22 Nov 2020



Today is the day you make your Christmas pudding.  This tradition dates back to an informal term in Anglican Churches for the last Sunday before the season of Advent.  Stir it up Sunday gets it’s name from the beginning of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which begins with the words “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.

The pudding is traditionally stirred East to West once by every member of the household and family, then you add the sixpence and give one more stir.


This is my top favourite family Christmas tradition because my awesome son, Oscar, now a grown up man 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 got from the Royal Mint into the pudding, this makes our Christmas pudding really magical or a choking hazard waiting to happen!  On Christmas Day the added anticipation on who will find the sixpence and have good luck all the New Year through is a great memory to have all year.


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 
(We were able to find a 1944 sixpence from the Royal Mint which is grandad's birth year)

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!!! 

(Serves 6)
500ml double cream
250ml jersey gold top milk
100g un-refined sugar
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
300g Christmas pudding

Place the cream, milk and sugar in a pan and scald, (this means bring up to heat but do not boil).  Take off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.  Whisk the egg yolks with the salt.  Pour the slightly cooled milk on to the eggs whisking all the time, return the custard back to the pan and on a low heat cook until the mixture thickens slightly and covers the back of a spoon, don't be tempted to rush this stage, it will take approx 4 minutes, and if you turn your heat up to high you risk turing the custard into scrrambled eggs.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for approx 1 hour.

Pour your custard into your ice cream maker and churn for 20-30 minutes until soft firm peaks.  Crumble in your Christmas pudding and mix well, pour into a tub and place in the freezer to finish setting, this will take a couple of hours.  Enjoy with a warm christmas pudding, mince pies or on it's own.

8 Nov 2020


Never Underestimate A Simple Pie

This magnificent pie is such a treat, the gorgeous smell of the pie cooking is a teasing expectation of what’s to come, even harder is waiting the 20 minutes after the pie is cooked before eating, this is essential as the pie needs to rest and is best served warm not piping hot, as you will burn your mouth if you don’t wait!


(serves family 4 in my case 3!)

Old Fashioned Pastry
450g plain flour
110g cold lard
110g cold butter
1 tsp sea salt 
160ml cold water

Pie Ingredients
1kg King Edward or Yukon potatoes 
200g butter
pinch sea salt
1 pinch ground white pepper
4 white onions roughly sliced
500g old mature vintage cheese grated (local cheese is best)
2 sprigs thyme
100ml chicken stock
1 pinch sea salt


This pastry will yield two pies, therefore when you make the pastry cut in half and wrap one half in parchment and either keep in the fridge for use in the week or freeze for another time.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees, peel and place your rough chopped potatoes in a pan of simmering water to boil for twenty to thirty minutes until fork tender then drain and mash with butter, salt and pepper, reserve to one side to cool down, meanwhile make the pastry, place the flour in your bowl or mixer and using a whisk fluff up and remove any lumps, this is the same a sieving, add the salt then the butter and lard, rub together roughly, you want large rubble not a breadcrumb consistency, this is what will create the flaky lift in your pastry, add the water and just bring together to a rough ball, press flat and wrap in parchment paper, pop in the fridge for twenty minutes or so to chill and rest while you prepare the filling.

Place the coconut oil and onions in a pan and gently soften the onions for ten minutes, add the chicken stock, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh thyme and reserve to one side to cool.  Grate the cheese and place to one side.

Roll out 2/3 of your pastry in to a circle, reserving the rest for the pie lid.  Take your tin and grease the sides, place the pastry base in your greased tin and gently push into the sides, now take your cooled ingredients and layer, first put a thin layer of mashed potato on the base, then a third of the softened onions, followed by a generous handful of the cheese, repeat with onions and cheese and finish with a final thin layer of mashed potato, top the pie with the pastry lid, lightly score the lid in a lattice pattern and brush with either milk to be authentic, I did as the war time attitude was why waste an egg, or brush with egg wash for a more golden crispy finish.

Bake in your pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for approx 40-45 minutes until golden brown, take out and leave to slightly cool for 15 minutes, now this hard especially when not making this for the first time, as you know how good this is going to be, but it is sort of important, this is a pie that needs to be warm not piping hot for its best presentation and taste.

6 Nov 2020


Creamy buttermilk sour cream blue cheese mayonnaise dressing drenched over a iceberg wedge loaded with crispy sweetcure bacon, cheddar cheese, red onion, cherry tomatoes and fresh coriander, a perfect meal on its own or as a side.

Being British I had never had a iceberg wedge salad before and was rather impressed with this when I ordered it, in fact I have been impressed with every salad I’ve ever ordered in America, always very large and well balanced with flavours and dressings, my first thoughts about eating a iceberg wedge salad were will it be all crisp and fresh crunch only and all iceberg in flavour, but I was pleasantly surprised, all the toppings were well distributed while eating.

(serves 4)

1 large firm iceberg lettuce quartered
12 rashers crispy sweetcure bacon
200g shredded cheddar cheese
1 small red onion finely diced
12 cherry tomatoes quartered
1 lemon juiced
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander 

Blue Cheese Dressing
200g soft blue cheese like dolcelatte or Roquefort 
1/2 cup of mayonnaise 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 large pinch garlic powder
1 large pinch onion powder
1 pinch Himalayan sea salt 
1 pinch ground white pepper

Place all the blue cheese dressing ingredients in a bowl and gently whisk or stir to combine until the blue cheese is equally incorporated.  Drizzle the lemon juice over the iceberg wedges, then the blue cheese dressing followed by scattering the cheese, bacon, onion, tomatoes and corinader over the wedge, that’s it enjoy.

5 Nov 2020


Autumn Comforting Spoon Food
Gorgeous slow braised beef short ribs in roasted marrowbone beef stock giving these ribs the best gravy and dipping au jus, such a simple dish to cook with the most delicious results.  The tender braised beef just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth served either stuffed in to bread rolls as French dip or my favourite with rich buttery Yukon mashed potato this is a winner winner dinner all round.

Slow Cooking Time 3-4 hours

Equipment:  Roasting tin, parchment paper and tin foil.

(serves 4-6)

6 short ribs
1 marrow bone
Olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion finely diced
2 carrots finely diced
4 cloves garlic bashed
1 leek finely sliced
1 rib celery finely diced
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt 
10 whole peppercorns 
2 ltr beef stock
1 ltr water

Best Mashed Potatoes Ever
1 kg Yukon or King Edward potatoes peeled and quartered
250g salted butter (I know!)
15ml apple cider vinegar
Himalayan sea salt 
White ground pepper

Pre heat your oven to 200 C / 400 F.  Toss the marrow bone in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, roast in the oven for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place a deep braising/roasting tin on the stove medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and tbsp of butter, brown off the ribs in batches and remove reserving to one side while you add all the other ingredients except the stock and seasoning, soften for 15-20 minutes.  Next add the stock and seasoning and the reserved short ribs along with all the resting juices, lay a rectangle of parchment paper on top of the ingredients then cover the tin with tin foil.  

Place in a pre-heated oven 160 degrees for 3-4 hrs or until the meat is tender falling off the short ribs.  

While the ribs are cooking peel the potatoes and place in a large pan of water, when 30 minutes from serving the short ribs bring the potatoes up to a boil and cook until fork tender, drain and leave to steam dry for a few minutes, add the butter to the pan and leave on a very low heat to melt, add back the potatoes and mash, season with the white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.

Remove the ribs from the oven and drain off all the braising liquor and vegetables through a sieve, using the back of a spoon push some of the braising vegetables through the mesh of the sieve, this will not only deepen the flavour of your gravy further but help to thicken it with out compromising the flavour.   You can add some of the vegetables to the stock and blitz with a hand blender instead of pushing through a sieve.  At this point you can also reduce the stock a little to intensify the flavour, then season to taste.

To serve place the rich buttery mashed potato in the centre of the plate and lay a short rib across the mash and pour lashings of the rich braised gravy over the rib, allowing the juices to ooze all over the mash, enjoy.