Thursday, 12 December 2013

Return to Holy Island...

I'm very excited to be back at Lindisfarne Castle again this weekend for three very special Christmas Supperclubs! I'm currently in the kitchen elbow deep in candied orange peel, ginger syrups, beautiful whole salmon, candied nuts... all in preparation for an amazing feast!

I'll report back next week on how everything goes... smoothly I hope! If you are still interested in attending we have a couple of tickets remaining for Monday 16th December. To book just phone Lindisfarne Castle on 01289 389244.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Candied Orange Peel

I’m testing puddings at the moment for my upcoming festive supperclubs at Lindisfarne Castle in a couple of weeks time. It is a continuation of my collaboration with the National Trust that began earlier this year and has taken me in all kinds of exciting directions. In truth I’m not really a pudding person, but I can’t say that I’m hating a day full of sweet treats! I’m planning to serve a smorgasbord of different puddings at the supperclubs, all delicious and Christmassy.

So yesterday was pretty much full of puddings from beginning to end, luckily I had some lovely friends from London to visit so we forced them to eat everything I hadn’t already ‘tested’; perfect timing. There will be little pots of Christmas Cream or Christmas Syllabub, I can’t decide what to call it; but it’s full of whipped cinnamon cream, sherry sultanas, candied ginger and citrus zest. As well as lush candied spiced nuts, rich chocolate truffles, walnut shortbreads and these pretty little sticks of candied orange peel. They are so beautiful, and smell amazing, another contender for Christmas gifts I think too... You could just parcel them up in a brown paper cracker tied with ribbon, or a little cellophane bag? I have seen them dipped half in dark chocolate too if you’re feeling decedent.

You will need 2 large oranges and you will end up with roughly 60 pieces of candied peel, give or take... To peel them slice off either end of the orange, run your knife in a circle round the top in the pithy bit, then slice down through the skin, stopping before you get to the juicey bit, into equal sixths. You should then simply be able to peel away each sixth pretty neatly and evenly, the pictures explain it better than I have!

Then bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the sliced orange peel for 15 minutes. Drain the peel then get a fresh pan of water and repeat the same process again for another 15 minutes. In another pan, bring 300g of granulated sugar and 300g of water to the boil, then simmer gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the drained peel to this sugar syrup and bring it back to the boil. Then heat and simmer on a low heat until the peel is soft and translucent, it should take about 45 minutes.

When they are ready drain the pieces of peel and let them cool separately on a sheet of baking paper. Keep the syrup as you can use it for baking or in cocktails, it is lovely sweet and orangey. Finally put the remaining 75g sugar in a bowl and roll each piece of peel in it until totally coated. Then leave to dry for 24 hours on a sheet of greaseproof paper.

They are so tasty, a bit bitter, but sweet and orangey, just delicious! You can try one straight away, they seem to get a bit softer after a day or two, and will keep for a month or so. I think they will look so pretty on my pudding board of delights at Lindisfarne Castle.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Spiced Apple Chutney

I think perhaps I forgot I had a blog, or at least I haven’t really had time to have one recently. I've been cooking easy 'go to' recipes like kedgeree or meatballs or things on toast, that I have told you about before. New things I have cooked have either been bad; apple, pancetta and sage risotto, don't go there... Or delicious, but I didn’t take any photos; celeriac and truffle dauphinoise and braised venison in red wine with orange and juniper, my god that was good. I also suffer at this time of year with the dark evenings; I just have a little automatic camera which has seen me very well for the past few years taking some beautiful pictures, but at this time of year in the low light everything just looks blurred and orange. I might just take the plunge and get the fancy pants camera I've had book marked for the past 6 months, or perhaps I should buy some Christmas presents...

I always make some Christmas presents, a few years ago I went to extreme lengths with potted duck, white chocolate and cranberry biscuits, chocolate truffles, chutneys, pickled grapes, florentines, the whole lot... I think a few jars of chutney and some chocolates might be my limit this Christmas, it's been a busy year! This Spiced Apple Chutney, which I have made a few times before, is perfect if you're thinking of making foodie presents for Christmas this year this is a winner. I've made it before in little jars with tiny parcel tags and it went down pretty well I think. Delicious with cheese, or lush Christmas ham with that sugary mustard crust, in sandwiches, with cold meats or potted game, any excuse really...

This isn't a recipe that has to be followed exactly to the letter, how sweet it is will depend on your apples, some recipes add cinnamon or nutmeg too, paprika, allspice or malt vinegar, you can play around with it, the following recipe is what I've settled on as one of my favourites...

Peel and dice 900g of cooking apples, I've used a mix of cooking and eating before too. Then combine 550g of caster sugar, 200g of brown sugar and 900ml of cider vinegar. Heat the mixture through to dissolve the sugar and add a tablespoon of ground ginger, 2 tablespoons of mustard seeds, a large pinch of salt followed by two large diced onions, 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped and 250g of raisins. Finally add all of the diced apples and stir it well. Then simmer for about an hour, it is difficult to say exactly as it depends on the amount of water in your apples. I have cooked it for 45 minutes before, and also 2 hours... You want it to turn quite dark and to begin to take on the consistency of warm thick jam. Then pot into warm sterile jars.

Finally leave it to sit, for it to do its stuff. Be patient, I'd say 3 weeks minimum, in a cool dark place, some people say 6 weeks. I've never managed to wait that long but it's perfect timing for Christmas presents... It is my favourite chutney I think, sweet, thick tangy and spiced, SO good with some ham, bread and butter or a piece of cheese. I was so disappointed when my last batch ran out, I'm hoping the next one will be just as good!! It keeps for ages, recipes say to eat chutneys within a month, but generally they last a lot longer, if you can manage to not eat them for some odd reason...

Monday, 4 November 2013

Christmas Supperclubs at Lindisfarne Castle

The National Trust and The Grazer Present unique Christmas dining experiences at Lindisfarne Castle 


For bookings please phone Lindisfarne Castle on 01289 389244

Earlier in the summer, some lucky folk were able to enjoy some new and unique dining experiences courtesy of a unique collaboration between myself and the National Trust. A sell-out series of unique Supperclub events were hosted at two of the region’s premier National Trust sites, Lindisfarne Castle and the Farne Islands.

After the huge success of those ventures, we are now organising three special Christmas supperclubs at Lindisfarne Castle. Our summer supper clubs at both the Castle and on the Farne Islands were a huge success. They sold out very quickly and were such unique special occasions to be part of, we have had some amazing feedback. It’s a such a special way to enjoy great food in amazing locations.

The Christmas Supperclub experience will include the luxury of Lindisfarne Castle to yourselves for the evening, with welcome drinks and canap├ęs, a tour of the castle, peeking behind the scenes of this beautiful historical building, taking in the night skies of Northumberland with hot toddies, then sitting down  to dine in the Castle's amazing Ship Room.

The specially curated four course sharing menu, with matching wines, is both seasonal and local; incorporating Northumberland game terrines, local gravadlax, braised Venison with red wine, orange and juniper, Truffle and Celeriac Dauphinoise and Smorgasbords of puddings.

There will be three events with a limited number of 20 places available at each:  

Saturday December 14th Lindisfarne Castle 6pm - SOLD OUT

Sunday December 15th Lindisfarne Castle 6pm - SOLD OUT

Monday December 16th Lindisfarne Castle 6pm - 5 PLACES AVAILABLE

Tickets for these bespoke dining events are £99 per person and can be booked by phoning Lindisfarne Castle on 01289 389244. Early booking is strongly advisable as spaces are limited. Prices include unique private access to the Lindisfarne Castle, a tour of the castle, food introductions from The Grazer, welcome aperitifs, four courses of fine food, wines to match, digestifs and coffee.

Any questions please email