Everyone in my family loves a mince pie including me. I am also very partial to anything involving marzipan so I like to top my pies with frangipane instead of pastry.
The mincemeat recipe is already on this site under its own post so check that out if you want to make mincemeat or you can buy a juicy jar most places around Christmas.
200g Plain Flour
115g g cold cubed butter
50g caster sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp almond essence
Place the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the butter in using fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Add the beaten egg and essence and using a flat bladed knife mix around until it starts to clump together, Use hands to bring it together into a ball and wrap in kitchen film. Chill in the fridge for thirty minutes.
100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
100g ground almonds
1 Tbs plain Flour
1 tsp almond essence
Flaked almonds for decoration
Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Assembly and Baking
Pre Heat Oven to 180c
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until the pastry is about the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 3,5inch round cutter stamp out twelve discs. Ease the discs into the greased holes of a deep cupcake tin. Place a tablespoon of mincemeat into the bottom and top with frangipane. Smooth the surface. scatter a few flaked almonds onto the top and bake for about 20 minutes until the frangipane has set and is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and the carefully ease them out and leave to cool or eat warm with a dollop of cream! Don’t forget to leave one out for Father Christmas!
At this time of year, when the days get shorter and the trees are starting to drop their Autumn leaves, we often look forward to making and enjoying comfort food. Most people consider comfort food to be hearty casseroles, stews and pies. This recipe is a cross between a casserole and a pie, it is easy to make and will appeal to people of all ages. It can easily be made vegetarian and with a few specialist ingredients, vegan too. The gravy is an interesting combination of sweet and sour using cider and balsamic vinegar as its base. Apple juice can easily be substituted if you don’t want to use alcohol.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon oil
8 thick pork sausages
1 large onion sliced thinly
3 carrots sliced or diced
2 sticks celery chopped
1 parsnip chopped
1 small leek sliced into rings
1 eating apple cored and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 heaped teaspoon honey
1 stock cube
Salt and pepper
1 Tbs cornflour mixed with water
200g SR Flour
50g soft butter or margarine
Salt, pepper, mustard mixture (tsp each)
1 egg beaten with 50ml milk
Pre heat oven to Fan 180 or regular 200, gas mark 6
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the sausages. Cook for a few minutes until well browned, do not prick the skins as this will keep the sausages juicy inside. When the sausages are a good colour remove to an ovenproof casserole dish. In the same frying pan add the onions (a little more oil if required) and cook until starting to look translucent then add all the other vegetables and the apple and cook stirring frequently for a few minutes. This will start to soften the vegetables. Add the salt and pepper to taste and the mustard and the honey. Add the contents of the pan to the casserole dish. To deglaze the frying pan, add the cider and bring to the boil, add the vinegar and the water, sprinkle on the stock cube. Pour this liquid into the casserole dish. Stir the contents of the casserole dish and cover with a lid or tin foil and place into the oven. Bake for about 45minutes until the vegetables are tender.
During this time make the cobbler. Add the butter to the self-rising flour and rub in with fingers tips, Add the seasoning and mustard. Add the egg milk mixture bit by bit until you can form a dough that will roll out. Reserve a little egg mixture for glazing. Pat or roll the dough until it is about 2 cm thick and cut out rounds using a small cutter.
When the vegetables are tender take the casserole out of the oven. Remove the lid or foil and pour in the cornflour water, stirring it all around. This will thicken the gravy. Place the cobbler rounds around the circumference of the dish. Brush the tops with a little egg mixture. Put back into the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the cobblers are risen and golden brown.
Well as promised this is the last blog of the current run. We have had such a great trip away and writing this blog each day has made me stay motivated to get the most out of everything. Today we have stayed onsite most of the time bar a bit of grocery shopping. I have got up to speed with some admin, remember a caravan can be lots of things and today it has been office.
I took a walk around the site here at Brighton. There are so many different styles of leisure vehicles around. Here are a couple of pictures of two that took my eye. The teasel shot was the hedgerow up on the top level where there are some gorgeous glamping pods. This site has three different styles of glamp to choose from, the new glamping ones here
These pods are very new and are very modern and well equipped, designated parking bays, bike shelters too. There are two of the more traditional wooden pods near reception plus two beautiful airstreams.
Brighton is a very popular site as the town has so many attractions on offer. Its such a brilliant idea to be able to hire a unit, excellent value too.
While I was walking about someone called my name. It was Tom that does the filming and what have you got for the Caravan and Motorhome Club, he was onsite with Bill from the online publication Caravan Times. We had a good old catch up, he is operating a zoom call for me with Matt Allwright next week so he was able to tell me a bit about how that will work out. Such a small world is campsite life.
The campsite has a playground for young children and a dog stretch leg area too. Didn’t see any children this time as its back to school now but plenty of great dogs, most of them just watching the world go by.
John and I had a quick boule off! I actually won, must be a fluke that as I am normally rubbish. This was a set of boule I bought for birthday boy as he was embarrassed playing with the plastic coloured ones we had in the van. So good to spend a day pottering around. Just one more sleep and one more dinner before we up legs, hitch up and go back to Wakefield.
Here is the last supper. Modified from a Rick Stein recipe its a Croatian casserole. I made it in the slow cooker, beef in balsamic vinegar with red wine, lardons, apples and dates, sort of a European sweet and sour.
So its home sweet home tomorrow, a journey of about six hours will just about do it. We have had the most fantastic touring trip and already planning the next one. Thanks for following my shenanigans and look forward to inviting you along again soon. Thanks to the Caravan and Motorhome Club wardens we have had the pleasure of meeting, some for the first time some from previous trips, Heidi Hi!
If you read my last blog then you are up to speed with the makeshift cake we made for Silke’s birthday. When we brought it out on the birthday itself it had actually shifted, if you look you can see it is sloping. Fortunately the rainbow propped it up so we just told Silke the unicorn was having a snooze. She was of course delighted with her cake, which is all that matters. Four year olds can easily HATE things if they take against things!
With a slice of sugary cake inside her Silke had plenty of energy that needed to be spent. A swift ribbon dancing session did the trick and then we sat down to a game of pass the parcel. After a few tears initially when the parcel didn’t stop with her every time she did eventually understand the concept and enjoyed us all getting a chance to unwrap a treat, I got a temporary tattoo (2 days later it still is firmly in place, so pleased I didn’t go with her wish of sticking it on my forehead). Of course by some miracle the final unwrap landed on her lap and she won the prize.
With the birthday celebrations finished we made our way back once again to the campsite. As I said before the buses in Brighton are so frequent and in all directions we never wait more than a couple of minutes and then the ride up towards the Marina where the campsite is takes about ten minutes or so.
Once off the bus there is a very pleasant ten minute walk over the park to get back to the campsite. Look what we found this time, on the tennis courts there appeared a pop up Covid Testing tent!
The next day the weather looked very good. We needed to go back to see the family again as this time it was Silke’s dads birthday and we were going to look after her so they could go out for a spot of lunch. We togged ourselves up for a brisk walk from the campsite into town. The sky was what I always call Brighton Blue and everything looks so cheerful and like a proper seaside with that sky as a backdrop. The walk takes about three quarters of an hour and its along the front pretty much all of the way. There is a little train that runs from quite close to the Marina down to near the Pier. It is called The Volks Train. https://volksrailway.org.uk/ The train was originally opened in 1883. It was invented by Magnus Volks and is the worlds oldest operating electric railway. So if you fancy taking the weight of your legs on the walk perhaps you could try this.
We carried on shanks pony and the next thing on my radar was this statue, who is it? this fine athlete?
We finally made it to the Pier. Not too busy today but everything was open and it is free to have a stroll along. Here is the link for you.https://www.brightonpier.co.uk/
of course this is not the first pier in Brighton. The original pier was opened in 1866. It is opposite The Grand hotel and was the first pier to be Grade 1 listed. It became derelict and was closed in 1975. The bad storms in 2002 caused lots more damage and then fires destroyed most of the remaining structure. Its framework still remains and we love to watch the massive murmuration of starlings at sundown.
My all time favourite funfair ride is the galloping horses or as it is properly called, a carousel. As we walked along I spotted it was up and running. The cost was three pounds so I hopped aboard. Everything was wiped down before you take a saddle and then the music fires up and off we went. I loved it, big kid!
Almost at our destination just two more photo opportunities to squeeze in the walk. The British Airways Eye360 can be seen from miles away. I have still not plucked up the courage to take a ride but it is on my list of must do things. On a bright day like today it must have been fab up there.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_i360 I decided today a selfie would have to do.
This photo is of this gorgeous bandstand that is registered for weddings. Underneath it there is a cute café with inside and outside seating. I have yet to see a wedding taking place but sure it would be so romantic, perhaps if I get married again lol!
It is our last day of this caravan trip tomorrow and we are staying on site. I shall take a few pics and post them on my last blog. We intend to have a game of boule, a few drinks and a gentle day doing nothing in particular, see you tomorrow!
Day 15, getting there readers, this blog is drawing towards its end, we have only a few more days then we head home once again. The weather did exactly what had been forecast and it hammered it down. There is something rather nice about being tucked up under a tin roof with the sound of wind and rain gusting about outside, I am not even kidding, it is cosy! I talked about September birthdays yesterday and how there seems to be an abundance of them. Our granddaughter Silke is four on September 25th. Each year I try to make her a decent cake, having been on The Great British Bake Off it is to be expected of me. Every year I fail. Its always because I am away from home, in the caravan. This year I forgot all my tools bar some nozzles. Due to the rule of 6 she cant have a party so we only needed a little something. Challenge was on to make something out of shop bought cake and icing using whatever I could fashion as tools!
Birthday girls mum is my eldest daughter Katharine aka Kit. Here you see we have bought a red velvet and vegan lemon cakes from the supermarket. Paul Hollywood detests even a shop bought sprinkle lol! We split the cakes and stacked them and then we start to cover them in buttercream from a tub.
We needed to smooth the buttercream around and an top of the cake. To do this I found a bit of laminated cardboard with enough flexibility to cope. Normally I would use a turntable but not one to be had or a lazy Susan so we just had to cope. If I had longer to chill the layers in a fridge it would have been better but birthday girls was only out of the house a short time and the cake is a surprise (surprise to me too as to how it will look in the end). For the eyes and mouth I just dragged a skewer with edible colour on the tip and hoped for the best. Lopsided if you look closely!
With the help of my nozzles that I had packed we frosted up a mane and tail. Trusty glitter sprays are always with me so they glam things up a bit. I had made the horn, ears, rainbow and letters at home using edible modelling paste and had sprayed and hand painted those so they make it look a bit better.
So that done we hid the cake in a cool place ready for the next day. We wrapped up some presents and John and I made our way back to the campsite. Fortunately in Brighton there is no shortage of buses and we only had to wait a couple of minutes with the rain thrashing down everywhere.
A quick gallop over the field in the park once off the bus and I was warm and dry with a glass of plonk once again.
Remember the Elkie Brookes song, Sunshine After the Rain? well within ten minutes of the last photo we had a double rainbow!! Quite apt since we are in rainbow Brighton and I had just done the rainbow unicorn cake, all well with the world!
Here endeth day 15, thanks for reading and same time same place tomorrow!
Day 14 of this caravan blog off is all about John. John my husband of thirty years looks forward to his birthday. He tries very hard to discover what his presents are and for sure would be trying to guess what they are. He was 73 yesterday…… unbelievable, how could that be? It seems the third week in September has the most birthdays, something to do with it being 9 months after Xmas, too many tipples maybe! Anyway, we have three birthdays in this one week and Johns comes in first. Last week you might remember that Terry cooked an eggs benedict when we were still in Malvern. I decided to do the same dish for birthday breakfast. It worked perfectly and we both ate every scrap.
After John had opened his presents and his six cards (as you get older you get less cards not more, unless you are Sir Tom lol) We got ready to go out for a couple of hours. Our daughter Kit, her partner Finn and the baby were collecting us to go out for a spot of lunch. The weather was blustery and showery so we got our cagoules on and out we went.
Our carriage collected us from outside the Caravan and Motorhome Club site here at Brighton and we drove just a couple of miles to Rottingdean. After trying to find a country style pub but failing to find parking we settled for a Greene King chain pub called The White Horse. It was perfectly fine. In fact it had a commanding view of the choppy sea. All Covid measures in place and fab people looking after us. John loves fish and chips so I gave in once again and had the same. We did discover they do a decent vegan menu too.
After such a big breakfast and lunch the next thing on our agenda was a snooze! We were dropped off at the site and got settled down for a couple of hours rest. John started to have a look at his presents. We call him Mapman sometimes as he is very keen on maps. Our girls had ordered an ordnance survey jigsaw of where we live for him, hours of fun ahead!
I needed to reset myself as I had volunteered to cook for the last of this seasons run of cook a long live with Great British Food Festivals. Normally I work with this company and do live cooking and baking demos at their food festivals up and down the country. With everything scrapped for this year they decided to do some fun cook a longs on YouTube. As it was Johns birthday I said I would demo my take on beef stroganoff. This involves setting my phone up and zooming using my tripod, here you see me setting up. below the pic you can see the link to take a look.
The recipe worked out for everyone and we had a good laugh along the way. You can still view all of the cook a long sessions on the Great British Food Festivals Youtube. We set the table and opened a very good bottle of Burgundy that our girls had given to John and tucked in once again.
After we had cleared away John started on his presents again, thank goodness not the jigsaw. I had bought him a book that Matt Allwright (him off telly) had published last month. Matt and I did a little forum together at the NEC caravan motorhome club show back in February and he is so lovely and I felt confident John would love the book. He does, glued to it! Look here he is… I bought it through Amazon, here is the link
So there we have it, for once a blog that is not all about me 🙂 Now I need to get myself organised for the next birthday looming, Silke turns 4 on day 16 blog, I need to sort a cake!
Day 13 started with a quick radio interview with BBC Radio Sheffield. All Bake Off chatter as the new series starts tonight. It is much heralded due to the filming conditions around a Covid bubble. Well done to Love Productions for pulling it off.
After that we needed to get some groceries. There is a big Asda close to the campsite here at Brighton or a Lidl, plus lots of small shops. On the way back into the site we spotted something new, hire bikes! Then lo and behold an Air Ambulance landed at the side of us. Very exciting for a Tuesday morning.
We had made plans to go to the beach today as it was forecast to be the last warm day of the current good spell. It is also the Autumn equinox so it seemed a symbolic day to have a dip in the briny. Our daughter suggested a quiet beach close to the campsite at Ovingdean. It was perfect as we had our little granddaughter Silke and baby grandson Nicu with us. We timed it so that we got there when it was low tide and we could have a poke about in the rockpools.
Then we found a patch of sand on the otherwise pebble beach. It was time for a bit of sandcastle building. Silke was determined to go it alone.
We had a snack from the very good small cafe and a cold drink and we waited for the tide to come in a bit so we could have a dip. The weather changed very suddenly and became over cast and cool. Autumn arrived, just like that. We stripped off and in we went. I must admit I took quite a bit of cajoling but once in it was perfect. There is something called grounding apparently which is best done in a body of water, good for the soul and all of that. I must admit it was very exhilarating, I loved it.
After we came out of the sea it was time to head back to the caravan and have a good hot shower in the facilities block and freshen up. The facilities here on the Caravan and Motorhome Club site are spotless, warm and even have piped radio playing! We had a cuppa and then headed into town on the bus. Remember it is Bake Off tonight and we were going to watch it at our daughters flat. We ordered in a takeaway, a very rare treat and settled down to enjoy. Silke went off to bed but baby Nicu stayed up a while, he is the most smiley baby ever.
We all thought the first episode was very good. The bakers were very relaxed and they did look to be having the best time. It is a very unique experience and the show is very special, iconic really. After we had dissected the show and had a couple of drinks we headed back home (caravan) ready for day 14, which will be Johns birthday, so more high jinx to come!
As you can see from the photo we are on the road again. Sun is so bright you can see Johns shadow there. A cracking morning weather wise and a smooth pack up and hitch up. We are heading 50 miles or so along the coast, we are Brighton bound! The journey did take about one and a half hours but we didn’t get stuck in traffic and it was all straight forward. We have been to the Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club site lots as our oldest daughter lives in Brighton and we visit often.
We arrived and were checked in without fuss. The covid guidelines were talked through and off we went to find our pitch. Hit the jackpot and found a large grass pitch and quickly it was legs down and look in (bingo parlance)
We were very keen to get into town and say hello to the family. We had a bit of lunch and then set off the ten minute walk over the next door park to get to the bus stop. parking is a bit of a problem in Brighton centre so we always hop on the bus. The buses run every ten minutes or so and John has a bus pass so its relatively cheap. We quite often walk it, it takes about an hour at a steady pace along the sea front. We passed the amazing Brighton Pavilion so I took a pic through the window, look!
We spent about an hour having a quick catch up with the kids and then retraced our steps to the bus stop back. We called at the shop for a pint of milk and in quick sticks we were back on site.
We had a few sausages and a couple of lamb chops and as the weather was fab we got out the Cadac. We have a Safari Chef 2 and it is perfect for us. In no time at all our tea was on the table and we settled down for another great evening in the caravan.
We have lots to fit in this week including a dip in the sea tomorrow as the forecast is set to change so I need to get that experience under my belt , Brrrr! watch out for tomorrows blog. I also need to be up early for an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield in the morning to chat about Bake Off!
So thanks for following the blog so far, bit of fun to come the rest of the week. Dont forget to tune in to watch the first episode of GBBO tonight!!
This trip we have been out somewhere everyday, unless it is a travel day. Today is our last day on this site at Rookesbury Park near Portsmouth. It is a Caravan and Motorhome Club site and is FabUlous. What makes it merit this description? Well its rural but close to everything you need, it is pretty, it is open and plenty of space. The facilities are so clean. modern and Covid secure. The natives are friendly and the wardens are top notch.
Now if you are reading this and are not of the camping mindset you might think this bit of blog is not worth reading, however I try to add a bit of something to hold your attention so lets hope for the best.
I spent the morning writing blogs and articles that were due in. Our caravan makes a great portable office, some people have one in their drive as an office!! After I got that admin done we had a stroll around the site to take some photos and then a bit of a sit down!
The sites are looked after by wardens. That sounds a bit officious and Dads Army ish but fear not, all the wardens we have ever encountered are great folk who do this job because they love the lifestyle. On reception today we were welcomed by Paul and Libby who are in charge here, with another pair of couples to support them and share out the duties with.
Everything onsite is clean, well very very clean and well organised. The sanitary blocks are spotless and beautifully equipped. In the shop on this site there was a great supply of groceries. In addition to this a fish and chip van (see day 9, we sampled) and a burger van visit each week.
The site has a designated area for customers heading to the ferries. It means you can get offsite at the crack of dawn should you need to. This site is very well appointed and organised, but not in a structured way, nothing seems formal, it is all brill!
So there we go, I have taken a walk around the site and taken those few pics. Next thing it is dinner time once again. When we are due to move sites I try to run down the contents of my fridge and food cupboards. I wanted to stay on site all day for a change so was determined to make something from siege stores. I found a roll of puff pastry, a pack of lardons, a few sausages, an onion, mushrooms, 1 leek, a few shavings of parmesan. This was fridge stuff. In the cupboard I had Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ketchup and salt and pepper. I also found a tin of potatoes and mushy peas! This is what I made.
A savoury plait! I just cooked up all the ingredients, oh I took the skins off the sausages and squeezed out the sausage meat first! Bubbled down in a frying pan then importantly cool it before wrapping it in the puff pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake! the tinned potatoes were sliced and sautéed and it was gorgeous. Some left over for breakfast too.
So that’s a wrap for Hampshire. It has been fantastic. Hitch up and away tomorrow…….
Yesterday was intense we went out for a full day. Today has been a bit more low key. That is fine by me, a different day and different pace. We have a friend Janise who lives quite close to this area, we are still in Hampshire! We met her years ago when we were out in France and we try to visit each other when we can. It is very easy to let friendships drift, especially where there is distance involved. Anyway we agreed a day and we drove over to where she lives with her husband Chris and a new puppy Star.
Look we even were wearing the same colour outfits! The new puppy is a year old so not so new but we had not met her before. She is a Rottweiler. Now these dogs sometimes get a bad press but Janise had a pair of dogs (a brother and sister) until recently and they were as placid as can be. Star of course being a puppy was full of beans and quite big already. We made friends and she settled down quite quickly and we relaxed and had a catch up.
We had a walk into Eastleigh and had a bite to eat in a lovely cafe called Kats. We had a massive breakfast each, it kept me going all day. We hurried back to the house as I wanted to catch a special something on YouTube going live at 1.00pm. What is was was a white wedding! Someone we know was getting married and because of the Covid restrictions had had to downsize the guest list. They had given out a link to enable the service to be viewed at home. That’s fantastic eh? What a Godsend! Janise soon sussed out the technology and cast the YouTube from her phone to the large TV screen. You have to be careful doing that though, last week I cast something to the wrong TV and it started playing over the road in an elderly couple’s sitting room! The service was so beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We both felt we should have worn a hat or a fascinator to join in properly.
We had to rush back to the campsite straight after the wedding as I had yet another online date, this time with Howard Middleton, the charismatic baker from Great British Bake Off a few years ago. We were doing a cook a long live, I was host and Howard was leading the event. We made the most gorgeous apple toffee puddings with a caramel sauce. We handed a few around to our caravan neighbours as we had too many to eat ourselves. This Wednesday coming I am leading and we are doing Beef Strogonoff. I will be cooking it live from my caravan at 7.00pm. My husband John’s birthday meal! Here is the link should you wish to join in or just view: https://cookalonglive.com/
Well I think that about wraps up day 10, another week to go, tomorrow we are having a day onsite. Need to do a little housekeeping and some admin. Catch you then!