Category: X’mas Fare & Recipes

Pigs-in-Blankets Recipe

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sausages wrapped in bacon Photo by PH Morton


Pigs in blankets are the easiest thing to do and yet a great favourite with everyone. It is an ideal finger food for parties.

I usually make a lot for Christmas to go with the turkey. Actually I get a special request from my son and hubby to make a lot. I find that everyone in our household would eat the bacon wrapped sausages either hot or cold. When cold they can go nicely with the cheeseboard  with some pickles or with some cold meat and salad.

The recipe below is a rather fancy way of making the pigs in the blankets.

The simplest way is to wrap the cocktail sausages in bacon rinds using a toothpick to keep it in place.

Then grill, fry or put it around the turkey or roasting potatoes in the oven for 25 minutes.

Pigs-in-Blankets Recipe


  • 8-10 rashers streaky bacon, halved
  • 1 tbsp ready-made English mustard
  • 16-20 small party sausages


Run a knife along the length of the bacon rashers so they stretch a little, spread lightly with the mustard, then cut in half. Use the bacon to wrap a sausage. then spear onto short skewers.
Roast the bacon wrapped mini-sausages in the oven  for 30-40 mins until golden.
Serve with the Sunday roast or some green salad.

Table At Christmas

We really had a good time at Christmas, despite cough and cold and flu for most of the family.

I supposed we made the best of it as it only comes once a year and bearing in mind that so much preparations were put into it.

As they said “Feed the cold, starve the fever.” And we really did.

We celebrated our Lord God’s birthday with joy in our hearts, with love for our family, with toys and gifts, which pleased everyone and enough food on the table.

Sharing a meal, with everyone (except for poor Stacey, who was really battered by flu and was resting in bed) was a joyful affair.  The food, if I say so myself, was beautifully cooked.  Peter and I did put a lot of effort into to it.  We were on our feet four hours, pummeling, forming, stirring, mixing, blending, chopping, crushing, washing and cooking the meal.  After 4 hours of non-stop activities in the kitchen, we serve a very palatable Christmas fare, which everyone enjoyed:)

We really had a very merry Christmas and now look forward to many, many more to come!

Table At Christmas



We did correct the cutlery positions: Fork on the left and knife on the right! 😉



A Christmas table without the Christmas crackers is rather cheerless!




Starter: Avocado and Cantaloupe melon with Serrano Ham

the christmas table

“It’s ok to let yourself go, just as long as you let yourself back.”
– Mick Jagger
I shall diet after Christmas. Promise!!! 😉

Rich Fruit Cake Recipe

This is Christmas. This is the cake for Christmas. It is rich, full of luscious juicy raisins and sultanas bursting with goodness.

It is just about the time to take stock and prepare the Christmas fruit cake. Keep it and store in an airtight container and would have matured by Christmas time.

rich fruit cake
Rich Fruit Cake Recipe


3 cups currants

2 cups sultanas

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup glace cherries, halved

1 cup almonds chopped

1/2 cup citrus peel

grated rind of 2 lemons

3 tbsp brandy

3 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)

1 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice (allspice)

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup ground almonds

1 1/2 cup soft margarine or butter

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp black treacle or molasses

6 medium eggs

How to make:

1.  Preheat the oven to a very low heat at 140 degrees centigrade.

2. Grease a deep cake tin and line with wax paper/greaseproof paper.  Also grease the paper with a little butter or margarine.

3. Place all the ingredients in a huge mixing bowl.

4. Stir to incorporate the ingredients together.  Then using a wooden spoon, beat it for at least 10 minutes until well mixed.

5. Spoon the mixture into the greased cooking tin amd smooth the surface using the back of a spoon.  Be sure to make an impression in the middle of the cake to prevent the middle rising higher the edges.

6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 3 3/4 hours.  If the cake is turning brown too quickly, cover the cake loosely with an aluminium foil.

7. To test if it is cook, it should be firm to the touch and when a knife is inserted in the middle it would come out clean.  If not leave it a little longer in the oven but make sure to test in short regular intervals.

8. Let it cool in the tin.  Turn over the tin when it is completely cool.  It would be advisable to leave the greaseproof paper on the cake as this will keep the cake moist.

9.  Store in an airtight container until needed.



Christmas Recipe: Stollen



Stollen is a traditional German cake.  It is a fruit cake made from chopped dried fruits, usually eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. (Wikipedia)

Christmas Recipe: Stollen


325g strong white bread flour

7g sachet easy-blend yeast

45 golden caster sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

45g melted butter

100ml warm milk

100g soft dried apricots

100g raisins and sultanas mix

50g dried cherries

4 tbsp orange liqueur

100g pistachio nuts

60g dried cranberries

100 white chocolate, chopped

3 tsp icing sugar


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast and sugar.

Add the beaten egg, butter and milk.

Mix these together and when a ball had formed, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough had turned smooth and elastic.

Put in a bowl and cover with cling film and let it stand under room temperature for at least an hour, to give the dough a chance to double its size.

Now, put the apricots and the orange liqueur into a pan and warm for a couple of minutes so the apricots absorb the liqueur.  Transfer into a bowl to cool.

Using a food processor, blitz the pistachios until finely ground, then add the cranberries, white chocolate, sultanas and raisins as well as the cherries and the apricot mix. Blend lightly for a few second just to combine.

Put these in a cling film and pat it into a roll, measuring 10 inches long and then put in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm it up.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade.

Meanwhile, roll out the bread dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a rectangular shape measuring 11 by 7 inches.

Put the apricot mix on top of the dough.

Brush the edges with water.

Begin to fold the dough over the apricot stuffing.  This should look like a Swiss roll or a log.

Be sure to press the edges to seal.

Transfer the log into a baking sheet and put in the preheated oven for half an hour or until the log has risen a bit more and had turned golden.

Cool on a wire rack and then dust generously with the icing sugar.

Enjoy and have a lovely, smashing Christmas.





Pancake Day @ Home

As tradition on Shrove Tuesday, Peter and I have pancakes after supper.

Our pancake was delicious. It was more of a hotcake than the traditional thin crepe with sugar and lemon.

You can make your pancake thin by adding more milk to the batter mix.

To make our pancake we used what is in our food cupboard:

8oz self-raising flour
3oz caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups milk
pinch of salt

To make:

I watch Lisa Faulkner at This Morning on ITV today where she was cooking sweet pancake as well as the savoury kind.

She gave good tips on how to make pancakes.

She said she stirs in the eggs into the milk first.

Then she adds the flour. The thickness of the pancake is determined by the liquidity of the mixture. The more milk you add the thinner your cooked pancake will be.

She also adds a pinch of salt to the mixture, the salt apparently helps breakdown the albumen in the eggs.

To cook the pancake, lightly grease a flat bottom pan. Use a kitchen towel to wipe off excess oil.

Add a ladle of the mixture into the pan. swirl the pan around so the batter covers the surface of the pan.

When the pancake starts to show bubbles, it is ready to turnover. Use a non-plastic spatula to lift off the surrounding edges.

Spread butter on the pancake and then add whatever topping you want.

I had a favourite M&S Toffee syrup in our cupboard which I put to good use tonight.

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Pancake tossing Photo by P H Morton

Pancake tossing
Photo by P H Morton


Look at the concentration, tongue firmly caught between clenched lips. LOL

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Christmas Dinner – Home Made Chestnut & Cranberry Sauce Stuffing

Yesterday,  Jean & I think we had one of the best Christmas dinners we can remember 🙂 We had intended on having an early dinner/lunch which would have needed us to get up fairly early Christmas morning. However, after entertaining a dear friend and us attending Midnight Mass, we did not get to bed until 2.30am as happens to us most Christmas Eves! We still were up around 9am and started to prepare our main meal. We had bought most of the food, meat vegetables etc fresh at Chapel Street Market, Islington, N.London last Saturday.

We found that most of the shops did not have cranberry & chestnut stuffing an essential must for Xmas Turkey. We decided that we would make our own. Donning my Christmas Chef’s hat and apron, I gathered the stuffing ingredients.

Last year we were given a gift of a Kenwood food processor/blender. We had not used fully, but it proved most useful in making the stuffing, I think we will use it more!
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Jean worked on the main part of the dinner preparation I assisted when needed!

Being the stuffing (not stuffed) ‘chef’,  I first baked 3/4 pound (340 grams) (about 15 sweet chestnuts) (Castanea sativa) on a baking tray. A tip before baking chestnuts in the oven is to crack the hard ‘shell’ this will allow air to escape when heating as the nuts will expand and burst/pop open in the oven. I baked them for about 20 minutes.

Sweet chestnuts

Sweet chestnuts

After taking the chestnuts out of the oven and allow to cool I opened the shell scooped out the soft edible white nut. Very tasty, we were tempted to eat the delicious warm nuts. I placed the nuts into the blender to crush -not painful. 😉

Blending the stuffing ingredients

Blending the stuffing ingredients

After blending the chestnuts I crumbled three slices of white bread (stale bread can be used too). I blended the bread pieces into crumbs. I then blended one onion, two rashers of bacon and 2 lbs (907 grams) of sausage meat and of course half a jar (125 ml) pure cranberry sauce.

Mixing the stuffing ingredirnts

Mixing the stuffing ingredients

I mixed & kneaded all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then shaped into 20 small balls and placed on a baking tray.
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Christmas Dinner – Home Made Chestnut & Cranberry Sauce Stuffing

I baked the stuffing balls for about 30 minutes 190c. It is best to do this together with the last 30 minutes of roasting the turkey. I was pleased the result was delicious stuffing to accompany the turkey. 🙂

Cooked Chestnut & Cranberry stuffing

Cooked Chestnut & Cranberry stuffing ready for the turkey

Did you know?

The first meal eaten by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while on the moon was a tin-foil packed roast turkey with all the trimmings.


Christmas Food Shopping @ Chapel Street Market, North London

Today Jean & I enacted one of our Christmas traditions of visiting Chapel Street Market just before the big day, (normally the nearest Saturday). Chapel Street Market is located in Islington North London. It is one of London’s better known markets and is bustling and busy with shoppers at Christmas time. We like to browse the market stalls and local shops. In the market we sometimes buy some Christmas decorations, hats, scarves & gloves for winter wear. However our main purpose is to procure fresh food for Christmas.

Chapel Street Market

Chapel Street Market

I used to work nearby to Chapel Street and passed through the market early in the morning and on my way home after work. I enjoyed the stall holders banter and overall atmosphere of the place.

We travelled from Golders Green on the London Underground (Tube) Northern Line to Angel. It is a short trip of about 15 minutes and the market is five minutes walk from Angel Tube station. We bought a selection of fresh vegetables, fruit & sweet chestnuts and from the butchers stall, a variety of fresh cuts of meat, bacon, beef steaks, gammon joint, pork shoulder, chicken ‘oyster’ cuts, sausages.  A veritable feast for the festive days ahead 🙂



Chapel Street Market produce for our Christmas Dinner Table – Photos by PH Morton

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