Friday, 9 November 2012

Bonfire Night Party

It has become a tradition of mine that every first weekend in November we have everyone from my both sides of the family around for a few fireworks in the back garden. One of the best things about Bonfire Night is the food. You could do a barbecue or a one pot like chilli or pasties, all of which I have done over the years, but growing up we had the same tradition of having fireworks in the garden and we would always have meat and potato pie or corned beef hash, always served with red cabbage, pickled onions and pickled beetroot. This year my mum came around to cook the meat and potato pie and my sister brought a corned beef hash. It is really simple to make and a lovely warming meal.

Meat and Potato Pie
In an ovenproof dish, fry 500g Mince and onion with a sprinkle of mixed herbs in some oil until the mince is browned and the onions are softened, add potatoes, celery and carrots, seasoned with salt and pepper and cover with beef stock or gravy, cook for 1hr to 1hr 30 until vegetables are softened, leave to cool.
Make the crust 8oz flour, 4 butter, pinch of salt mixed together with some water to form a dough, refrigerate.( we did all this the day before)
The next day about an hour before everyone comes roll out the pasty and place it on the top of the meat and potato and glaze the pasty with egg. Put the oven to 220c Cook at this temperature until the crust is a lovely golden brown (about 15 mins) then turn down until ready to serve.

Corned Beef Hash
This is such a simple and cheap recipe. Take 1 tin of corned beef cut into cubes,1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 stick of celery (all chopped ) a bay leaf, cover with beef stock and season with pepper. Cook for 1hr - 1hr 30 in oven at 200c. It the veg will soften and the stock will reduce down, so it should be quite mushy. If you like you can put a crust on it.

Another staple of a bonfire night in Bolton is Black peas, as far as I know this is just a Bolton tradition, these are basically peas that are black, you have to soak them over night with a little bicarbonate of soda in the water then you rinse them and boil in water until the are mushy, when they are ready stir one tablespoon of treacle in, then serve in a mug or a polystyrene mug with plenty of salt and vinegar. It might sound disgusting but its actually really good.

Of course you must have treacle toffee, this one was made by my friend Sandra.

And its also customary to have parkin cake, but I'm not keen on that because I find it quite dry so I make my signature bake 'Soft gingerbread cake.' I have been making this cake since I was about 13 and it never fails. You need to make it a few days before you need it because the longer after you make the more stickier and moist it gets.

Soft Gingerbread
Melt together 125g butter,125g golden syrup, 150g dark treacle and 125g granulated sugar then allow to cool.
Sieve together 275g plain flour, half tsp salt, 2tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda.
Pour contents of pan into flour, mix in 1 beaten egg and 225 ml milk.
Pour into a greased baking tin i have a square silicone tray that i use.
Bake at 160C for an hour but check after 50 minutes. Insert a skewer into the middle if it comes out dry its done, let it cool then put in a airtight container for a couple of days. Cut to into cubes or slices, it should be very soft with a sticky top...delicious!

I also like to make
Spicy mulled cider 
Put 3 x 568ml pear cider, 6 long strips of lemon, 1 cinnamon strip, 1 vanilla pod, 250ml clear apple juice, 2 tbsp caster sugar and 100mls brandy in a large heavy based pan , warm over a gentle heat but do not boil. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Reheat slowly and serve with sliced pear.
This year I did this in the slow cooker and it worked really well.

We had fireworks and sparklers and a good time was had by all, apart from Max of course he hid in the bedroom until the fireworks were over but he was quite happy to come down to play with our nephews before and after and loved all the attention.

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