Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Chique 2012 - The Old and the New, the Weird and the Wonderful: Pease Pudding and Persimmons


A quick trip to our local Morrisons supermarket turned out to be longer than expected due to the weird and wonderful new range of exotic fruits and vegetables they had on display. I couldn’t resist having a good look! Apparently Morrisons have been revamping their stores into new 'Fresh Format' stores complete with ice beds and misting technology to keep the fruits, vegetables and herbs fresh and hydrated. Although our local store hasn't been transformed yet it has benefitted from the new range of exotic oddities – including plumegranates (not a cross between a plum and a pomegranate but an almost-black skinned plum with deep scarlet flesh), graffiti aubergines, candy beetroot, dudhi, green mooli, plantain, turia, arbi, cassava and eddoes.

This is quite a change for Morrisons – when I used to shop 'up North' the most unusual item in my trolley from this store was Pease Pudding. Not that Pease Pudding is unusual in the North East – it's very popular - but it was unusual to me as I hadn't tasted it before. It's delicious. Pease Pudding is a very old dish and was once a staple on the British dinner table but fell out of favour in the 1900s. It's also known as Pease Pottage or Pease Porridge and the small village of Pease Pottage in Sussex takes its name from the dish.

Pease Pudding is made from soaked yellow split peas wrapped in a muslin bag dropped into a simmering pot with a hock of ham. The peas turn mushy and look a little bit like hummus. It can be eaten hot or cold and Pease Pudding is perfect with ham which makes it a useful addition to the Christmas table, especially if you haven't tried it before. Although it’s still very popular up North Pease Pudding is hard to find around here and if you'd like to make your own there is a recipe here.

Morrisons foray into exotic fruit and veg follows on from the news that UK sales of more unusual tropical fruits have soared as adventurous Britons develop a taste for new and more exotic groceries. Sales of persimmons - also known as Sharon fruit (named after the Sharon plain in Israel) - have for the first time overtaken sales of mangoes, while sales of pomegranates have rocketed by almost 30%.

Persimmons can vary in colour but the ones we normally see are orange and although they look a little like a tomato they are actually berries from the tree species Diospyros (meaning 'divine fruit' in Greek). The seedless fruit ripens to a sweet, jelly-like meat that remains encased inside a waxy, thin-skinned shell. The flavour is sweet and mild, a little similar to mango or pumpkin.

Originally native to China cultivars of the Persimmon have spread out across the globe and its fruit is thought to have reached European and American tables around 1800. In the USA Persimmon Pudding is a traditional American dessert a little like Christmas Pudding. 

In Indiana it is considered to be one of two local legendary dishes (the other being Sugar Cream Pie) and since 1946 they have held a Persimmon Festival every year. Persimmon Pudding is usually steamed or cooked in a bain-marie and is served with whipped cream or brandy butter. If you fancy trying it as an alternative to our British Christmas Pud the Mitchell Persimmon Festival website has the winning Persimmon Pudding recipes available here.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Chique 2012 - Quick Christmas Appetizers


If you are pushed for time at Christmas and want to add a little panache to your drinks parties or keep your dinner guests happy before the meal I have some quick and easy recipes for appetizers that don't involve slaving over a hot stove!

Stuffed dates and figs are a true Eastern delight and can be as luxurious as you like. In the Middle East they are usually stuffed with nuts but cheese fillings offer a sweet and savoury taste explosion.

Figs with Camembert

250g dried figs
3 tbsp port
125g camembert cheese, diced

Soak the figs in the port overnight. Cut a slit fig and widen the hole with your finger. Fill with camembert cheese.


Fresh Dates with Ginger

250g fresh dates
125g full fat soft cream cheese
1 tbsp chopped glacé ginger
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Remove the stones from the dates. Beat the cream cheese with the ginger and lemon rind. Fill the dates with the mixture.

Celery boats are super finger food and you can stuff celery with salmon or crab mousses, fish pâtés, cream cheeses and nuts. Seafood and chilled, crisp celery are a refreshing combination – especially with a glass of sparkling wine!


Celery Boats with Prawns

300ml thick sour cream
1 tbsp drained capers
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
500g cooked prawns
3 or 4 sticks of celery

Chop the capers and add them to the sour cream. Add the chives and Dijon mustard, stir well. Chill.

Chop the prawns into 2 or 3 pieces. Trim the rib off the celery so that it sits with a flat base and chop into 5 cm lengths. Chill.

Spoon the sour cream mixture into each length of celery and top with the prawns.

Salt beef is a popular choice this Christmas but I prefer smoked beef, especially on the rare side. Paired with rye bread and this unusual but tasty tuna mayonnaise sauce these open sandwiches are very moreish!

Smoked Beef Open Sandwiches

10 slices of dark rye bread
butter for spreading
20 – 30 slices of smoked beef
250ml mayonnaise
125g canned tuna
juice of ½ lemon
freshly cracked black pepper

Cut the rye bread into halves and spread with butter. Arrange the smoked beef slices on top of the rye bread.

Blend the canned tuna (drain it first), mayonnaise, lemon juice and capers in a blender. Spoon the sauce over the smoked beef and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Chique 2012 - Crazy for Coconut


Coconut foods and drinks are big news this Christmas. Coconut Water is apparently the next new trend in soft drinks and is one of the fastest growing beverage categories in both the UK and USA. It has a celebrity following ranging from Madonna to Lady GaGa and is finding favour with sports stars due to its supposed hydrating qualities. It's even popping up in cocktails.

Coconut Oil is also making a comeback and coconut is being used to flavour jams, noodles, soups and sugar. Researchers in Australia have even developed a coconut flavoured pineapple dubbed AusFestival that is due to be commercially available in 2 years’ time!

Coconut has been a popular flavouring in alcoholic drinks for some time – Malibu, the coconut flavoured rum, is launching its newest Limited Edition bottle this winter, Malibu Snowcoco. The coconut flavoured rum has a sprinkling of real coconut flakes so that when swirled in the glass it resembles a snowstorm. There are also coconut flavoured gins (Hoxtons Gin), vodkas (Ciroc and Smirnoff amongst others), brandy (Mendis), liqueurs (Bols, Marie Brizard, Monin's Liqueur de Noix de Coco) and its even used to flavour sake (Ty Ku).

Snowball cakes and lollipops that are covered in desiccated coconut seem to be popular this year and they have reminded me of the old fashioned Coconut Ice squares that we used to make. They were irresistible and are easy to make. 

395g tin of sweetened condensed milk
350g icing sugar
350g desiccated coconut
2-4 drops red food colouring

Sieve the icing sugar to get rid of any lumps. Add the desiccated coconut and condensed milk to the icing sugar and mix together. Divide the mixture into two and add a couple of drops of red food colouring to one half. Press the white mixture into the base of a flat dish and then spread the pink mixture over the top. Press down hard to flatten it. Place in the fridge to harden for a day. Once it has set, cut into small squares. 
 
You can be as inventive as you like, adding different layers of colours – for a Christmas theme red and white coconut ices look great, simply add more red food colouring to deepen the colour from pink to crimson!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Seaweed for Christmas?

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When I saw the news last week that the first licence to gather seaweed in England was issued to Rory MacPhee of Falmouth in Cornwall I initially thought it was granting permission to use the seaweed as fertilizer (being the keen gardener that I am!). Then on reading the article properly I discovered the seaweed licence was for gathering seaweed as food. MacPhee is keen to give seaweed a marketing overhaul, rebranding it as 'sea vegetables' and wants to take seaweed from being the preserve of health food stores to appealing to a wider audience. For more information on Rory visit www.falassa.co.uk.

I'm glad to see that England's caught up with the times. Seaweed harvesting is a small scale industry in the Outer Hebrides, Northern Ireland and South Wales which is now finding new and wider markets – and seaweed has been eaten for countless centuries along these shores.

Of course as a nation we still have a long way to go to catch up with Japan and China (where over 170,000 tons are consumed per year) but I think it's great that we are starting to realise that we can use seaweed for more than Sushi or as a fried, crispy garnish sprinkled over Asian foods. I am a fan of Laverbread (see Laverbread – the Welshman's Caviar) which incidentally is the same seaweed known as Nori in Japan that is used to make Sushi. However I know that mainstream English, and French cuisine for that matter, traditionally haven't really valued seaweeds. I don't know whether this is because eating seaweeds has been associated with times of scarcity and poverty in the past or whether it is because it has remained a peculiarity of the coastal regions never reaching further inland.

Nevertheless, seaweeds are now big news. Apart from their medicinal and nutritional benefits seaweed dishes are served in 7 out of 10 of the world's top restaurants. Among well-known fans is Heston Blumenthal, who has recommended using Kelp to make NHS food more flavoursome without using additional salt. Heston has also a best selling Steak, Ale and Kombu (Pacific variety of Kelp) Pie for Waitrose and recently served Seaweed Shepherd's Pie to BA passengers in his TV series Mission Impossible. Incredibly kilo for kilo seaweed contains more iron than sirloin steak, more fibre than prunes or bananas and more calcium than cheese.

There are around 650 edible varieties growing along the UK’s 11,000 mile coastline, although only around 35 have ever really been used for cooking. Edible seaweeds can range from delicate saline flavours to a tangy iodine taste. Some are even slightly sweet and others have little flavour at all. Apart from Laver and Kelp the better known edible seaweeds available in the UK are:

Dulse (sometimes called Dillisk, Latin name Palmaria palmata). In Ireland Dulse is dried and eaten as a traditional snack like crisps. It has a delicate salty taste and can be powdered, flaked or finely sliced. Used to add flavour to meat dishes, in soups, salads and added to bread or pizza dough.

Carrageen – (sometimes called Irish Moss, Latin name Chondrus crispus) – A natural setting agent as an alternative to gelatine. Used in desserts such as ice cream, blancmange and jelly, as a thickening agent is soups and even in toothpaste!

Sea Lettuce (Latin name Ulva lactuca) – Used in salads and as a garnish. 

Sea Spaghetti (sometimes called Thongweed, Latin name Himanthalia elongata) – Used just like spaghetti! Or in salads.

Irish Wakame
(sometimes called Badderlocks, Latin name Alaria esculenta) – Used fresh in salads or dried in soups and stews.

There are a fantastic range of recipes using seaweed in both savoury and sweet dishes at Celtnet
here. - including one for Fruit Salad with Kirsched Sea Spaghetti. If you fancy adding seaweed to your Christmas menu Prannie Rhatigan, from Ireland's North West has written a seaweed recipe book Irish Seaweed Kitchen which contains some brilliantly inventive as well as traditional dishes, one of which is Christmas Pudding with Brandied Sea Spaghetti. You can find details at her website www.prannie.com.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Christmas Chique 2012 – Haagen-Dazs New Ice Moon Cake and Plum Pudding Revisited


Häagen-Dazs have collaborated with British design duo Doshi Levien to create a limited edition Christmas cake. The result is the Häagen-Dazs Ice Moon Cake – which looks an awful lot like an old fashioned Christmas Pudding to me. However it won't taste like one as the cake consists of a pistachio biscuit base, layers of macadamia nut ice cream and meringue and a coating of raspberry sorbet. Each Ice Moon Cake is hand made in the Häagen-Dazs shop in Paris. Only fifty are available in the UK and they retail at £50.00 each. They sound delicious but what intrigued me was their spherical shape – I haven't seen a round Christmas Pudding for years, apart from the ones on Christmas Cards of course.

The cannon-ball shaped Christmas Pudding was an earlier incarnation of our festive dessert. Before the 19th century Christmas Puddings were known as Plum Puddings and were shaped into a ball, wrapped in muslin and boiled (sometimes in beef broth, which sounds revolting but in Medieval times these puddings contained meat as well as dried fruit). The present pudding-basin shape of Christmas Pudding didn't become popular until well into the 20th century.

Christmas Puddings used to be called Plum Puddings as they contained prunes (dried plums). This was before the days when raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel were readily available. There is a good recipe for Dickensian Plum Pudding by Josceline Dimbleby which I am going to use this year. It serves 8 – 10 people:

1 small pat of butter
350g pitted prunes
100g crystallised ginger
40g walnut halves
225g large raisins
grated rind and juice of 2 large oranges
125g fresh brown breadcrumbs
125g shredded vegetable suet
1 tsp ground cloves
3 large eggs
2-3 tbsp Cointreau or Brandy

Cut the prunes into small pieces and roughly chop the ginger and walnuts. Put the chopped ingredients into a large bowl with the raisins, grated orange rind, breadcrumbs, suet and ground cloves. In another bowl whisk the eggs until frothy and slightly thickened and stir well into the dry ingredients. Lastly stir in the orange juice and cointreau or brandy.

Leave to allow the ingredients to blend together for half an hour or more and then spoon the mixture into your mould or basin. Steam gently for about 6 hours, checking now and then and adding more boiling water if it has evaporated at all. When the pudding is cold keep in a cool place until Christmas Day. Then put in a saucepan as before and steam for another hour or so before serving. Serve on a warmed plate, stick a sprig of holly on top, pour Cointreau or Brandy round the pudding and set it alight . . .

You can buy metal moulds to make round Christmas puddings but I am going to try it the old fashioned way. I have muslin squares that I use for straining pips, flowers and stalks out of fermenting home-made wine so I can use one of these as my pudding bag. Apparently you spoon out your pudding mixture into the centre of a slightly damp muslin square and form it into a ball. Bring the four corners of the muslin square together and tightly twist to seal. Tie firmly with a piece of string.
 
Choose a large tall pan – a jam pan would be ideal. Tie the pudding to a long handled wooden spoon that you can balance across the rim of the pan. The idea is to suspend the pudding from the handle of the wooden spoon without it touching the bottom of the pan. Pour in enough boiling hot water to cover the dangling pudding. I think a lid of some sort would be a good idea (if you don't have one you could always make one out of foil) as a lid will intensify the heat and steam where it’s needed and won't turn your kitchen into a sauna. Boil the pudding for 5 – 6 hours, checking to make sure the water has not boiled dry and topping it up if necessary.

Once done, drain off the water and leave the pudding to dangle until it is fully cold. Don't remove the muslin. Wrap with foil and keep in the fridge until Christmas Day. To reheat simply remove the foil, follow as before but instead of immersing the dangling pudding in boiling water, steam it over simmering water for 2 – 3 hours.

Wish me luck!




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Christmas Chique 2012: Hot Roots and Seeds – British Grown Wasabi, Horseradish, Tewkesbury Mustard and Smoked Haddock Pâté



Wasabi is being grown for the first time ever in the UK by one of our top watercress-producing families based in Dorset. It's notoriously difficult to grow and takes 2 years until it is ready for harvest. If you haven't tried fresh Wasabi before it has a uniquely sweet pungent taste and fiery heat which really wakes up the taste buds and sinuses. It stimulates the nasal passages rather than the tongue and the heat is more akin to horseradish or mustard than chilli.

The Wasabi Company use traditional Japanese methods and grow Sawa Wasabi – the purest, sweetest, hottest and healthiest variety. Fresh Wasabi is unlike the wasabi green paste in tubes that you see sold in shops – these usually contain a substitute which is a mix of horseradish, mustard and green food colouring with as little as only 5% of the real wasabi root.

Sawa Wasabi is native to mountainous river valleys of Japan and thrives along the cool and shady banks of stream beds. Although Wasabi has been eaten in Japan for thousands of years by the 16th century it was restricted to the Japanese ruling class. It wasn't until the rise in production of sushi that Wasabi used became more widely available. It is the preferred flavouring for sushi and was prized for its ability to counteract food poisoning.

This British grown Wasabi has been a boon for chefs up and down the UK with Gary Jones, executive chef of Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons, summing it up as "bloody marvellous, a small miracle of pure taste and flavour." You can buy varying sizes of Wasabi rhizomes (roots), specialist graters and bamboo brush brushes from The Wasabi Company's website. They have handy guides on how much you will need and recipe suggestions – which go far beyond sushi.

I'm not surprised Wasabi has become such a big hit in the UK given our love of horseradish and mustard. Horseradish was used as a medicinal herb in 13th century Britain but became popular in the 1600s. By the end of the 17th century horseradish was the standard accompaniment for beef and oysters among all Englishmen. The English, in fact, grew the pungent root at inns and coach stations, to make cordials to revive exhausted travellers (the Germans still make schnapps out of horseradish root). It's not a member of the Wasabi family but is a distant relative as they both belong to the Brassicaceae group which includes cabbages – and mustard.

We don't live far from Tewkesbury which is famous for its Tewkesbury Mustard which is made from mustard and horseradish (and sometimes local cider!) – a tradition that dates back centuries. It was mentioned in William Shakespeare's play Henry IV and King Henry VIII was presented with Tewkesbury Mustard Balls covered in gold leaf when he visited the town in 1535. The Tewkesbury Mustard Company is the only mustard-maker in Tewkesbury and continues this tradition – they were featured on Ainsley Harriet's The Great British Food Revival on BBC 2 this week! We eat it regularly at home and if you haven't tried it yet please do, it's delicious.

I use horseradish in Smoked Mackerel Pâté (see here for recipe) but this year I'm making Smoked Haddock Pâté for Christmas Eve snacks using our local Tewkesbury Mustard.

Smoked Haddock Pâté

2 or 3 big fillets of un-dyed smoked haddock (cooked)
300 ml double cream
2 boiled eggs (chopped up small)
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
3 tsp Tewkesbury Mustard
cress

I tend to poach the smoked haddock in a pan with a knob of butter and just enough milk to cover the fish. Flake the cooked smoked haddock into a blender/liquidiser, discarding the skin and any stray bones. Add the liquid from the pan that the fish was poached in and the boiled eggs, double cream, lemon juice and Tewkesbury Mustard to the blender. Pulse until roughly minced. Deposit into a bowl and stir in the freshly cracked black pepper, put into individual ramekins, sprinkle with cress and serve.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Christmas Chique 2012 – Game is the New Turkey

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Apparently Game – feathered and fowl – is going to be popular this year instead of the traditional Turkey. Venison is always a favourite but Pigeon seems to be experiencing a renaissance. The days of Pigeon Pie are long gone and pan fried Pigeon Breast seems to be all the rage. I'm not surprised – it's an easy dish to prepare and is better than duck in my opinion. Pigeon meat is dark and has very little fat. If you haven't tried it before it tastes a little like a mild pâté. Wild Wood Pigeon is usually available in the markets but Squab (young domestic pigeon) is more tender – and plump.
Pigeon is a delicacy in the Middle East - from Morocco to Persia. In Egypt raising domestic pigeons is an important industry and you'll see dovecots dotted about the farms and small holdings along the Nile, some of which are a centuries old. It's believed that they were domesticated starting 10,000 years ago and pigeons are mentioned in 5,000 year-old Egyptian hieroglyphics
I remember a meal I had years ago at a restaurant of pan fried pigeon breast served with an apricot tartlet – it was delicious and would make a good addition to any Christmas menu. The apricot tartlet was very simple – just plain pastry with lattice work over apricot compote - and the pigeon breast was pan fried in butter with no marinade or sauce. Simple flavours and so good it has stuck in my mind for over a decade! Red Cabbage would be a great accompaniment and rather than use a braised red cabbage recipe I thought this one for a Red Cabbage Warm Salad looked scrumptious.
Red Cabbage Warm Salad
1 small red cabbage (finely shredded)
1 red onion (sliced)
4 tbsp sultanas
2 apples (diced)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Olive oil
1 piece of root ginger (grated)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
Handful fresh parsley (chopped)
Fry the red cabbage, onion, apple and ginger in a pan in the olive oil for a minute or so until they soften slightly. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Serve.




Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Christmas Chique for 2012 – Baked Alaska Makes a Come Back

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Baked Alaska is making a comeback for Christmas this year as Waitrose have teamed up with chef Heston Blumenthal once again to create a Caramelised Banana and Raspberry Baked Alaska. Last year the chef brought us pine-sugar mince pies that smelled like Christmas trees, the year before was all about the Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding.

Heston's Baked Alaska is a different take on the Baked Alaska that reached the height of its popularity in the 70s and 80s. It is made with raspberry parfait core encased in dark chocolate, surrounded by caramelised banana parfait instead of ice cream.

Heston explained that:

Baked Alaska is a childhood favourite of mine. I love the juxtaposition of the soft meringue against the smooth creamy interior, but I hated the idea that it all melted so quickly. So I was inspired to create my take on the old school classic by creating a raspberry mousse centre which gave the creaminess without melting and adding one of my favourite flavours – bananas!”

Baked Alaska was popular during Victorian times when 'ice cream cakes' were all the rage but the name wasn't coined until 1876 when the chef at Delmonico's Restaurant, New York, Charles Ranhofer, named the dish in tribute to Alaska after it had become an American territory a few years before.

Like its contents Baked Alaska has a combination of origins – the idea of cooking an ice dessert within warm pastry seems to have come from the Chinese who introduced it to Europe in the 1800s when a delegation visited Paris. The French caught on to the idea and substituted the pastry for meringue, calling it Omelette à la Norvégienne (Norwegian Omelette).

Normally Baked Alaska is made with ice cream on a bed of sponge, topped with meringue which is then placed in a very hot oven just long enough to brown the meringue. However you can make all sorts of Baked Alaska by varying the ingredients and flavours – some are made with ginger or digestive biscuit bases instead of sponge and others have sorbets or frozen yoghurts instead of ice cream. Jamie Oliver makes a Baked Alaska Mince Pie and Aldi have a recipe for Christmas Baked Alaska using Christmas Cake as a base.

Tips for Making Baked Alaska

Save time by buying the sponge and ice cream rather than make them from scratch – you can be as inventive as you like, using from chocolate sponge to walnut cake!

Freeze the sponge before topping it with ice cream to help keep the ice cream cold when you are heating the dessert.

The meringue can be flavoured with spirits such as Amaretto, Brandy and Rum – you can use essences too like Almond, Orange and Vanilla. Be artistic when you are coating the ice cream with the meringue using swirls or piping as this makes a great effect.

Use different toppings as a decoration such as sauce, fruit coulis, chocolate shavings or edible glitter.

Enjoy with Sparkling Wine – a Sparkling Rosé would be lovely!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Christmas Chique for 2012 – Gingerbread's 'Hot' this Year


Last Christmas we saw Ginger flavoured drinks gain favour with Marks & Spencer seeing sales of Ginger Wine and Ginger Beer up 20% and the launch of new Gingerbread Rum and Gingerbread Cream Liqueur. You may have also spotted Gingerbread Houses at Aldi last December – which sold like hot cakes. According to statistics, exports of Root Ginger from India have gone up by 76% year on year and this year it appears that retailers have caught on to the fact that Ginger is enjoying a renaissance.

This September John Crabbie & Co announced 2 new flavours: Scottish Raspberry with Ginger and Lemonade with Ginger and Bulmers have launched a new Ginger Cider in Australia. Procter’s Sausages produced the prized Champion ‘Essex Sausage’ based on a traditional recipe with Ginger and Mace flavourings running through it and Ginger Honey is now on sale at Morrisons.

For Christmas 2012 the Bakers and Patissiers Just Desserts have created a Fever Tree Ginger Beer Cheesecake and Sainsbury's have a Gingerbread Man Chocolate Cake as well as Gingerbread Dough Blocks (as do Tesco) and a Make Your Own Gingerbread House Kit (easier said than done!).

Hansel and Gretel

It's thought that Gingerbread Houses became popular in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their book of fairy tales which included "Hansel and Gretel" in 1812 but it's probable that Gingerbread Houses were being made long before this. In the 1600s Nuremberg in Germany, became known as the Gingerbread capital, thanks to the elaborate Gingerbread scenes, animals and figures – often decorated with gold leaf – made by the bakers of the city.

Queen Victoria, and her German-born husband Prince Albert, brought Gingerbread into fashion when they included it in with the other German Christmas traditions they adopted, like the Christmas tree, back in the 19th century. However Gingerbread has been popular in the UK since the 15th century. Many English villages had a tradition of young women eating Gingerbread men, or “husbands,” to ensure that they would soon be married. Often towns would have a Gingerbread fair – Market Drayton in Shropshire, is still famous for it, as is proudly displayed on their town’s welcome sign.

There are plenty of Gingerbread recipes for Christmas around: Jamie Oliver's Gingerbread and Sherry Trifle and Nigella Lawson's Gingerbread Stuffing but I really like the one for Gingerbread and Lime Cheesecake over at BBC GoodFood. I've simplified the recipe here and you can use Gingerbread Dough to make the base or crunch up Ginger Biscuits.

225g Ginger biscuits or Gingerbread - crushed
115g butter - melted
300g full fat soft cream cheese
250ml double cream
2 limes - juice and zest
4 tbsp Ginger syrup (you can buy stem Ginger in ginger syrup and use the stem Ginger to decorate the dish)

Crumble up the Gingerbread and mix with melted butter, then press hard into the base of a ring mould. Pop into the fridge to chill for an hour. Whip the cream and mix in the cream cheese, ginger syrup and lime juice. Add the stem ginger and lime zest. Spoon onto the Gingerbread base and spread. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours until firm.

Enjoy with sparkling wines that are aromatic, crisp and palate cleansing or dessert wines that are honeyed, spicy and rich. My choice would be a dry Cremant d'Alsace or Sauternes as they work well with pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Cava and late harvest Riesling or Ice Wine are also good pairings.