Welcome to the November/December 2012
Newsletter, the last for 2012. I was contemplating doing a Christmas special
newsletter however, there is so much on the main website about Christmas
that I've decided just to outline the numerous pages and sections for your
convenience when you are ready . . . it's a bit too early for me.
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I seem to be picking on recipes which have
very happy memories from my youth for this section. Last time it was crepes
suzette, this time it's an equally impressive dish which was
also flambéed at the table-side in restaurants during the 60's
and 70's. Mmmmm, not quite sure what that says about me !
Anyway, Steak Diane is a
dish made from
good quality steak which is beaten down so it's not too thick,
quickly fried then served in a creamy sauce which has been
flambéed with cognac.
The whole thing only takes around 15 minutes to make,
including all the prep.
The recipe takes its name from Diana, the Roman goddess
of the hunt, and was traditionally a sauce to be served with
wild venison. Exactly when and where it originated isn't really
known although the name "Steak Diane" (as opposed to steak à la
Diane) was first written about by the great chef
Escoffier in 1907.
Although the ingredients sound lavish, because it is quite rich,
smaller portions are will be adequate so you'll only need small
steaks - say 175g/6oz per person. A tip from me - please do not
use margarine or butter substitutes . . .
. . and the Worcestershire sauce is a must. I promise you, you
won't be sorry. Click the picture for the full recipe.
What's in Season in
to see what's in season and to find a UK
Farmers' Market near you. There are Lots of
seasonal recipes too
picture to find this month's weekday menus
to help you plan your meals and shopping
weeks ahead. Each weekday has a main
course, suggested vegetable side dishes and
accompaniments plus a dessert, which have
been planned to supply you with a balanced
diet. It's also been designed so that you
can interchange one day's menu with another
in the same grouping
4th November is National Stuffing
Day. With food prices set to rise worldwide whether it
be due to drought, flood or lack of sunshine, now is a good
time to think of ways to reduce costs of meals without
scrimping on flavour, quality or quantity. Stuffings are the ideal
candidate to solve these problems. Many people will
immediately think of stuffing chicken or turkey, but there
are many other foods which can be cooked with a stuffing.
Certainly in the UK, many types of
fish have become quite expensive, so these are prime
candidates for being stuffed. Below are three recipe
ideas for stuffing fish - whole, cutlets and fillets. When
stuffing fish, it's best to bake them in the oven so there's
no need to interfere with them during cooking which will
help ensure the stuffing stays in place.
fish is easy to stuff as once cleaned
and gutted, it has a natural receptacle
for holding all manner of ingredients
such as vegetables, rice, couscous etc.
cutlets can also be stuffed easily as
the basic shape lends itself to
being wrapped around the stuffing.
Depending on the fish, these are
sometimes called steaks or darnes.
Stuffing fillets is also an
easy thing to do, especially when it comes to flat fish
fillets such as plaice, dabs, flounder or sole, which are
often quite thin and pliable.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
175g/6oz mushrooms, sliced
1 small Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp freshly chopped Parsley
salt and pepper
Fry the bacon,
onions and mushrooms in the butter then
mix in the parsley, salt and pepper and
use to stuff whole fish e.g. trout, sea
25g/1 oz Butter
1 small onion, chopped
8 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 teasp chopped Thyme leaves
1 tbsp grated
2 tbsp milk
Fry the onion in
the butter until soft then add the
remaining ingredients and mix well.
Divide between 4 fish cutlets e.g. cod,
Mix all the
ingredients together. Spread over fish
fillets, roll up and secure with wooden
toothpicks. Goes particularly well with
sole or plaice and perfect for
Something fishy is going on
for the stuffing
article above, it became apparent to me
that the names for different cuts of
fish have become a little muddled in
recent years, especially when it comes
to commonly sold cuts such as fillets.
have been caught out on a couple of
occasions recently when I ordered
fish online from Tesco, therefore having
to rely on descriptions and photos on
their website. As you
can see from the picture, Tesco calls
this cut "fillets". This is
incorrect although what
they actually delivered were fillets in the true
sense, i.e. a flatter, wider cut which
tapered down and obviously came from the
tail end. All well and good, but
totally not what I wanted for a
particular recipe I had in mind.
The cut on the
left should be labelled "Suprêmes" which
is the proper name for a a boneless
cross-section piece of fish taken
from a larger fish fillet.
waters - what's the difference between a
steak, fillet steak, and a cutlet or between a dressed fish and
For the answers to
all these and more questions, visit the
Fish Cuts Page
which I've just set up. It's got lots of
photos and descriptions. There's also a
Types of Fish
which may be of interest.
you name these cuts/preparations of
1st - 7th
November is National Fig Week and 4th
November is Leftovers Day
me make this unusual salad using fresh figs
simmered in a sweet spiced syrup which
goes perfectly with the prosciutto and
leftover chicken. Of course, you don't have
to use leftovers - it's worth cooking
some chicken specially for this delicious
For more information about figs including origins,
history, buying, storing and nutritional information
and for lots more recipes using all sorts of
leftovers visit the
Leftovers Recipe Page
2 in 1 . . .
Remember remember the fifth of
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot...
When we were kids,
my brother and I couldn't wait for it to
get dark so my dad could start letting
off the fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night
(also known as bonfire night or
fireworks night in the UK). It was the same
for many people who had their
own fireworks in the back garden.
Today many forgo having personal
fireworks in favour of public displays,
but there's no reason why you can't
celebrate at home, even without a
bonfire. It's a great excuse for a
party, and I've got the ideal recipe to
serve at an autumn/winter gathering so
it goes off with a bang.
Coincidentally, it's British Sausage
week from 5th November too.
Sausage, Potato & Bean Casserole
braised in a tomato and paprika sauce with cannellini beans and potatoes.
This serves 4 but can easily be doubled or tripled so long as you
have a big enough saucepan. Click the picture for the full
a type of very cheap firework which didn't
really do much except make a loud noise
which scared both humans and animals alike.
Thank goodness they are now banned in the UK
also known as bangers because of the
tendency for lower quality versions which
have a high water content to burst with a
bang whilst being cooked.
For those of you
who aren't familiar with the history, in
1605 Guy Fawkes and 12 other men,
hatched a plot to blow up the houses of
parliament in order to kill the king
by stockpiling gunpowder in the
undercroft beneath the House of
Lords. They got caught and were
An act of
parliament designated 5th November a day
of thanksgiving for the life of the
king, when bonfires would be lit in
celebration. From the 1650s onwards the
bonfires were accompanied with fireworks
and more revelry and effigies of Guy
Fawkes would be placed on the top of the
Will we have an Indian
summer? Find a fantastic range of properties to suit all
requirements. Ideal you are looking for a short break
cottage in England, farmhouses in Wales, holiday homes in
Scotland, apartments in Ireland or longer breaks at gîtes in
France plus other European destinations
Day, sometimes colloquially called "Turkey
Day" is a national holiday celebrated on the
fourth Thursday in November in the USA and
is one of its biggest national celebration
days of the year. This year it falls on the
Below are links to
recipes for some traditional foods eaten for
a Thanksgiving dinner
Recipe of the Month -
Roast Leg of Pork with Sage & Stuffing Onions
As November is roasting
month, here's a delicious recipe by celebrity Masterchef
finalist Liz McClarnon courtesy of
Serves : Allow 100-175g (4-6oz) raw meat per
Cooking time : About 30 mins per 450g/½kg (1lb)
plus 30 mins (medium)
Lean pork leg joint, boned and rolled
15ml (1tbsp) Olive oil
4 Medium onions
5ml (1tsp) Butter
2 Large sprigs fresh sage, roughly
450g (1lb) Premium pork and apple
sausages slit skins and remove meat
Preheat oven to Gas 4-5, 180°C, 350°F.
Take the joint and calculate the cooking time using
timing above. Dry the rind and score deeply using a
sharp knife. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with
salt. Place on a rack in a roasting tin and open roast
in a preheated oven for the calculated time (no basting
or covering or you will have soft ‘crackling’).
Cut the onions in half horizontally and using a spoon
scoop out some of the layers leaving 2-3 in the shell.
Roughly chop the removed onion. In a pan, heat butter
and lightly fry onion. Remove from heat and allow to
cool slightly. Add the sage and sausage meat and combine
Take a handful of mixture and stuff into onion shells.
40-50 minutes before the joint has finished cooking prop
up the onion shells around the joint, drizzle with a
little olive oil and cook until onion is soft and fully
golden and the joint juices run clear or the internal
temperature reaches 70°C. Once cooked allow the joint to
stand for 10 minutes before carving, allowing the juices
Serve pork sliced with roast potatoes, parsnips, stuffed
onions and crispy fried sage leaves.
winter food newsletter wouldn't be complete without at least one soup recipe,
but which one? There are a few soup related food celebrations in November
and December including split pea week (2nd week in November), and
National Bouillabaisse Day on 14th December however I have decided to
feature a soup which has its celebration day on 18th November though to be
honest, I'm not sure why as it's traditionally served cold. There again, it
must be summer somewhere in the world?
is one of those soups many people will have heard
of. It is made with leeks, potatoes, cream,
and stock and whilst it is traditionally served cold, it can also be
served hot. I'm not a keen lover of cold soups, but this is one I'd eat any day.
wondering why this particular soup is so well known considering its very
humble ingredients, so I did some digging around, only to find that most
of the claims to its invention were nothing particularly remarkable. Indeed, its
origins are not only subject to much debate, with some saying it's French and
some saying it's American, but even the inventors and circumstances
under which it was created aren't particularly noteworthy.
I came across a much more interesting story which told of King Louis XV of
France (1710 – 1774) being totally paranoid that people were constantly
trying to poison him, insisted that all his food was tasted by several
servants before he would eat it. Although hot leek and potato soup was
one of his favourites, by the time it had passed all the tasters, it was
cold. The king finally decided that he actually preferred it that way.
Other claims include:-
hot version called Potage Parmentier after Antoine Auguste Parmentier,
was invented after the Seven Year War (1756 to 1763) when he set up
potato soup kitchens throughout Paris after he returned from a
prisoner of war camp to find people starving
French chef Jules Gouffé
published a hot version in Royal Cookery in 1869
An article written in 1950 stated that Chef Louis Diat of the Ritz
Carlton in New York claimed to have created it in 1917 in tribute to his
mother who cooked a hot version which he would cool down by adding cold
milk. That article also stated that the soup was originally called
Crème Vichyssoise Glacée and that it was named after the town of Vichy
in France. Just as an aside there was an attempt by some patriotic
chefs to change the name to "Creme
Gauloise Glacee" during World War II after the set up of the Nazi
collaborating government in the town of Vichy in 1940. Obviously,
the new name didn't stick.
Although it's basically a very simple soup consisting of just 5 main
ingredients, there are three important points to remember if you want to
serve the perfect Vichyssoise:-
1. Seasoning is key so it's important to taste the soup before chilling to
ensure it's not bland
2. The texture should be very very
smooth and about the consistency of a thick pouring double cream
3. It should be well
chilled beforehand but not served too cold as the delicate flavours would be
lost on the palate
Apart from that, the actual cooking is simplicity itself. Here's the recipe
plus a video I recently filmed showing exactly how to make it. Don't forget,
you can serve it hot too.
Serves 2 Prep & Cook time: 35 mins plus chilling
2 Medium sized Leeks, white parts only, washed and thinly sliced
1 large Potato, peeled and sliced
240ml/8fl.oz Fresh Stock (Chicken or Vegetable)
Salt and White Pepper
120ml/4fl.oz Double Cream
Fresh Chives or parsley to garnish
Place the leeks, potatoes, milk, stock, salt and white pepper in a medium
saucepan. Bring to simmering point over a medium-high heat. Once at a
rolling simmer, reduce the heat, cover and continue to cook gently for 15-20 minutes
or until the potato is very tender.
2. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool, stirring for a couple of
minutes then either transfer to a blender or purée in the saucepan using a hand held
immersion blender. Aim for as smooth a purée as you can get – it’s worth
spending a little time on this.
3.Once it’s smooth, stir in the cream. Taste and add more salt and white
pepper if necessary, then in order to get the ultra smooth texture required,
pass the soup through a fine meshed sieve into a clean bowl or jug.
4. If necessary, thin the soup down a little by adding a little more cream
or milk so it’s the consistency of a thickish pouring double cream, mix
well, cover and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator
and chill for at least 2 hours.
To serve - Remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving then
transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the snipped chives.
In My Kitchen
I have a beautiful
pair of old fashioned balance scales
which has a bronze weighing bowl and
looks rather fetching on the worktop. Trouble is both
the scales and the weights are quite
heavy and I have been finding it
increasingly tiring to use them.
I am one of those
people who watches most cooking programs
on TV and I kept seeing small, sleek,
flat digital weighing scales where the
chefs just put their mixing bowls on the
platform, and weighed all their
ingredients with the touch of a button.
So, when I came across this set of
digital scales on Amazon, I thought what
the heck and as they were under £10, and
ordered them for next day delivery.
True to their
word, it was delivered the next day but
my initial thoughts were "wow - this is
a really small light package". I
was even more surprised at the weight and size
when I unpackaged it. No I hadn't bothered to
check the dimensions online. Its around around 8 inches
square x 25mm/1-inch deep and extremely
It has a large clear LCD
display, a one touch metric/imperial conversion,
with an intelligent auto switch off to prolong
battery life (included) and copes with weights from 1g to
3kg. The zero function is really simple to
use and a boon when weighing multiple ingredients
in the same bowl. You just place the bowl on the
scales, set it to zero and add the first
ingredient until the correct weight shows. Press
the button again so it goes back to zero then
add the next ingredient to the correct weight
and so on and so on. Easy peasy and no more
transferring weighed ingredients to the mixing
Weighing is very precise
which is perfect for cakes etc., and you can
even weigh foods directly on the platform if you
want as it's very easy to wipe clean.
By far the easiest, probably the most
accurate and certainly the lightest/smallest set
of scales I have ever used and I'm very glad to
have finally joined the 21st century.
Vegan Month, 21st
November is Gingerbread Day and
15th December is National Cupcake Day.
Here's a recipe which covers all
three food celebrations.
Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes
With a Lemon Glace Icing topping
30mins plus cooling
100g/4oz dark Muscavado Sugar
3 tbsp Black Treacle
4 tbsp Golden Syrup
90ml/3fl.oz. Vegetable Oil
1 teasp lemon juice
2 teasp ground ginger
teasp mixed spice
150ml/5 fl.oz. Coconut Milk
200g/7oz self-raising Flour
1/2 teasp Baking Powder For the icing
50g/2oz Icing Sugar
Approx 2 teasp Lemon Juice
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5
and place 12 cupcake cases in a 12-hole
patty or muffing tin. Place the sugar,
treacle, golden syrup, oil, lemon juice and
spices in a pan, place over a low heat and
stir until well blended and thick.
2. Remove from the heat, stir in the coconut
milk and mix well for a few minutes until
slightly cooled and well blended.
3. Sift in the baking powder and flour and
beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
4. Fill the muffin cases about ¾ full and
bake for around 16-20 minutes, until a
wooden toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
5. Once the cakes are completely cold, make
the icing by placing the icing sugar in a
mixing bowl then add the lemon juice and mix
until smooth. Place in a piping bag /tube
fitter with a small plain nozzle and
decorate. Leave to set for an hour or so
Food celebrations in December include:-
2nd National Fritters Day
6th Microwave Oven Day
9th National Pastry Day
10th National Lager Day
13th National Cocoa Day
14th National Bouillabaisse Day
15th National Cupcake Day
17th Maple Syrup Day
21st California Kiwifruit Day
24th Eggnog Day
25th Christmas Day
27th National Fruitcake Day
How much is a stick of butter in metric and
stick of butter is an American unit equivalent to :-
100g / 4oz / ¼ lb
By volume it equals ½
cup or 8 tablespoons
Food in the News . . .
Time spent chewing food important for
satiety, study suggests
The amount of time spent chewing food could
have an important impact on feelings of
fullness – calling into question the
suitability of beverages for increasing
satiety, according to a new Nestlé-sponsored
9th December is Pastry day, I thought I'd feature a
pastry which seems to be a rarely made at home nowadays.
Suet pastry is a traditional British pastry which is
generally lighter, more elastic and more robust than
shortcrust, making it perfect for holding fillings with less
Although suet pastry can be used in
baked recipes such as baked roly poly's where it is rolled
out, spread with a sweet or savoury filling then rolled up
like a Swiss roll and baked, or as a pie or tart/flan
crust it is is probably best known for use in recipes which
are steamed or boiled as, unlike other types of
pastry, it won't disintegrate under damp conditions.
The end result is a light, soft casing with an
exquisite texture and flavour.
Filled Steamed Puddings
It gets its name from its use of suet
which is the fat from around the kidneys of a cow and
although it gives a unique taste, strangely enough, it
doesn't impart any meaty flavour to the finished dish
whatsoever. For those of you who are vegetarian,
it is possible to buy vegetarian "lite" suet which makes a
good substitute, so now everyone can make this
is the use of this fat which makes the difference in this
pastry mainly due to the fact that it melts much more slowly
than other fats used in pastry making, which means the
structure of the pastry starts to set before the fat has
melted which leaves little air pockets in the dough leading
to a lighter end result.
Another factor in creating such a
light pastry is that the fat is not rubbed into the flour as
it's already shredded into very small pieces, so all that is
needed is to stir the dry ingredients together.
I think suet pastry is one of the
easiest pastry's to make as there's no rubbing in, hardly
any kneading and because the dough is relatively soft,
rolling it out is also effortless, so even if you feel
you are not a good pastry cook, I would urge you to try to
make suet crust pastry as it's so simple. Here's how to do
1 teasp Salt
Cold Water to
mix (about 150ml/5fl.oz.)
1. Sift the
flour and salt into a large mixing
bowl then add the suet and stir with
a knife until well distributed.
half the water and using a knife,
start mixing using a figure of 8
3. Continue to
add the water a little at a time,
until the dough is soft, slightly
stick and starting to come together.
4. Bring it
together with your hand then turn
onto a well floured work surface and
knead very lightly for a couple of
minutes until smooth, and
elastic. The suet shreds will still
Best used at
Suet Crust Pastry
If you don't
you can use
however you must
powder - 1
such as oregano,
parsley or thyme
as chilli powder
depending on the
adding a small
amount of sugar,
grated lemon or
Use a mixture of
flour and half
Adding an egg to
pastry makes the
Always use half
suet to flour
when making suet
Try to use suet
crust pastry at
for best results
the oven when
needs to be rolled out before being
steamed, boiled or baked. The
thickness depends on the recipe for
which it is being used:-
Roll out to :-
12mm/½ -inch for large pie crusts or
to line pudding basins, or
6mm/¼-inch and 12mm/½ -inch for
individual pasties and flan bases.
information about buying and storing
suet pastry, details of how much
suet pastry to make
plus recipes using suet pastry visit
Suet Pastry Page.
Focus on . . .
Almond Paste (Marzipan)
As I mentioned above,
tend to watch a lot of cooking programs on TV,
so you can imagine how mortified I was when I
watched a recent BBC Saturday Kitchen episode
where a vote was taken to cook a
celebrity's idea of "food hell" - a plum tart which included homemade marzipan. I had
made a similar recipe a couple of months ago using
some plums I had grown but which unfortunately weren't
that juicy. It gave me the idea to write this editorial, especially as almond paste
is popular at this time of year. As it was, I
needn't have fretted.
only was there so much meaningless jabbering
going on that one could have easily missed how
to make it (even when I re-played it on the BBC
I-player, I still found it unclear) but for some reason, James Martin called for
boiling sugar and water to a certain temperature
before adding it to the ground almonds - totally
unnecessary for marzipan being used in this sort of recipe. The
only time you need to "cook" marzipan is when
making sweets or decorations which will need a
lot of handling. So lucky me, I can go
ahead with this article knowing I'm not
duplicating anything recently shown on TV.
Before I go any further, I'd just like to
confirm that in this article the names
marzipan and almond paste are
If you've never eaten homemade almond paste then you don't
know what you're missing. I'm not that keen on ready made marzipan, including
the type found on fruit cakes, because to me, they taste (and look) very
artificial. However, home made almond paste is a totally different affair: quite
soft, rich and almondy without being too overpowering.
Better still, it's very easy to make, consisting of only 6
ingredients which are basically all mixed together, it only takes 10 minutes and
it can be used in various ways. If you only ever thing of marzipan as the thing
covering fruit cakes then you may be surprised at the following uses:-
to around 1cm/½-inch thickness
to cover rich fruit cakes before icing
Can be used to stuff dates
Can be used as an ingredient to make biscuits
Can be used as a type of frangipane base in fruit desserts
Can be moulded into shapes to create confectionery
- use a little more icing sugar to
create a firmer paste
It can be coloured
and used to make decorations for cakes
such as green for holly leaves or red
for berries. Once again, adding a little
more icing sugar will make it easier to
It can be
flavoured with rose water for a slightly
different taste or with added almond
essence for extra almond flavour
Can be rolled very
thinly to cover small individual cakes
such as fondant fancies however add more
icing sugar to get a firmer paste
For more hints and tips visit the
Almond Paste Recipe Page
but in the meantime, here's the dessert recipe I referred to above which uses
almond paste. You can use most stone fruit for this recipe.
1. Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F, Gas Mark 7. Roll the pastry out thinly (about
6mm/ 1/4 -inch thick), cut into 4 squares or circles and place on a non-stick baking sheet.
2. Divide the almond paste into 4, roll each portion into a
square slightly smaller than the pastry squares and place each
on top of
3. Slice the plums halves lengthways into wedges and arrange them on top of
the marzipan, leaving a border of pastry around the edge.
4. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and a
good coating of sugar and bake for 20
minutes until golden and caramelised.
Food and Recipes
There are many foods which are at their best during the winter months - December
to February in the UK. Game birds and other poultry such as goose
are at their best as well as certain nuts such as chestnuts and walnuts as well
as traditional winter fruits such as cranberries. Click the banner above to find
lots of winter season produce but in the meantime, below are three of my
favourite winter season recipes
Fresh Cranberries and cooked with white wine and sweet spices
then used to braise fresh pears.
What is Christmas without dates
If you are used to those sticky ones sold in
boxes with a long plastic prong to remove them, you
simply must try
some magnificent Medjool dates .
They are deliciously sweet without
all that stickiness, entirely natural, rich in fibre
and virtually fat free.
Bite for bite, Medjool dates contain more potassium
than a banana. They’re also classified as a ‘good
carb’, which means they provide the perfect energy
boost, whilst helping to keep blood sugar stable and
your appetite in check.
Better still, just two Medjool dates count as one
portion of your 5-a-day.
Although we associate dates with Christmas,
Medjool dates are available all year round and the rich flavour of Medjool dates ranges from
honey-like richness to brown-sugary sweetness, with
hints of caramel and the subtlest trace of cinnamon, makes them an ideal alternative to sweets,
chocolate and biscuits. They are also excellent used
in both sweet and savoury recipes.
12 Medjool dates
12 Walnuts halved
Approx. 1 teasp of cream cheese per date
1. Make a deep slice down the centre of each date,
being careful not to completely separate each half
and remove the stones
2. Fill the dates generously with the cream cheese
and place half a walnut on top
3. Press the dates gently to give them their
133kcal, 1g protein, 18g carbohydrate of which 16g
sugars, 2g fibre, 7g fat of which 3g saturates,
Countdown to Christmas . . . . .
Here are some tasks you should consider starting
now to ensure a stress-free holiday period. It may seem to
early, but you'll be glad of the extra time you'll have in
2nd week in November
If you want to get a fresh turkey or goose you'd do well to
order it now as you may be surprised at how quickly stocks
run out, especially free-range and organic birds.
Click here to find out
size turkeyyou'll need.
3rd week in November
Make your Christmas puddings
early. The aim is to re-boil/steam then for a couple of
hours every two weeks or so, which results in an incredibly
dark rich pudding. Why not try one of these
If you want to make a traditional cake
with marzipan and icing, ideally, once you've covered the cake
with the marzipan, you should wait a week before icing - longer
if you wish and once iced, it will last
for weeks in a cake tin. Click here for a
Traditional Christmas Cake recipe.
1st week in December
Continue re-boiling home made
Christmas puddings once every 2 weeks
Now's the last chance to marzipan your cake
if you haven't already done so.
Now's a good time to
make your own mincemeat especially if you find
shop-bought varieties too sweet or not to your
2nd week in
There may still be enough time to
order your turkey but don't delay. Many specialist suppliers are
sold out by now especially if you want the delicious Bronze
or free range birds.
Now's a good time to
stock up on items such as extra wide aluminium foil,
wooden cocktail sticks, festive linen or paper
napkins, crackers and any bakeware items you may
need such as large roasting tins and baking trays.
Ice your cake
3rd week in
Now's the last chance to
ice your cake.
Last re-boiling of home made
Christmas puddings before the day.
There's still time
to make your own mincemeat.
Now's the time to buy
in less perishable items such as potatoes,
parsnips, chestnuts, nuts, streaky bacon etc. Don't
leave it until Christmas week to avoid
Take an hour out, put
your feet up and make a list of all the remaining
things to do. Include things like making mince pies,
planning meals on Christmas eve, Christmas day
and Boxing day.
If you've followed
the above, the only things left to do are collect
the turkey and buy last minute perishables such as
cream and green vegetables.
how to cook the perfect turkey with all the trimmings, including
preparation, quantities, timings, trimmings and full menu. Plus a printable time plan
with tick boxes
Serving your special festive food and
Whether you are having a
formal dinner, an informal lunch or a party, you are bound to find
information and inspirational ideas on one of our pages which
focus on table settings, parties and napkin folding.
Winter Warmer drinks
(Serve in cups with a handle as the vessel will get very
Winter Berries Mulled Wine
1 bottle of dry white wine (we recommend a
70ml Belvoir Spiced Berry Cordial
400ml Cloudy Apple Juice
1 Cinnamon stick
Peel of 1/2 an orange
Gently simmer all ingredients in a saucepan on
low heat and serve in short glasses or mugs
Should serve 7 glasses
15 ml Belvoir Apple and Ginger Cordial
3 wedges of lemon squeezed
150ml boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
2 thin slices root ginger
35ml Scotch whisky (blended whisky if available)
Add all ingredients into a cup with a handle and
allow to steep for 30 seconds. Ensure you
squeeze the juice from all three wedges into the
cup but only drop one squeezed lemon wedge in to
the drink, discard the other two. Stir well and
garnish with the sprayed zest of an orange peel
and lemon rind if available. Add more cordial or
lemon juice to meet individual tastes.
best of UK produce online - even unusual or hard-to-find
Christmas food shopping has never been easier !
Recipe of the Month -
Roast Butternut squash
with thyme and whole roasted bulbs of garlic
is wonderful roasted - especially with the lovely
rich flavour of goose fat. The outside of the squash
will take on a lovely golden colour, leaving the
flesh soft and rich.
1 butternut squash
2 bulbs of garlic
1 large bunch of thyme
1 tsp sea salt
Lots of pepper
4 tbsp goose fat
Prep and Cooking
time 45 minutes
1. Preheat an oven to 220c. With a knife
cut the squash in half lengthwise and
scoop out all the seeds.
2. Then cut the squash into 1 inch
pieces and place in a large bowl. Cut
the bulbs of garlic into half, cutting
across the cloves, and add these to the
3. Add the sprigs of thyme, the salt and
lots of freshly ground pepper. Heat the
goose fat and pour it into the bowl,
mixing everything together.
4. Pour the contents of the bowl into a
deep roasting tin and spread it out
evenly. Roast in the oven for 30
minutes or until golden.
Delicious served as a side with roast chicken
and a range of other dishes. .
In the Kitchen
Do you remember earlier this
year I mentioned that I
really wanted to have a go at growing rock
samphire in my garden, especially as it is
an "in" ingredient but difficult to obtain?
In the last post I
wrote about it, I had ordered and sown
the seed in pots which I started off
indoors as I was very late with it. They
took around 4 weeks to germinate as was
mentioned on the seed packet, and I
finally moved them outdoors in early
July even though they were growing
really really slowly. In fact, I
thought they weren't going to make it.
I then more or less left
them to their own devices. It was such a
terrible summer, I didn't even bother watering
them much, but by mid August they had put on a
bit of growth so I decided to pot them up as I
had originally sown 3 or 4 seeds per
As Samphire naturally grows on
cliff tops, in rocks or in shingle, I half filled
7.5cm/3-inch pots with small stones, topped them up
with a mix of compost and ordinary garden soil and
transplanted the seedlings 1 per pot. They chugged
on by themselves without much looking after and now
seem to be doing very well. Here's a picture I took
on 31st October. This plant is about
I haven't decided how to pot
them up again although it will definitely be in
spring and probably into 15cm/6-inch pots
which are mostly filled with stones. I'm quite
excited about it!
A reminder of the blurb which
was on the packet
Samphire Crithmum maritimum
av 45 seeds
Crithmum maritimum - Rock Samphire, Sea Fennel,
Sea Samphire flowers from June to August. Leaves and
seed pods are used, leaves used in salads and
pickled in vinegar and spices, or often cooked in
butter. The plant has a reputation for helping
weight loss. Medicinally used for treating obesity
and kidney complaints also aids digestion. Sow seed
in cold frame autumn or spring, lightly cover the
seed, grow on in pots and plant out in the summer.
Prefers a dry well drained soil in full sun
sheltered from cold winds, benefits from a salty
soil. Habitat grows in rock crevices, rocky shores,