Tag Archives: Christmas

It’s the most DELICIOUS time of the Year- Christmas

I cannot believe I’m writing this again, Christmas seems so soon. And yet in some ways still so far away. But as I write this I have fruit soaking. pastry resting, and ideas bubbling away in my head.

Hamper goodies

I’ve updated my Jen’s Kitchen Shop page with all the details you need to order your hampers.

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Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?

When the kids were all small Dr Seuss and his plethora of books were always popular.  His words just roll off the tongue with a candence that makes reading them enjoyable even though some of the words are completely unreadable.  But when someone is having a moan we roll out this cliche. And everyone smiles. Eventually. Cause we are Lucky.

Did I ever tell you how Lucky you are?

Did I ever tell you how Lucky you are?

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Start Planning- Order your Hampers!

Even though it’s still November, it’s good to get ahead of the posse. You can, of course order any Christmas food from me in the usual emailly way.  But this post is specifically about HAMPERS.

I LOVE getting hampers.  They are usually filled with all the things that you secretly crave- but feel guilty if you buy them for yourself. My favourite ones are those with cheeses and wine.  Two of my not-so secret guilty pleasures at Christmas.

Christmas Hampers

Christmas Hampers

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Hampers, Hampers everywhere

As it’s getting a little closer to December I’m taking orders for my hampers, Christmas cakes and other goodies.
All are available for collection or delivery within reason!

Jen's Kitchen Hampers

There is a sweet hamper containing:

Jams, Cupcakes, chocolates, meringues, biscuits etc.

Christmas Cupcakes
And this year I am also introducing a smaller savoury hamper, with chutneys, breads and dips.

You can of course, have a mix of both.


Christmas cakes, both chocolate biscuit cake, and traditional fruit are also available to go into the hampers. They are finished to a high standard and painted in a Christmas scene.

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake

Sweet Delight 50.00
Food Lovers Feast 30.00
6″ Hand painted luxury fruit Christmas Cake 30.00
8″ Hand painted luxury fruit Christmas Cake 40.00
6″ Chocolate Broken Biscuit Christmas Cake 30.00
8″ Broken Biscuit Chocolate Christmas Cake 60.00
Mince Pies 6 7.50
12 12.00
24 20.00
Christmas Themed Cupcakes 12 15.00
24 20.00

Contact me jeni@pims.ie , or by Facebook.  By phone 0879295673 is best by text due to the whole coverage issue!

A Christmas Hamper- what’s the best filling?

A little like a mince pie, the contents of a hamper can be either really good- or really bad.  I love to get a hamper.  It’s the lots of little things that you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself.  Like posh onion marmalade, or some really good cheese.

Marmalade getting ready for the Christmas Hampers

Marmalade getting ready for the Christmas Hampers

A nice basket is also a  must.  And some nice ribbon.  But they are really superfluous to the contents.  What you get with a homemade hamper is the most generous present you can give, it takes time and loving care to match just the right mix of sweet, spicy, nostalgic and novel surprises for someone.  And of course wrap it all up in a big bow. Course you could get this one from Harrods. But it might be outside most peoples budget.

Monday 16th November 056

Christmas Cupcakes

And really from my brief look at it, it’s really just a lot of wine, food, etc.  And nothing particularly special! For me, I like- shortbread, cheese, crackers, a little onion marmalade, and maybe some chocolate.  I don’t really want wine in it either, unless you insist.  But that is the great thing about making up your own hamper.You can have it the way YOU want it.  I’m busy this week assembling hampers here for clients too.  Each is bespoke, and involve LOTS of food.  This weekend will involve copious amounts of chocolate being melted, a little salted caramel, and some jars of goodness, both sweet and savoury.  Thankfully I have lots of willing testers, myself included, to give critical analysis of each  creation.

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas Cupcakes

In the end, when designing any gift, what’s important is that the experience is meaningful.  Making someone feel good.  It’s that simple.


Red, Red…..

Coleslaw and Biccies.  Well not together obviously!  Red is the colour associated with Christmas, be it Santa’s Hat, or some mulled wine.  This post is dedicated to red cooking.

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Red Cabbage

Red Cabbage

This vegetable is very robust, and a little goes a long way.  We traditionally cook it for Christmas dinner, slowly for a long time, with spices and apples.  But a the moment I’ve a hankering for coleslaw, and using red cabbage, instead of the traditional green cabbage, gives it a lovely seasonal flavour. The addition of an acidic fruit to the cooking stops the colour changing.  As an aside it makes a very good home-made pH indicator. And as the healthy eating takes a definite dive, it’s good to know that this type of  cabbage has 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage.

And it’s simply a matter of taking half a cabbage, 3 peeled carrots, and a handful a spring onions.  Slicing or grating the appropriate veggies, then adding a couple of dollops of homemade mayonnaise.  And that’s it.  Christmas in a bowl, without the guilt.

Speaking of guilt.  I also tried, quite unsuccessfully, to make a new type of biscuit this week.  Red Velvet cookie to be precise.  The dough used buttermilk which I thought was a bit strange.  But what the hell. And the typical red velvet colouring.  I was intending to cook them Friday evening.  But had broken a cardinal rule of reading the recipe through before starting to cook.  Yes, there was an overnight in the fridge step.  And as an aside, I then had to turn around and make a chocolate pudding as the family were expecting SOMETHING, and I do hate to disappoint.

So the dough overnighted in the fridge.  And as a matter of fact spent the next day in the fridge too.  But did get cooked eventually. And I’m not sure if it was the extended waiting time.  Or just the fact that the cookie recipe was not that good.  Anyhows.  They were disappointing.  But fun to ice.  And I did try to make kinda cool reindeer out of them.

Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies

Think I’ll just stick to the traditional Finnish gingerbread!    


The Gingerbread Wreath

About 2 years ago I obsessed with making a Gingerbread man wreath, I made SO much gingerbread that I actually haven’t made gingerbread since.  But plan to make some more again this year.

The basic gingerbread recipe is a traditional Finnish recipe, given to me by my Finnish sister-in-law.

  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g soft butter
  • 175g light softbrown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

To decorate

  • Writing icing
  • cake decorations


Preparation method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of your food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 1800C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
My reindeer

My reindeer


  1. Roll the dough out to approx mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them, if not doing the wreath.  If you are doing the wreath, see below.
  2. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.

Wreath Preparation method

  1. Draw a circle on greaseproof, using a dinner plate, in pencil.
  2. Place the men, “holding hands”, using a pastry brush, paint water on the bottom hand, then press the top hand on top.
  3. Place in the freezer for ten minutes prior to cooking.

Leave to cool on the tray before threading ribbon through the little men.  This is NOT my pic, but I will pt mine up as soon as I have it made!


The old favourites are the best- iced Christmas cookies

I always use this recipe when making batches of biscuits for icing; it’s my twist on a Nigella Lawson Classic

A cup of treats

A cup of treats

for the biscuits

  • 300g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey

for the icing and trimmings

  • 300 g instant royal icing (from packet)
  • decorations


  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/350ºF.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and runny honey, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.
  3. Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingfilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.
  4. Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm / ¼ inch and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice.
  5. Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.
  6. Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  7. Make up the instant royal icing, beating it until it’s thick enough to be able to cover the biscuits with a just-dripping blanket of white.
  8. Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like.

Chocolate Mince Pies- Why Not??

I like mince pies.  Alot. Too much actually so I’d better dust off the running shoes. I posted this picture of my mince pies on facebook the other night and I got a few requests for the recipe.

I use a pastry that has ground almonds in it as I think it makes it a bit shorter in texture.

My sweet mincemeat recipe I make in bulk, then mix the grated chocolate through it before I assemble the pies.

I got the punch for the top from a great little site called “Not on the High Street” as recommended by my good twitter friend @babaduck.

Pastry: enough for 24 mincepies

275g plain flour

25g ground almonds

175g butter, chilled and cut into cubes

85g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons of chilled milk

zest of 1 orange


Mix the dry ingredients (flour, almonds, sugar), rub in the butter, mix in the zest, then add the egg and enough milk until is just coming together.  I actually use my mixer for this pastry, once you don’t overmix it’s fine.

Pat it into a round and wrap in greaseproof paper, NOT  clingfilm, and leave to chill in the fridge.


3 cooking apples, roasted whole for 30mins at 180Oc then the flesh removed into a bowl.

75g fresh cranberries

100g each of sultanas, raisins and currants

2 tablespoon each of dark and light brown sugar

1 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and mixed spice

zest and juice of 2 lemons and oranges

5 tablespoons of rum or brandy or whiskey or whatever takes your fancy!

50g grated dark chocolate

To Serve: Some freshly whipped organic cream


Place the cranberries in a saucepan with the juice of the lemons and oranges, heat gently until the skins burst.  Tip into the bowl with the apple flesh.

Add all the other ingredients and mix well.  This is best bottled and left for a number of weeks but I have used it immediately too.

For this recipe, I add 50g of grated dark chocolate to enough mincemeat to make 24 mincepies.

To Assemble:

Pre-heat the oven to 200OC.

Grease and flour the tin.

I roll out a little pastry at a time on a floured surface, to approx 5mm thick.  I also regularly flour the cutter so it doesn’t stick.

Only a bare teaspoon of sweet mincemeat is required in each.

I chill the tin of prepared mincepies for 10mins prior to cooking.

Cook for 10mins or until slightly brown. Leave in the tin for 5  ins then cool until required.

I serve with freshly whipped cream that I add a little orange essence too.

Better put the kettle on….

Mince pies ready for the oven

Tea and mince pies, does it get any better?