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Peppermint Pettitcoat Tails

Peppermint Pettitcoat Tails

This is a delicious variation on the classic shortbread biscuit!  The name “petticoat tails” dates to the eighteenth century, and references the shape of the cookie, which is said to resemble a lady’s spread-out petticoat.

The Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy regales the following tale:  “‘An English traveller in Scotland and one very well acquainted with Frances states in his very pleasant book that our Club has fallen into a mistake in the name of these cakes, and that petticoat tails is a corruption of the French petites gatelles.

It may be so, but whatever their origins the fact remains that they are beautiful shortbread biscuits/cookies being perfectly crumbly and delicious!

Beautifully buttery and crisp shortbread triangles, flavoured with peppermint, I'll admit that they don't look very festive yet, but they will do come next week closer to  Christmas, as I plan on drizzling them with a chocolate and peppermint drizzle which will dress them up beautifully.

You can leave the peppermint flavouring out if you wish, giving you a plain shortbread petticoat tail, but the  peppermint really gives them a lovely festive touch.

You do NOT want to know the calorie count of one of these.  Trust me.   Let it suffice to say these are not healthy nor are they low fat.  They're crisp and BUTTERY!  Scrumptiously so.

Can you imagine a wheel of these, nestled amongst festively coloured tissue paper in a box for the holidays?   Tied up with red, green and white curling ribbons? 

*Peppermint Petticoat Tails*
Makes 8 servings

What afternoon tea would be complete without shortbread Petticoat Tails.  These are just that little bit more special with the addition of peppermint flavour.  Of course you can leave it out if you prefer yours plain.  Short and buttery.  Delicious!  

250g butter, at room temperature (1 cup plus 2 TBS)
100g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
250g  plain flour, plus extra for dusting (1 3/4 cup plus 1 TBS)
100g cornflour (2/3 cup cornstarch)
1/2 tsp salt
icing sugar to dust

Put the butter, sugar and peppermint extract into the bowl of a food processor.  Blitz until the mixture is pale and creamy.  Sift together the flour and cornflour.  Stir in the salt.    Tip the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the  mixture begins to form small clumps.  Tip out onto a lightly floured board.  Bring the dough together into a ball without overworking it.   Place into a 9 inch fluted tart tin with a loose bottom.  Gently press out evenly in the tin using floured fingers and a light touch.   Mark into 8 equal wedges with the tines of a fork.
Place into the refrigerator to chill for half an hour.  Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.

Place onto a baking sheet and then bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.  Leave to cool completely on the tray.  (I like to re-prick with a fork about five minutes after I remove it from the oven for each of breaking into wedges.)  Allow to cool completely in the pan.  Dust with icing sugar.   Will keep nicely in a tightly covered tin for up to 5 days.

What friend or neighbor wouldn't smile broadly at such a gift!  You can bake several of these ahead and freeze them, tightly wrapped until the day you want to give them away.  Guaranteed to make you popular with everyone!  Bon Appetit and Happy Holidays! 

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Marie Rayner
Curry Deviled Chicken

Curry Deviled Chicken

This is a riff I did today on my old Deviled Chicken Recipe that I thought turned out really, really nice.  In fact you could call it finger licking good!

I like to use free range chicken pieces.  Today I used chicken leg quarters.  You slash the meat to the bone so that the marinade flavours can get right into the chicken.

Its as simple as mixing together all the marinade ingredients and tossing the chicken pieces in them and leaving them for about an hour before banging them into a pan and roasting them in a hot oven.

If you don't want a sticky clean-up, line the dish with some aluminium foil first.  Clean up will be a real breeze then, with no soaking required.

This is simple, quick, easy and delicious. Todd really loved it, even more than my regular version.  Do use  a good quality mango chutney for this.  I like Geeta's because it has lots of lovely bits in it. 

*Curry Deviled Chicken*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

Chicken which is marinated in a spicy curry marinade and then grilled or baked until glazed and succulently finger licking good. 

6 chicken drumsticks
6 chicken thighs
1 TBS oil
3 TBS good mango chutney, finely chopped or mashed
(I like Geeta's)
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp English Mustard (hot)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp curry powder
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

With a sharp knife make several slashes deep into the chicken pieces, cutting down to the bone.  Mix the oil, chutney, Worcestershire Sauce, mustard, cayenne, ginger, curry powder and seasoning together in a bowl.  Add the chicken pieces, tossing to coat them well with the marinade.  Cover and let stand for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. 

Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet, brushing them with any extra marinade.  Bake in the heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp, deeply golden, sticky and the chicken is cooked through.  (The juices should run clear if pricked with a fork.)  Serve hot or cold, as desired.

Easy peasy lemon squeasy.  Just what you are looking for on these hectic busy days in the lead up to Christmas!  I served it with some baked potatoes and mixed veg, but it would certainly be right at home with a Pilau Rice as well!  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner



Looking for some beautifully simple recipe inspiration for entertaining this Christmas and New Year? Then look no further. Mary Berry’s has created a range of delicious new condiments that promise to tickle taste buds throughout the festive season – and beyond.

First up, Mary Berry’s Redcurrant & Mint Jelly is the perfect accompaniment to seasonal lamb or venison, but so much more besides, including as a key ingredient in the following seasonally appropriate dishes:

Duck with redcurrant & mint sauce – pan fry duck breasts to brown and transfer to a small roasting tin. Mix redcurrant & mint jelly with a little water and pour over the duck, roast for 10-15 minutes and allow to rest before slicing and serving with pan fried pak choi, pouring over the baking juices to serve.

Gammon, kale & redcurrant stir fry – fry sliced red onion with sliced smoked gammon steak until golden. Add blanched shredded kale, a can of butter beans and some redcurrant & mint jelly and cook for a few minutes. Great served with mash or rice.

Meanwhile, Mary Berry’s Horseradish Sauce is toastingly hot and the perfect partner for a succulent Christmas roast beef. Or simply add a dollop of horseradish sauce to thinly sliced tomatoes, chopped basil, sea salt and mix for a tasty seasonal appetiser. Alternatively, follow these simple recipes, which are sure to warm the cockles of any guest:

Hot smoked salmon pate with melba toast – in a food processor, blend kiln roasted salmon, some natural yogurt and horseradish sauce together to create a coarse paste. Serve with hot melba toast.

Smoked mackerel, potato & cannellini bean salad – mix chunks of smoked mackerel, cooked and sliced new potatoes and cannellini beans into some lamb’s lettuce and toss with a dressing made from mayonnaise, white wine vinegar and horseradish sauce.

Horseradish roast potatoes – parboil chunks of King Edward potatoes and toss in oil or melted goose fat, some horseradish sauce and seasoning and roast in a hot oven until golden. Great for Sunday roasts – or even Christmas dinner.

Last but not least, Mary Berry’s Hollandaise Sauce is made with free range eggs and is sure to get seasonal parties off to a devilishly good start if mixed with a little crème fraîche to make the base for Devilled Eggs. Finish by stirring in a few tablespoons of Mary Berry’s Apricot & Peach Chutney and a tablespoon of paprika, before seasoning well and generously spooning into halved boiled eggs.

Alternatively, this beautifully smooth and velvety hollandaise sauce is the perfect base for a host of delicious festive holiday breakfasts, including

Smoked salmon & hollandaise bagels – spread halved and toasted bagels with a little hollandaise sauce. Top with cucumber slices, smoked salmon and a spoonful of extra hollandaise sauce.

Or why not try stirring a tablespoon of Mary Berry’s Hollandaise sauce and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard through scrambled eggs just before serving?

All three new Mary Berry’s condiments are available in Tesco now (RSP: £1.50 per jar).

For more information about the Mary Berry’s range of sauces, dressings and chutneys, visit Mary Berry's Foods.
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Marie Rayner
Hot Yorkshire Pudding Sandwiches

Hot Yorkshire Pudding Sandwiches

So I had some leftover brisket the other day and I thought about making a hash with it and the leftover veg, or hot sandwiches.  I quite like a hot roast beef sandwich, but then the wheels started turning in my head and I thought to myself  . . .  what if I used large yorkshire puddings instead of bread???  What if Indeed!  WOWSA!

This is probably the most inspired idea I have had in ages.  The Yorkshire puddings are perfect for this. They have lovely built in cups to hold whatever you put into them.  I put a quantity of heated leftover cooked swede/rutatabaga in the bottom one and ladled on hot roast beef and gravy.  You could use any vegetable you want or even no vegetable if you wanted . . .

That was topped with another Yorkshire pudding into which I ladled additional gravy . . .

Just look at how it lovingly cups and holds that hot gravy  . . .  and how it sits to pretty atop that beef filling on the bottom . . .

A few homemade oven chips or roasties on the side and some additional veg and we had a dinner fit for a King, or at the very least a Prince, and everyone was very, VERY happy!  Do plan ahead as the yorkshire pudding batter mix needs to sit at room temperature for about an hour prior to using.

*Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches*
Serves 4 

This is a hot roast beef sandwich that I came up with to use up some leftover brisket last week.  I though to myself why not use yorkshire puddings instead of bread.  Why not indeed?  Delicious!  

about 1 pound of leftover roast beef, thinly sliced
a quanitity of leftover cooked veg (I used mashed swede/rutabaga) 

For the gravy:
560ml beef stock (3 cups)
35g plain flour shaken with 120 ml cold water (1/4 cup flour shaken with 1/2 cup cold water)
(Shake together in a jar until smooth)
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp each onion, and garlic powder
1 TBS red onion chutney or something comparable
1 TBS creamed horseradish sauce 

For the puddings:
2 large free range eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups milk, at room temperature (308ml)
1 cup flour (140g)
a little oil or dripping
To serve:
cooked vegetables
fat oven chips or leftover roasties

If you are baking oven chips, or making your own, put them into the oven with the oven for about 15 minutes before you put in your yorkshire puddings.

Preheat your oven to 230*C/450*F/ gas mark 7.

To make the puddings - Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning.  Beat your eggs together in a large measuring jug until very light.  Whisk in the milk.  Sift the flour into a bowl along with the salt.  Make a well in the middle and add the wet ingredients all at once, pouring them into the well, and then whisk them in, slowly incorporating the dry mixture from the sides until you have a smooth batter.  Now, this is the important bit . . . COVER IT AND LET IT SIT ON THE SIDEBOARD FOR ONE HOUR.

Place a small amount of oil or dripping into each cup of 2 yorkshire pudding pans, each with 4 holes. (Alternately you can bake it in a large shallow roasting tin as one piece which you cut into squares later).   Place the tins into the hot oven to heat up until the fat is hot and sizzling.  Remove from the oven and quickly divide the batter amongst each hole, filling them about 2/3 full.  Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until well risen, browned and crispy, reducing the oven temperature by 5*C/10*F every five minutes. 

While they are baking make the gravy and heat the meat and vegetables.  To make the gravy bring the beef stock to a simmer.  Whisk in the flour/water mixture.  Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk in the onion powder, garlic powder, horseradish and onion chutney.  Add the cooked beef and heat gently.

To serve place one yorkshire pudding onto each of four heated plates, cup side up.  Fill with a portion of leftover veg and some of the meat and gravy. Place another yorkshire pudding on top and ladle a bit of gravy into the cup until it spills over a bit.  Lay the chips and additonal vegetable aside the puddings and serve immediately.

Its very easy to make your own oven chips.  Just peel some large potatoes and cut into large wedges.  Shake them together in a bag with some seasonings (I use seasoned salt, garlic and onion powders and black pepper) and then throw them onto a lightly oiled baking tray spreading them out.   Bake for about 30 minutes at a high temperature until golden brown, giving them a stir every now and then.

Altogether this is a really delicious way to make leftovers taste even better than the original meal.  You will find your family really loves these!  If you don't want to make your own yorkies from scratch, then use a good quality already baked one that you just re-heat.  But do try to make your own. They are not all that hard. I promise!  You could also use leftover gravy if you happen to have any instead of making your own.  This is really good anyway you make it!  Bon Appetite!

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Marie Rayner
Another Pot Roast

Another Pot Roast

We were supposed to have some people over for a late lunch early supper the other day and I had bought a couple of small briskets to make for us all to enjoy.  Alas the weather interfered with our plans and so I froze one of the briskets for another time, and cooked one for Todd and I to enjoy on the day.

I didn't do it in my usual way this time.  I found a recipe for a pot roast in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook entitled "Comfort Food Lightened Up".   I had to adapt it big time because it called for things I didn't have or want to use, but the basic concept sounded good and so I used it as a backbone for what I ended up doing in the end (with most delicious results, I might add!).

Normally I cook my pot roasts in the slow cooker, but I didn't feel like dragging it out on Friday.  I did this in the oven.  You can see it resulted in lovely tender meat, but sliceable meat, which was great!  In the slow cooker it takes a lot longer and the meat falls apart so you can't really slice it. The original recipe had called for browning the roast first and for using a boneless beef chuck roast.

Even lightened up it came in at over 500 calories a serving, so I used brisket, which is a lot leaner, and I did not brown it first.  I just seasoned the meat all over and then lay it on top of some sliced raw onions in my La Creuset covered casserole dish.

Then I stirred together some beef stock, tomato sauce/passata, and a bit of brown sugar.  I added some prepared horseradish and Dijon mustard, and some celery salt.  This got poured over top and then it roasted covered in a moderate oven for about 3 hours or so.

At the end I took the meat out to rest for a time, while I simmered the pan juices on top of the stove until they got as thick as I wanted them to be, with the end result being a delicious onion sauce that we were able to spoon over our tender slices of beef.  It was really lovely!  I served it with mashed potatoes, mashed swede (rutabaga) and cooked carrots.  Todd was in man-meat-and-potatoes heaven!

*Another Pot Roast*
Serves 10

A delicious pot roast which baked up tender and moist with a very tasty sauce/gravy for spooning over. 

5 pound boneless rolled brisket roast
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
240ml beef stock (1 cup)
240ml tomato sauce/pasatta (1 cup)
1 TBS soft light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp celery salt

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Rub the roast all over with the crushed garlic, salt and black pepper. 

Place the onion in the bottom of a heavy flame proof oven casserole (I use a La Crueset enameled round roasting dish).  Place the roast on top of the onion.  Put the broken bayleaf in the pan. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour around the roast in the dish.  Cover tightly and roast in the preheated oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, at which time the roast should be quite tender.  Remove the roast to a platter and tent with foil.  Discard the bay leaf. Place the roasting dish over medium heat and simmer briskly until the sauce is of the desired consistency.  Serve the roast sliced with some of the sauce spooned over top.  

I like to serve this with potatoes (mashed or boiled) and a cooked vegetable . . .  carrots, peas, swede, etc. 

You could of course add peeled halved potatoes, and carrots in with the meat for the last hour of roasting.  I don't though as Todd enjoys his mash and my roasting casserole was not big enough to put much else in it.  This is really delicious however and a bit different than my usual pot roast.  Tune in tomorrow to see what I did with the leftovers.  You are going to love it!  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Cinnamon Spice Applesauce Bread

Cinnamon Spice Applesauce Bread

I had some applesauce that needed using up yesterday and so I baked us a spiced applesauce loaf.  I adore loaves like this.  They smell heavenly when they are baking, making the whole house smell gorgeously welcoming, and they are moist and delicious!

I really despair of the lighting this time of the year.  It is cosy to a degree, but it makes taking good photos in natural light very difficult.  Or maybe I just need a new camera . . . .

I tend to think it is just the poor light.  In any case, don't let my lack of great photos put you off from baking this lovely loaf.

Its easy and quick to throw together and bakes up a dream.  Do make the spiced honey butter to spread on it when you sit down to enjoy  . . . .

Its also delicious and perfect on this tasty bread, and on your toast, your scones, your pancakes, your waffles, etc.  The two of these together are pure bliss.

*Cinnamon Spice Applesauce Bread*
Makes one large loaf
(9 inches by 5 inches loaf tin)
Moist and delicious, this smells heavenly when it is baking.  If you think it is browning too quickly you can tent with some foil for the last 15 minutes of bake time. 

2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
120ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
240g apple sauce, unsweetened (1 cup)
1/2 tsp cinnamon extract (alternately you can use 1 tsp cinnamon)
2 tsp vanilla
50g soft light brown sugar (1/4 cup packed)
145g granulated white sugar (3/4 cup)
30g sour cream or plain yogurt (1/4 cup)
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
245g plain flour (1 3/4 cups)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp baking powder 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf tin and line with baking paper.  Set aside. 

Whisk together the eggs, oil, applesauce cinnamon and vanilla extracts, both sugars and sour cream.  Whisk together the ground cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, flour, soda and baking powder.   Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet just to combine.  It should be evenly moist and a bit lumpy.  Pour into the prepared loaf tin. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 m inutes, until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, tenting with foil during the last 15 minutes if you think it is getting too brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin on a wire rack for half an hour before lifting out of the tin to cool completely. This delicious loaf will keep, tightly covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days.  Cut into slices to serve.

*Spiced Honey Butter*
Makes about 3/4 cup
This is fabulous spread warm tea breads, toast, scones etc. Very simple to bake and will keep for several weeks.  

125g room temperature butter (1/2 cup)
85g creamed honey (1/4 cup)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon or to taste 

Put everything into a bowl and beat it together well with a wooden spoon.  Store covered in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature before using.

There is nothing more comforting than sitting indoors on a cold snowy/sleety day and enjoying a warm slice of this with a hot cuppa.  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner

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