Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Chocolate Rum and Raisin Balls

Now this recipe doesn't exactly fit into the health food category but it's Christmas time so it's a time to treat friends and family. I usually like to make something yummy for gifts at this time of year and this time I decided to make rum balls because I used to make them as a kid. But the search for a recipe didn't yield any recipes that I liked. I knew I wanted them to be chocolatey with real chocolate and not cocoa powder and I wanted them to have quite a lot of rum in them as well and also not be too sickly sweet. So I decided to invent my own recipe in an effort to achieve this goal.

The basis of the mixture is basically a dark chocolate ganache mixed with Arnotts Chocolate Ripple biscuit crumbs, with rum soaked raisins added. I finished the balls in two types of coatings. The first one, some good quality cocoa powder, and the second, some moist flaked coconut. I hope the rum balls have a texture that is fudgey and biscuity with luscious intensely rum flavoured raisins every now and then but I wont know until Christmas Eve if I've made a winner or not because I'm not going to eat any until then.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Rum and Raisin Balls


500 gms bittersweet dark chocolate
250 mls heavy cream
4 cups of chocolate ripple biscuits crumbs
1 cup of raisins (soaked overnight in 1/2 cup of good quality dark rum)
a splash more rum
moist flaked coconut
good quality dark cocoa powder


Chop the chocolate into small pieces of about the same size. Bring the cream to almost boiling point and then pour over the chocolate, stirring until all the chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the biscuit crumbs and the raisins that have been soaking overnight, together with the remaining rum, as well as a splash more rum. Then mix it all together until it reaches the desired consistency which should be like a loose cake batter.

Scoop mixture into a 1/2 tablespoon measure and roll into a neat ball. Repeat until all the mixture is gone. Leave to set slightly and then roll half in cocoa powder and half in coconut or whatever else you like. eg. chopped nuts.

Makes about 110 rum balls

If you make this recipe don't worry if the mixture appears too soft you can put it in a cool place for a few minutes or in the fridge and it will harden up enough to be able to roll into balls. You should probably store these in the fridge and take out a few hours before you need them. The cocoa covered ones also could need to be re-dipped to make the surface look nice again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The best way to eat broccoli

I'm normally not such a big fan of broccoli. I don't mean to say that I hate it but in it's original state, simply steamed or stir fried, I think it is a little lacklustre, I certainly couldn't say it was amongst my favourite vegetables. Even so, I usually made it a frequent part of my diet because of it's health giving antioxidants. That was the state of affairs until recently when I first made it into soup. Now I genuinely look forward to eating it and I would be happy to eat it every day of the week. There's no secret ingredient in this recipe I just think it is far more enjoyable in liquid form. See what you think.


3 small heads of fresh broccoli
1 litre of vegetable stock (1 tb Vegeta stock powder dissolved in 1 litre of hot water)
1 brown onion
Milk, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste


Chop onion and heat gently until translucent in a large pot. Add vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cut broccoli into florets and cut the stems into pieces of equal size. Add broccoli to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Ladle soup into a food processor in batches and process until smooth, adding some milk to each batch, and pour into a large serving bowl or soup tureen. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

Serves 6

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Italian Twist

The frittata recipe I'm going to share with you today makes me think of summer. Mainly because of the tomatoes. The first time I made this frittata I made with them with the sweetest tasting organic cherry tomatoes that I had picked that day from my Dad's overgrown vegetable garden. Now every time I make it I remember those sensational tomatoes.

But don't worry if you don't have the best tomatoes, all tomatoes improve in flavour when sauteed a little with bacon. This dish is a great way to use left over pasta if you happen to have it but I think it's worth cooking some if you don't.


10 organic free range eggs
500 gm spelt pasta, cooked
4 slices of rindless bacon, trimmed & chopped
1 cob of sweet corn, steamed
2 spring onions
100 gms reduced fat feta cheese
100 gms natural yoghurt
10-15 organic cherry tomatoes
50 gms toasted pine nuts
2 red chillies
Sea salt
Parmesan cheese


Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl or jug and season to taste. Sauté bacon and tomatoes in a large non stick pan. The tomatoes will need to be removed from the pan before they start to break down and the bacon left to crisp. Remove kernels from corn by running a sharp paring knife down each side. Add tomatoes, bacon, corn and other ingredients to the egg mixture.

Rinse non stick pan and pour in egg mixture. Cook on stove top over a medium heat for about 3 – 5 mins and then finish off cooking in the oven. Remove from pan and cut into slices.

Serve with salad or roast vegetables.