Mushroom and Chestnut Strudel

Crammed with mushrooms, chestnuts and festive cranberries and wrapped in shatteringly crisp filo, this works as the centrepiece for a vegan or vegetarian Christmas dinner. It’s also a useful addition to a bigger spread if you’re trying to cater both for omnivores and those who prefer a plant-based diet. Continue reading

Devilled Crab Pasties

For an island nation we’re curiously uninspired when it comes to buying fish. Apparently the seafood us UK shoppers are most likely to sling into our shopping trolleys is salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and warm water prawns.

Nothing wrong with that, you might say, except that a good deal of it is imported (and in the case of the prawns fairly tasteless) yet we have so much amazing seafood available from our own waters. It’s madness not to take advantage of what’s on our doorstep and with coronavirus impacting our fleets’ exports it’s virtually a moral duty. Continue reading

A Coronavirus Christmas #2

My great-auntie Gertie, she of the rabbit-skinning speed record (Portly passim), used to keep a drawer full of gifts in her dressing table. Not ones she had bought in advance, the sort of thing you stash away on the off-chance you’ll match it to a suitable recipient, but ones she’d been given. It was not uncommon to get back the Christmas present you’d sent her a year or two earlier, neatly re-wrapped. Continue reading

A Coronavirus Christmas #1

Regardless of any lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic means few of us will be enjoying an extended family Christmas this year, and opportunities to meet up with far-flung friends and relatives ahead of the holiday are getting harder to organise safely. I suspect a lot of presents will be ordered online and delivered via mail or courier and it’s entirely possible that our Christmas dinner ingredients will be arriving the same way. 

What follows is pretty much what I’d love to be given as gifts if I hadn’t already cracked and bought them for myself because of my out-of-control web-based buying habit. (Many of us have explored new hobbies during lockdown and it seems this is mine.) Continue reading

Beef, Quince and Prune Pudding

This is the best sort of comfort food, the flavours bursting out of that glorious suet crust with beefy, fruity bravado. I think I’m in danger of over-egging this particular pudding but honestly, give it a go before the quince season slips through our fingers, it’s really good. Continue reading

Thai-style Mussels

I don’t have a lot in common with Nigella Lawson, sad to say, but from what I recall from one of her TV programmes, like her, I always keep a tub of Thai curry paste in the fridge. I am also fortunate in having a fishmonger who will deliver to my door, which during lock-down is an absolute boon. Continue reading

Gingerbread Mummies

This is a Hallowe’en bake where, fortunately for me, having the icing skills of a pre-schooler is no disadvantage, so if you actually have a four (five, six, seven, eight or thereabouts) year old, you’re ahead on points.

It’s a fun and safe recipe to make with youngsters, hot oven trays apart, obviously. The gingerbread is a very forgiving dough, so it really doesn’t matter too much if your child mauls it during rolling and cutting. Happily, it tastes good enough to please all the family, while allowing for lots of yummy mummy jokes. Continue reading

Bonfire Night Tray Bake

We called it Guy Fawkes’ Night when I was a child, and saw nothing odd about burning the effigy of a human being on top of our back garden bonfires. Dad would fire off rockets from milk bottles buried in the ground, the Catherine Wheels would always fizzle out after a couple of revolutions, I’d make patterns with my sparkler and my big brother would try to terrorise me with bangers thrown near my feet. It was over in no time but then we’d crowd into the kitchen. Continue reading

Mummy Sausage Plait

I’ve never met a child who didn’t like a sausage pie and this Hallowe’en plait is a cheap and easy addition to a spooktastic table. To be honest, it makes me laugh every time I look at it, so it wouldn’t be out of place at a grown-ups’ supper either. Childish grown-ups, anyway. Continue reading

Tudor Quince Pie

This pie is my interpretation of one in Thomas Dawson’s The Good Housewife’s Jewel, first published at the end of the 16th century, and the latest in my new series of historical recipes. I’ve followed his suggestions for both pastry and filling as faithfully as I can, because although Dawson gave more detail than many of his contemporaries, there’s still plenty of room for guesswork and because I’ve adapted it to modern tastes. Continue reading