis' (for 'Harry Potter')

This adorable little guy was illustrated by Ryan S. Thomason, a friend and former colleague of my other half.  
Like it? Check out his flikr stream


If only Harry had defeated Voldemort with an attack of savage haggis.  
Now, that would have been something to see.

But seriously, haggis is nothing to be afraid of. If you've never tried it, you're missing out. Think of it as a meatloaf with oatmeal and plenty of black pepper dressed up as an overgrown sausage and don't be a wuss about it. Trust me, you've eaten worse things in a hot dog. 

This sweet, dessert version of 'haggis' has more in common with a mince tart than it's meatier namesake. For an extra special touch, whip up some cream with a splash of whisky to serve.

Now, you're probably wondering, "What's haggis got to do with Harry Potter?" and I'll admit, not much, aside from a rather foul version served at Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington's five-hundredth Deathday Party in the video game for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (Source: Harry Potter Wiki). I'm taking creative licence with this one and drawing on the fact that J.K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh and, therefore, Scotland's national dish should appear in some form in connection with the books. Bookmark this one to serve on January 25th for the perfect end to your Burn's Night Supper.

Please note: This is a theoretical recipe and has not yet been tested in my kitchen. New recipe & photos can be found by following the link below.

Tried & Tested October 2011

20 Jul 2011

Gryffindor Mulled Mead Jelly (for 'Harry Potter')

Photo: Harry Potter Wiki

This would make a stunning centerpiece to any Harry Potter party. Definitely one to make ahead of time.

Please note: I am away on holiday and haven't given this recipe a test run. It should work in theory... think of it as a Potions lesson with Professor Snape.

Here are links to sites which contributed to the creative imagining of this dessert:
Mulled Mead from celtnet.org
Broken Glass Jello from The Food Librarian
Wine Shot Jigglers from Cool Grapes
eGForums discussion of leaf gelatine vs. Knox

Gryffindor Mulled Mead Jelly


1 package cherry jell-o
1 bottle Chardonnay (a deep yellow one from the southern hemisphere is best)
3tbsp honey
100ml brandy or cognac (optional)
½ orange
8 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1tsp fresh ginger, sliced
4-5 whole black pepper corns
½ tsp ground nutmeg
12 sheets leaf gelatine

Make cherry jell-o ahead of time by mixing one box of jell-o with 250ml (1 cup) boiling water. Pour into a rectangular container and leave to refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.

To make the 'mead', start by placing the cinnamon, ginger, pepper and nutmeg in a muslin bag and tying with string. Stud the orange with cloves. Cover sheets of gelatine with water and leave to soak.

Pour the wine into a saucepan and stir in the honey. Add the brandy or cognac, if using, and place the studded orange and spice bag into the pan. Heat until just below boiling point (do not allow to boil) then reduce to a simmer for 10min. Remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine and add to wine, stirring constantly until dissolved.

Cut cherry jell-o into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes and place into whatever you are using as a mold. Pour the mulled mead over the cubes and place in the fridge until set, ideally overnight.
Recipe, Dessert , Gelatine, Mead

13 Jul 2011

Hogsmeade Butterbeer Tarts (for 'Harry Potter')

Butterbeer Bottle Labels - available from Sidetracked Artist

This recipe is a fusion of Tudor Buttered Beere and a Canadian favourite, Butter Tarts.

Please note: I am away on holiday and haven't given this version of the recipe a test run, though I recently made a maple version of them for Canada Day with great success. It's basically this recipe for butter tarts from Canadian Living with a few tweaks. I don't think the changes I've made will affect the way they bake.

Tried & Tested: October 2011
As I expected, the recipe works and the hint of ale gives them a depth of flavour that just can't be achieved by substituting root beer. Which is why I'd like to take a moment to make a case for Real Ale:

Depending on which country you live in, your choice of ales may not be as numerous as here in the UK, but I suspect it won't take a whole lot of searching to find one. Ale aficionados have spread their influence far and wide. Now, I know 2 tablespoons doesn't sound like much in a batch of tarts so you may be asking, "Why should I buy a whole bottle if I'm only going to use 2 tablespoons?". My answer is: Because ale isn't expensive and trust me, it makes all the difference. If you're not up to drinking the rest of the bottle straight, you could pour it into a hearty beef stew or whisk it into batter for another British favourite, fish & chips! C. and I enjoyed our bottle with a plate of sausage, mashed potato and onion gravy. How very British.


Hogsmeade Butterbeer Tarts

Makes 12 tarts

Ingredients for the filling:

50g (1/4 c) raisins or currants
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
2 tbsp Real British Ale* - NOT 'beer' as in German or American-style lager
125g (1/2 c) light brown muscovado sugar
125g (1/2 c) golden syrup or corn syrup
1 egg
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

*For alcohol free tarts, substitute root beer, sarsaparilla, or dandelion & burdock soda.

Make ahead:
In a bowl toss the raisins or currants in the ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Pour in the real ale and leave to soak for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, so the flavours have time to infuse. Or leave it in the fridge overnight.

Prepare tart cases according to recipe link above (or use pre-made ones) and place in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat oven to 230 C (450 F).
In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, golden syrup, egg, butter and vanilla. Take the tart cases out of the refrigerator and divide the raisin mixture between them. Fill the tarts 2/3 full and place in the oven for 12-15 min. They will puff and bubble as they cook but you'll know they're done when the pastry is golden. They should remain slightly gooey in the middle. Let stand for a minute or two before carefully removing them from the pan and transferring to a wire rack.

Recipe, Dessert , Tart, Raisins, Ale

7 Jul 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Desserts

Me as Professor Trelawney

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published I was lucky enough to be working the midnight opening at Waterstone's, Edinburgh East End. Also with us that night, aside from the hundreds of fans queued up outside, was a documentary crew filming snippets for J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life which later ended up as part of the DVD extras on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. If you watch closely, there is a split second of me dressed as Professor Trelawney waving my hands around like a spell casting maniac. It's my one claim to international fame (albeit anonymous).

Working my magic on the tills - 21st July, 2007

So as the last film makes it's premier in Leicester Square tonight, I thought it fitting to create some new Potter-themed desserts with a grown-up flavour. After all, our characters have come of age and they've just won an epic battle. 

Let's celebrate the end of a magical era with...Hogsmeade Butterbeer Tarts, Gryffindor Mulled Mead Jelly and Mincemeat "Haggis" (I know that last one isn't strictly Potter related but go with me on this one - I'm drawing on the JK Rowling / Edinburgh connection here. I guarantee you'll want to serve it at your next Burns Night Supper too.)

Read, Bake, Eat along with me!
Harry Potter is published in the UK by Bloomsbury Press 
Check out JK Rowling's official website www.jkrowling.com
Don't forget the launch of Pottermore in October! Register your interest now and you could be one of the lucky few to get a sneak peek at the end of the month.