3.12.16

The Ultimate Christmas Pudding Recipe


We have a baby on the way and nesting instincts arrive with little warning, my family being directed around like soldiers while I scour ebay for suitable changing tables/bags/baskets and cleanse the house with a frantic disposition.  Poor planning (or divine intervention) means due date is dangerously near Christmas and as such, the festive flourish needs to happen sooner rather than later.

High on the list was making the Christmas pudding. I know, I know, supermarkets make lovely versions that can be microwaved in four minutes and can sit in the cupboard until next year if not wanted… but a homemade version is something we’ve always done. Like never buying white sauce or low fat yoghurt. Just one of those things.

So here we are, my luxuriously laden version that I’m convinced is the best I’ve ever eaten. Steam tomorrow and it will be ready to be reheated for the giant lunch and served with brandy cream (shop bought, if you are interested). 





 
THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS PUDDING



SERVES 8-10

PREP TIME – 25 MINUTES

COOK TIME – 7 HOURS



INGREDIENTS



A little softened butter, for greasing

225g caster sugar

200g suet

300g currants

300g raisins

300g citrus peel

100g glace cherries

75g pistachios, roughly chopped

110g plain flour

110g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. mixed spice

Zest from 1 lemon

5 eggs, lightly beaten

50ml whiskey

100ml Cointreau

FOR THE TOPPING

3 tbsp. apricot jam, melted

Zest of 1 clementine

A handful of toasted almonds, pecan nuts and glace cherries



INSTRUCTIONS



1. Lightly grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin with softened butter and cut a small circle of parchment to place in the base of the pudding bowl.



2. Combine the sugar, suet, currants, raisins, citrus peel, cherries, pistachio, plain flour, breadcrumbs, spices and lemon zest in a very large mixing bowl.



3. Add the eggs, whiskey and Cointreau and stir all the ingredients together until well distributed and spoon the wet mixture into the pudding basin, pressing the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Place a round of baking parchment over the top of the mixture and then wrap with a layer of foil so that the basin is watertight. Secure with string.



4. Either put the basin in the pan of boiling water, to come halfway up the sides or in the top of a lidded steamer and steam for 6 hours, checking every so often that the water is topped up.



5. Cool your pudding and store, re - wrapped in foil for 6 weeks, until the big Christmas day.



6. Once ready to re-heat, steam the wrapped pudding – still in it’s basin - for a further 3 hours. To serve, remove from the basin and brush with warmed apricot jam. Decorate with cherries, nuts and clementine and serve, with a side of ice cream. 

An image I took for Judes ice cream a few weeks ago, of said pudding!  

5.11.16

26 Grains, London



Really could porridge become and more pimped? Yes people, it can. 26 Grains, the brainchild of Alex Hely Hutchinson is a cute café nestled in Neal’s Yard, amongst the infamous Neal’s Yard headquarters. The location is the sort of secret only real Londoners know about, all hanging baskets, muted tones and aged brickwork.

The café (I think its more café than restaurant) has a hipster vibe to it. Tiny, with small wooden tables, whitewashed walls and an oblicitory smattering of copper. Porridge is the only thing on the menu but man do they do it well, its pimped beyond any porridge I’d eaten before and kicks those pret cardboard pots out of the water.  We sat outside, just next to the street cleaning man – making the whole experience all the more London – and cuddled generous bowls of their Nodic Pear option, think coconut milk, oats, spices, seeds, cacao crumble, coconut yoghurt, pear & maple. And they don’t even mention the flurry of edible violets sprinkled to finish. Sweet nothings, it was so good.

And here are the others:

Hazelnut & Butter
Almond Milk Oats, Butter, Hazelnuts, Cinnamon Coconut Palm Sugar and Apple
Banana Cacao
Almond Milk Oats, Coconut Yogurt, Cacao Nibs, Banana and Date Syrup
Cardamom Orange
Almond Milk Oats and Rye, Cardamom Orange Compote, Greek Yogurt, Pomegranate, Pistachio


Jasper, my four year old eats porridge every day whether the weather Gods are smiling or crying. I arrived home from 26 Grains with my phone loaded with pics and we’ve decided that this is the only café he ever wants to eat at. I think I agree.






23.8.16

The Hart & Fuggle @ Bert & May


It was a week or two ago now but my gorgeous foodie friend Alice Hart and I ran a night in the Bert & May warehouse. I love cooking with Alice; we work well together whilst managing crises, dancing around the kitchen and offering well-timed words of encouragement. The menu was simple and in all honestly, too much was left until the final hour or two but you’ve gotta love a load of last minute kitchen panic. The crockery was stunning – Bert & May originals – and the atmosphere buzzing. Tickets sold out so I think we may be doing another evening, I’ll keep you posted.










12.7.16

COURGETTE, MINT & RICOTTA PARCELS

I’ve been quiet for a month or so. My book, due to be out next year has slightly taken over life, what with the shoots, recipe writing and general research. For the time being, the manuscript sits with a designer so I have a few weeks of breathing space. I’ll show you snippets as soon as I’m able.

According to the calendar, summer is upon us, though the weather tells us differently.  This season means picnics and playtime and not much will excite my boys more than a planned al fresco meal (even if all too often the location is a patch of well used inner city grass). There are the shop bought juice cartons and packets of crisps of course – but I do always try to make something. It makes me feel like I’m ticking that mum box.

You cook this fresh, quite simple, English filling within filo, until just crispy. The taste is mild, suitable for tiny people and the size is just right for Tupperware.

Originally a recipe developed for Higgidy, and now has become one of my favourites.




COURGETTE, MINT & RICOTTA PARCELS

Makes 9

1 courgette, grated
  1 small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  100g ricotta
  1 medium egg  + 1 egg, beaten for brushing
  1 pack filo (6 x 45g sheets)
  60g butter, melted
  Poppy seeds

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Pop the grated courgette in a sieve and squeeze to allow excess water to drain.

2 Mix the courgette, mint, ricotta and egg together in a bowl and season generously.
Lay a sheet of filo on the work surface and brush with melted butter. Sandwich a second sheet on top and brush again before cutting the double-thickness filo, lengthways, into three strips.

3 Starting at one end of a strip, pop a large spoonful of the mixture into a corner. Fold the corner over diagonally, to form a triangle, and continue folding in this way until you reach the other end of the strip.


4 Glaze your finished parcels with an egg wash, sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake for 20 minutes.