Saturday, 25 December 2010

The Big Day!


December 25th


May your nut roast be sumptuous
and your parsnips be plump,
May your mash and your gravy
have never a lump.
May your pud be delicious
and your pies take first prize.
And may your Christmas dinner
not fatten your thighs!!


☆¸.•*''*♥☆♥*''*•.¸☆ Merry Christmas ☆¸.•*''*♥☆♥*''*•.¸☆


(....to my reader!)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Advent Calendar 24

December 24th



Holy moley, it’s Christmas Eve! It's the big day tomorrow! Behind the last door today is…..


.…a special Christmas Eve lunch of baked Camembert, griddled ciabatta, celery and fruity chutney; damned fine it was, too!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Advent Calendar 23

December 23rd



Behind the door today is…..


….a plate of scrummy teatime gorgeousness; Ricciarelli, Amaretti and Florentines.

Only one more day of my Advent Calendar to go, then I have to get down to some serious cooking for the big day!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Advent Calendar 22

December 22nd

Behind the door today is....


....mince pies again - this time with mince pie ice-cream! You can never have too much of a good thing!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Advent Calendar 21

December 21st


Behind the snowy door today is....


....pretzels and vegetable crisps (I ought to have had some sour cream dip with those, as well!)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Advent Calendar 20

December 20th



Behind the snowy door today is....


....breakfast in Carluccio's. A toasted mini Panettone, butter and fig jam with a decaff latte. Absolutely lovely!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Advent Calendar 19

December 19th


Behind the door on this freezing and very snowy morning is.....


....hot chocolate and amaretti.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Fragrant Sweet Potato Soup

Well, it’s a week to go until Christmas Day and it’s snowing like blazes! The temperature this morning was -8°C....that was outside, I hasten to add, not inside! Half the country seems to have come to a standstill, with many roads and some airports closed, but thankfully I have no reason at all to go out today.

I never need an excuse to make soup, but weather like this is positively calling out for soup and plenty of it! Something warming and spicy to lift the spirits and buck up the tastebuds; add some nice bread and maybe a chunk of cheese and you have a lunch fit for a king (or possibly three kings, given the time of year!)


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp Madras curry paste (or more to taste)
800g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1l vegetable stock (Marigold Bouillon)
75ml coconut milk
ground black pepper
small bunch of coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then soften the onion and garlic over a gentle heat for 4-5 mins. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 min. Add the sweet potato and stock then bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15-20 mins until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk, then blitz like billy-o with a stick blender until absolutely smooth. Sprinkle with coriander and a few grindings of black pepper before serving.

Serves 4-6

Advent Calendar 18

December 18th

Behind the door today is.....


.....a Saturday morning breakfast treat of pancakes and maple syrup.

(Only one week to go, now - this time next week it'll be Christmas Day!!)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Advent Calendar 17

December 17th



Behind the door on this freezing, snowy day is....


....chocolate pecan popcorn with a glass of mulled fruit punch.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Chilli sans Carne

It’s absolutely freezing out there; the sooner this ‘Global Warming’ malarkey kicks in, the better! (That'll annoy anyone who subscribes to the theory!)

We’ve been out for most of the day and have just got back, it was snowing like billy-o as we drove home – very pretty, but pretty cold too! We really needed something warming and comforting for dinner; Chilli sans Carne seemed like an excellent idea.

Actually, anything that can be eaten with garlic bread is always an excellent idea!

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 - 1tsp chilli flakes (or more if you like - I don't like it very hot)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
250ml veggie stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
8 sunblush tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin borlotti beans
1 mug of Realeat soya mince
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
small handful of coriander, chopped
juice of half a lime



Heat oil in a large pan, add onions, celery and mushrooms and cook over high heat for 5 mins. Add garlic, cumin, chilli flakes, paprika and oregano, lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Add stock, tinned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, bay leaves, beans, Realeat and green pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 mins.
Remove bay leaves and stir in chopped coriander and lime juice just before serving.
Serve with soured cream and garlic bread.
Serves 4-6

Advent Calendar 16

December16th


Behind the door today is.....


.....pistachios and olives. Two of my very favourite things!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Advent Calendar 15

December 15th



Behind the door today is.....


....a bowl of sweeties, which I shall be dipping into quite liberally while we decorate our tree! Only ten days to go....!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Advent Calendar 14

December 14th


Behind the door today is.....


....tea and biccies. A little something to bring me back to life after braving the shops (again!).

Monday, 13 December 2010

Advent Calendar 13

December 13th


Behind the door on this cold, miserable and foggy day is....


....a little treat of warm 'not' sausage rolls and red onion marmalade.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Advent Calendar 12

December 12th


Behind the door today is....


.....my all-time favourite snacky food. Nuts! Specifically cashews, macadamias and pecans. Yum, yum!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Advent Calendar 11

December 11th

Behind the door today is....


....a nice strong coffee with chocolate almond clusters.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Advent Calendar 10

December 10th


Behind the door today is.....


.....a bowl of Satsumas; healthy, delicious and a real taste of Christmas.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Advent Calendar 9

December 9th


Behind the door on this sunny Thursday morning is......


.....a snackette of sour cream and chive dip with crisps and breadsticks.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Clementine Marmalade

I’ve never made marmalade before because I never really thought it worth the effort; we only eat about two or three jars a year. However, when I saw this recipe it sounded so quick and easy I just had to have a go. It tastes great, very fresh and fruity and it’s a fantastic zingy colour. I can’t take any credit for the recipe, but I’d like to thank one of the members on the BBC food board (sorry, I can't remember who it was - I took a note of the recipe but not the name) for sharing it.

If you’re still thinking of something homemade and foodie to give as pressies this takes about an hour from start to finish, so if you’re up to your ears in Christmas preparations it won’t take up too much of your time.

Lovely with warm croissants and coffee on Christmas morning.


750g Clementines
juice of 2 lemons
1 litre water
750g granulated sugar

Halve the fruit and remove pips.
Chop the fruit finely in a food processor or by hand.
Put the fruit with the water & lemon juice in a saucepan and simmer till the peel is soft - 6 to 10 mins.

Add the sugar and cook at a 'rolling boil' till set point is reached. 20-30 mins.
Put into sterilised jars.

Makes 5 medium sized jam jars.

Advent Calendar 8

December 8th



Behind the door today is.....


.....a bowl of Turkish Delight. (It's probably never been anywhere near Turkey, but I don't care, I love it anyway!)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Advent Calendar 7

December 7th


Behind the door on this very frosty morning is.......


.....a little Christmas cake decorated with marzipan, pecans and apricots. Very nice.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Advent Calendar 6


December 6th



I nearly forgot! Behind the door today is....


....cheese, crusty bread and homemade Christmas chutney.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Advent Calendar 5

December 5th



Behind the door today is.....


.....a basket of nuts in their shells. This is especially for the husband, who thinks "Christmas isn't Christmas without 'proper' nuts". So, we have 'proper' nuts.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

5* Brandy Butter

Just a quick post to give you the recipe for Brandy Butter. This is one of those things that I always thought I didn't like, probably because I'd only had the shop-bought version where they use cheap butter and even cheaper brandy to mask the taste of the cheap butter!

This version, however, is in a different league entirely. Trust me, a small (or a large!) spoonful of this melting over a warm mince pie is truly heaven on a plate...


125gms good unsalted butter
125gms light Muscovado sugar
5 tbsp decent brandy (if you wouldn't drink it neat, don't use it here!)

Take the butter out of the fridge a couple of hours before you make this, then beat it with a hand mixer until it's almost white. Beat in the sugar and continue beating for about five minutes until the graininess has gone. Add the brandy a little at a time beating well after each addition. That's it, job done.

Pile into a small serving bowl, clingfilm and keep refrigerated until needed. Serve very cold to contrast with the warmth of the pie.

This will keep for at least three weeks in the fridge, always assuming you don't have a little spoonful every time you open the fridge door!!

Advent Calendar 4


December 4th



Behind the door today is.....


.....mince pies with homemade Brandy Butter. (Recipe to follow)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Advent Calendar 3

December 3rd





The Christmas treat behind the door today was….the husband and I went for lunch at Hotel du Vin in Cambridge. Lucky old me!

https://www.hotelduvin.com/hotels/cambridge/cambridge.aspx


This was my dessert – Sticky Toffee Pudding. I’m ashamed to say I ate all of it and it was damned fine! (Actually, I’m not ashamed at all!)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Advent Calendar 2

December 2nd


Behind the door today is....


....a little afternoon snack of hummus, crackers and veg sticks.