Tuesday, 29 October 2013


I have an unhealthy weakness for suet puddings.  The classic, of course, is steak and kidney but my favourite has to be this one - bacon and onion.  For the filling I use a pack of 'cooking' bacon from Morrisons.  These are the offcuts left over when they slice up their rashers, all the little odds and ends. The quality is the same as the ordinary bacon and while we aren't talking artisan dry cured it is definitely good enough for this pudding.  Do have a sort through them first as they can be irregular sizes - it is best to have them in fairly uniform 1cm-ish bits.

Unlike a steak and kidney pudding this one doesn't generate its own gravy so a separate one has to be made. When I was growing up it was made with half a packet of dried chicken and leek soup, a method I still use today. However, I had run out of soup so I had to make one from scratch - I use a chicken Oxo cube instead of proper stock simply because I think it works.


200g plain flour
100g shredded suet
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp dried sage
Cold water


500g cooking bacon, in small pieces
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 tsp dried sage


Finely chopped shallot
Chicken Oxo
1 tbsp flour
250ml water
2 tbsp cream

Grease a 1 litre pudding basin.  In a roomy bowl mix together the flour, suet, baking powder, salt and sage.  Add enough water to make a pastry that is softer than shortcrust pastry but still capable of being rolled out. Divide the dough into a third and two thirds. Dust your board and roll the larger piece out until it is big enough to line your pudding basin, then transfer to the basin and press carefully into the bottom. 

Combine the bacon, onion and sage and tip into the lined basin. Roll out the remaining pastry into a top to fit the basin, brush the edge of the pudding with water then press on the top. Trim the edges.

Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and a sheet of tin foil. Put the tin foil on top of the greaseproof paper then fold an inch pleat in both. Place this over the pudding and tie with string tightly (useful to have a friend near at this point!).  Steam the pudding for 2 and a half hours.

To make the gravy slowly fry the shallot in a knob of butter until it starts to disintegrate. Stir in the flour and then the water until it thickens. Crumble in the Oxo cube and stir until a nice thick gravy has formed - a little more water might be needed. Just before serving add the cream and bubble up.

Once the pudding has cooked turn it out onto a plate. Serve with a little bit of mashed potato, a green vegetable (kale is lovely with this) and a generous glug of the gravy. Perfect for winter nights.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


I always have smoked salmon and raw king prawns in my freezer - they freeze well and (more importantly) thaw out well!  Throw in some avocado, tomato, coriander, shallot and a variety of starters or light lunches are at your finger tips.  Below is a nest of smoked salmon strips on top of roughly chopped avocado, tomato and coriander, dusted with paprika and dressed with a little olive oil and lemon.....

This one is avocado crushed with lime juice and chopped coriander, brown crab meat mixed with a little mayonnaise and white crabmeat on top, dressed with olive oil and lime juice, served with pea shoots and chopped parsley and chives.



And here we have tiger prawns that have been deveined so that they curl up prettily, briefly fried in a little garlic infused olive oil, seasoned and set aside to cool.  They then sit on a top of a bed of finely sliced lettuce, and chopped tomatoes and avocado. Dress the whole thing with a lemon and olive oil and a few chilli flakes.


I am temporarily (I hope) out of work so I have absolutely no excuse not to get back to putting things that I cook on my blog.  This is a nice light pudding (I really dislike the word dessert for some reason), ideal for after a heavy lunch. It is easy to do, you can prepare it well in advance and there are lots of variations you can make. 

The most important point is to make sure that your pears are slightly under ripe otherwise they will collapse when poached. Conference pears are best but make sure they are fat enough as in this recipe the core is removed before poaching. 

Serves 4


4 largish Conference pears or similar hard pears
150ml water
100g sugar
150ml white wine
3 cloves
I orange sliced

Chocolate sauce

100ml double cream
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
Tablespoon golden syrup
Knob of butter


150 ml cream
50g dark chocolate grated 

Nibbed pistachios

Peel the pears and carefully hollow out the core from the bottom. Scrunch up some tin foil and put in the hole so that the pear doesn't collapse while poaching. Put the water, sugar , cloves, orange slices and white wine in a saucepan big enough to hold the pears, add them and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes until tender. Remove the pears and let them cool.

To make the filling whisk the cream up until thick then fold in the grated chocolate. You can add some chopped nuts if you like.

Heat the cream, thoroughly stir in the cocoa powder, syrup and butter and beat until shiny.

Once everything is cool fill the pears with the cream mixture, settle each one on a plate, pour over the chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the pistachios.