Monthly Archives: January 2013

My Pre-Christmas Dinner 2012

I held my annual Pre-Christmas Dinner at the beginning of December.  My aim was to have it posted by Christmas… then the New Year… then within a month of the dinner… and now I’ve reached the point where all of these deadlines have gleefully sailed by and I have finally managed to sit down and “put pen to paper” as it were.

This year I had a theme to follow.  Chocolate!  With the new year I have finally left my boring office job behind and have made a very exciting move to work at York Cocoa House.  This is, in part at least, why I have been so busy and have not managed to post my special Chocolate Themed Pre-Christmas Dinner before now.

Green Pasta 1

For a starter we had Christmas Tree Raviolli.  Green spinach pasta stuffed with a wild mushroom, ricotta and cocoa filling.  To make spinach pasta you follow the same method as for regular pasta but you start with 200g fresh spinach and rinse it with water.  Put it in a pan on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the spinach wilts.  Put the wilted spinach in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain.  Give it a bit of a squidge with the back of a spoon to encourage it.  When it has drained you want to chop it into incredibly fine bits.  Just keep chopping at it.  You can practice your cheffy knife skills a bit!

Green Pasta 3

Then you take your wilted spinach, 1 egg and 250g pasta flour and mix it into a smooth dough with your hands.  Roll the dough, either by hand or using a pasta maker if you haev one.  Then you cut out Chritmas tree shapes from the dough and put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of one of your shapes.  Brush water round the edge and press another shape on top of the first to seal in the filling.  Repeat as necessary until all of your dough and filling is used up.

The filling was essentially finely chopped mushrooms and shallots sauteed and repeatedly reduced down with white wine, mushroom stock and eventually ricotta stirred through with 2 tbsp 100% cocoa grated in.  I was freestyling rather so I don’t have an exact recipe!

Turkey Roulade 1

For our main course we had Turkey Roulade.  I took a frozen butter basted turkey crown from Tescos and defrosted it, removed the skin and butterflied it.

I made a stuffing out of 400g italian sausage meat, 125g smoked bacon lardons, 100g bread crumbs, 75g dried cranberries, 3 tbsp cocoa nibs, 1 tbsp grated 100% cocoa, 1/2 tin of chopped chestnuts and 1 small egg.  Season well then mash it all together with your hands.

Spread it over the butterflied turkey crown.  Roll it up tightly.  Wrap the whole thing tightly with pancetta.  Roast the whole thing in an oven heated to gas mark 6 for 2 hours.   Slice and serve with seasonal vegetables of your choice.

Turkey Roulade 2

For dessert we had Black Forest Mousses.  I made Nigella’s Chocolate Mousse but with Cherry Liqueur instead of Cointreau.  Topped with a lick of whipped cream and scattered with cocoa nibs I spooned Amarena Cherries into the bottom of martini glasses before filling them.

Black Forest Mousse

It was a lovely evening with my mum, dad, sister and her new boyfriend, and let’s not forget the dog! I’m having fun experimenting with chocolate in a number of different ways now that I have discovered a whole range of possibilities that I never knew exited before.  This meal was a nice little way to dip my toe into those possibilities and I look forward to experimenting some more!


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Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Starters

Pork Pie

Every year for Christmas Mum likes to have a Pork Pie in for cutting at. Last year I bought the last pork pie in the shop after I left it a little late (read, Christmas Eve) and ended up with a 9″ monster! (Although, I think secretly Mum was a little pleased!) This year, having seen it on The Great British Bake Off and various blogs and magazines I announced that I was going to make the Pork Pie this year!


I went to the same butcher that produces divine Pork Pies for the meat and they were so helpful and encouraging. I got the meat minced by the butcher, which took almost all of the hard work out of it. You can, of course, buy the necessary pork from the supermarket but unless you have the ability to mince the pork belly and shoulder yourself I really must recommend you find a local butcher and explain to them what you’re doing. I’ve never been let down by my butcher, even though it can be daunting, be brave, tell them what you’re up to and they should be able to help you out.


665g pork belly, half diced to 5mm, half minced
165g smoked lardons or bacon, chopped to 5mm chunks
1kg pork shoulder, minced
1/2tsp ground mace
1 tbsp sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves

200g lard
220ml water
575g plain flour
600g hot chicken stock
12 leaves of gelatine
1 beaten egg for glazing

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C and grease a 23cm springform cake tin with a little lard.
– In a large bowl mix the meats and herbs with your hands until well mixed.
– Season very well with salt and pepper.
– Fry off a teaspoon of the mixture in a frying pan and test it to see if you think it’s tasty.
– In a saucepan heat the water and lard until the lard is melted.
– Add it to the flour in a large mixing bowl and mix, first with a spoon then knead with your hands, until it comes together into a smooth dough. Make sure all the lumps of flour are gone.
– Take 2/3 of the dough and use your hands to press it into the greased tin to cover the bottom and totally up the sides and a little bit over the edge.
– Press the meat into the pie to make sure it doesn’t have any air bubbles in in.
– Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough to approximately 23cm round.
– Cut a hole in the centre of the dough so you can pour in the jelly later.
– Brush beaten egg round the top of the pie.
-Place the lid of the dough over the top of the pie and press gently.
– Trim off any excess pasty and then crimp the edges with your fingers.
– Brush the top of the pie with the remaining egg wash.
– Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour 40 minutes.
– Leave in the tin to cool completely.
– Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes then squeeze out and add to the hot stock.
– Mix until all the gelatine has dissolved then leave to cool to room temperature.
– Use a funnel or a piping bag and insert it into the hole in the centre of the pie.
– Pour in the gelatine mixture a little bit at a time until the pie is full and can’t take anymore.
– Pop it in the fridge and chill overnight until the gelatine is set.
– Release from the tin and serve Yorkshire style with chips and mushy peas!


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Filed under Christmas, Easy, Mains