Do check out my new blog "Claire's Party Supplies". From now on all party supplies and current offers and discounts will be featured here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Wreaths

After scouring the internet for Christmas projects that I could use, I stumbled upon this post. I immediately knew that I wanted to try this out. So I gave it a shot. The only difference is I used this as doilies for my side tables rather than dish cloths. I didn't get around to adding the little red berries, but I think it turned out really pretty anyway. I used the pattern found here.




Christmas Wreath
Materials:  100% cotton Sugar & Cream yarn in the colors of red, white and green
               Crochet Hook size H
              Large Tapestry Needle for making french knots & weaving in the ends

Directions:

Rnd 1:  With white, ch 5, sl st in first ch to form ring, ch 3 (counts as dc), 13 more dc in ring.  Join with sl st in top of ch-3. (14 dc).
Rnd 2:  (Ch 3, dc) in first st, 2 dc in each st around, join (28).
Rnd 3:  (Ch 3, dc) in first st, dc in next st, (2 dc in next st, dc in next st) around, join. (42)  Fasten off white.
Rnd 4:  Join green with sc in any st, sc in each st around, join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 5:  (Ch 3, dc) in first st, dc in next 2 sts, (2 dc in next st, dc in next 2 sts) around, join. (56)
Rnd 6:  (Ch 3, dc) in first st, dc in next 3 sts, (2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts) around, join. (70)
Rnd 7:  (Ch 3, dc) in first st, dc in next 4 sts, (2 dc in next st, dc in next 4 sts) around, join. (84)
Rnd 8:  Ch 1, sc in first st, skip next 2 sts, 7 trc in next st, skip next 2 sts, (sc in next st, skip next 2 sts, 7 trc in next st, skip next 2 sts)  around.  Join with sl st in first sc.  Fasten off green yarn.

For bow -- use red yarn.  Chain 60.  Slip stitch in 2nd chain from hook and slip stitch in each chain across.  Fasten off.  Weave in ends.  Fold red chain in shape of a bow.  Then, wrap two separate strands of red around center.  Sew bow to the wreath fastening with the two separate strands of red yarn.

With more red yarn, make 6 french knot berries in the wreath. (I left out this step)

Weave in ends.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seasons Greetings!!!

I just wanted to stop by and wish every one a wonderful Christmas season. Hope you had a lovely Christmas Day. Best wishes for the New Year!

I've been terribly busy and haven't had the time to post anything in the last couple of days. But I'll be back soon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies - Roundup

Here's a look at what went on during the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies 2010

Week 1: Cranberry Noels





Week 2: Chocolate Pistachio Fudge





Week 3: Brandy Snaps





Week 4: Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies





Week 5: Coconut Macaroons





Week 6: Marzipan Tarts

 


Week 7: Rum Balls

 


Week 8: Scottish Shortbread





Week 9: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

 


Week 10: Holiday Meringues





Week 11: Nankatais

 


Week 12: Jujups



Hope this helps you with ideas for your Christmas platter. Let me know if you do try out any of these. I'd love to know what you did and how it turned out!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Final Week of 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Jujups

Yes folks, here we are, at the final week of an amazing 12 week journey. A journey where so many wonderful bakers, cooks and bloggers put up some wonderful treats each week. I know I've learned so much from them. Their work has truly been inspiring. My ever growing 'to bake' list just got a whole lot longer and I can't wait to try out some of these treats myself.

Considering how close we are to Christmas and how swamped I am with things that need to be done around my house and in my kitchen, I haven't baked anything for this weeks round up. Now that doesn't mean I didn't bake anything. There's a load of stuff happening in the kitchen ... more on that later. However, it also doesn't mean that I'm going to skip this weeks submission. This week I'd like to showcase what we in India call 'Jujups'. This is a lovely sugary treat that can be made in a number of flavors and colors. Its quite a hit with kids. I haven't yet made jujups this year, so I'm going to add a picture from last year. I will add a better picture when I make it this time around.





Jujups

Ingredients
500g sugar
30g unflavored gelatin
1 sour lime
1 cup water
A few drops of essence
A few drops of color
Castor sugar for coating
A pinch of cream of tartar

Method – 

In a steel vessel, add ¾ cup water, sugar and the cream of tartare to make a sugar syrup. Keep on a high flame and stir till the sugar dissolves. Then on a low flame and let it cook to a 2 thread consistency approx. about 20 mins. While this is cooking, use ¼ cup of water and dissolve the gelatin in it. Add the juice of 1 sour lime and mix well. Let it soak for about 5-10 minutes. 

Once the sugar syrup is ready, add the gelatin mix to it and stir well. Let this concoction warm through for a minute or so. Add the color and flavoring as desired and mix well. Grease a tray with olive oil and pour the mixture through a metal strainer into it. Leave it to set undisturbed. Once it cools you may keep it in the fridge overnight. The next day, bring the mix to room temperature and then loosen the edges using a knife. Unmould the jujups on a board covered liberally with castor sugar. Cut with a greased knife and roll the pieces in castor sugar. Cover and keep in an air tight container.

Colour & Essence Chart –

Here's a handy dandy chart to guide you when trying out different flavor and color combinations. This is the assortment I made last Christmas. Feel free to experiment and make it your own. If you do try any flavors that aren't mentioned here, let me know how it goes, so that I can add to this list.

Color      -   Flavor
Pink / Red – Strawberry
Yellow – Pineapple / Lemon
Purple – Black current
Green – Mix fruit
Orange – Orange

NOTE: Cream of tartar is used to prevent crystallization of sugar in the sugar syrup. Make sure you use a very small pinch – if excess is used, the jujups won't form.


Don't forget to check out what the others have put up this week!

Week 12 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week 11 of 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Nankatais

It's hard to believe that we are almost at the end of this lovely 12-week long adventure. Before we reach the end, I'd like to say "Thank You" once again, to April of Abby Sweets for this wonderful idea. Its been a fun 12 weeks, challenging sometimes, but a lovely opportunity to meet some lovely people make some wonderful friends along the way.

This week, I'd like to showcase something that is quite popular in India during Christmas. Its a little cookie called the 'Nankatai'. It has a lovely taste and is a favorite with kids and adults alike. Today, I will share with you one of the recipes that I use for this cookie. Please forgive the image quality, a mobile phone camera was used to capture this.





Nankatais


Ingredients
300g all purpose flour
200g powdered or superfine sugar
200g Dalda (This is a brand of vegetable shortening, also called vanaspati. If this is not available, you can use clarified butter)
¼ tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Rose essence

Method
Heat the Dalda to dissolve the grainy portions the previous night. Don’t let it smoke. Leave it to cool overnight. Cream the Dalda with the palm of your hand in a steel plate. Add sugar creaming well. Then add flour, baking powder and rose essence. Knead into a dough. Keep for a few hours. Then shape as desired and bake in a moderate hot oven, approx 150°C for 15 – 20 minutes. To check if done, check the bottom of a cookie for slight brownness. Immediately take out of oven. Don’t let the nankatais change colour. 

NOTE: Add the sugar and the flour gradually, creaming continuously. Place the nankatais on a tray that has been greased with clarified butter and lightly dusted with flour. 

If you choose to decorate the cookie, here's a recipe for royal icing that I use. Please ensure that the cookie has cooled completely before icing.

Royal Icing
1 egg white
A few drops of lemon juice or citric acid
A few drops of essence
Icing sugar

Method
Beat the egg white. Add lemon juice and essence. Gradually add icing sugar a little at a time till stiff peaks form. Cover and keep till ready to use. Add food coloring as desired. Use this to decorate the cookie. 



Don't forget to spend some time to check out what the others have come up with this week!

Week 11 Twelve Weeks of Christmas:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Week 10 of 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Holiday Meringues

Its December, can you believe that? I'm so happy. This is my favorite month of the year, and we get to celebrate my favorite holiday - Christmas. And speaking of favorites, today I stumbled on something that flew right onto my list of favorites - Meringues. I can't believe I hadn't made this before. Actually, I did try it out before, but they turned out flat and stuck to the baking paper and so it ended up in the trash, but don't tell anyone that. **wink wink** Anyway, this was a few years ago and I never considered making meringues again. However, in the last few weeks, I've been toying with the idea of making a Pavlova. According to me, it falls in the same category as the meringues, so I was a little apprehensive and it has been on hold since. For some reason, I felt brave this morning and decided that it was time to give meringues another shot. I knew that if I couldn't make meringues, making a pavlova would be quite questionable.

This attempt was better than the previous, but I still have some kinks to work out. Maybe some of you can help me understand what I can do differently the next time. Oh yes, I'm going to make these again, because even though they weren't visually very appealing, I loved the taste and texture. It was light and airy, crisp on the outside and a little chewy on the inside. They just melt  in you mouth. I know for a fact that the next time, I will need to add more color and flavor, because what I used this time wasn't nearly enough. Some of the meringues cracked a little. Can anyone tell me how this can be avoided? I'd love to hear from you. I tried the kisses and wreaths and I wanted to create something that looked like Christmas trees, those didn't turn out too well, some cracked and some tilted. I used inspiration from here, here and here.  I couldn't settle on any one so here's what I did.


Holiday Meringues

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch of cream of tartar
Green food coloring
Peppermint extract
Sprinkles, or sanding sugar to decorate

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar together till it gets light and foamy. Gradually add the sugar and keep whisking till it reaches a stiff peak consistency.

Add food coloring and flavor extracts of your choice. I used green food color and peppermint extract and mix well. Prepare a piping bag and use a star shaped icing tip and pipe out the meringues onto some lightly greased baking paper. Bake at 160°C for about 20 minutes and then at 140°C for another 20 minutes.

Cool and decorate as desired. I used a mix of red sanding sugar and some crumbled cinnamon jelly beans.

I can't wait to try this again and hopefully get visually better results.


Go ahead and take a peek at what the other wonderfully talented folks have made this week.

Week 10 Twelve Weeks of Christmas: