Monthly Archives: November 2017

Mince Pies with Orange Pastry

My husband takes the tradition of eating 12 mince pies between Christmas and New Year very seriously.  This apparently ensures a full twelve months of happiness in the year ahead.  In fact my husband likes to have a few more under his belt (so to speak) just to be sure – and then, of course, he needs to practise getting up to full mince pie eating capacity so he likes to have a few in the run up to Christmas   Basically he loves mincepies!

With all this demand, I always like to have a stash of mince pies in the freezer so I don’t have to be rolling out pastry all the time.  I freeze them raw in the trays and – once they are frozen – pop them out and store them in freezer bags.  That way when I want them I just return them to the patty tray and cook them from frozen for 20 mins at 175c. Really easy for when guests drop in, or you just feel a bit peckish but don’t want to put in much last minute effort, or even (heaven forbid) when you realise Oct-Dec next year are not going to be good months unless you eat three more mincepies on New Years Eve.

My favourite pastry for the mince pies is a very buttery shortcrust flavoured with orange zest and bound together with the juice   It’s absolutely amazing if I say so myself – and the smell when they come out the oven …… yum. It’s  made in the food processor so it’s ridiculously easy to do.  Just remember because the pastry is so crumbly and butter rich to leave the cooked mince pies in the tins for 5 mins after cooking before taking them out and putting on a rack to cool  or they will fall apart Continue reading

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