Cotswold Collections Journal

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Recipe Corner

    How to make your own Christmas wreath

    The traditional Christmas wreath has been revamped in a plethora of modern renditions, from snow white pompoms to novelty paper Brussel sprouts, there is such a huge variation on the market today!

    Why not add a personal touch and enjoy the craftsmanship of making your own this year? All you’ll need is a few household items, a couple of pieces of fruit and a bit of your own time and patience...

    What you’ll need:

    • An old metal coat hanger
    • Sphagnum moss (can be bought from your local garden centre or picked from your garden)
    • Florist binding wire
    • A mix of evergreen leaves from the garden or a few unneeded branches from your Christmas tree
    • Fruit, such as: Oranges, clementines, lemons, limes and chilli peppers.
    • Pine cones
    • Cinnamon sticks
    • Tartan ribbon (or a ribbon of your preference)

    1) If you would like to use dried fruit as decoration, you’ll need to transform them into dried fruit the day before you wish to make your wreath. Simply achieve this by baking the fruit on a low setting in the oven for a few hours. If you slice your fruit thinly, it will take less time to bake, although may not have quite as much of a visual impact that you’d like to achieve. We suggest a mixture of thinly cut pieces along with the whole piece of fruit with festive shapes cut into the peel. Alternatively, you can buy your dried fruit from craft shops.

    2) When your fruit decoration is ready and you wish to commence creating your own Christmas wreath, start by gently bending the wire coat hanger into a circle shape

    3) Take a handful of the moss and roll into an oblong shape. Then wrap this around the metal wire, tying it in place with the florist binding wire (remember not to pack it too tightly). When you complete the circle, simply cut the wire and twist the ends of the wire together.

    4) Cut whichever branches and leaves from the garden that you would like to include on your wreath. Any evergreens such as holly, ivy, eucalyptus, bay, rosemary, bay or box leaves will work well, perhaps even any branches that needed trimming from the Christmas tree. Once chosen, lay the bunches of greenery around the circle, all facing in the same direction, again twisting the florist wire around them to keep them in place.

    5) Wrap the florist wire around your decorations, tying a knot at the bottom of the decoration and leaving a long line of wire to stick into the moss, then fold it back on itself to grip it in place and ensuring the sharp end isn’t left exposed. If you’re attaching thin slices of fruit, it’s best to thread the wire through three pieces at once. Likewise, the cinnamon sticks look lovely when attached in sets of two or three.

    Add in your decorations to your own taste, whether that’s blooming with colour or the odd one here and there, it is entirely up to you but remember to leave space at the bottom for your bow.

    6) Add the finishing touch to your Christmas wreath by fastening the bow. It may take a couple of attempts to get this right, but we recommend attaching a tight wire in the middle of the ribbon to fix your bow to the moss in the same way you have with your other decorations.

    Have you made your own wreath before? Or will you be using our handy guide to make one this year? Let us know in the comments below…

    Pancakes from around the world

    Shrove Tuesday is an ancient custom that is deeply engrained with religious roots. Historically, families would have a feast of products they weren’t allowed during the following 40 days of lent, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs.

    Pancakes have become the iconic association and modern namesake of Shrove Tuesday as it was a simple recipe to use up the aforementioned ingredients.

    The UK and those in the Commonwealth refer to the event as Shrove Tuesday, whereas in France the celebration is known as Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday and it is this translation that has become the American term.

    Other than the traditional British lemon and sugar pancake, we’ve collected nine other recipes from around the world to inspire and delight you this Pancake day:

    American Pancakes:
    Often served with warm maple syrup and crispy fried bacon, pancakes from across the pond are much thicker although unbelievably light and fluffy! The secret to their consistency is the addition of baking powder (or bicarbonate of soda) which reacts with the buttermilk to produce bubbles.

    French crêpes:

    The opposite of the American pancake in appearance and consistency; the crêpe is very thin and can be either sweet or savoury depending on the filling.

    Scottish (scotch) pancakes:

    Scotch pancakes are also known as drop scones, so named from the process of dropping the batter into a hot pan. Typically, they are small, thick and covered in lashings of golden syrup and melted butter!

    Greek Tiganites:
    Slightly crispy on the outside with a soft doughnut texture on the inside, these Greek pancakes are typically served with honey, yoghurt and a sprinkle of nuts or they can be finished with grated cheese for a more savoury dish.

    Japanese Okonomiyaki:

    The name of the Japanese savoury pancake translates as ‘okonomi’, meaning "how you like" or "what you like", and ‘yaki’ meaning "cooked". Which makes sense as they are filled a variety of ingredients although a staple component is always cabbage.

    Australian Pikelets:
    Simply, these are the Australian take on the Scottish drop scone, but in Australia they are served as a snack, hence their smaller size.

    Indian Uttapam:

    A dish from southern India, the Uttapam is a thick pancake made from batter with the ingredients cooked into the mixture rather than being added after.

    Chinese Cong you bing
    Varying greatly to the western alternatives, Cong you bing (or scallion pancakes) are made from a dough instead of batter and they are cooked with spring onions (also known as scallions) in the mixture.

    We asked our team what they'll be topping their pancakes with this year and it seems we certainly have a sweet tooth! Most of us will be opting for the traditional lemon and sugar, although some fantastic suggestions have been made including nutella & strawberries, apple & cinnamon and gooseberries & ice cream! 

    This year Shrove Tuesday is on the 5th of March. We’d love to hear what pancakes you’ll be making and what you’ll be topping them with! Let us know in the comments…

    Stir-up Sunday

    Will you be making your Christmas pudding this Sunday?

    Stir-up Sunday is a centuries-old tradition that started in the Victorian era and is said to be named after the words of the Book of Common Prayer: "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people".

    Traditionally, the Christmas pudding mix is made on the last Sunday before Advent and is stirred from East to West to signify the journey of the Wise Men. Every member of the household would gather for the occasion and each take their turn to stir while making a wish. Originally, it contained 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his disciples, although the recipe has experienced significant adaptations over time. Historically, a charm was added to bring luck to whomever found it in their portion on Christmas Day. Which may have been a silver coin for wealth, a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage, and an anchor for safe harbour.

    Filled with fruit and a few tablespoons of liquor, Mary Berry’s Christmas Pudding is a perfect recipe for this year’s Stir-Up Sunday on November 25th.  Especially as the fruit will soak up the flavours of the alcohol to produce a delicious, flavourful and moist bake! Remember to keep a tablespoon or two of your preferred alcohol to drizzle over the pudding on Christmas Day.

    Find a delicious recipe here.

    Let us know in the comments if you’re planning on taking part in this tradition and what charm you like to add for good luck!

    Pumpkin Pie

    With the holiday season looming, why not get into the spirit of things with this delicious fuss-free seasonal recipe. This traditional American pie of sweet shortcrust pastry with lightly spiced squash makes a simple festive dish that looks good and will make a tasty treat for when you have visitors.

    Find a wonderful pumpkin pie recipe here. 

    Elderflower Cordial

    This is a wonderful recipe for the summer, with delicate elderflowers just coming into season and here for the next month. Easy to make and long-lasting, this sophisticated recipe will see you and your guests through balmy summer days ahead.

    Recipe courtesy of BBC Food. Images courtesy of &

    Scandi-Style Open Sandwiches

    This beautiful sunshine is a glorious reminder that summer is on its way! With the warmer weather, slaving over an oven for hours just isn't an appealing option, so we've found this delicious looking recipe for Scandi-style open sandwiches that are simple to make and taste even better al fresco in the sunshine...

    Find the recipe here >>


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    Frosted Ginger Cake with Crystallised Ginger

    With the return of The Great British Bake Off to our screens, we were starting to feel peckish, so we are thrilled to feature a recipe from award-winning food blogger Lavender and Lovage.

    Click here to read more recipes from Lavender and Lovage >

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    Recipe Corner: Gingerbread

    With Christmas just days away, we wanted to keep it simple with a fuss-free festive recipe. This gingerbread recipe ticks all the boxes - providing a simple festive treat that looks good and is great to store for when you have visitors. Either make your own icing or (we prefer this version) buy a ready-made icing tube to finish.

    Find this scrumptious recipe here 

    Share your favourite festive recipes with us by leaving a comment using the box below.

    For more recipes click here.

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    Recipe Corner: Individual Christmas Puddings

    This month has flown by and we have completely missed Stir Up Sunday but we like Christmas pudding and didn't want to neglect airing a good recipe for one. We chose this recipe from Waitrose as it uses simple ingredients, is vegetarian-friendly and better yet makes 8 individual puddings - perfect for unique Christmas gifts or to have over a week's supply for yourself, depending on your inclination.

    Find their recipe here 

    Do you have a favourite Christmas pudding recipe? If so we'd love to hear it. Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.

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    Recipe Corner: Nadiya's Honey & Date Tea Loaf

    Here, in the Cotswold Collections office, the Great British Bake Off is very popular. This week we would like to share a recipe with you from last year’s winner, Nadiya Hussain. Feeling inspired by Bread Week last Wednesday, we happened across this recipe when visiting a friend, who gave us some to sample with a cup of tea and we can say that not only does it taste great, it is also easy to make.

    Find her delicious recipe here

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