Monthly Archives: December 2009

Christmas Cooking

Hello Everyone. Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas with lots of lovely food and drink. I did and I have some good news to tell you as well. Stuart and I are now engaged. He proposed to me on Christmas morning. We are going out tonight for a meal at The Fountain At Clent (where I went a couple of weeks ago with the girls) to celebrate it. We have not set a date or anything yet but I will keep you all informed, I promise.

Anyway, back to the food. This year, I did not have to cook Christmas dinner which was a relief. We all went round to my Auntie Ann’s and she did a fantastic job. Well done Ann and thank you for your hard work. Christmas dinner was great! :-) Instead, we had everyone round to ours on Boxing Day and I did Hot Roast Pork sandwiches, with stuffing, homemade apple sauce and gravy. I did not take any pictures of the main event, I am afraid, it was a bit crazy, however, I have some pictures of other things I made to go with the pork sandwiches.

I have a confession to make: I did not make the pastry and the mincemeat for the mince pies. I did not have the time to make either. Its awful I know. Pastry and I do not get on. It is the one thing I cannot make. If you have any tips, please let me know!

I have blogged about Rocky Road and Toffee on here before. Please find the posts here and here. They are great for parties and loved by kids and adults alike.

Do you still have leftovers from Christmas? I do. Here is  a couple of ways that I have used to get rid of them. First of all, is pizza. Pizza is great for using up leftover cooked meat and cheese. Just make the pizza dough (my recipe is here), put on a tomato sauce and the toppings that you want and you have a reasonably quick and simple meal for all the family.

My second way of using up leftovers is curry. In this case, I had leftover pork from Boxing Day but any leftover cooked meat will do. Just follow my recipe from here. However, when you make the curry using already cooked meat, do not add it in at the same time as you do the uncooked meat, otherwise it will fall apart and you will have no chunks of meat left in the sauce when you come to eat it. Add the meat in after you have added the tinned tomatoes and stock. Meat that has been left in the fridge can go dry (Jamie Oliver told me that on his Christmas show), however, by reheating it in the curry sauce, the meat will go moist again. I have also started cooking my curry in the oven as it requires less stirring and you don’t need to watch it as much. It is up to you though – whatever you want is fine with me.

Do you have any ideas what I can do with leftover mincemeat? What else can you do with leftovers? I would love to know.

I will be back early in the New Year with a post about my foodie goals for 2010 as there are a few thimgs I would like to learn/do.  See you next year.

Happy New Year! :-)

Fröhliche Weihnachten!


Today is my first day off of the Christmas holiday season and this afternoon, I decided after wrapping lots of presents and battling my way around Tesco, that I would treat myself to a visit to the Frankfurt German Christmas Market in Birmingham. Today was the last day of the market for this year, however it returns every year at the same time and I thought I would tell you about a few highlights of the market to encourage you to visit it next year, if you have not already.

By the way, the title of this post translates to Merry Christmas if my A Level German is correct! There are many things sold at this market and I have listed a few of them below:

  • Crafts/candles and other assorted similar stuff
  • Cider, both hot mulled and normal
  • Mulled wine (Gluhwein)
  • Hot Cherry Beer
  • Bratwurst (sausages)
  • German Beer
  • Mushrooms and chips in a creamy garlic sauce
  • Fresh baked bread and cakes
  • and so on…

I think you get the idea. I also think that you get that what I really like is the food! It is fantastic, cooked fresh everyday and is delicious. It is slightly on the expensive, but what the hey, it only comes once a year. The last couple of years, the German market has been joined by a craft market with local UK producers in it and this year, it was bigger than ever. When I went a couple of weeks ago with some family and friends, one stall took my interest and it was called Dutch Pot (Sorry unable to find its website) and it sold Jamacian dishes, like Jerk Chicken and Ackee and Saltfish. However, the one dish I really wanted to try was Curried Goat and this is what I went back to try today.  I have never tried goat before and I will always try anything once and I do not really expect to be cooking it at home, anytime soon either.

I was unable to get a picture of the Curried Goat as lighting conditions were poor. It was served with Rice and Peas and some sort salad thing with carrots, peas, sweetcorn and some sliced white thing that I could not tell what it was.  The goat was lovely, very tender and it tasted a bit like lamb. The curry sauce was yummy. I was not to sure about the rice and  peas to be honest, not much flavour there, nor in the salad thing. I could not see what the salad thing added to dish. On the other hand, I loved the goat and would like to have it again.

After trying the Curried Goat, I went and had a mug of mulled wine and while drinking it, it started snowing! How much more Christmassy can you get? I am now geared up and ready for a few days of eating, drinking and being merry! Please let me know in the comment, on Twitter or on Facebook, your experiences of Christmas Markets, not only the Birmingham one, I would love to hear them.

I will be back again sometime between now and the New Year to tell you about the Boxing Day Feast I am hosting for my family. Until then,

Happy Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! :-)

Festive Foodie Fun!

Tis the season to be jolly! (and drunk, full to bursting and hungover the next day!) It is Christmas party/dinner season and I have four Christmas meals to attend this year. I am halfway through them now. Today, I would like to tell you about a Christmas meal that I had with my friends last weekend at The Fountain At Clent in Worcestershire. It is a place that I have been too many times and I have wanted to tell you all about it for ages.  It has won many awards for its food and drink and is featured in the Good Pub Guide.

When we arrived we were given the choice of having the fixed price (£25 per head) Christmas Fayre menu or choosing from the A La Carte menu. I decided to have the A La Carte menu has it offered more choice than the Christmas menu, which was the same thing but with less options to choose from. My friends split 50/50 with menu choices. However, it did not really matter as we had a fantastic time anyway.  Starters and puddings average around £6-£7 and mains were around £13-£17.

For the starter course, I had their homemade plant pot cooked granary bread split in half and covered in cheddar and mozzarella. It was delicious – creamy, crunchy, garlicky, and cheesy all at the same time. My only complaint about the whole meal was that this and my main were topped with cress of some sort as a garnish. It did not really add anything to either dish and should not of been there in my opinion.

My main course was a whole locally shot braised pheasant in a rich stock sauce with root vegetables and finished with port and cranberries. All mains are served with chips, potatoes of the day (it our case – potato dauphinoise) and a selected of five steamed vegetables (we had cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, peas, carrots and fine beans – I think)   It was first time I had ever tried pheasant and I very impressed. It was like chicken but had a much richer and deeper flavour. It was a massive portion though. It would have fed three people, not just one. It was one of the best dishes I have ever had. It was that yummy!

For pudding, I had warm compote of winter fruits which was a Kilner jar filled with the compote and it was accompanied by a raspberry cappuccino with a mint chocolate straw. It was the perfect combination of sweet and sour. I loved it, especially the presentation. Apologies for the photos, I was trying to take them quickly as I just wanted to dig in and eat the food! Overall, we had a lovely time at The Fountain and I urge you all to go and give it a try, especially if you are local to the Midlands. Please let me know in the comments if you have ever been there and want you thought. I welcome your opinions.

I will be back before Christmas with a post about the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Guest Post from Mapperz: Banana Bread

Hello everyone. This is Jo. Today I am taking the day off and handing over control of my blog to Mapperz, who has excellent blog on Mapping, GIS and Cartography stuff. You can find him on Twitter and the link to his blog is here.  Mapperz enjoys cooking as well. Therefore, I asked if he could share his banana bread recipe with you as it is something I will never make. Stuart and I dislike bananas. However, I hope you will all make it and come and let us know how it went. Happy Cooking! :-)


What do you do with those bananas beyond normal ripeness?

Well you can make bread with them

“in between during blogging about maps and gis related stuff, the hands of a cartographer can make rustic things in the kitchen.”

On a request from a person close it was put upon me to make a cake, a cake that can be toasted and eaten warm of just sliced and enjoying consumed (or scoffed in west country terms) and enjoy with homemade wine

The recipe is simple just produces some good aromas and very nice taste –

You will be surprised.

Preparation time (including, weighing dry and wet mix) 10 mins

Cooking/Baking time 55 mins (pre-heated oven – or just pop after the oven has been on.

Consuming time – less than a 1 minute.

Banana Bread

Serve warm or cold, plain or toasted with butter.


  • 3-4 medium bananas – the older the better.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 250 g plain/strong bread flour
  • 180 g White Caster Sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 g walnuts nuts (Optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 g butter
  • 75g shortening
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp warm milk


Dry mix first

  1. Sieve the sugar, flour and baking powder add pinch of salt
  2. Mix by hand air the ingredients

Wet mix last

  1. Hard shortening can by used to oil baking tin, dust with flour.
  2. Butter and shortening (lard can be used) – 30 seconds in the microwave, mix in bowl to a liquid
  3. Then mashed bananas. Add the eggs & cinnamon beat together then add to main mix.
  4. Toss the walnuts in a little flour before adding to the mixture.
  5. This will prevent them from sinking.
  6. Mix with dry mix – mix well but do NOT over mix.
  7. add milk last and then final mix.
  8. Pour into baking tin
  9. Bake for 55mins at 190° C (375° F ) – use a toothpick or thin knife to check, it come out clean when cooked.

Boffin Stats

  • Calories: 335kcal, 17% of your GDA
  • Sugar: 22.3g, 25% of your GDA
  • Fat: 17.2g, 25% of your GDA
  • Saturates: 6.1g, 31% of your GDA
  • Salt: 0.6g, 10%


  • Mix all dry ingredients in together first.
  • Rack to cool tin and to cool out of tin.
  • Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container

Cooking for a Crowd!

A little while ago, you may remember me mentioning about myself and my friend Marie making a cake for her eldest son’s, Owen 3rd birthday party.  Well this time,  it was Brendon’s turn who is the younger sibling and my godson. Brendon’s party was limited, unlike to Owen’s to only family and a small amount of friends therefore Marie decided to do mostly hot food. She cooked a lamb curry and I cooked a Chili con Carne. Both recipes are below.  Marie and I received rave reviews for both dishes so we decided to share both of the recipes with you today to make yourself when cooking for a crowd. Marie also made Brendon’s cake which she expertly decorated with IgglePiggle from In the Night Garden children’s tv show. I think it is really cute! Anyway, to the recipes:

Lamb Curry (words by Marie)

My curry recipe is adapted from a jamie Oliver curry but I like the taste of marinated meat and the lovely melt in your mouth texture so that’s how this recipe came about.

Ingredients for marinade

  • 1 large green chilli (chopped)
  • 1/2oz salt
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 2tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1oz grated root ginger
  • 1oz fresh coriander
  • 1tbsp red food colouring
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 1/2 to 1 pint natural yogurt depending on how much meat you have

Method for marinade

Mix oil, ginger, tomato puree, garlic and green chilli. Add salt and spices and blend together well. Stir in coriander and food colouring them blend in yogurt until mixed. Put your meat into the mixture and cover with cling film and refridgerate overnight.

Method for Curry Paste

The curry is made in two processes here is step one.

Paste ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • An inch cubed of Ginger
  • 3 roasted peppers from a jar
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 2tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • Small bunch fresh coriander
  • Spices to toast – 1tsp cumin seeds, 1tsp fenugreek seeds, 2tsp coriander seeds, 1tsp black peppercorns

Toast spices for a minute until you hear them ‘popping’ then use a spice grinder or food processor to grind them to a powder. Put all other ingredients together in a food processor and add the freshly groud spices and mix well then set aside until you need them.

Method for Curry base


  • 2lb cubed lamb pieces, I used shoulder but neck is also fantastic
  • 2 large onions (halved and sliced)
  • 1 or 2 fresh red chillies (finely sliced)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1in cubed ginger (chopped)
  • Groundnut oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Good sized knob of butter
  • 1 or 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 700ml boiling water
  • 1 large handful of red lentils

Put a large pan on a medium heat and add butter an oil, now add the onions, chilli, ginger and bay leaves and cook until golden. Add the lamb and some salt and pepper and cook until quite well browned. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a few mins then add the tomatoes, boiling water and the curry paste you made earlier. Now stir in the lentils, bring to the boil then simmer with the lid on for about an hour and half but check to make sure the curry is not getting too dry, if it is add a little more Water as required.

Now sit back and enjoy, I like my curry with a lovely nann bread or poppadums.

Chili Con Carne

My chili recipe is based on one I did on an earlier post. All I really did was change the quantities to make a larger amount and let it simmer on the stove for longer.


  • 4 medium sized onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 large red or green chili, seeds removed, chopped finely
  • 3 bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • 1.6kg lean steak mince
  • 3 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons hot chilli powder
  • 1 beef  stock cube
  • 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • few drops of Worcestershire Sauce
  • few drops of soy sauce
  • hot water from the kettle
  • Salt and pepper
  • garlic bread to serve
  • kidney beans (if you like them, I do not)


In a large saucepan (I used a 5 litre stockpot), put in the olive oil and allow to warm slightly. Add the onions, peppers and the dried spices and some salt (it draws the water out of the onions, so they go soft but not brown) and allow to cook until the onions are nearly soft. Then add the chilli and the garlic and stir before adding the mince.  Allow the mince to brown, and add the oxo cube (just crumble it in). Then add the tomatoes and kidney beans (if using). Add the  Worcestershire and Soy sauce. Add hot water should the sauce get to thick and allow to simmer for 10 min’s.  Once the chilli is at the right consistency for you, serve with  garlic bread. Enjoy!

Note: I would usually serve chili with rice as well as garlic bread. However I do not advise cooking rice for a crowd of people. It is a lot of hassle and has always gone wrong when I tried to do it.

Red Hot Chili Pepper Forum

On the subject of chili’s- in around about kind of way, my godmother Rebecca has started up a forum dedicated to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. You can find the forum here. It is full of exciting and interesting people like me!  (only kidding!) So why not pop along and say hello! You can also join us on Rebecca’s other forum which is a general forum with a witchy twist. I look forward to seeing you all there!

That’s it for today. I will be back later on the week with a special guest post from Mapperz.

Happy Cooking! :-)

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