30 Dec 2013


Nothing symbols the beginning of christmas feasting as much as the humble mince pie, often underrated, but if handmade they are a mouthful of the magic to come over christmas.  I love to make my own mincemeat, it is really quick and easy and will last all year.


200g Bramley apples peeled and grated
175g raisins 
110 g candied peel
100g cranberries
100g currants
150g sultanas
1 orange zest and juice 
1 lemon zest and juice
200 ml brandy
175 g suet
3tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
200g muscovado sugar

Take all the ingredients except the suet and sugar and place in a lidded deep pan, bring to a simmer then turn down really low and place the lid on, leave for approx 1 hour until all the brandy has been absorbed and the fruit is soft and plumped up, leave to cool.  Once cooled mix in the sugar and suet and a generous glug or three of brandy! 

Heat some jars and lids in your oven for around 5 minutes to sterilize them and fill with your mincemeat, pop on the lids and that is it.  Your mincemeat will improve it's flavour over the next few months, with this in mind I like to make my mincemeat by November at least.


110 g lard cold
110g butter cold
450 g plain flour
Pinch of salt
180ml of ice cold water

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl then grate the butter and lard into the flour, add the water and gently mix together to form a ball, be gently you don't want to mix this evenly, the reason for this is as the pastry cooks the fat will start to cause a puff effect giving you a lighter pastry.

Roll out your pastry and line your tins or if your making old fashioned flying saucer mince pies just cut disks with a scone ring, egg wash and fill with your mince meat, top with pastry lids or stars, egg wash and sprinkle with Demerara sugar, bake for approx 15-18 minutes until golden, serve warm on their own or dusted with icing sugar or with some thick brandy cream or custard.



This was an exceptionally outstanding piece of beef, I asked my local farm butcher to hang this for me for 35 days, when I went to collect it he had to trim off the black bits which were a lovely treat for my dogs.  When I popped the beef in the oven for the half hour sizzle the smell of old fashioned beef basting itself in it's own gorgeous proper fat was divine and only a hint of the flavour to come.

Four and a bit hours later and WOW this beef was juicy, succulent and full of old fashioned fabulous beef flavour, possibly the very best beef I have ever eaten, (until next time)!  

5-10kg fore rib of beef

Cooking any joint of meat is really very simple, it is the method and timing that gives you a gorgeous result every time.  After trying many methods the following method for me works every time giving me full confidence each time I cook for friends and family. 

My family like many I am sure want their beef from blue to medium well done, and I do not like to disappoint.  With this 10kg fore rib I probed the thickest part of the meat and cooked until the probe read 55 degrees, this gave me rare meat at this point of the fore rib and then the slightly thinner part of the fore rib reached 60 degrees which gave medium rare, this way I was able to please all my family.

9-10 minutes per lb for RARE
12-15 minutes per lb for MEDIUM
15-18+ minutes per lb for WELL DONE

50 degrees for RARE
55 degrees for RARE-MEDIUM
60 degrees for MEDIUM
70 degrees for WELL DONE


Pre-heat your oven 220 degrees, take your beef out of the fridge at least 1 hour before you are ready to cook, to allow the meat to relax and come up to room temperature, this will give the beef a more even cooking temperature.

Score the fat on the beef lightly, not all the way to the meat, rub with a little oil, not olive oil, and give a generous rub with sea salt, this is all you need to do to enhance your gorgeous fore rib.

Place your fore rib in the pre-heated oven and give it the half hour sizzle at the high heat, then turn the oven down to 180 degrees and take the beef out and cover well with foil, pop back into the oven and cook for the time that you have calculated.  Take out and leave wrapped up to rest for at least one hour.  That is it your gorgeous wow factor roast is done.

This hour resting time is a blessing, not only will it allow the meat to relax and all the juices to evenly re-distribute themselves back through the meat, it allows you time now to cook the roast potatoes, vegetables to accompany your roast with out comprising your oven space and in a relaxed manner.

28 Dec 2013



This is my top favourite Christmas tradition because my gorgeous 12yr old son, Oscar is in charge of making the family Christmas pudding.  We start with soaking all the fruit the night before in a bottle, yes a whole bottle of brandy and then once Oscar has assembled all the magical ingredients in the bowl, he then stirs the pudding East to West following the direction of the thee wise men, then every member of the family gives the pudding a stir for good luck, then Oscar adds his sixpence that he gets from the Royal Mint into the pudding, this makes our Christmas pudding making a really magical time with the added anticipation on who will find the sixpence on Christmas Day and have good luck all the New Year through.


225g currents
225g raisins
175g sultanas
50g mixed peel
175g butter
1 bottle brandy 
Chopped almonds
Chopped hazelnuts
Chopped Brazil nuts
Juice and zest of 1 Orange 
3tbsp milk
150g self raising flour
1tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp grated nutmeg
150g breadcrumbs
Golden syrup
Black treacle
3 medium eggs beaten
200g dark muscovado sugar

A sixpence 
(This year we got a 1944 sixpence which is grandad's birth year)

I have a ritual that we can not make the christmas pudding unless all is well and happiness is in the home, so if all is well the night before place all the dried fruit in a bowl and add the whole bottle of brandy! cover and leave to steep overnight.  In the morning drain off the excess brandy and reserve in a jam jar for topping up the puddings later in the month.

Pre heat your oven 170 degrees C, in a large bowl place all the soaked fruit, peel, zest and juice, and milk, mix well.   Add the flour, spices a pinch of salt, to be traditional resist the temptation to stir!  Melt the butter and add to the bowl along with breadcrumbs, eggs and muscovado sugar.

Now the pudding is ready to be stirred East to West by every member of the household and family, then add the sixpence and give one more stir.

Grease your pudding basin or tin, then this is important, line the base of your tin with a circle of grease proof paper, this will ensure that your pudding does not stick and tear when you remove it.

Take a deep saucepan and place a trivet in the bottom.  To cover your basin take a sheet of foil and fold a pleat in the centre, then cover the pudding basin with the folded pleat in the centre, this is so that the peat can unfold as the pudding expands.  Place the foil over the basin and then with the some string tie it around the rim, to make handles loop over and tie back to the other side to made the handle, not essential but handy.   


Place the pudding basin in the deep saucepan on the trivit, fill with water 3/4 of the way up and cover with a lid  then bring to a simmer, place on the lid and simmer for 4 hours.  

Once cooked take out leave to cool a little and then turn out and wrap in baking paper, then store in a air tight container.  Every so and now give the pudding a drink with the left over brandy.  

To serve on the big day place the pudding back into the basin and steam just the way you cooked it, approx 1 hour and  serve with a sprig of holly and pour over some brandy.


Once the pudding is in place ready to serve, take a ladle of warm brandy and light it so that it is flaming, then pour the flaming ladle of brandy over the pudding, this will ensure you have a successful flaming pudding in the day.  In my home we all have to sign the figgy pudding song and make a big song and dance about Oscars Christmas pudding!!! 


With The Best Ever Giblet Gravy

There is nothing quite like Turkey Stress!  It really is so easy to cook the perfect moist juicy turkey and reduce that Christmas day fear of a dry over cooked bird!  It starts with the quality of life the Turkey has had, knowing your oven, minutes per lb and finally a long resting time, that's it.


To start you need a beautiful slow raised old fashioned breed turkey, this year I ordered a COPAS turkey, a bronze free range, out door living, rain forest diet, loved turkey that was raised to full maturity and game hung for two weeks.  This turkey was magnificent, the size and shape of the bird echoed it's rooting lifestyle.

I follow the simple minutes per pound cooking rule, which for a turkey is 15 minutes per lb as a guide line but I do use a thermometer to test the temperature of the bird and I remove the turkey from the oven as soon as the centre reaches 65 degrees.  I then rest the turkey for at least 1 hour covered in foil and a towel to insulate.  This cooking method has always given me the most juicy moist succulent roasted turkey ever.  This year I found that the minutes by lb cooking time was spot on with the turkey reaching 64 degrees so by the time I took the turkey out it was at 65 degrees.

I do like to loosen the skin from the turkey with the back of a spoon sliding between the skin and the meat, stuff that lots of seasoned butter to give that extra moisture in the meat while cooking.

This method results in a perfect cooked turkey every time.
15 minutes per lb 
Probe temp max 65 degrees

Pre-heat to 220 degrees
Place your Turkey un-covered into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to170 degrees.  Cook for 30 minutes, then cover well with tin foil and leave to cook.

Once cooked I then give my turkey a extra baste and sometimes using my Cajun injector, inject the cooking juices into the breasts.  Now wrap up the turkey in generous amounts of foil and cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for one to one and half hours.

Drain off the cooking juices into a jug and now we can finish off the gravy.  

1 knob of butter
1 dash of olive oil 
1 onion chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
Turkey giblets
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
200ml dry white wine
2 ltrs water

In a large pan melt the butter and olive oil together, soften the onion, carrot and celery then add the giblets, bay and peppercorns and cook for 10 minutes then add the wine and reduce by half.  Add 2 litres of water and simmer for an hour or so until the stock has reduced by half.  You should be left with approx 1000ml.  This is your base for the most awesome gravy.

I do this stage on Christmas Eve so on the day all I have to do is add some seasoned flour to my turkey pan, let it melt into the fat, you can always add a little more fat if needed, cook out for a minute or so and then add your stock and whisk to a smooth gravy, taste and season well.

This is something you can do the day before and keep in the fridge ready to go on the day.

12 chicken wings
2 carrots rough chopped
1 onion quartered 
3 sprigs thyme
1 bulb garlic halved
Glug olive oil
2 ltrs water

Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees C 392 F, place all the ingredients in a deep roasting tin and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the skin on the wings is crispy.  Add 2 ltrs of water to the roasting tin and cook for a further 10 minutes so that the water can de-glaze all the lovely caramelised bits on the bottom of the roasting tin.  Remove the tin from the oven and then using a potato masher crush all the wings, garlic, onions and carrots in to the water creating the most wonderful flavours.

Drain in to a large bowl through a sieve and push all that wonderful liquid through the sieve.  That is your fabulous base gravy made for the big day, just add this to your cooking juices on the day and following the gravy making tips above.