Thursday, 27 November 2014


Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated  in the United States of  America  as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and is said to have arisen from a celebration feast in 1621 at Plymouth in Massachusetts that  was prompted by a good harvest.  The pilgrims who began emigrating from England in the 1620s gave thanks for a good harvest that would see them through the harsh New England winter.
Although we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Britain, there is no reason why we cannot enjoy some of the foods that are traditional Thanksgiving staples and anyone who has been to America will know that it is not Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie, so here is my recipe for this sweet delicacy.    

                         PUMPKIN PIE

175g plain flour
90g unsalted butter or half butter and half lard
Approx 2 tbsp cold water

450g  pumpkin pulp
2 eggs
250 ml double cream
75g soft brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

1.       First make the pastry:   Place the flour in a large bowl and cut the butter into small pieces.  Rub the fat into the flour using just your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water and mix with your hand until you have a firm dough. Wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge for at least half an hour.
2.       Roll out the pastry, turning it regularly on the board, until you have a thin circle slightly larger than the pie dish.  Lift one edge of the pastry and roll it around the rolling pin. Gently lift it over the pie dish then lower it and press gently into the tin.  Prick the pastry with a fork and refrigerate for a further 15 minutes.
3.       Remove the pastry case from the fridge, put a piece of greaseproof paper on the pastry and weight it down with baking beans. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and carefully remove the baking beans and paper. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes then take it out and put it on a rack to cool.
4.       Put all the filling ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat or stir well. Pour into the cooled pastry case and bake for 30 minutes or until the filling has just set.  It should not be set hard but should have a slight wobble as the filling will firm up as it cools.
4.  Serve warm with cream or “a la mode” with ice cream.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday Roast

A recent survey has shown that fewer families today are cooking a roast dinner at the weekend.  This seems such a shame as a roast dinner is very easy as you just bung the meat in the oven and leave it to roast.Sitting around a dining table enjoying a roast dinner is a marvellous opportunity to spend time as a family and for children to learn consideration and table manners and communication skills,  and it is a good time for the family members to exchange news about their day.  In March 2013 researchers at Loughborough University published a study showing that regular family mealtimes are associated with fewer eating disorders and a lower incidence of depression in adolescents. It may not be easy, but try to have at least  some meals together as a family and make sure that computers, mobile phones and televisions are switched off then. Sit around a table, not in front of a television.  All family members can eat together. I have never been a fan of feeding the children fishfingers or nuggets and putting them to bed before the adults eat. Have your baby sitting at the table in their high chair and when they see everyone eating they will want to try your family cooking and you will have no trouble getting them to eat vegetables and everything else. 

Roast Chicken


1 chicken
4 potatoes
2 carrots
cabbage, sprouts or broccoli
1 tsp cornflour
sausages wrapped in bacon

2 roasting tins
Vegetable knife

1 Place the chicken  in a roasting tin and  season with salt and pepper and smear with butter. Wash your hands thoroughly.  Put the meat into a hot oven at 200 for 20 minutes than turn the heat down to 180 and roast  for  about an hour.
2.   Peel the potatoes and put in a saucepan of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Put 1 tbsp sunflower oil or goose fat into a roasting tin  and put in the oven to get hot.  Drain the potatoes and put in the roasting tin ensuring that they are coated in fat.
3.   When the meat is cooked remove the meat from the oven and put it on a plate, covered with foil, to rest. Use that tin to make the gravy.
4.   Turn the  oven  heat up to 190 to crisp the potatoes. Pop the sausages in bacon on a baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes.
5.  Peel carrots, cut them into circles or matchsticks  and place in a saucepan of water. Bring it to the boil and cook the carrots for 5 minutes. Shred a cabbage or cut up broccoli or peel sprouts and place in a steamer over the carrots to steam for 5 minutes. Drain the carrots, reserving the cooking water.

6. Using the roasting tin in which the chicken was cooked, skim off any fat and place on the hob. Heat and add a tablespoon of wine or water, scraping up the tasty bits in the pan.   Pour in the water from the carrots and bring to the boil.  Add 1 tsp cornflour mixed to a paste with a little cold water.  Stir well until you have a smooth gravy. Season with salt and pepper.
7.  Place the chicken on a board and using a sharp knife remove the legs.  Then carve the breast meat downwards into thin slices.  Slice the meat off the legs.  Serve with vegetables and gravy.

While you have your oven on, don't waste the opportunity to pop something else in there to cook.  How about some baked apples?


This is a simple way of using apples, particularly when there is a glut in the Autumn and this dish can be popped in the oven while something else is cooking.

4 cooking apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon raisins
Golden syrup

Sharp knife
Apple corer
Baking dish

1.   Preheat oven to 180/Gas4.
2.   Wash and dry the apples. Remove the cores with the corer or a sharp knife and score the skin  in a horizontal line around the middle of each apple.
3.  Place the apples in an ovenproof dish and pour 1 tablespoon of water around them.
4.   Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and raisins and stuff this mixture into the cavity of each apple.  Squirt a little syrup over each apple.
5.  Bake for about 30 minutes then remove from the oven and serve with chilled cream, custard or yogurt.