Monthly Archives: December 2014

Our Epic Feast

I’ve only just recovered enough from our Xmas dinner to talk about it.

Family consensus was to have an untraditional dinner this year. Not everyone was enthralled with the prospect of changing the big bird feast and there was quite some discussion. An idea was thrown in to cook a course each which sounded exciting to me. Kind of Italian style with a few antipasti, maybe a pasta, a little fish and duck for the slightly miffed annual big bird eaters who were grumbling that we could eat Italian everyday. The courses were delegated and we agreed to be prepped and ready to go for six o clock.

There was a little confusion on this point but it all landed on the table in a delicious  succession .

Here’s what we ate

Herby garden salad with toasted seeds and honeyed goats cheese



Istanbul mussels , stuffed with rice and dill




Braised fennel with tomato, capers, olives and lemon ricotta




Tagliatelle with wild mushrooms




Fatty prawns with borlotti beans and roasted cherry tomatoes




Roasted Brussel sprout risotto




And for the big bird eaters

A Salad of duck confit and raspberry vinegar



Which must have been totally delicious because even after all the previous course the plates were scraped clean




It didn’t stop there. We had xmas pud with lashings of cream, slices of buche de noel which i couldn’t quite manage and Irish or French coffee to wash it all down.

Quite the feast.

I did wake up at five o’clock in the morning feeling like a beached whale but apart from that I’d highly recommend this method of feasting.

The dirty dishes were fairly epic and of course as we had all cooked there was no designated dishwasher but somehow we muddled through

Funnily enough the desserts were traditional. I don’t know what happened there but I was very happy to have the Xmas pudding. Delicious. I’m not quite sure how I squeezed it in.


Xmas Baking Frenzy

Our kitchen has turned into a cookie/cake/truffle factory and we are all feeling slightly sick from eating so many sweet things. All in the name of research that is.


We have made Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti,


Hand Made Truffles – absolutely the best even if I say so myself


Xmas Jewel Cakes, jam packed with candied fruit and nuts


Torta di Nocciole e Clementini – an Italian extravaganza which we make with home made candied clementines, soaked in brandy and mixed with toasted almonds and hazelnuts, fatty sultanas and chocolate


There are also hand made chocolates , raw chocolate truffles, Baci di Dama and all manner of home-made cookies waiting to be packed.

And I have finally finished packing the Xmas puddings.


Time for lunch – we’re off to Deasy’s!

Roots and Wine

Sometimes we enthusiastically drink wine in the middle of the week, this can lead to a ‘hang on a minute, what the heck are we doing’ moment and the cork goes back in the bottle. The bottle then loiters on the counter until we drink it or fling it in a dinner.

Roots and wine are a excellent combination and get the left over wine off of the counter and out of temptations way. The robust flavours of carrots, parsnips and beetroots mellow nicely when cooked slowly with wine, puy lentils, bay leaves and onions. I stirred in tablespoon of pomegranate molasses at the end which gave it a bright little lift.


Served with some mash they make an easy midweek dinner.


The mash can be spuds alone but often it’s a blend. Last night it was pumpkin and kale.

We’re eating a lot of pumpkin and kale at the moment, having a stash of pumpkins and plenty of kale growing in the garden. I mix fifty fifty potatoes and pumpkin, mash them with a little olive oil or butter then stir in finely chopped and sautéed kale.


This is a delicious winter dinner and I might as well mention it’s very good washed down with a glass of red wine!!

2 onions – peeled and chopped into wedges

a good glug of olive oil

3 stems of celery – diced

2-4 carrots – peeled and chopped into chunks

1-2 parsnips – peeled and chopped into wedges

4-6 beetroots -peeled and chopped into equal sized chunks

3 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped

2 bay leaves

150g puy lentils

about 250mls red wine – or whatever’s left in the bottle

750mls vegetable stock

1 tbs pomegranate molasses

salt and pepper


Heat a large saucepan the add a good glut of olive oil, enough to just cover the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Stir in the celery and continue cooking


Peel and chop the vegetables in the above order, adding to the pan as they are prepared. Season with a little salt and keep cooking and stirring on a medium heat.


Add the bay leaves then the puy lentils, wine and vegetable stock, bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for forty minutes. Check the vegetables and puy lentils. If they are tender they’re ready to go. Stir in 1tbs of pomegranate molasses and season with a little salt and pepper.