Let it snow!

December 24th, 2014

vintage illustration of skiers while it's snowing | @hisforhome

A very merry Christmas to all our friends, readers and loyal customers!

Adelle & Justin's signatures

Fudge's paw print signature

Cakes & Bakes: Jam coconut slices

December 23rd, 2014

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Jam coconut slice with mug of tea | @hisforhome

Although there is technically a bit of baking involved here, this week’s Cakes & Bakes is more of a little suggestion for leftover pastry from making other things.

Puff pastry scraps | @hisforhome

We had a few pieces after making a batch of sausage rolls yesterday.

Jam slice uncooked | @hisforhome

Generously spread jam or preserve onto the rolled out pastry – we chose strawberry and plum. Then sprinkle with coconut and bake for about 10 minutes; that’s it!

Jam & coconut slice uncooked | @hisforhome

 It’s delicious, especially when eaten whilst still warm.

Jam & coconut slice cooked | @hisforhome

It works well with puff or shortcrust pastry – a lovely little treat with that well deserved cuppa.

Gifts for… The last minute

December 22nd, 2014

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Selection of last minute gifts for Christmas

It’s the 22nd of December and you’ve suddenly realised that there’s a gaping hole in your Christmas present list. What do you do? Where can you go for those last minute gifts… you know, ones that don’t look as though they’re last minute gifts?

Don’t panic, we’ve got a few recommendations. Some of these are ‘virtual’ gifts such as the charity support and activity days. You can simply email your gift to the recipient on Christmas day. The others such as the chocolates and the flowers can be ordered as late as the afternoon of the 23rd for delivery before Christmas Day.

  1. Tasting for two choice voucher: £30, Buyagift
  2. Adopt the snow pack: from £10 per month, WWF
  3. Contribute towards building 3 maternity wards in a rural hospital in Kenya: £20, Present Aid
  4. The Christmas luxe: £32, Hotel Chocolat
  5. Christmas rose gift bag with truffles: £20, Moonpig
  6. 2 for 1 pamper day at Bannatyne’s Health Club: £79, Prezzybox
  7. One night glamping break collection: £59, Virgin Experience Days

Dressing your windows for Christmas

December 20th, 2014

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Outdoor Christmas decorationsImage credit: Crazy Frankenstein

The way we dress our homes for the holiday season is a big part of the Yuletide fun.

Showing others that you’re taking part in the celebrations is a great way of joining in with the festive spirit – one of the most creative ways you can do this is by dressing your windows for Christmas.

Metallic baubles hanging in a windowImage credit: Harpers Bazaar

Where to start

Whether yours is one of the many luxury new homes around the country or an older period property, there’s nothing more off-putting than dirty or grimy windows at any time of the year. So, the best place to start is to make sure your windows are sparkling clean inside and out.

The next thing is to decide if you want to decorate just the insides or make the most of the outside of your windows as well. Obviously this will come down to practicalities as in many cases it might be difficult to get to outside windows that aren’t on the ground floor.

Fir tree snowflake Christmas window decorationImage credit: Britt Willoughby Dyer

Materials

If you can put decorations outside it’s a good idea to let nature help you. You can use holly or other similar classic natural winter greenery which you know can withstand the outdoor conditions.

If you plan to use lights or other electrical equipment outside it is essential to check that they are suited to the purpose and will pose no threat or danger in wet or windy conditions.

Colourful Christmas stockings and decorations hanging in a windowImage credit: Impressionen

Indoors

Whatever the size of your windows, let your imagination run wild!

There are many ways you can decorate the inside of your windows – have some fun with it.

If you have a property with old fashioned windows such as sash windows – you can make them look great with just a little fake snow and glitter. Carefully applied in the right way this can result in a really authentic, classic Dickensian Christmas card look.

More modern windows with large panes of glass can provide a blank canvas for a whole range of ideas. Spraying glitter materials through stencils or other cut-outs can work just as well as using elaborate and potentially expensive lighting set-ups.

Christmas tree in a corner in front of windowsImage credit: Better Homes and Gardens

Tree

One thing that can’t be beaten for maximum effect is simply placing your Christmas tree in front of the window. This not only means you can leave curtains or blinds open to show your neighbours how lovely your tree is, but it also gives you some privacy too.

Christmas is a time of fun and festivity – so get involved this year!

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Quick panna cotta

December 19th, 2014

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Quick panna cotta with blackcurrant preserve | @hisforhome

This panna cotta recipe has a very good effort versus reward ratio – it’s quick, easy and utterly delicious.

Pouring hot liquid mixture into glass bowls

We once read a great quote “panna cotta is just blancmange with a fancy accent”. That’s kind of true, but panna cotta does sound better doesn’t it? It’s the perfect dessert, particularly if you have to make something at short notice – or if you’re super busy with other jobs – Christmas week for example!!

blackcurrant preserve

You can eat it plain – but a quick fruit coulis, caramel sauce or chocolate shavings add a delicious extra dimension. For this batch we made a lovely topping from blackcurrants that we’d preserved in the summer. Honey can also be added to the cream mix which is a classic method in Italy.

Quick panna cotta
Yields 6
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 600ml double cream
  2. 1tsp Vege-gel (or any other agar agar powder)
  3. 50g caster sugar
  4. panna cotta ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour the double cream into a medium-sized saucepan
  2. Before heating, add the Vege-gel/agar agar powder and combine well with a whisk
  3. Add the sugar and heat on a medium flame stirring until the sugar has dissolved
  4. Bring to simmering and pour into heat proof glass coups or bowls
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before covering with cling film/Saran wrap and putting into the fridge for at least 2 hours
  6. Serve cold with fruit compote, preserve or coulis
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