And on the seventh day she created… Meringues with vanilla custard and chocolate sauce

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming.

Meringues with vanilla custard and chocolate sauce

I decided floating meringues would best represent a swan swimming on the seventh day of Christmas and have worked very hard to create an elongated neck line the Strictly Come Dancing judges would be proud of.

Getting this recipe right has been a technical challenge; baking meringue and making custard from scratch has proven to be a difficult task for a cook who doesn’t like to follow strict processes. Continue reading

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What’s good for the goose..

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a laying, five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree…

Boxing Day has arrived, Christmas is technically over and we are left wondering what all that fuss and gluttony was really about.

I ate so much yesterday, my elasticated jogging bottoms feel tight and there is still a small mountain of turkey to get through today. Continue reading

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… five gold rings.

Festive whiskey marmalade

Let me start by wishing you all a Happy Christmas, I hope Santa delivered lots of lovely gifts.

So as the song goes today’s gift is five gold rings, the best line in the entire song; I save my limited higher register of my singing voice for this one every year. Continue reading

Day four will leave you wanting more; prepare for the meat sweats with this decadent four-bird roast

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree…

Four-bird-roast

Today folks I present you with what is possibly my most literal interpretation of the song lyrics; a four-bird-roast using chicken, turkey, duck and pheasant.

I conducted much research in preparation for this one and there are many variations – some recipes use partridge and goose – but I decided to use the birds I like most and as the pheasant is the smallest and most delicate of the meats kept it to the centre. Continue reading

All good things come in threes…

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree…

Petit quiche Lorraine x3 

For today’s recipe we are going all continental with my mini quiches. Eggs are the principal ingredient in quiche, and while the hens might be of Irish descent, this recipe is named after Lorraine – a region in France – thus ticking the boxes for day three of this Christmas food journey. Continue reading

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree…

Orange and cinnamon shortbread biscuits

Today I present to you dove-shaped shortbread biscuits – while I am taking this mission seriously, doves will not be harmed during its course.

This is my take on a shortbread recipe from an old cookbook I found at my parents house; I have added orange and cinnamon for a festive touch and adapted the originals timings.

Cinnamon gives my ‘shortbread’ a darker colour and a crunchier texture, they are more ‘biscuity’ than the original recipe intends, but this is what makes them a tasty little sweet treat. Continue reading

The 12 Days of Christmas; more than just a festive song

In this old English carol, it seems the singer revels in reciting the list of elaborate presents their true love gives to them on each of the 12 days of Christmas, yet dig deeper and it is more than a tale of festive overspending.

It is said each line of this Christmas Carol has a hidden religious meaning and was written in the nineteenth century to help Christians understand their faith; for example two turtle doves represent the Old and New Bible testaments and four calling birds symbolise the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

This might not be breaking news for some of you, but it was news to me as I had previously hoped someone did receive five gold rings and 10 leaping Lords as Christmas gifts. Continue reading

Carrot and Cumin Soup

My culinary mojo seems to have disappeared over the last few months and there have been a few disasters including a gloppy pumpkin ravioli and a soggy bottomed apple tart Paul Hollywood would have raised an eyebrow at.

The easiest way to return to form is to get the basics right – in footballing terms keep a clean sheet and score a goal – and it was time to make a pot of soup, because (with the exception of a very peppery vegetable broth during the poor run) I make good soup.

Thankfully this carrot and cumin soup was a definite goal – a sentiment the husband agreed with as he returned for a second bowl. With the flavour of sweet carrot and smoky cumin this is the perfect soup to warm you up on a cold evening.

With one win under my belt and the festive period looming there will be ample opportunity to practice my pastry skills making mince pies and to make this a true tale of triumph over adversary I suppose the pasta maker will eventually have to come out of retirement …so stay tuned for a pumpkin ravioli recipe sometime soon!

Carrot and Cumin soup (recipe yields four good sized bowls)

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Ingredients

  • ½ an onion diced
  • 6 medium sized carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin seeds (roughly crushed using a pestle and mortar)
  • 6-10 black peppercorns (roughly crushed using a pestle and mortar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 10 grams of butter
  • ½ cup of milk

Method

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds, peppercorns and onion. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are soft.
  • Peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into chunks, add to the saucepan and reduce to a medium heat.
  • Mix the onion through the vegetables and sauté for a further 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the stock and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetable are soft.
  • Allow the soup to cool slightly, use a blender to pulse the vegetables, creating a smooth and velvety mixture. Add 1/2 a cup of milk and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Return the soup to the heat and warm through before serving.
  • Top tip: delicious with a slice of fresh wheaten bread!

 

 

Mini Toad in the Holes

Some people have called me a food snob and said that my rules are often contradictory; sweetcorn will never make my plate, yet baby corn is a stir fry favourite. Perhaps it is the child in me that dislikes the adult version or maybe my tastes are just very refined.

Another odd peculiarity is my dislike for battered sausages, the old chip shop darling. A battered sausage of this type will never cross my lips – it sounds a bit too violent or greasy for my food sensibilities – but I wouldn’t say no to Toad in The Hole. Continue reading

Tomato and Mascarpone pasta with a generous helping of basil

I am attempting to grow my own herbs with varying degrees of success and have struggled to find my green fingers.

Growing herbs simultaneously has proved difficult – basically they all wither and die – and I am now channelling my efforts into raising one little basil plant in its own individual pot. Continue reading