Sunday, 29 January 2012


To continue with my scottish menu I have chosen this gorgeous dish which has been adapted from a Thomasina Miers recipe and is guaranteed to melt any heart along with the chocolate that goes in it.  There are a lot of ingredients but that doesn't mean it's difficult to put together.  Juniper berries are always good with venison and there is just enough chocolate to give it an earthy richness without it tasting like chocolate sauce.

Once you've marinated the meat it is more or less a case of slow cooking and it can be made a couple of days in advance to make your life even easier.  There's nothing like bung it in the oven cooking.   We went out for a bracing and invigorating walk then came back to this hearty warming stew - proper comfort food.  This should serve 4 people.

1/2 Bottle Red Wine
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed
1 Sprig Rosemary
2 Sprigs of Thyme
1 Red Chili Deseeded and finely chopped  
5 Juniper Berries Crushed
1 tbsp Olive Oil

700g Venison
1 Onion Chopped
1 Carrot Diced
1 Parsnip Diced
2 Celery Stalks finely Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves
Pinch of Dried Chillies
300ml Stock
1/2 Bottle Red Wine
1 tbsp Redcurrant Jelly
50g Chocolate in small pieces

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and add the meat.  Leave it over night if you can or as long as possible.

Next remove the venison from the marinade but reserve the marinade for later.  In a casserole, brown all the meat in a little oil and put to one side.  Next soften your onions,  when they become translucent add the carrot, parsnip and celery.  Cook for a further 10 minutes allowing them to brown.  Lastly add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Now return the meat to the casserole along with the reserved marinade.  Bring everything to the boil and once it's bubbling turn off the heat, add the redcurrant and chocolate and stir till melted.  Put the whole casserole in the oven at 190C for 1 1/2 hours.  That wasn't complicated was it.


Even my children don't mind eating cabbage when it's done like this.  While you're boiling 250g Spuds, blanch 4 leaves from a Medium Savoy Cabbage.  You don't want the first outside leaves but the next ones in.  Blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes then immediately put them into cold water to stop them cooking further.  Finely shred the remaining cabbage and saute in a little Butter till tender.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash them along with 40g of Cheddar.  Stir in your shredded cabbage and season with Salt and White Pepper.

Now divide the potato between the cabbage leaves and gather each leaf to form a parcel.  To help them keep their shape, I have rested them in a deep muffin tray ready for the oven.  Sprinkle over a little more cheese and cook at 190C for 10-15 minutes till the cheese is bubbling and brown.

Stay tuned for the pudding! x

Saturday, 28 January 2012


It was Burns Night this week so I decided to come up with a scottish inspired menu.  Some of the recipes are traditional and some not so traditional.  I'm kicking off with Haggis for my starter.

Haggis is sheeps heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices.  It's encased in the sheeps stomach and boiled.  Doesn't sound particularly appetising really but in fact it's quite delicious.

I didn't cook mine in the traditional way but instead split the haggis open and cooked it like mince.

Haggis in Filo Pastry on Neeps & Tatties with redcurrant & Marsala Jus          (serves 6)

1 Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Small Haggis
6 Filo Sheets
Butter/Oil to brush

Half a small Swede (Neeps)
6 New Potatoes
Olive Oil

500ml Stock
1 Glass Marsala
1 tbsp Redcurrant Jelly

Finely chop the onion and soften with a little oil in a large frying pan, when it becomes translucent add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Now split open the haggis and add to the pan.  You will need to crumble it a little with a fork to start with.  Cook for 10-15 minutes until it has browned.

To assemble your parcels, cut each filo sheet in half horizontally then vertically so you have 4 equally sized pieces.  Spray them with oil or brush with butter then arrange them crossing over each other like a star - am I making sense here? I hope so.  Put a tablespoon of the haggis mixture in the centre and gather  up the pastry to make the parcel.

Bake at 160C for 15 minutes.

Cut the swede and potatoes into small cubes and saute them to brown, season with S&P and some thyme then put them in the oven to finish cooking along with the haggis.

Tip your stock into a frying pan and heat, when it starts to simmer add the marsala and bring to the boil, cook for 2-3 minutes then add the redcurrant jelly stirring till it melts - Done

Scottish Scotch Eggs

I used a large haggis so I had extra to play around with. I came up with a Scottish Scotch Egg.  It was basically the raw haggis wrapped around a quails egg, dipped in egg and bread crumbs then deep fried.  It made a good appetiser and I think a few ended up in my son's lunch box too Xx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


This year I am going on a new adventure that could be bigger than last years, if that's possible.  I have wanted to pass on the word about baking and cooking for a long while and always thought that not having a teaching degree was stopping me, but no, the only thing stopping me was in fact me! 

In February I start after school sessions with children.  I have been working with children for over 15 years and I love it,  they have so much imagination and are full of fun and fresh ideas. I'm sure I may learn a thing or two myself.

I am also expanding my baking empire (!)  I shall continue to supply The Aubergine Cafe and Toast in West Kirby and Dafna's Cheesecake Factory in Liverpool.  But I am now creating Dessert Towers for special occasions or just because it's Dessert Tower Tuesday.

They are a collection of all you favourite tea time treats such as Cupcakes, Brownies, Lemon Meringue Pies, Pavlovas, Fruit Tarts and more

Saturday, 7 January 2012


Unfortunately I'm not a great fan of panettone, it's the bits of peel I'm not keen on but I love getting them at christmas because they usually come in such beautiful tins.  In past years I've made them into bread and butter pudding but this year I wanted to come up with something different.

This is my version of a summer pudding with a hint of winter.  I've added mulling spice I had left from a hamper and star anise to the fruit in an attempt to make christmas last just a little longer.

Over a medium heat warm 900g Soft Fruit with 200g Sugar.  I used a bag of cherries and a bag of mixed berries that included blackberries, strawberries and redcurrants, both were frozen but you can use fresh. Blackberry and Apple are also a good combination. To this add 2 Star Anise and 1 Mulled Wine Spice bag.

Gently cook for 5 minutes till the sugar has dissolved and the juices begin to run. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly while you line your basin or ramekins.

You will need 2/3 of a Large Panettone to make 6 individual ramekins or a 1 1/2 pint pudding basin.  I lined mine with cling film to make them  easy to store remove.  Cut a circle to line the base then add slices slightly overlapping around the sides.  Fill each one with fruit and juices, reserving about half the juice, then cover with a panettone lid.

Place each pudding on a baking sheet, bring your cling film over the tops of the ramekins to cover then place another baking sheet on top.  Next use a heavy weight on top and place in the fridge.  I used a 3 litre water bottle.  Leave it over night for the juices to soak in.

To serve, turn your puddings out and pour over the reserved sauce to cover any white patches then just add cream x


One of the favourite things I made this christmas were Gingerbread Cupcakes with a Mascarpone Buttercream top and finished with a mini Gingerbread Biscuit.  Unfortunately they were so delicious I didn't manage to get a photos before they were scoffed - every time!  The only evidence I have is the picture above of the biscuits so you'll just have to imagine them, make it good though x

I think this year was the most un-organised christmas I've ever had, but judging by the amount of baking I did for others, everyone else was sorted.  Friends ordered mini pies for christmas eve and large pies for boxing day.  Cafe's were getting an array of festive cupcukes and there was a lot of edible glitter involved.

   Can't believe I made 2000 Mince Pies for
    Dafna's Cheescake Factory in Liverpool

    And a few more for The Aubergine Cafe
                      in West Kirby

My Birthday is December 9th which is not great just 2 weeks before christmas but I have a very dear friend Merry Phillips who's birthday is just 2 days before christmas.  It was a very special one this year and I was so honoured and touched to be invited to her 21st celebration.  Cake was always going to be on the cards and I came up with this small selection

Amy at Weekly Bake Off had the genius idea of having an online Secret Santa.  Everyone taking part exchanged home made gifts by post.  I have to thank you Amy for organising it all,  I had such fun putting my gift together and was unbelievably excited to take delivery of the one sent to me.

I made a Retro Hand Bag and a Felt Needle Case along with a jar of Quince Jelly, Egyptian Dukkah spice mix and a Bake-Your-Own Cookie Jar

I do hope it was liked by Jan.  I have to say I was overwhelmed by the gift I received.  It was so beautifully wrapped and as I unpacked it I could not stop squealing with joy as I discovered more delights.  Cranberry and Brandy Fudge, Millionaires Shortbread with Dates & Pecans and 2 lovely decorations.  Thank you so much but please let me know who you are, I need the recipe for those squares x

Edible gifts were the way forward for me this year.  Gingerbread Wreaths were so much fun to do and got me feeling very festive and  Gingerbread Snowflakes were a good by-product with the scraps.

Lastly,  my gift hampers.  They included Peri Spiced Olives, Mini Christmas Puddings, Quince Jelly, Dukkah Spice Mix and Lemon Infused Olive Oil

I hope you all had a great Christmas and still have a few goodies tucked away to enjoy - I do but don't tell anyone cos I'm not sharing Xx