Beef Brisket Chilli aka Posh Chilli

Along side medicine and the tea room I do some consulting work on drones. Now, this is mostly boring but I do get an office. On the desk alongside the plans, a miniature jet engine and an old slide rule, lies a stethoscope. Now, this is important because recently it came up in an interview when I was asked about the most expensive item in my life……………..

“The stethoscope, for it has cost me my youth”

Doctors spend most of their youth stuck in lectures or commuting to and from placements. This is the reason most medics either have crazy hobbies or love elaborate long winded cooking. The chilli recipe below is a prime example of this, taking 2 days of slow cooking, it makes a great recipe to enjoy with friends. It’s not too spicy either………

 

Ingredients

  • 2kg Beef Brisket
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Onions
  • 1 Head of Celery
  • 3 Peppers
  • 2 Tins Kidney Beans
  • 1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • Spices – Salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, chilli, cinnamon
  • Moonshine
  • Camp coffee
  • Worcestershire sauce

 

Start in the usual fashion, collect the ingredients together in the kitchen and take a pretty photo for social media. If it’s not on facebook it didn’t happen after all.

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Chop the carrots, onions and celery roughly and place into the bottom of a large roasting dish, something like a Le Creuset is perfect. Then combine the spices in a pestle and mortar. The amount of each spice will depend on personal preference, but a tiny amount of cinnamon goes a long way.

Rub the beef in the spices mix and place into the pan on top of the veg. If you can’t be bothered to make a spice mix of your own you can always buy a packet………I won’t judge, I promise.

We haven’t quite got to the oven part yet I’m afraid. I told you, medics like long-winded cooking. My favourite chilli from my time in America was at this smoke pit near Reno where they used burnt ends to add smokey depth. Now, I’ve resisted the urge to build a smoker and instead added some moonshine, camp coffee and a dash of Worcestershire sauce instead.

Cook in a low oven  (the bottom of an Aga) overnight.

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Feeling well rested from a long night dreaming of homemade chilli, retrieve your beef from the oven and set aside. From the stock remove and finely dice the veg, these can be added back to the chilli later.

Roughly chop 3 peppers and gently soften in some oil on a low heat, then when cooked add in the veg from before. To this veg mix, add the kidney beans and a tin of chopped tomatoes.

Now the fun begins. Remove the butchers string from your beef brisket and cut into chunks along the grain of the meat. Then take out all the stress in your life….using forks or your fingers shred the beef.

Return the shredded beef to the Le Creuset along with more herbs and spices. As you can tell I’ve cheated and used a Colemans mix. Now add the stock and combine all together.

Then it’s back to the oven. Again its an overnight job, but then it will finally be done. I promise.

Time to eat

 

Right, after 2 days of slow cooking you should have made the decision of what you are going to have your chilli with……..I’ve gone simple with a jacket potato and a bit of cheese. I contemplated chilli cheese fries, but……………

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Anyway, well done if you make this at home, it takes a long time but is definitely worth the wait. I’m tempted to add it to the tea room menu, what do you think?

 

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Homemade Strawberry Jam

If you’ve ever visited the tea room, you might be aware that we do group tours of the Abbey and church. Normally we organise these for WIs or historic groups, but occasionally we just do a drop in. Well, after one tour we had a few strawberries left over………

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So what do you do if you have 3.5lbs of fruit left over and a tea room. The obvious answer is to make jam. Now, I make chilli jam all the time but shy away from fruit generally. It’s relatively difficult to make because it requires an accurate ratio of fruit to sugar and pectin to set. This is in addition to boiling to a specific temperature. However, as a pretty girl once told me, you’re a surgeon that flies drones, builds model aeroplanes and helps run a tea room, you can do everything……….

So, to rise to that challenge –

Homemade Strawberry Jam

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Ingredients

  • 3.5lbs Strawberries
  • 3.5lbs Jam sugar
  • 2 Lemons (juice)

You ideally also need a jam pan, jam jars, sugar thermometer and a funnel

Start by getting all the ingredients and equipment and taking a pretty photo. Really don’t know what I’ll do if I have to move to the city – farmhouse kitchens are nicer.

Once the photos have been taken, remove the stalk and tops off all the strawberry’s. You can cut into half’s or quarters at this point as well to help them cook faster.

Place the fruit into the jam pan and put on a low heat- the simmering hob of an AGA works fantastic. Simmer the fruit down till it has formed a pulp. At this point I wondered if the pulp cooled, served over ice with gin would be an option- but that’s another day’s experimenting.

To the pulp add the sugar and lemon juice. Return to the Aga but on the boiling hob this time.

Start to increase the temperature to the jam mark on your thermometer. That’s about 104C

While the jam cooks, heat the jars up in the bottom Aga till they are too hot to touch – this sterilises them and helps the jam last.

When the jam is boiling and a spoonful placed onto a cold saucer forms a skin it is time to bottle up. Using a sterile funnel and spoon transfer the jam into jam jars. I decided to go for 4 large jars and a dozen minis. It should last for a couple of months.

 

Let’s eat

Ok, so what do you do with that much Jam.

Well, so many options – eat it on scones, use it to make a cheesecake, fill a Victoria Sponge

Either way, what it gets used for will be available to buy at the tea room tomorrow (22/7). Enjoy………

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Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs with homemade pitta

‘I’ve never seen him this angry……. Well you say you hated beer, what did you expect’

Sometimes it’s good to act out. This happened whilst I was out having a drink with a surgical SHO  and his girlfriend. She was stunningly pretty, but nothing can excuse that comment – I just had to leave.

In true Cox fashion I jumped into my Alfa, put the hood down and ignored the texts and calls asking if I was returning. I was not!! About 30mins later I found myself in a country village; it was cold, dark and I was hungry. To my good luck the village had a wonderful little Mediterranean bar, so I got a kebab and a beer and ate them on the boot of the alfa – it’s like a table anyway.

Why a kebab – well the girl was a personal trainer – so that, plus beer seemed like a moral win. Of course, I suspect that she might approve mildly. This is no normal Kebab; made with fresh ingredients, homemade pitta, chicken thighs and of course cooked on a rotisserie which helps remove fat (ish)…………

Chicken Shish

This is nothing like the 3am kebabs we remember from Uni, less greasy and a lot more tasty

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Ingredients

  • 8 Chicken thighs
  •  Olive oil
  • 2 lemons – Zest and juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • Honey

Start the day before you intend to make the kebabs, it allows the meat to marinade overnight.

Start by prepping the chicken thighs. You can either use breast or filleted thighs if you don’t fancy removing the bone yourself. Otherwise, use a pair of scissors, a knife and your fingers to remove the bone.

Cut the chicken into chunks and add to a large bowl. Then marinade, combining the spices, garlic, oil, lemon and honey. Use your hands to get the chicken fully covered.

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Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to infuse overnight.Whilst this happens phone a few people about buying a LHD MGTF and parts to convert it to an RHD………..

Right, it’s time to make a BBQ, everything’s better cooked over the coals after all.

Cooking the kebab couldn’t be easier. Just put on the BBQ when the fire’s ready (BBQ rules apply) and start cooking. It should take around 20mins. The alternative is to cook  in the oven at 200C for around 15-20mins on an oiled baking sheet.

Once the chickens cooked, take off the heat and carve into strips. All you need to do is have something to eat them in.

Pitta Bread

I’ve been making Pitta bread for years, it goes so well with Hummus. In fact I might well blog that later for you all – I stole the hummus recipe of TS during one long night.

 

 

 

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Ingredients

  • 9oz white bread flour
  • Fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 160ml water
  • 2 tsp olive oil

(olives to nibble on)

Start by mixing the flour, salt and yeast in your mixer. Add  1.5tsp of oil, I’m using a garlic infused oil for extra taste..

Bring the dough together and then add the remaining oil and water a little at a time till the dough is soft and smooth. Then knead for around 10mins.

You should end up with a pliable soft dough, which needs to proof for an hour or doubled in size.

Once doubled, knock back the dough and divide into 6 equal balls. Roll out into an oval approx 4mm in thickness.

Bake on a pre-heated tray in the top of the Aga or an oven at 250C for 10mins or golden brown.

Lets Eat

All that remains is to take some of the succulent chicken and stuff the pittas with lettuce, peppers, onion and homemade chilli sauce.

To finish the picture, all you need is a beer, some chips and the boot of the Alfa to eat it off.

Homemade Cinnabons – Cinnamon Rolls

So far I’ve eaten these little buns of delight in 5 different states, but London still has the best. It’s only recently that I realised that you can even get them in England though. In fact for a unhealthy price you can even get them delivered outside of the M25. However, if you run a proper tearoom you can’t just buy in the cakes, you have to make them.

I first made Cinnamon rolls years ago during F1 and the breakfast club. In fact they were so good that people even took them away for their boyfriends who had already started ward round. The only difference is that these Cinnabons have a decadent cream cheese frosting.

 

Cinnabons

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Buns

  • 1lb Bread Flour
  • 4oz Caster Sugar
  • 4oz Butter
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 2tsp Yeast
  • 250ml Milk
  • 2 Eggs

Filling 

  • 6oz Brown Sugar
  • 4oz Butter
  • 3tbsp Cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2oz Butter
  • 4oz Cream Cheese
  • 6oz Icing Sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract

 

Start by arguing with the Easter bunny about whose ingredients they are and then persuade him to get into the photo.

Warm the milk until body temperature and add the yeast. Then wait 5-10mins until the yeast starts to do its magic and the mix begins to froth. Then weigh out the flour, sugar and butter.

Transfer the flour, sugar and butter into the Kitchenaid and make a well in the centre. Break the 2 eggs into the centre and then fish out any shell you might have accidentally included.

Slowly combine the milk with the flour, you are aiming for quite a wet dough, something akin to the waffle dough from previous blogs. Knead on a high speed with the dough hook.

After 10mins of kneading, form the dough into a ball and proof for around 1 hour. The aim is for it to double in size. Grab a cup of tea to relax with in the mean time.

Once the dough has doubled in size, knock back and roll out onto a well floured surface. Work away from yourself until a rectangle has been achieved which is about the thickness of 2x£1 coins.

Combine the ingredients for the filling, beating together the sugar, cinnamon and softened butter.

Spread the mixture evenly over the dough, making sure to get it right to the edge. Then, tightly roll the dough towards yourself. This will give the attractive spiral for which Cinnabons are famous for.

Cut the giant Cinnabon log into individual buns, the size will depend on your hunger. I think about 4cm gives a bun of perfect size. Place into a lined tin with enough room between each bun to allow them to grow. Proof for approx 30mins till just touching.

Bake at 180C for around 35mins till golden brown. Whilst they cook make the cream cheese frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the butter and cream cheese with the balloon whisk. Once creamed together add the icing sugar and, then when smooth, the vanilla.

All that remains is to spoon the frosting onto the warm buns and then smooth on top.

Let’s Eat

Strike whilst the iron is hot, so to speak. Grab a cup of tea, a small aircraft kit and a warm Cinnabon. Enjoy, but remember to save a little for the bunny.

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P.s it’s not a bunny but a hare I’m informed.

 

Hot Cross Buns

I love hot cross buns, it’s like someone crossed bread with fruitcake and then decided that what resulted couldn’t be had all year round so decided to give it a religious connotation. Officially eaten to symbolise the end of lent, the cross depicting the crucifixion, they are now cheap and easy to get from most supermarkets.

Although the tea room always gets its bread from Stacys in Ilkeston, this year I thought I should really make these. So sit back, grab a cup of tea and enjoy me fooling around making them rather than buying them.

 

Hot Cross buns

 

Ingredients

  • 300ml Full fat milk
  • 2oz Butter
  • 1lb Strong Bread flour
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 4oz Caster sugar
  • Yeast (back to fresh yeast yay)
  • 1 Egg
  • 6oz Currants 
  • 2oz Mixed peal
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Orange zest
  • Apricot Jam for the glaze
  • 3oz Plain flour for the cross

 

Start by collecting all the ingredients that you need and then taking a picture. Or in this case forgetting to…….Then start planning a couple of hours walks while the dough proves. This is a recipe for people with a lot of time to spare…………….

Start by heating the milk on the AGA till nearly boiling. Don’t let it fully boil, just warm till it’s on the verge and then take it off. You know it’s done when you start to get little bubbles forming at the side and middle. Then add the butter (cut into small chunks). Cool till warm.

 

Whilst the milk/butter cools, measure out the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Don’t be fooled into leaving the salt out, it brings out the full flavour of the fruit. The flour should be a good strong white bread flour – Allisons is my go to choice.

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Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the cooled milk/butter. When the dough has formed, slowly add the heated egg. This enriches the bread dough and makes it lighter and richer.

Continue kneading for around 5-10mins, till it has gone through the wet stage and forms a nice smooth ball. Now put into an oiled container with a lid and allow to prove till doubled in size. This usually takes around an hour, so go for a walk.

When doubled, add the currants, cinnamon, mixed peal and orange zest. Knock back the dough and gently knead again till all the fruit is evenly distributed. Then guess what, leave to prove again for another hour (or doubled)……… Walk number 2 of the day.

Ok, now well exercised, it’s time to form the buns. Knock back the dough for the last time and separate into the required amount. I’m selling these so 4oz wet weight to allow people to get value for money in the tea room.

Weight out and roll all the buns into tight balls. I’ve slightly got the maths wrong for a dozen, but who cares. Transfer to a lined and greased baking tray then cover with a buttered piece of cling film (stops it sticking to the buns).  Prove again for 1hour or till doubled – Just get a coffee this time………

Ok, home stretch. When doubled in size, remove the cling film and admire. The next step is to add the cross. I always though this was icing when I was a child, but in fact it’s just plain flour and water mixed to form a thick paste. Pipe onto the bun to make it neat (observe the free hand mess at the back left!!)

Bake in the oven at around 220C (or upper part of the AGA) for around 20mins till they are  a lovely golden brown.

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Glaze with warm Apricot Jam to give them a beautiful shine.

Lets eat.

 

All that remains is to taste the bun on the Aga……….

Now sit down, get a cup of tea and enjoy with some butter and if you are feeling very posh a small put of honey.

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I even managed to find some flowers and a matching plate and mug (both Emma Bridgewater)

 

 

Salted Caramel Macaroons

Not only are Macaroons the basis of most Bake Off showstoppers, they are a fantastic way to bond with people. In fact if I can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone over a coffee and a macaroon, I rarely keep in touch.

Believe it or not, I’m very fussy with food. I would say till the age of 18 I had a phobia of Fruit and Veg. It’s one of the reasons I got into baking, to allow me to explore foods on my own terms. A problem arises when I go to dinner parties though. As I don’t eat the food, I get lots of concerned looks, but usually the macaroons come out and the tension dies down.

One such occasion happened a few months ago. I was at a consultants house discussing research when his cousin Jenna noticed I wasn’t eating. After the meal instead of asking if I was ok, she simply placed an espresso and a macaroon next to me. What followed I can’t fully recall, some conversation about paradox of medicine and science fiction perhaps. All I recall was the macaroon, salted caramel with a hint of chocolate for dressing.

Here is my version of that macaroon – To my knowledge Dr Coleman bought them so I can’t steal his recipe for a direct comparison.

Macaroons

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Ingredients

  • 7oz Icing sugar
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 3 egg separated – Whites (with no yolk)
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Start by taking a pretty picture of the ingredients (including the caramel ingredients) with a set of vintage scales. These were my Grans – except they’ve been repainted.

Now, combine the icing sugar and ground almonds in a bowl and mix well. Then sieve to remove any large bits of almonds, these will cause the tops of the finished macaroons to split.

In a spotless, dry bowl add the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Whisk on high-speed, as if making meringues. When they have reached firm peaks (tested by holding over your head), add the caster sugar a spoon at a time.

Fold in the almond/sugar mix to the egg whites using a large metal spoon till completely incorporated. The end result will be a light but glossy mixture which runs slowly off the spoon.

Transfer to a piping bag with approx 1cm opening and pipe the size of macaroons you want to make onto baking paper. I always thing about the size of an old penny is correct.

The next bit is important, leave them for between 15mins to 1hr to form a crust. When the outside is firm, not sticky/tacky/soft, transfer to a preheated oven at 170C and bake for 10mins.

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Remove from the oven when the tops are crisp and the bottoms dry. Leave to cool completely on the baking tray.

 

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2oz Butter
  • 2oz  Sugar
  • 100ml Double cream
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 2oz unsalted Butter
  • 4oz Icing sugar

After weighing all the ingredients, start by heating the sugar and water till it has reduced down to produce a thick syrup with a light brown colour. Don’t stir during this period, it will act as a point of crystallisation and mean you have to start again.

Once the syrup is ready, add in the butter and cream. This bit is the part you don’t want to be stood with your face over the pan…….. it causes a lot of steam.

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After this, it’s simply a case of cooking the caramel down until a temperature of 118C is reached. At this point, it’s ready; you can add in the salt now or even a kick of vanilla, lavender or just leave it deliciously plain. Obviously I’ve added a bit of French sea salt…

Cream the unsalted butter together with the icing sugar till no lumps remain. Then add a healthy spoon of the salted caramel and a dash of double cream.

Right, all that remains is to combine 2 shells of the macaroons with a generous helping of the caramel buttercream and put the coffee on. Whilst it brews, pipe a few decorative lines of chocolate onto the top shell.

Let’s eat

So there you have it, delicious salted caramel Macaroons. Crunchy on the outside with a chewy core, the sweet filling partly offset by the bitter edge of the sea salt.

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All you need now is someone to share them with – a friendly actress usually helps.

Sloe Gin and Honey Roasted Ham

It’s nearly Christmas and that means that a very large amount of food is currently resting in my fridge…….. Beef, Turkey, a small chicken, but the one I’m most excited about is the “Gammon Joint”. Not because I like Gammon, but because it’s the makings of my Boxing Day Ham.

It’s a tradition to have jacket potatoes on Boxing day with the left overs, and the Cox household is no exception. Along with the cold turkey, we always have a homemade ham. I perfected the recipe a few years ago and it’s a festive mix of sloes, honey and clovers.

Boxing Day Ham

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Ingredients

  • 3Kg Unsmoked Gammon Joint
  • Apple Juice
  • Cloves and Sloes
  • Thyme, Coriander, Sage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Carrots, Celery and Onion
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Sloe Gin

It’s best to make the Ham a couple of days before Christmas, then it can rest in the fridge and carved when needed.

Start by roughly chopping the celery, onions and carrots. They add flavour to the boiling stock and also stop the meat sticking to the pan. Add to the pan and then place the Gammon joint on top.

To the pan add the herbs and spices. The Sloes are ones I have left over from a recently finished batch of sloe gin. It’s kind of like recycling, same excuse I use when drinking the gin……..

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All that remains is to add enough apple juice to cover the meat. If you have any cider lying around add that to the pot as well.

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Simmer on the slow hob of the Aga (mid heat on an electric/gas) for an hour per pound. During the 3 hours you might need to skim the top of the pan or add a bit more water to keep the Ham covered.

After the Ham has boiled, take out of the cooking liquor and transfer to a roasting pan. Then channel your inner engineer and use a handful of bamboo skewers to support the Ham standing vertically.

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Using a sharp knife, strip the skin off the meat leaving the fat below. Cut this into diamonds and then stud with cloves.

Mix the 2 heaped tablespoons of the sugar, a shot of sloe gin and a good squeeze of he honey in a mug and warm till melted together. I find leaving it on the top of the age for 5 mins works, but a minute in the microwave would work just as well. Paint the glaze onto the ham, concentrating on the top.

Cook in the oven for 45mins at 180C or the middle of the Aga. Remember to keep a close eye on it though, the sugar can burn if it gets too hot.

Let’s Eat

Once cooked, allow the ham to cool before transferring onto a board. All that remains is get a sharp knife and carve a few slices – as thick as you like them. If you can’t wait for Boxing day; french bread, pickle and a few silver skins make a good accompaniment.

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Otherwise a simple Ham and mustard on white would be perfect in my eyes.

Homemade Mince Pies

Merry Christmas everyone.

I love Christmas, not because of the presents or the fact my birthday is close, but because it brings the family together. The hall is decorated with holly, a massive 9ft tree covered in vintage glass baubles stands in the corner and the house is filled with the smells of delicious food. Of course in the weeks before christmas, the hall is used to host friends for a glass of mulled wine and one of Grans famous mince pies. One year it even hosted a choir, but thats a different tale………

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The key to a good mince-pie is thin crisp pastry, lots of filling and a generous amount of brandy butter. I don’t think its worth making your own mincemeat. Robertsons makes probably the best, but adding more fruit, spices and lots of alcohol take it to the next level.

 

Grandma Reynold’s Mince Pies

Ingredients

  • 9oz Plain Flour
  • 6oz Butter
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • Whole Milk
  • 1 Large Jar Robertsons Mincemeat
  • 6oz Sultanas
  • Christmas Spirits
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg and ground ginger

Start by making the pastry. You can use a mixer with a K beater or just use your hands.

Start by weighting out the flour, butter and sugar and rubbing together. If you have cold hands then fantastic, aim to keep the butter as cold as possible. Overworking the butter will cause it to melt and leave you with chewy, not flaky pastry.

When the mix resembles breadcrumbs, add the egg yolks and milk a tablespoon at a time  until the pastry comes together.

Then wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.

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Whilst the pastry chills, make the mincemeat filling. Combine the jar, fruit, spices and alcohol . Don’t add too much, the fruit will soak up some alcohol but not a whole bottle. Again, leave to steep for an hour whilst the pastry chills. It’s about the perfect length of time to put the lights up on the tree.

Once the pastry as rested, roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin on a well floured board. Remember to roll away from yourself and turn the pastry a 1/4 turn each time.

Using 2 cutters, stamp out the base and lid to each mince-pie. The pastry will make around 30 in total. I sometimes make a double batch and give them away as gifts. However as the tea room is open, they will be sold this time. Cheers Mum.

Grease a mince pie tin liberally with butter or Stork. The one I’m using is a vintage tray I bought Gran for Christmas when I was 8 from a long closed Antique shop. Its got a patterned base which makes a pretty mice pie.

Press the base pastry disc into the tin and add a healthy dessertspoonful of mincemeat into the case. Then add the lid, I tend to paint the edge of the pastry with a little water to help it stick. Press the lid into the base to produce a good seal and then glaze with egg wash.

Cook in a hot Aga (or conventional oven at 200) for 15mins, turning half way through the bake time.

When the mince-pies are golden brown, take out the oven and rest on a cooling rack till completely cooled. Don’t be tempted to remove before they have cooled though, they will just break apart.

 

Lets Eat

Grab a glass of mulled wine or a spiced Latte, open the brandy butter and slightly warm a mince-pie in the Aga. Then all that’s left to do is get the family together and enjoy the festive spirit. It seems like a good occasion to use some Emma Bridgewater pottery as well – Thats if the Polar Bear will give up any mince pies at all though……….

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A night at Searcys- Harissa mayo, chips and champagne

I like to think our tea room is a bit unique. Although it’s only open two days a week, the food doesn’t get rolled over. If it doesn’t sell, it gets eaten by us or given to the wildlife (foxy and badger do well). Now some argue this isn’t good for the accounts, but it’s better for the costumers and gives me loads of stuff to use for blogs. This week we had about 4 jackets left over on Sunday, so I decided to make some wedges.  The only tricky bit was what to have with them.

Well, I’m a bit of a superstitious person. If I’m test flying I give the ground team my mobile and if I’m in London I always have champagne and chips with spicy mayo at Searcys at St Pancras Station. This started when I took and passed my first surgical exam!! With results of the second exam out and a pass achieved, I thought I might give making the spicy mayo a go. It’s flavoured with harissa and amazing with chips and a glass of Verve.

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Harissa mayo

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Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon White wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each of caraway, cumin and coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Jacket potatoes – for the wedges

 

Start by checking you have all the ingredients ready and also a friend on hand to help. Luckily dad’s around.

Start by separating the egg, you only need the yolk so you can either throw away the white or use it in something else. Transfer this to a bowl and gently whisk to break up.  Now the fun begins, add the oil a drop at a time and whisk till fully mixed.

 

Mayo at this point will split if you add the oil too fast and it doesn’t get incorporated. You can save it by adding another egg yolk if it does split.

Continue adding the oil a drop at a time (hence the need for dad) until the mix starts to thicken up. Then add the vinegar – it helps to stabilise the mayo.

 

Now, using your assistant again add the remaining oil in a continuous slow stream whilst frantically whisking. What results is homemade mayo – you can add some mustard, salt and pepper to make lively normal mayo or……..add harissa paste to make something special.

 

Harissa is sort of like a spicy North African ketchup alternative. It’s made by combining Caraway, Cumin and coriander seeds and gently toasting in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. These are then added to the chilli and ground up in a pestle and mortar.

 

Then add the finely chopped garlic and grind again in the trusty pestle and mortar. You can add a bit of oil to form a paste at the end.

 

All that remains is to combine the mayo with the Harissa paste and fold together.

 

Let’s eat

Make a few wedges with the left over jacket potatoes by chopping into 8 and cooking on the Aga in a bit of oil. Season with some salt and pepper.

 

Serve the wedges with a little ramekin of the mayo, a few olives and some perfectly chilled champagne (Jennie gets Verve, Alice-Moet, Holly edged towards Rothschild but when it’s just me – Pommery)

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Bonfire Toffee

I have a soft place in my heart for bonfires; I find the soft glow, the wood smoke and the occasional crackle of the fire romantic. Now, the foods of bonfire nights are rather varied, each year I vary what I make for my party. In FY1 it was pulled pork and mini Mac & Cheese, for CT1 it was hotdogs. This year I’ve been making corndogs, just because………but each year there is always one item on the menu, bonfire toffee.

Bonfire toffee is a bit of a Halloween and bonfire night tradition. It’s a hard candy made with black treacle, golden syrup and sugar. Usually served in small grease proof bags, it needs to be eaten on the day. If you can’t be bothered to make it, shame on you………… shop bought bonfire toffee tends to bitter, homemade is far better. Plus, unlike my normal blog posts, this only takes about an hour to make.

Bonfire Toffee

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Ingredients

  • 8oz Dark brown Sugar
  • 65ml Water
  • 2oz Black treacle
  • 2oz Golden Syrup 
  • Sprinkle of cream of tartar

As usual, start by collecting all the ingredients together and taking a pretty picture – add a kitten into the background if required.

Weigh out the sugar and add to a large pan, combine with the water and melt together on a gentle heat. Try to resist the urge to stir the sugar, it will cause it to precipitate out and you will have a horrible grainy mess.

Whilst the sugar melts, measure out the Golden syrup and Black treacle. This will produce a wonderfully sticky mess which then needs pouring into the sugar mix. Then, the temperature needs turning up……

Add the cream of tartar and heat. You can occasionally swirl the pan to get an even heating, the temperature that you are aiming for is 140C. This takes around 30mins to achieve.

When 140C has been reached you want to hold the toffee mix at the temperature for a few minutes. Whilst the toffee boils, quickly oil a large tin, this will allow the toffee to be  turned out easily when cold.

Pour the boiling toffee mix into the prepared tin and leave to cool completely.

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Lets eat

All that remains is to turn the toffee out of the tin. Hit the base a few times to break it up.

Then retire to the bonfire with a few pieces, a pretty girl and enjoy the fireworks.

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