Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

My latest Hannah's kitchen article is out today - cute little gingerbread birdhouses to decorate your tree with. I am feeling all Christmassy already - only a few weeks until I can get the decorations down from the loft and plan buying our tree. I know it is only early November but you can't blame a girl who loves Christmas for getting a little excited (although of course I haven't even started to think about Christmas shopping yet - that will have to wait until my book is finished!)

Country and Town House - December 2010
I love Christmas with a passion and enjoy every minute of the run up to the big day, shopping for presents, wrapping, decorating the house, carol singing and enjoying warming mugs of mulled wine. Most of all I love all the Christmas baking - mince pies, stollen, indulgent champagne truffles and Christmas cake. There is no other time of the year when so much culinary indulgence can be justified and the scent of cinnamon and spices in the kitchen warms the heart. To get us in the Christmas spirit as early as possible, we always put up our Christmas tree on the first weekend of December. It is the perfect excuse to get baking and these spiced gingerbread cookies make delightful decorations with snowy icicles and a sprinkle of edible glitter. If you do not have a birdhouse cutter, make a template from cardboard, then cut out the cook dough using a sharp knife. I am sure these pretty cookies will delight any children you have visiting this Christmas, particularly if you make them together – I don’t know a single child who doesn’t love icing cookies!

Christmas Tree Birdhouse Cookies
Preparation time 30 minutes Cooking time 12 - 15 minutes
Makes 8 cookies
115g/4oz butter, softened plus extra for greasing
55g/2oz dark brown sugar
1 tbsp treacle
200g/7oz plain flour, sifted plus extra for dusting
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
300g royal icing sugar
Approx 50ml water
silver balls and edible glitter to decorate
white ribbon for hanging

Whisk together the butter, brown sugar and treacle. Mix in the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon to form a soft dough. Chill the dough in the fridge for an hour. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F and grease and line two baking trays. Roll out the dough to 1/2 cm thickness on a floured surface and cut out 8 birdhouse shapes using a birdhouse cutter or cardboard template. Using a 1 inch round cutter, cut out a hole in the centre of each birdhouse. Carefully transfer to the baking trays using a spatula. Bake for about 12 – 15 minutes until the cookies are firm. Allow the cookies to cool completely. Cut 30cm lengths of ribbon and tie into a loop. Poke one end of the loop through the hole in the centre of the cookie and secure by passing the other end of the loop through the first loop ensuring that the ribbons lie flat. Mix the royal icing sugar with the water and whisk for about 2 - 3 minute until the icing is stiff. Put the icing in a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle and pipe icing along the top of the roof of the bird house so that it looks like icicles. Pipe a ring of icing stars around the hole of each bird house and allow the icing to set before hanging on your tree.


Scarlett said...

I totally agree with you about Christmas- I love it too!

Rose H (UK) said...

Those birdhouses are too cute!

Lucie said...

They are just adorable!

Anonymous said...

Amazon launched two new Kindle e-readers priced at $139 and $189 late Wednesday, with the cheaper version a Wi-Fi-only e-reader and $10 less than the Wi-Fi-only Nook.

Anonymous said...

Good article. Thank you.

Erectile Dysfunction said...

This is good site to spent time on.