Venison Sausage Casserole with Lentils

This is a dish that fits a number of different occasions.  I’d happily serve this up on a weeknight or at a kitchen supper for friends.  It’s special because it uses venison with its deep earthy flavours sweetened with port and red currant jelly yet it is undemanding as it does to its own thing as a one pot wonder when you are rushed for time.

Venison is a wonderful meat and, in sausage form, not expensive. You want to allow at least two sausages per person depending on how fat the sausages are. The ones I used were really plump ones from a butcher but you can get them in slightly skinnier form from most supermarkets –   either way they are delicious

The lentils,  carrots and shallots add to the autumnal flavours as do the aromatic herbs and the spicy gin notes of the juniper berries.  The port and stock that form the sauce round of the dish and make it feel very indulgent and special    This is a dish that packs in maximum flavour for minimum effort! Continue reading

Pumpkin Soup, Egg and Chorizo

There is something about the velvety sweetness of this pumpkin soup that really sets off the spicy chorizo and soft poached egg.  It becomes a complete supper dish rather than just a delicious warming soup.  If you swap the toppings the soup can be used as a base for vegans and vegetarians.  Try adding  some tofu pieces fried with paprika and oil on top for vegans or for vegetarians poached egg sprinkled with a cloud of paprika over the top    It really is a perfect dish for when you have a group that has different dietary needs!

 

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Christmas Figgy Pudding

This is a Christmas Pudding without suet or added refined sugar.   It uses butter and date syrup/molasses instead   To be honest I don’t think that this makes Christmas Pudding more healthy but it tastes delicious and maybe you will feel these tweaks make it better for you   I alternate between my grandmothers recipe (which has suet and added sugar)  – Stir-up Sunday Part One Christmas Pudding and this one.  This year we will have two people round the table who are diabetic so maybe this recipe will allow them to have a little bit without feeling too guilty.

This recipe has the figs so often left out nowadays and always reminds me of the song, We wish you a merry Christmas, and in particular the verse “So bring out the figgy pudding”  To add to the old-fashioned feel I always add charms and, this year an old threepence and silver sixpence (washed and wrapped in baking parchment).  It adds to the excitement I think, for grown-ups and youngsters alike!    I make a variety of different sizes of puddings as so often a small homemade pudding is a great gift for couples or for those who go away to family/friends for lunch on the day and have no leftovers.  Cold pudding is wonderful fried up in lot of butter for Boxing Day breakfast or crumbled into softened icecream to make Christmas Icecream Continue reading

Sloe Gin and Cranberry Jellies with Syllabub

I think that people fall into two camps – those that love jelly and those that don’t   It’s a bit like people and marmite   Very divisive

This is a grown up jelly and converts the jelly haters into jelly lovers.   It’s also a great way to show off the sloe gin or plum Shrub (Plum Shrub Fruit Liqueurs – Part 1 ) you’ve made.  If you haven’t got around to making any don’t worry, you can make this using port or any shop bought sloe gin.  It’s fantastic should you want a lighter pudding but one that still packs a flavour punch   It looks fantastic and very sophisticated and tastes delicious

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Quince and Cardamon Mincemeat

Last year I posted a recipe for Home-made Christmas Mincemeat and was asked whether it was possible to make mincemeat without using suet.  At the time I suggested replacing suet with butter which works very well.    Last week I was reading Nigel Slater’s recently published “The Christmas Chronicles” (a great book and a wonderful Christmas gift idea for anyone interested in cooking) when I came across a recipe for quince mincemeat jumped out at me.  It doesn’t use suet – or any fat at all – so not only would it be ideal for those who don’t want to use suet but it would be great for vegans too.  I have to admit that I have poached the quince differently to that in Mr Slater’s recipe as I think using spices in the poaching liquid gives a better flavour and allows you to use the cooked quinces in many different ways but, other than that, the rest is the same. The recipe for my  Poached Quinces is here

It is true that this recipe doesn’t result in a traditional mincemeat in so far as it’s more the consistency of a conserve.  There is a real plus if you make this though, as you can not only use it as a filling for mince pies but it also works well as an accompaniment to cheese and cold cuts Continue reading

Poached Quinces

I have a quince tree in the garden that my mother bought me 20 years ago   It holds a very special place in my heart as it was the last thing she gave me before she died.  If you have never tasted a quince it is a fruit that has to be cooked and tastes like a cross between the best apple and the best pear you can imagine.  Maybe the most popular and famous recipe that quince is used for is membrillo – the Spanish quince paste that is frequently eaten alongside manchego cheese.

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Old Fashioned Treacle Tart

I seem to be obsessing about puddings right now   Unusual for me as I don’t have a very sweet tooth.  I can’t keep blaming the change of weather but there is something about Autumn that begs for warming stews and “proper puddings”  as my husband would call them (he is definitely obsessed with puddings).   Just the thing to come home to after a walk or have with a Sunday lunch   In fact I think proper puddings are made for Sunday lunches…….then again this Treacle Tart is also very good to have sliced with a cup of tea

Treacle Tart is one of those proper puddings.  It’s a wonderfully British and rather old-fashioned pudding which, if homemade, isn’t as cloyingingly sweet as commercial ones. In fact I would go so far as to say that if you make this it will make you think again about what Treacle Tart is really like. The bread gives it a nutty texture – particularly if you use sourdough or wheaten breadcrumbs – and the zest and juice of a lemon balances the sweetness of the golden syrup and honey. I like it to serve it with a little greek yoghurt or cream but icecream, double cream or lashings of custard do very well too. Continue reading

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