Cranberry and orange relish


If the stuff in a jar doesn’t particularly excite you, it’s ever so easy to make your own, and much more tasty.  There’s no picture of mine, as it is currently being stored in an old ice cream tub.

Juice and zest 1 orange, and mix that with a large tablespoon of sugar.  Heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Add one packet of cranberries (300 g in my supermarket), and simmer gently for some time until the cranberries have broken down somewhat, stirring from time to time.  Taste, and be prepared to add more sugar, if needed.


Mince Pies like you’ve never had before.


I was never particularly bothered about mince pies, as most shop bought ones have not done much for me.  The pastry tends to be a very odd texture, and commercially produced mincemeat holds few attraction for my palate.  So, I thought I’d have a go at making my own last year.  It was much more fun, and the results much better than i hoped.  This year I had the production line much more streamlined.

Take a batch of orange and Cointreau mincemeat, as per my earlier post.

Orange pastry uses 500 g plain flour and 175 g icing sugar, and 375 g butter or stork.  Whizz them up to fine breadcrumbs in a processor.  Add the zest of one orange and enough of the juice to bind the mixture.

Roll out, and cut.  I use an 8 cm cutter for the lower piece, and the 5 cm cutter for the lid, but your tins might need slightly different sizes.  Don’t stuff them completely full of mincemeat, or it will ooze out and make everything stick to the tin.

Brush the tops with beaten egg, and bake at 170 fan for about 20-25 minutes.

Our Church Administrator can vouch for the magnificence of these pies!

Christmas Cake

The last time I iced a cake was our wedding cake, so I am more than a little rusty at that.

It’s a “standard” fruit cake, although I have added apricots, cranberries, and orange zest.  I soaked the fruit in port, and used port for feeding it.  I also increase the proportion of fruit above some recipes.

The recipe I used is for two 2lb loaf tins, which I think is much more practical.

Christmas Pudding


Before we get any smart references to “stir up Sunday”, this is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time, and the best puddings mature for 12 months+ before being consumed.

Take a 500 g bag of mixed dried fruit and peel, add two 75 g bags of orange flavoured cranberries, add 200 g of prunes, chopped up (pair of scissors is easiest), and soak in 250 ml of sherry.  You can mix and match the fruit a bit according to what’s the best deal in your supermarket, but prunes are quite important (think Plum Pudding).  You can also use whatever sherry suits your taste – Croft Original, Harvey’s Bristol Cream, etc.  You might well find the fruit soaks up all the sherry – keep adding more until it stops soaking it up.

Mix 130 g of plain flour, 170 g of breadcrumbs, 200 g of suet, 200 g Muscovado sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cloves, 2 teaspoons of mixed spice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.

To the dry mixture, add the zest of one or two lemons (depending upon size), 1 large cooking apple (grated), 3 tablespoons of honey, and 4 eggs.  Mix thoroughly.

Scrape in the soaked fruit and any liquid left, and mix very thoroughly.

There’s enough mixture for about four pints worth of pudding basin(s).

Wrap tightly in foil and steam for five hours for a very large one, or three for smaller ones, or in between.

When cool, unwrap, cover with cling and store in a cool dark place.

Steam for at least two hours on the day, and at least three for a bigger pudding.  Do NOT be tempted to microwave it if you want a decent pudding.

Chocolate orange mousse


Yet another vegetarian recipe.  Whatever has come over me?

This is so very simple.  Take 100 g of dark chocolate, and melt it GENTLY in the microwave.  I managed to find, by chance a 100 g bar of FairTrade dark chocolate with orange.

While that is melting, separate two eggs.  Keep the yolks to one side, and whip up the whites stiffly.  If your can’t do this (with an electric whisk!) before the chocolate melts, you’re not melting the chocolate gently enough (that took me nearly ten minutes on the lowest setting of the microwave).

Add the egg yolks and the juice of one squeezed orange (about 75 ml) to the chocolate and whip it all together.  then GENTLY fold in the beaten egg whites.

Pour into the serving containers, and leave in the fridge for some hours to set.

People say my portions are too big.  I have no idea what they mean, but this mousse was served in 2 ounce shot glasses, which no-one can say are too big – you can only just get a teaspoon in them!

Sweet and sour peaches


Here’s a quick and simple dessert, that is easy to make in various quantities, including quite large.  It also has the virtue of being more impressive than its effort deserves.

Take a tin of peaches – the very cheapest with a variety of shapes and sizes is fine.  Open the tin, and drain quite carefully.  You can chuck the syrup down the sink, you don’t need it for this recipe.  Put the peaches in the bottom of the dish.  The dish I used had four tins of peaches.

Then mix an equal quantity of whipped cream and natural yogurt.  The dish I used had a pint of double cream, which I whipped, then added the yogurt and continued whipping.  Once it is all thoroughly mixed, empty over the peaches and smooth out.

Sprinkle with brown sugar, cover with cling film, and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.


Cumberland pie?


Cottage pie?  Shepherd’s pie?  Cumberland pie?

Aren’t they all the same thing?  NO!  Cottage pie is minced beef, topped with mashed potato, an no bit in the meat.  Shepherd’s pie is the same, but with minced lamb rather than than beef.  Cumberland pie is minced beef with carrots in it, and cheesy mash.

This is a Cumberland pie.  I take a couple of onions, finely chopped, and sweat them in oil (I use rapeseed oil, made locally).  Chop some carrots into rings or half moons, depending upon their size, and add them.  Then add 1 lb of mince, and brown it.  Then add seasoning, and and crumble in a beef Oxo cube.  It needs to cook for a while to soften the carrots.  Then add a little Bisto powder, and some water to make enough gravy.

Boil and mash the potatoes, and then add a reasonable amount of cheese that tastes of something (i.e don’t use economy mild something and expect any flavour.

Put the potatoes on top on the meat mixture, and bake for about half an hour at about 140.