Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas turkey curry

I don't know about you but the week between Christmas and new year is all about using up the Christmas left-overs as fast as possible. Our fridge is loaded with little containers of cranberry sauce, stuffing, left-over vegetables and of course turkey.

One way of using up leftover turkey is this curry which, has become something of a tradition in my family and is as certain as Christmas dinner itself! It's a great way to turn your leftovers into something fresh and completely different.Turkey curry recipe.

  • 2 Onions, finely chopped.
  • 2 Cloves of garlic crushed.
  • 1 Green (or red) Chilli chopped.
  • 1 tsp each (or more if you like) Turmeric, coriander and cumin.
  • Leftover turkey meat cut into chunks.
  • 400g tin of tomatoes.
  • 200ml Chicken or turkey stock.
  • 5 tbsp natural yoghurt.
  • Chopped fresh coriander to serve.
  • Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large pan and fry the onions until they begin to soften.
  • Add the garlic and chilli to the pan and stir, fry for a minute more.
  • Add all of the spices and mix well, fry for one more minute.
  • add the chopped turkey, stock and the tinned tomatoes, stir everything, cover the pan and leave to simmer very gently for 15 minutes.
  • Finally stir in the yoghurt, season with salt and serve with rice or naan bread.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Mulled wine

With Christmas fast approaching things are getting pretty busy around here, the food still needs to be bought, the presents wrapped and the house decorated, add to that two days of overtime at work and there is very little time to spend cooking!

I did however find time to whip up a pan of mulled wine, a Christmas essential and one of my favourite drinks. Made from red wine, spices and fruits simmered and served hot, this warming drink is perfect for winter.There are endless variations to this, the recipe below is the basic version to which you could add apples, pears, berries or even fruit liqueur, to give it a bit of a kick try adding a good glug of brandy.

Mulled wine recipe

  • 1 75cl bottle of red wine.
  • 1 orange, half sliced half studded with 4 or 5 cloves.
  • 1 lemon sliced.
  • 1 cinnamon stick snapped in two.
  • 1 tsp ground/powdered ginger.
  • A wine glass of water.
  • 3 tbsp white sugar or honey.
  • As much brandy as you like (optional).
  • Place all the ingredients into a large pan with a lid.
  • Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Place the lid on the pan and leave on a very low light to simmer (don't boil) for at least 20 minutes.
  • Serve.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Lemon Posset

It may sound like a small furry animal but Posset is in fact an old English dessert, made from just three ingredients, lemons, cream and sugar. This could be the easiest dessert in the world.Although simple the end result is heavenly, a silky smooth, creamy, tangy, pot of lemony goodness. A perfect end to a meal and elegant enough to serve on special occasions too, it's tanginess make it a perfect palate cleanser after a rich meal. Or as I'm planning, served in shot glasses between courses.

I served mine with shortbread biscuits to add a bit of texture, you could make your own or be lazy like me and buy some!

The acidity of the lemon juice is what makes the cream set so no eggs are required, I was surprised at just how well and how quickly the mixture firmed up after adding the juice.

  • 1/2 Pint/300ml double/heavy cream (don't be tempted to use single/light cream, it will not work here!)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 75g/2 1/2oz Sugar
  • Pour the cream and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Take the cream off the heat and add the lemon zest and juice, whisk well.
  • Pour the mixture into small dishes or ramekins and leave to cool in the fridge.
  • Serve with shortbread biscuits.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Retro Black Forest Gateau

I love retro food and it doesn't get much more retro than Black Forest Gateau! This cake seems to have gone a bit out of fashion, probably thanks to the cheap frozen version that always made an appearance at parties and on cheap pub menus.

There is no reason why it shouldn't be a fantastic cake, made with decent ingredients it has a lot of potential, we all know how well chocolate and cherries go together. So, with that in mind I set out to make my own, from scratch, using quality ingredients. I wanted to see just how good this cake could be.
I'm pleased to report that it was delicious, though there was never really any doubt that it would be. Chocolate sponge soaked in cherry brandy syrup, layered with cream, cherries and chocolate. How could that be anything but delicious!I'll admit this cake is completely over the top, there was no birthday, no anniversary and it's nothing to do with Christmas. I just felt like making it, and I don't regret it, not one bit!


For the chocolate sponge:
  • In a large bowl or mixer beat 150g/6oz butter with 150g/6oz of granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add three eggs to the mix and beat well.
  • Gently mix in 150g/6oz self raising flour, replacing two tablespoons of the flour with cocoa powder.
  • Pour into a greased and lined round baking tin (approx 25cm), bake at gas 4/350f/180c for around an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool completely before slicing into three layers.
For the filling:
  • Whip 1 pint of whipping or double cream until it holds stiff peaks, be careful not to over-whip.
  • Drain three 400g cans of cherries in juice reserving the juice.
  • Mix two thirds of the reserved juice with a heaped tablespoon of cornflour and a splash of brandy. Heat gently in a saucepan until the liquid has clarified and thickened. Cool completely.
  • To make the syrup bring the remaining juice to the boil in a small pan, adding sugar to taste and a splash of brandy. Reduce by half.
For the chocolate edging:
  • Line a baking tray with cling film then melt 250g of good dark chocolate.
  • Spread the molten chocolate over the cling film to form a thin layer.
  • Leave to set the break into shards.
To construct the cake:
  • Place the first layer of the cake on the plate or stand you intend to serve it from (it will be impossible to move later).
  • Drizzle with one third of the syrup.
  • Add one third of the cream.
  • Then add one third of the cherries.
  • Finally spoon over one third of the thickened juice.
  • Repeat with the remaining layers.
  • Place the chocolate shards around the edge for decoration.
  • Admire your cake!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Traditional mince pies

Mincemeat is a Christmas essential in the UK, it just wouldn't be Christmas without it. Made from a boozy mixture of fruits, spices, sugar and alcohol it's most common use is in traditional mince pies.

It is a good idea to have a good supply of these on hand, ready for unexpected Christmas visitors. They are delicious served still warm and even better with an unhealthy amount of brandy butter and a generous glass of mulled wine!
My home-made mince pies

So here it is, the recipe for mincemeat. Possibly the easiest recipe ever!

Mincemeat (makes around 4lb)

12 oz Apples – Grated
2 oz chopped mixed peel
18 oz mixed dried fruit, e.g. raisins, currants and sultanas
6 oz shredded suet (I used vegetarian suet)
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp mace
1 oz flaked almonds
6 oz soft brown sugar
Zest and juice of a lemon and an orange
2 ½ tbspn Brandy or rum


Put all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl and stir until well mixed. It should look something like this.
Pack the mixture into sterilised jars and leave to mature for at least 1 week. It will become darker and stickier over time. (It should keep for quite a few months)

Mince pies

For the best flavour use and all butter pastry for making mince pies, it has the best flavour.

I can't remember where I found this recipe but it is excellent. Makes enough pastry for 24 pies.

All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies (Pâte Brisée)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 to 6 Tbsp ice water


Rub the butter into the flour, sugar and salt until well incorporated.
Drop by drop add the ice water and work into a dough, try to handle the mixture as little as possible.
Rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To make mince pies

Preheat your oven to 350f/180c/gas 4.

Roll out a third of your pastry, using a pastry cutter cut 24 discs of pastry and line two twelve hole shallow pie trays.

Place a teaspoon of mincemeat in each pastry case.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out smaller discs for the pie lid, top each case with a pastry lid.

Dust the pies with icing sugar and bake for around thirty minutes or until golden brown.

What foods do you cook for Christmas?

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I have a policy of not preparing anything for Christmas until the start of December. I'm not being miserable, I absolutely love Christmas, it's just that if I started any earlier I'd have got bored of it by Christmas day!

Once December comes around I really get into it! It just wouldn't be Christmas without mulled wine, mince pies or Christmas cake, so much to make, so little time! As it stands I have already made a tray of mince pies, a Christmas pudding and this Stollen.Stollen is a German yeasted Christmas cake, loaded with fruits, nuts and spices it has a marzipan centre and is one of my favourite Christmas treats.

It is especially good toasted although I should warn you, use an electric toaster at your peril, I'm still cleaning bits of charred marzipan out of mine...

What do you make for Christmas?

The recipe I used is by Simon Rimmer, it turned out really well although next time I will add more fruit.
Original recipe by Simon Rimmer here.

100ml/3½fl oz warm milk
2 tsp dried yeast
pinch salt
1 tsp caster sugar
225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp ground mixed spice
200g/7oz mixed dried fruit (including glacé cherries)
25g/1oz flaked almonds
50g/2oz unsalted butter
1 free-range egg, beaten
250g/9oz marzipan
To finish
25g/1oz butter, melted
50g/2oz icing sugar

1. Place the milk and yeast into a bowl and mix well. Leave to sit for 5-6 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, sift the salt, sugar, flour and mixed spice into a large bowl.
3. Add the dried fruit, almonds and butter and mix well.
4. Add the yeast and milk mixture and mix well.
5. Add the egg and stir well to make a dough.
6. Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, then cover and leave to prove for 20 minutes.
7. Uncover the dough and turn out onto a clean, floured work surface. Using your hands knock the dough back to reduce the volume, then knead the dough for 3-4 minutes.
8. Push and roll the dough out by hand into a flat oval shape about 23cm x 18cm/9in x 7in.
9. Roll the marzipan into a piece about 18cm x 5cm/7in x 2in. Place the marzipan into the centre of the dough, then fold over the sides of the dough to seal in the marzipan.
10. Place the stollen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place somewhere warm to prove for one hour.
11. Preheat the oven to 180C/365F/Gas 4.
12. Place the stollen on the baking tray into the oven to bake for 40 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through.
13. To finish, remove the stollen from the oven, brush with the melted butter and dust with icing sugar immediately.
14. Allow the stollen to cool, then serve in slices

Monday, 1 December 2008

An amazing day at the BBC Good Food Show, part 2

Click Here for part 1

After a morning of sampling and shopping we were taken backstage for a fantastic VIP lunch.

A beautifully presented prawn dish for the starter.To follow was a selection of cold meats, poached salmon, salad and bread. Not so photogenic but no less tasty.And finally an elegant chocolate dessert with caramel sauce, yum!

Then came what we'd all been waiting for, a private book signing with the great James Martin himself. Each of us was presented with a signed copy of his book, The Collection, mine now proudly adorns my coffee table! He then rushed off to do yet another cookery demonstration, while we had some more time to look around before taking our place in the supertheatre...
The book signing
(photo courtesy of Forever Better)
My own signed copy!
The supertheatre was huge, over 2000 people packed in to watch James Martin prepare a three course meal. Teryaki mackerel was followed by bread-crumbed veal chops fried in an obscene amout of butter! (health concious he isn't!) and finally a mouth-watering dessert of layered pastry and berries with mascarpone and raspberry sauce. As you would expect it all looked fantastic and was no doubt scoffed backstage as soon as the demonstration was over.

Not only is James Martin a great chef he proved he was a great entertainer too, he had everybody laughing as he picked on an unsuspecting volunteer, using her to demonstrate where the different cuts of meat come from! Later he used an old man's walking stick to make his trademark spun sugar, the audience loved it!A few of us stayed behind afterwards to watch Gordon Ramsay who, working with Mark Sergeant made a great team. As you would expect Gordon made good use of his favourite word, in fact the show came with a warning beforehand! They were both fantastic to watch, even though we had seats way back in row Z!

But onto the food, first up was a hearty minestrone soup served with garlic toasts, it looked very homely and is a recipe I am very keen to try. Interestingly he used parmesan instead of salt which I thought was a brilliant idea. Next up was a tuna steak served with refried beans, I love fresh tuna but am never quite sure what to do with it so this was great for me. To finish he made some simple caramelised plums.

And with that it was all over, the time had come for us to go home, I could quite happily have spent hours longer wondering around! Thanks again to Miele, ForeverBetter and 1000Heads for a fantastic day!
A beautiful tin of chocolates give to us by Miele and my VIP pass