Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Festive Preparations

I've never made any pretenses about my organisational skills. In fact I quite regularly go on about my extreme lack of them. So, I had a little heart attack when my co-contributors to "At the Failsafe Table" decided to have a Christmas edition this week. It's a truly great idea and I'm sure you would all like to be a bit prepared and maybe even have a trial run of what you would like to make. For me this week is last minute birthday party preparation for my daughter's 4th birthday - Christmas is not even on my radar until next week.

I have managed to fit something in this week though, so this year you get a Christmas recipe from me before Christmas instead of in March.

While I was deciding what to make I was thinking about all the different yummy foods that are usually eaten over the holidays and one of the things that came into my mind was those rolled pieces of pork that are stuffed with fruit and nuts and are sweet and moist with that naughty bit of crackling on the top. I have done a failsafe version of that. "How is that even possible?" you say. "Massive substitutions" I say; that and a bit of imagination.

Christmas Chicken Roll
  • 2 large Chicken breast doubles
  • failsafe oil
  • 3 Tbsp ground raw cashews
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and diced smallish
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • few sprigs parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp whiskey (optional)
  • 1 tsp failsafe oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
All tied up

Don't worry about being neat, just make sure it is tight.

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly oil a roasting tray.
  2. Leave the cartilage that joins the breasts intact, but trim any other sinew or excess fat from the chicken.
  3. Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Lay out the breasts rough side up and spread one half of the first one with about a third of the stuffing. Lay the second piece so half of it covers the stuffing of the first. It's best if you do it with the thicker part covering the thinner of the first ("top and tailed") so it is not really thick at one end once it is rolled.
  5. Spread all of the second breast double with the remaining stuffing and then roll carefully so the cross section is like two interlocking "C's". 
  6. Tie it tightly with kitchen string and place into roasting dish.
  7. Push any bits of stuffing that have fallen out back into the end of it.
  8. Mix the glaze ingredients together and brush some over the chicken.
  9. Bake for one and a half hours (or until cooked through - depends on the chicken size). Take it out at intervals and brush with more glaze.
  10. When ready remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes, then remove string and slice.

Ready to be sliced

  • Nut free - No problem, just leave them out and add a little more crumbs or substitute for chicknuts as they could add another bit of flavour.
  • Salicylates - Apples would be nice instead of pears as would some herbs like sage or thyme.

Served with crispy herbed baked potatoes and steamed beans and cabbage  tossed with nuttelex, salt and sprinkled with crispy fried deli chicken.

We all enjoyed this, it really did remind me of the pork ones. Hubby said he would like to have more stuffing. It would be nice, but it would also make it trickier to roll.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


So spring is here and nearly gone. I have been wanting to share this one for a while, but have had some really good recipes that I had to add first.

We celebrate a few extra holidays in our house. You may remember the pumpkin pie from our autumn feast or have seen pictures of our yule feast on my Facebook page. We celebrate the standard ones too, but really enjoy having the old school seasonal celebrations. They fit with the weather, with fresh food available at the time.

On the 22nd September it was the spring equinox, so we had our Ostara party. Or I guess you could call it easter or Eostre. So you get the theme - flowers, bunnies, eggs, butterflies - Spring things. And what better way to do it than a garden tea party. The table was set with all my china along with glass jars and cups with fresh flowers (these were the rather smelly kind, if you're smell sensitive use ones that are low fragrance).


No new recipes for this party, just reshaping some that I already have.

Flower and butterfly shaped biscuit wands made to the iced biscuit recipe or the gum free recipe.  These were decorated with white icing and natural sprinkles and coloured sugar. This is so basic to do, but something I forgot about for a long time. You know exactly what you are getting with these, and if you use homemade colours they can be completely failsafe.     

I used the gum free recipe for these biscuits

Coloured Sugar

  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • A few drops natural colour of choice


  1. Place sugar and colour in a small container or ziplock bag.
  2. Shake until the colour is evenly distributed through the sugar
  3. Store in an airtight container.

Also made using the coloured sugar were rice crispy eggs. To shape them I use little plastic eggs, the kind you would normally put treats inside for Easter.

Rice crispy eggs

Rice Crispy Eggs  
  • 4 cups crunchy puffed rice
  • 200g white marshmallows
  • 80g nuttelex
  • Coloured sugar


  1. Place rice puffs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly melt marshmallow and nuttelex in a saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously to stop it sticking and burning.
  3. When it is relatively smooth pour over rice puffs and stir until well combined.
  4. Lightly grease the inside of the eggs and pack the rice crispy mixture into both sides and squash them together.
  5. When they have set gently ease them out of the eggs and dip one end in coloured sugar.

If you wanted to do these as something the  Easter bunny has left you can coat inside half the egg with the sugar and leave them in the egg to make it less messy.

My friend made vanilla cupcakes that had a split marshmallow on top to look like a flower and tea cup biscuits which were an Orgran thistle shortbread biscuit topped with a marshmallow, sprinkles and half a lifesaver (not failsafe, but similar could be made from royal icing) all stuck together with royal icing.

Meringue peeps, Teacup biscuits, quiche, scones and iced biscuits

Meringues were piped in the shape of peeps or little chicks. I tried adding a bit of saffron to them for colour, but the little that I used gave no real colour, but drastically changed the flavour... not something I would do again. You could also add little dots of icing or carob to make eyes.

There were also scones & jam, little chicken & mayonnaise wraps, mini quiches and pink vanilla milk (rice milk for mine, cow milk for the others) in teapots for the kids to drink. 

Wraps, quiche and flower cupcakes

The activities were loads of fun, the kids made birdfeeders by sticking birdseed to toilet rolls using flour  and water glue and took them home to hang in the garden.

My friend brought blank animal masks and the children decorated them with glitter, sequins, pompoms and textas.

Making masks

The grand finale was an egg hunt in the yard for plastic eggs with treats.

They all took home seedlings to plant; a bean, a purple cabbage and a decorative one. A great non-food idea for easter too, just make sure your seedlings are right for the season.

Now to prepare for the Summer Solstice!