Monday, November 27, 2006

The Good Food Show Birmingham

The photograph shows how a lady from Birmingham College of Food makes flowers from fruit. How amazing is that?

In the wine area, hosted by Oz Clarke was discussing the finer points of wine tasting with his audience.


I mostly like to make these in small 6 oz aluminium basins, this way you do not have to cut into a huge pudding and wonder what you are going to do with the rest of it. Also, they look prettier when you serve them. The photograph shows my puddings from last year after they have been re-heated for some 2 hours. Unfortunately, I didn't put them in an airtight container and they have dried out somewhat (but you will be glad to know I did wrap them in clingfilm and they were stored in a tin).


ISBN 0563370645 – PAGE 37

Serves: 8-10 people or makes 8 individual puddings.

Skill Level: Moderately Easy.

Taste Test: A good burst of fruit and spices come through and the pudding is not too heavy.
Again, use good quality dried fruit - Waitrose own brand is excellent. Don't use fusty old spices from the back of the cupboard, always buy new for your Christmas baking. I had to leave the nuts out - its all that chomping - I just don't like it. Barley wine is an ingredient mentioned in the recipe, I have never managed to find a bottle of it and so I just use more stout (Guiness). By the way, Guiness freezes well and the remainder can be used in a stew. I never bother to cover steamed puddings with greased greaseproof paper, then foil and the usual fight with the string. Let calmness prevail - buy BacoFoil Release non-stick foil and all will be well. If you are making the large pudding, put two long pieces of folded foil crossways under the pudding basin to help you take it out of the steamer safely when it has finished cooking.

Equipment Used: Mermaid small aluminium pudding basins.

Monday, November 20, 2006


This has been made by me every year, and has never disappointed either myself or anyone who eats my mince pies etc. I listened to the Very Best of Nina Simone whilst making this – they are to me a match made in heaven (although obviously they do not bear any resemblance to each other). Why buy sweet readymade mincemeat that always boils out of the mince pies when this is so quick and easy to make.


ISBN 0563370645 –PAGE 41

Makes: 6 lb (2.75 KG)

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: Not at all sweet and sticky, and has all the elements that make a great mincemeat.

Use good quality dried fruit – I find Waitrose own make to be the best as the fruit is fresh and plump. Peel is a difficult one, I have used the whole mixed candied peel as Delia suggests in the past, but I wasn’t particularly fond of this, maybe this is because I am not very keen on peel. Anyway, I have now found Tesco Italian chopped peel to be the best and I only use a very small amount and make the rest of the recipe up with dried fruit. Also, I don’t like chomping on nuts in my mincemeat and so I also leave these out. The mincemeat doesn’t suffer for this. Delia says it is ok to use vegetarian suet, I have tried this and find it does not affect the end result. Please do not use the lighter suet – this makes the texture of the mincemeat gluey. The mincemeat is put in the oven for a few hours to melt the suet, which in turn coats everything, and because of this you will find the mincemeat stores very well.

Equipment Used: Microplane Grater.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Butchering of "Sir Loin"

We bought a huge piece of sirloin beef – the only meat to be knighted (that is other than a person!!). There are a few legends surrounding why it was dubbed “Sir Loin” but I know better than to print which I think is the true version. Anyway, the hubby decided to take on the role of a surgeon when presented with the task of cutting the said piece of meat into steaks and joints. Apron on, scrubs up, knife to the ready. Help!!


This is one of the very best ways to cook parsnips and they go beautifully with the Sunday Roast. A great recipe to make if you have received too many parsnips in your box scheme.


ISBN 0563370645 – PAGE 142

Serves: 8 people.

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: Parmesan cheese and parsnips is an unlikely combination of flavours but they compliment each other perfectly.

I find it is always best to put a timer on when cooking the parsnips, and not to be tempted to cook them for any longer than the 3 minutes stated, otherwise when you thaw them out/roast them, they will be overcooked. A recipe where you need to follow the method carefully. The parsnips coated in the parmesan cheese and flour mix can be frozen, and then they must be thawed out completely before roasting. The remaining parmesan and flour mix can also be frozen to use another time. This recipe is an all round winner.

Equipment Used: Bamix Hand Blender for grating the Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006


The cold weather has now arrived and braised red cabbage is a wonderful dish for both colour and flavour – to serve with poultry, pork and sausages. This recipe freezes beautifully and can be reheated in the microwave oven.


ISBN 780563214540 – PAGE 213

Serves: 4 people

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: An excellent sweet and sour red cabbage recipe by Delia Smith.

I have made Braised Red Cabbage with Apples many times and my preference is to leave the garlic out. A good quality red wine vinegar works well, otherwise the red cabbage will taste too acidic. I always place a sheet of greaseproof paper over the casserole dish before putting the lid on as this prevents the cabbage from drying out during the long slow cooking. Make sure you have a go at cooking this for Christmas Day.

Kitchen Equipment Used: A large Meyer stainless steel casserole dish.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Great Christmas Pud' Hunt

Thinking about all things Christmas, I remembered this week where the small Christmas puddings are that I made this time last year… They’re only sitting in a biscuit tin on top of the cupboard in the kitchen. I bet that you have last years pud hidden away somewhere too!


This takes less than half an hour to make and is a light Stroganoff sauce, but nevertheless extremely tasty.


ISBN 0563364777 – PAGE 131.

Serves: 2 people.

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test: Pork Stroganoff with three Mustards is wonderful and even though it uses three different types of mustard they are not overwhelming. Using crème fraiche meant that the sauce wasn’t too rich.

TIP 1: Use good quality mustards – they make all the difference.

TIP 2: Scatter a little freshly chopped parsley over the plain boiled rice to give the dish some colour, if you decide not to serve the green salad.

Kitchen Equipment Used: Tefal non-stick frying pan.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Yummy Christmas Cake

The Christmas cake has been made this week. Fruit soaked in brandy and the tin lined the night before. This year the stress of not being sure whether the cake is really cooked was taken away by using a cake tester bought from Lakeland Limited – try one – they are a baking must have. No more uncooked/overcooked Christmas cakes for me!!


I made these Delia pancakes because – well, for no specific reason other than I like making pancakes..


ISBN 780563214540
– PAGE 296

Makes: 12-14 pancakes.

Skill Level: Easy

Taste Test – Excellent – this really is the very best recipe for Basic Pancakes you will come across because using melted butter and also using some water instead of all milk makes a much lighter pancake.

TIP 1: Make sure your pan is really hot before adding the batter.

TIP 2: Try using freshly squeezed orange instead of lemon – you will be glad you did!

Kitchen Equipment Used: A Bamix Hand Blender.