Image: Reform Social & Grill

This punchy red cocktail is from the menu at the Reform Social and Grill, in the Mandeville Hotel in London West End. Although it’s been inspired by tradition dating back to the days of an Victorian British Gentlemen’s Club, it’s far from stuffy!

The Boyo, a fruity rum based cocktail is certain to kick start the Christmas Festivities.

Serves 10-12 – Gluten Free*


  • 300ml Pampero Rum
  • 120ml Raspberry puree
  • 120ml Strawberry Puree
  • 120ml Blueberry Puree
  • 90ml Vanilla Syrup (add a few drops of Vanilla Extract to a stock Sugar syrup)
  • 30 ml Rose syrup (add some Rose Water to a stock Sugar syrup)
  • 150 ml Lime juice
  • 120ml Soda Water
  • A Scoop of crushed ice


Blend the ingredients in a jug

Serve into ice filled glasses and garnish with a Cranberry or two or a festive drink or Redcurrants for a refreshing summertime libation.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Berry Marzipan Cupcakes

Marzipan Berry Cakes
Marzipan Berry Cakes

Over the weekend I caught a re-run of  Nigel Slater’s ‘12 Tastes of Christmas‘ and although I find some of his recipes a little over egg and mixed up these little beauties looked wonderful and will be on my cookery list over the next few days.

Makes 12


  • 180g/6¼oz caster sugar
  • 180g/6¼oz butter, softened
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 80g/2¾oz plain flour
  • 150g/5oz ground almonds
  • 100g/3½oz marzipan
  • 100g/3½oz blueberries
  • icing sugar, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Cut out squares of baking parchment that would easily cover the holes of a bun tray. Line each one.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  4. Gradually beat in the eggs, then gradually introduce the flour and ground almonds. Continue to beat until all is well incorporated.
  5. Break the marzipan into small 1cm bite sized nuggets and fold into the mixture.
  6. Divide the mixture between the lined cups of the bun tray. Scatter 3-4 berries over each one.
  7. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

Dust with a little icing sugar and serve warm with a dash of cream. They are just as nice cold tho…

Mulled Wine

Mulled WineImage:
Mulled Wine

It’s the time of the year when family and friends pop round bearing Christmas cards and gifts and for those unexpected moments when unplanned vistors turn up, it’s always good t have something quick that you can prepare on the hop. This 10 to 15 minute wonder will have you passing round the festive cheer as quick as a flash.

Serves 6 – Gluten Free*


  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 60g demerara sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 60ml Damson or Sloe gin (optional)


  1. Put the wine in a saucepan with the orange, sugar, bayleaf and the spices.
  2. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Taste, if you want the wine sweeter, add some more sugar until it’s sweet enough for you.
  4. Take off the heatand stir in the sloe or damson gin if you are using it.

Strain into heatproof glasses and serve while hot.

You can experiment with the spices by changing them around or omitting them and add a sliced lemon too, but this is my favourite combination.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Sausages and Lentil Casserole

Sausage and Lentil Casserole

Was looking through my old recipe scrap book and I found an old ‘easy one pot’ favourite. This is a recipe that last had back in 2006, before point that I used to have it regularly but must have just plain forgotten about it.

Now it’s been found, I must have it again. Served with a hunk of good bread it’s one of my comfort food fav’s

Serves 2-3 – Gluten Free*


  • 2 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 6 Pork Sausages (I use Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Sicilian Style Sausages as they have a good garlicky fennel flavour that works well with the lentils, and they’re Gluten Free too!)
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 150g Puy Lentils (can use everyday brown or green lentils too!)
  • 600ml hot chicken stock
  • 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat olive oil and cook sausages until golden.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 mins
  3. Add the lentils, stock and chopped tomato.
  4. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer gently for 40-45 mins until the lentils are tender and the stock is almost all absorbed
  5. Stir in the Balsamic vinegar and parsley
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a good sized chunk of bread, like my Irish Soda Bread (or a Gluten Free alternative) and enjoy a bowl of warming hearty comfort food.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Savoy cabbage with Pancetta

Savoy Cabbage with Bacon
Savoy Cabbage with Bacon

Savoy Cabbage is in season and I’m always on the look out for different ways to cook it, rather than the standard boiled or steamed then buttered.

This recipe elevates the green and humble cabbage to new heights by mixing it with wine, pancetta and crème fraîche and is very easy to boot!

Serves 4-6 – Gluten Free*


  • 1 Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 125g Pancetta, cubed
  • 55g butter
  • 85ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a large pan.
  2. Add the pancetta and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage and mix all together.
  4. Add the wine and season well.
  5. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
  6. Stir in the fennel seeds, parsley and crème fraîche.


If you can’t get hold of pancetta, then smoked streaky bacon can be substituted  Just make sure you de-rind it beforehand, otherwise it’ll be as tough old boot soles.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Roast Beetroot

Roast Beetroot
Roast Beetroot

Roast beetroot makes a great addition to any traditional roast, the deep vibrant red contrasts with the green of Brussels Sprouts or Savoy cabbage.

This recipe works brilliantly with the tradition round red beet, but for surprising change you can mix with other varieties like the Golden or the ‘Barbabietola Di Chioggia’ with it’s distinctive white and red rings. All add a virant cahange of colour to any meal

Serves 6 – Gluten Free*


  • 670g large uncooked beetroot
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (I have it on good advice that Balsamic vinegar is gluten free but you may want to verify this for yourself before using)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  2. Peel and cut each beetroot into 4-6 wedges and arrange in a large roasting tin.
  3. Mix the oil thyme and vinegar and pour over the beetroot.
  4. Season well, and toss together so all the beetroot is thoroughly coated in the dressing.
  5. Roast for 1 hour or until the beetroot is tender.

Serve and enjoy….

For a sweeter smokier taste glaze with 2 tbsp of clear honey or maple syrup half way through the roasting time.


*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Tiramisu Teacups

Tiramisu Teacups
Tiramisu Teacups

Another Waitrose recipe index card, this time from November 2006. It’s for an individual and lighter version of the classic tiramisu and makes a cracking sophisticated dessert for a dinner party. You can impress with out any real effort!


  • 250g tub Light Mascarpone
  • ½ x 500g pot 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp golden icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 tbsp coffee liqueur, like Tia Maria
  • 100ml strong espresso or filter coffee, cooled
  • 200g Chocolate Chip Biscotti
  • 25g Lindt Excellence Coffee Intense Dark Chocolate, coarsely grated
  • ½ tbsp cocoa powder

Serves 4


  1. In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone, yogurt and icing sugar together with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
  2. Add the Tia Maria to the cooled coffee.
  3. Dip 12-16 of the biscotti into the coffee mixture one at a time, then immediately divide between 4 x 250-300ml teacups, placing the biscotti in the base of each.
  4. Spoon half the mascarpone mixture over the biscuits in each teacup. Dip the remaining biscuits, one at a time, in the liquid and place in equal amounts in each teacup.
  5. Sprinkle over a thin layer of grated chocolate.
  6. Divide the remaining mascarpone mixture between the teacups and top with a liberal dusting of sifted cocoa powder.
  7. Chill for at least 2 hours to allow the flavours to develop.


The flavours will intensify even more if left overnight. For a richer version, use  full fat mascapone rather than the lighter one.

You can also make one larger tiramisu, just use a bowl if you don’t have any teacups.

Spanish Style Chicken

Spanish Style Chicken
Spanish Style Chicken

I have a habit of picking up supermarket recipe index cards for any recipe that catches my eye, this is one from Waitrose back in August 2005.

Even though its over 7 years old the recipe is still as fashionable and current as ever. combination of orange juice and sherry gives this colourful dish a lovely delicate flavour


For the chicken

  • 2 medium oranges
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper (use a gluten free alternative like Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain White Flour, for a Gluten Free Version of the recipe)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 shallots , peeled and left whole
  • 180g sweet romano peppers , deseeded and cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar (I have it on good advice that sherry vinegar is gluten free, but you should double check that your ingredient is)
  • 300ml medium dry sherry, like an Amontilliado
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 4 chicken breast fillets

For the saffron rice

  • ½ tsp saffron stems
  • 375g American long grain rice

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  1. Finely grate the zest of 1 of the oranges then juice both to produce about 175ml juice and set aside.
  2. Place the seasoned flour in a large, plastic food bag, add the chicken and shake to coat lightly.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan with a lid.
  4. Add the chicken fillets and saute for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  5. Add the shallots and pepper strips, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.
  6. Pour in the vinegar and cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining ingredients, including the orange zest and juice.
  7. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
  9. Meanwhile, place the saffron in a small bowl and soak with 2 tablespoons of boiling water.
  10. Place the rice in a medium pan and pour over 750ml boiling water.
  11. Add the saffron liquid and simmer for 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

Serve the chicken and rice with steamed fine green beans and a glass of chilled Rioja Blanco

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently.

Home made Irish Cream Liqueur

Homemade Irish Cream
Homemade Irish Cream

Irish cream is a great Christmas drink, and batched into sterilised bottles make a great give away (if you can let it go, that is).

This is such an easy 2 minute recipe too, no cooking just mixing!  So it it can knocked for that last minute emergency forgotten present, that will be loved!

Once made store in a refrigerator.

Gluten Free


  • 250ml single cream
  • 1 tin condensed milk (397g)
  • 350ml Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 4 tsp chocolate sauce (use your favourite Gluten Free chocolate sauce for a gluten free recipe)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Just pour all of your ingredients into a blender and whizz it up on high speed for 30 – 40 seconds, or until everything has mixed thoroughly.

Serve over ice.

You can swap the Whiskey for a Dark Rum to give you a Caribbean feel!

Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs

Corned Beef Hash
Corned Beef Hash

This is one of my quick and easy supper recipes, an American classic that is filling and tasty. Originally a way to use up leftover spuds, I now find that I have to cook this one from scratch as it’s become a midweek favourite, especially with a couple of poached eggs.

Serves: 4 – Gluten Free


  • 500g potatoes, diced into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 340g tin Corned Beef, diced into small cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 fresh free range eggs (per person)


  1. Place the potatoes in a pan of salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain and set aside
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan.
  3. Fry the onion for 3 mins or until it starts to soften
  4. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute
  5. Add the potatoes, mix careful and fry for a further 5 mins
  6. Now add the corned beef, and gently mix into the potatoes and onion, being careful not to break the mixture up too much. Fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a heat proof dish and pop under a hot grill until crusty and golden brown
  8. Heat a large saucepan of water to boiling and add the vinegar.
  9. Break the eggs one at a time  into a ladle and pour into the water, swirling the water beforehand
  10. Simmer the eggs for 2 minutes, remove and drain

Serve the hash with the eggs on top and a squeeze of ketchup on the side.