Monthly Archives: November 2016

Plum and Walnut Crumble Tart

So many people tell me that they can’t make pastry.   Well this is recipe is a tart all made with a crumble mix that anyone can make.  That toasty, nutty smell as it comes out the oven will have everyone wanting a piece and it’s agony waiting for ten minutes so it’s cool enough to cut.

The pastry and the crumble are made out of the same mix that you blitz together in the food processor and some of it pressed into a tart tin to make the pastry and the rest is then sprinkled on top of the fruit filling for the crumble.

I have chosen plum and walnut for this version because it feels very autumnal but you could ring the changes and swap combos about a bit. For summer say apricot and almond?  Or how about apple and pecan for winter?!  Serve the tart with cream, custard or icecream (or all three lol) and watch everyone devour it!! Continue reading

Leek and Bean Soup

Autumn always makes me think of soup.  I think it’s that whole image of windy, leaf strewn days that I have in my subconscious that makes me want to warm my hands round a big mug of warming soup.  Makes me feel all cosy and well, happy – after all soup is one of the most comforting things known to man.  It makes the perfect autumnal lunch served with some crusty bread and is pretty easy to make.

The beans in this soup are a mix of butter beans and cannelini beans.   I used tinned beans for ease but of course you can cook up dried beans ready to use if you have the time.  The beans make for a really velvety, tasty soup.  Quick to make in terms of actual work and easy to do. In a flask it’s perfectly portable for those walks with the dogs and just as easy to reheat if you prefer to wait to have it when you return home.  Perfect if you have been gardening and want an easy lunch.    It freezes beautifully too so it’s an all round winner. Continue reading

Stir-up Sunday Part Two Christmas Cake

I never have room for Christmas Cake on the day itself but it is an essential treat for the rest of the Christmas holidays and looks wonderful and inviting on the sideboard when you just fancy a little “something”.   It wouldn’t feel like Christmas without it.  The decoration of the cake can be completely personal and fit with your own style of Christmas. You can use different types of icing and make it either completely traditional or modern and contemporary.  Or even no icing at all and use marzipan and glacé fruits.  It’s completely up to you.  My friend Rachel has brilliant ideas each year for decorating her cakes (see below) – and her kids all join in too so it becomes a real family event Continue reading

Stir-up Sunday Part One Christmas Pudding

Its the last Sunday before Advent and tradition has it that this is the day when the Christmas pudding is made or “stirred up” and wishes made.   If you have ever wondered where the name “Stir-up Sunday” came from it is because the Collect for the Sunday before Advent in the Book of Common Prayer starts with “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”.  And, of course, making the pudding about now gives the perfect amount of time for it to mature for Christmas. Once done, I keep my pudding in the fridge till Christmas Day ( and that way feel enormously self satisfied every time I open the fridge door) but any cool dark place will do – my mother kept hers under the spare bedroom bed  She also kept Christmas presents under there as my brother and I quickly discovered but that’s by the by and don’t ask how we knew!!!  Let’s just we weren’t top of Santa’s good children list that year! Continue reading

Grasmere Gingerbread

My Grandfather fought in WW1. He was in the Royal Artillery. Every Remembrance Sunday in the two minute silence I think of him in particular and all the other soldiers who fought in all our wars right up to the present day.   And every Remembrance Sunday I make this recipe for Grasmere Gingerbread that my mother wrote in our old family recipe book as it was a particular favourite of my Grandad and somehow by making it I feel as though I am bringing him into my home – and yes, the photo is of me on my grandfather’s knee

This recipe is made in a Victoria Sandwich tin  it makes a lovely chewy cookie style slice that disappears from the cake tin in record time even though my mother wrote at the end of the recipe “keeps three weeks”   Goodness knows how she knew that! The addition of crystallised ginger as well as the normal powdered spice gives it a lovely warmth and the raisins, though not necessary, give an added sweet richness   Best of all you can make the Gingerbread in the food processor in a matter of minutes before pressing it into a tin to bake! Continue reading

Home-made Christmas Mincemeat

Come October when the apples from my old Bramley apple tree in the garden are needing to be picked, I think of making Christmas pudding and mincemeat.  I do also think of apple pies, apple sauce, stewed apple with sultanas to have with yoghurt for breakfast but I think of mincemeat because it has become a tradition to use a home grown apple in the mincemeat and the pudding.  Whilst a bought apple  would be just as tasty – and indeed this home-made mincemeat is soooo much better than any you can buy – it’s nice to think that amongst all that plump dried fruit and exotic spices there is something that comes from my garden Continue reading