Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Too Early for Christmas Pudding?

I spotted a great recipe for Christmas pudding, as it's not too early to start thinking about it, especially if you are making your own. This is from a very talented chef I met at the Talbot Inn in Ripley, Ian Richards, really nice guy. See what you think.

Recipe of the month by The Talbot Inn head chef, Ian Richards

Christmas PuddingYes... already! We like ours to mature for at least four months.
Ingredients:225g plain flour (sieved)
1 tsp of backing powder
225g white bread crumbs
225g suet100g ground almonds

1500g dark soft brown sugar
1 tsp of mixed spice 1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
175g of prunes
175g grated carrots
750g of mixed raisins and currants

250g of mixed peel
2 x apples1 lemon zest and juice
1 orange zest and juice
5 x eggs150ml of dark rum

34 tbsp of treacle
4 tbsp of golden syrup
300ml stout (Guinness)1.

Add mix one and two together.
Then add in mix three.
Leave the pudding to stand for one week.
Add more spice if desired (to taste).
Steam for 6 hours then leave to cool.
Leave to mature for at least four months before serving.

Kräftskiva - The Swedish Tradition of Crayfish Parties

Have you heard about this?

Kräftskiva, or Crayfish Party is a traditional summertime eating and drinking celebration in Sweden. Crayfish parties are generally held during August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, by law limited to late summer. The celebrations are now a vital part of Swedish summer where dining is usually outdoors and customary party accessories are comical paper hats, paper lanterns and bibs.

Crayfish have been eaten in Sweden since the 16th century. For a long while, only the aristocracy partook of these delicacies, but in the last 100 years, crayfish became a national delicacy and all Swedes began celebrating the occasion. In the mid-19th century, people started eating crayfish as they are eaten today. The very few who have private access, of course, catch their own crayfish. The little creatures are night animals, so fishing has to be done after dark. They are caught in wire traps and the bait is often rotten or raw fish.

A traditional Kräftskiva

The preparation of the crayfish involves the crayfish being boiled in salt water and seasoned with fresh dill — preferably “crown dill” harvested after the plant has flowered — then served cold and eaten with the fingers. Bread, mushroom pies, strong Västerbotten cheese, salads, and other dishes are served buffet-style. Akvavit and other kinds of snaps are served, as well as beer. At Madsen we stock two kinds of Aalborg Akavavit and the Swedish OP Anderson.You eat crayfish cold, with your fingers, and sucking noisily to extract the juices is perfectly acceptable behaviour!

Well, I am going to sample this at Madsen Scandinavian restaurant. Anyone wants to join me?

Party from August 19 to September 14, 2009. It's £29.75 and includes seven menu items, not just the crayfish, such as handmade smoked salmon canapes, dil marinated crayfish, Swedish Vasterbotten Cheese, New potatoes and mixed leaves, Seasonal mushroom quiche.

Best enjoyed with a shot of O.P. Anderson or Skåne Akvavit, not to forget the refreshing Nils Oscar beer from Nyköping.

Get Some Instant Sunshine

If like me you are fed up with the lack of sun, I have found the instant remedy to make you feel a whole lot more cheerful. Someone told me about BeauBronz, which was launched at Harvey Nichols and now it's available at some new spas around the country, like the one at the Lambert Arms. They offer the 'holistic tannin cycle' whic his a three step process of an exfoliating spray, natujral tanning solution and a hydrating tan lock. It causes the skin to darken naturally rather than giving it a coat of colour therefore it lasts much longer than conventional spray tans. At The Lambert Arms they do it for just £35 and it takes 30 minutes. And then you can enjoy a complimentary cocktail in the bar next door! How good is that? Here is the telephone number in case you want to get more information, and it's worth doing it! 01844 351496.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A great recipe for Pannacotta

I spotted this recipe from John Rimmer, head chef at The Lambert Arms in Aston Rowant. It's for Strawberry Pannacotta and it's delicious. Hope you like it. Great for dinner parties. Yum.

Serves: 8-10 people
Ingredients: 1 litre double cream100ml semi-skimmed milk4 gelatine leaves400g strawberries2 tsp caster sugar10 x 150ml moulds or ramekins
1. Purée strawberries with sugar in a food processor, pass through a fine colander, leave to rest for 10-15 minutes in the fridge.
2. Slowly bring cream and milk to the boil, take off and add gelatine leaves, slowly mix for 5 minutes.
3. When gelatine has dissolved, pass the cream mix through a fine colander, leave to cool at room temperature.
4. Add strawberry mix (purée), mix well until smooth. You may need to add a little more sugar to taste.
5. Pour mixture into the moulds or ramekins. Leave in the fridge for 2-3 hours to set.
6. Once set, gently place the mould or ramekin into hot water to loosen the Panacotta. Tip upside down to release from the mould.
7. Serve with vanilla ice cream and fresh mint.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Sample Scandinavia With A Smushi

Smushi is the latest word in stylish light lunches. Think smorgasbord, just smaller. Think tapas, just bigger. About three smushi are just right, but a demanding stomach might need five - trouble is, they are so good you want to eat them all anyway. Right now you can have two smushi such as Large prawns with hardboiled egg or dill marinated herring, slices of eggs and fresh tomatoes, a Pariser Bof, which is a Danish style beef burger, and a Danish beer all for £9.75.

I found Madsen at South Kensington, right opposite the Lamborghini showroom, and the delightful Charlotte Kruse Madsen always welcomes you with a smile.

Monday, 3 August 2009


Just heard on the grapevine...celebrity chef Ken Hom has just received a top prize from Korea TV for the new DVD Insight on Asia - The Noodle Road, which he presents. This is a first ever for a documentary, usually a drama series wins. The average audience was 10 million+ during the airing of the programme - not bad for a country with 45 million inhabitants.