Thursday, 26 November 2015


Good Morning to you,

Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake

'There were plums and prunes and cherries,
There were citrons and raisins and cinnamon, too
There was nutmeg, cloves and berries
and a crust that was nailed on with glue.
There were caraway seeds in abundance
Such that work up a fine stomach ache
That could kill a man twice after eating a slice
of Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake.'

An Irish Christmas Song

Around this time of year, I can feel that little tingle.... the tingle, which heralds in, my favourite time of the year.... Christmas.

I start thinking about unpacking my Christmas decorations, and after a year of being stored in the loft,  it is always a joy to be re-acquainted with them

.... and then comes the fun part, the unwrapping of each Christmas decoration.  

The first thing we do, is check all the lights and I am always pleased when each string of lights, twinkle when plugged in. Although last year I had to say goodbye to a set of lights I have loved for a long time.  They were beautiful Christmas tree, candle lights, which I had bought in Germany. At a distance they were often mistaken for lighted wax candles. I have to say, they had been 'going home' for a while and although George had done his best to keep them going, in the end, we had to say farewell. Sadly, I have never found anything similar, but I am keeping my fingers crossed, that I might one day.

Now, as you know,  when our daughters come home for Christmas, I absolutely love making all our traditional Christmas foods.... but as they won't be with us this year, I will pare down my baking.  If I didn't, we would be eating Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and Mince pies, well into the New Year... and as much as I love a little indulgence over the Christmas, I really don't want to carry it through to the New Year.  

So although I will not be baking as much this year, I felt it would be nice to go back a couple of years, when we had the whole family for the Christmas festivities. To remember all the festive foods I enjoyed cooking for my family.... and you never know, you might find yourself incorporating one or two of the recipes into your Christmas celebrations.

The first thing on my list to make is always,

our Christmas Cake.  Now although I am not making a Christmas Cake for ourselves, I am baking a Christmas cake this weekend, to send to a friend who absolutely adores Christmas cake.  It is going to be delivered via the Royal Mail, so I am keeping my fingers crossed, that with a little padding, the Christmas cake will arrive in tact. 


If you click on the link, above, you will find the recipe and step by step instructions on how to make my Christmas cake.  

Once the cake has been baked, it is time for its weekly feed of brandy.  Then a few days before Christmas, it is time to

cover the Christmas Cake with marzipan.  I do love the flavour of almonds, so marzipan is certainly a hit with me, because there is always little bits and pieces left over for me to enjoy.

Once the marzipan had been left to dry for a couple of days,

it is time to move on to the icing and decoration of the Christmas Cake.  You can let your mind run free as far as decorating the Christmas cake is concerned, but, I bet your mind does not run as free as my father's did, one Christmas, many years ago.

Let me tell you a little story.... well it wouldn't be Ivy, Phyllis and Me! if I did not have a little story to tell.

When we lived in Cyprus, my mother, Phyllis, would always keep our English traditions alive. Like me, the first thing on her list of things to do, was to bake our Christmas cake. When baked it would be covered with marzipan, but the one thing she was never too keen to do, was the decorating of the Christmas cake. Phyllis always hoped that one year she would be able to pipe the words 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' on the cake, but this never happened, so she would always resort to a snow scene.  This is where she used the flat of a knife to create little peaks of icing which looked like snow..... does this resonate with anyone?

My father, who was a very creative man, decided that it could not be that difficult to create the effect which Phyllis desired.  So that year, it was agreed that he would take over the icing of the cake.  The Christmas cake was baked by Phyllis, then she covered the cake with marzipan. The final thing on her list of things to do, before she handed over the reigns to my father, was to make the royal icing. A batch of royal icing to ice the cake, and another batch, of a much runnier consistency, to pipe the required words onto the Christmas cake.  

The cake was duly handed over to my father, for him to complete the Christmas cake.

He spread the cake with Royal icing, which was a success... it was smooth. Flushed with that success, instead of waiting for the icing to dry before he wrote the words Merry Christmas, he decided to write the words whilst the Royal icing was wet.  Now this would not have been a problem if the icing for the writing had been white, but no, he was adventurous and had decided to add cochineal to make the icing red.  His steady hand was poised and he was doing well, he started writing 'H-A-P-P-Y and proceeded to write 'C-H-R-I when there was a gasp, there was a red blob. Yes the 'S' had turned into a blob.  He tried to remove the red blob, but the blob would not be moved, it started bleeding into the white icing, turning the white icing pink. Phyllis tried to help by adding a little bit of white icing to the mix, but the icing just turned a lighter shade of pink.  Not at all the look Phyllis wanted.... as if the pink blob was not disastrous enough, much to Phyllis' amazement, my father, proceeded to squirt the rest of the red icing, on top of the white icing and mixed the two colours together, thus producing a pink Christmas cake. He then decided, if the Christmas cake was going to be pink.... it should be a bright pink and not a pale, insignificant pink.... which if I am honest Phyllis would have preferred. So more cochineal was added, how on earth he managed to mix the icing I do not know.  We were all trying not to laugh and he could see us smiling, but he just ignored us and carried on with the task in hand.  Phyllis was not smiling though, she was doubled up with laughter, but my father ignored Phyllis. He continued trying to mix the red and white icing, which if I am honest took on a marbled effect. He then patted the icing to create a snow scene..... yes a marbled, bright pink snow scene.... and yes the very same snow scene, which Phyllis, was hoping to avoid that year. She said she didn't mind a white snow scene, but she never envisaged bright pink snow on the Christmas cake. 

My father was not phased, he continued to ignore us all and placed the little Christmas decorations on top of the pink Christmas cake.  He turned to us and said, 'Yes it's a little different, but it won't make any difference to the taste of the cake'. 

Well, I have to tell you, this pink Christmas cake became famous, because Phyllis and my father had invited friends to spend Christmas with us. The Christmas cake, was and still is, the centrepiece of the Christmas tea.... so there it was, our bright pink Christmas cake, taking centre stage.  When our friends saw the cake, there were hoots of laughter and thinking back, I don't think our friends ever let my father live it down.

Can you imagine.... a bright pink Christmas cake.

.... and the reason he never lived it down. My father was was a Sign Writer, which took a very steady hand.

Now, as with all things, when they go wrong, the more you try to explain, the funnier  the story becomes.... and this story became funnier with each telling. 

.... and did my father ever decorate our Christmas cake again.... well the answer to that question is no. He did not offer and Phyllis did not ask... after the pink icing debacle, Phyllis returned to her usual snow scene.... also returning to her traditional white icing..... without the words 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year'.

.... but as a family, we have lovely memories, of that very special pink Christmas cake.

....and isn't that one of the things we love about Christmas, the making of our family the time I served up cold carrots on Christmas Day.... but that's a whole other story.

Oh, just before I leave you, Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake sung by The Irish Rovers is an Irish Christmas song, which is very funny... you can join in with the chorus, as I have written the words at the beginning of my post.

.... and no my Christmas cake is not 'nailed on with glue'..... well no one has said anything..... mmm I think I'd better find out what everyone really thinks about my Christmas cake.... just as Miss Fogarty did, I hope I am not labouring under false illusions.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


Thursday, 19 November 2015


Good Morning to you,

For the past couple of years there has been a lot of discussion about how much food is wasted by the average family here in England.

How times have changed.

I remember as a child, my grandmother Ivy, and my mother Phyllis, did not waste a morsel of food. Any scraps of food which were left over, were always used the following day as part of another meal.

For instance, each Sunday, Phyllis would cook a roast dinner, which interestingly never included chicken, as chicken was far too expensive for the average family to buy. Any meat which was left over from the Sunday roast, was placed into the cold store to use the following day.  

I have vivid memories of Phyllis clamping her mincing machine, onto the kitchen table and then slowly, she would turn the handle, then feed the meat through the mincer. The resulting minced meat would then be added to a gravy. The potatoes were peeled, cooked and mashed to make a shepherds pie, other times the meat was added to vegetables and gravy to make a pastry pie.... nothing was ever wasted.  Her pantry was not laden with food, as ours is today, but she was, out of necessity, a very creative cook. Times were hard in the 1950's and remember the rationing of food, here in England, did not end until 1954. 

As children, we were never asked what we would like to eat, we were presented with food which Phyllis knew was good for us and what she could afford.  We were given three meals a day with no in between snacks. Back then it was breakfast, dinner and tea and once our tea had been eaten, that was it until the following day, when we had breakfast. 

It was a different story when we visited Nan Ivy and Gramps because I always had hot chocolate and a biscuit before I went to bed.... but my grandparents always spoilt us, as I'm sure you spoil your grand children.

So why do you think there is so much wasted food ?

Is it because, when shopping we shop with our eyes, which encourages us to  buy more food  than is really needed?

Is it the weekly shop itself, which is to blame, because again, we buy too much food, so when the end the week arrives, any food which is left in the fridge is thrown away.

Is it because, after a long day's work, mums and dads are so tired when they arrive home, that they are too tired to think about what to cook?

Now  please  don't  think  I am  being  judgemental, because I realise life is different today, but what concerns me is, I really  believe  that  there are many children, who are  growing  up, that will not know the pleasure of cooking, but  more importantly, they  will grow up thinking, it is normal to throw away unused food and that buying convenience food, is the only option open to them, and I, for one, feel that is such a shame.

So today, I thought, as I was talking about Phyllis, I would recreate a meal from my childhood which Phyllis used to make.  

.... and here it is, bubble and squeak.  Phyllis often made bubble and squeak with the left over Sunday vegetables. Now don't you just love that name.  I know most of you will know what bubble and squeak is, but just in case you have never heard of it, it was and still is, a way of using leftover food, to create another meal.  As a child I loved bubble and squeak. Phyllis told me that the name bubble and squeak came from the fact that the ingredients, when cooking, would bubble in the pan and make a squeaking sound. I know there are other explanations, but I love Phyllis' version.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to today is,

the very lovely, Canadian, Michael Buble singing After All featuring his  fellow Canadian Bryan Adams. This song makes me dance around the kitchen... I can hear you saying there are a lot of songs which make Daphne dance or sing, but its true, if I hear a piece of music that I love, I really do dance and sing.... the added benefit is that its a couple of hundred steps towards my daily quota of 10,000 steps.

So while I am organising my ingredients.... when you know what they are you are going to smile, I am listening to.... and yes, I'm afraid I have to say it, singing along with Its a Beautiful Day.


12 sprouts ~ pre-cooked
6 large potatoes ~ pre-cooked and mashed
1 onion chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried chillies (optional as
Phyllis would never have included chillies)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter


Finely chop the onion.

Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil 
into a wide pan

add the chilli flakes. Cook for a minute.
Add the onions and
cook until the onions are
golden in colour.

While the onions are cooking,
slice the cooked sprouts into

smaller slices.

Place your pre-cooked mashed potato
into a large bowl

add the cooked onions,

the sliced sprouts



mix every thing together.
Form rounds as big or as little as you want. 
Press the rounds to flatten them.

Place the remaining olive oil
the butter into a wide pan
and melt the butter.

When the butter has melted, place the rounds into the pan and gently brown.

 When one side is brown, turn over very carefully and cook the other side until it is golden as well. If you are worried that the bubble and squeak might fall apart, don't worry, brush some of the olive oil and butter onto the top of the bubble and squeak and place under the grill.

I then place them into a 140C oven to keep them warm whilst I cook the rest.

.... and when they are all cooked and ready to eat, George likes his doubled up.  So I pop some feta cheese onto the first bubble and squeak and pop the second bubble and squeak on top.

Alternatively if I am making them for Sunday breakfast, I grill some bacon and pop a poached egg on the top..... which is always a hit with George.

Did you by any chance hear the sound of the bubble and the sound of the squeak?

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


Thursday, 12 November 2015


Good Morning to you,

How lucky am I?

I spent a fabulous 10 days with Danielle in early October and then went on to spend a wonderful 6 days with Natasha last week.

.... my only complaint is, why does the time go by so very quickly... it seemed no sooner had Natasha arrived, then it was time for her to leave.

... but we did have fun together. On Tuesday, I took Natasha along to my sewing group, but, oh dear, we arrived a little late.... and can you guess why? 

You have known me for quite a while now, so I won't be offended.

Go on, be brave, just say it.

Yes that's right, we were late, because we just kept on talking, or nattering as Phyllis would say.

We were curled up in our chairs and we were wearing our pyjamas, (does this sound familiar by any chance) drinking our morning coffee.  We agreed a time to shower and change, but that time past us by, so we set a new time, and can you believe it, we ignored the alarm... yes we even set an alarm, until we had no choice, but to fly around the house and get ourselves ready.  We both kissed George goodbye and we raced out of the door. I think George was a little bemused by us rushing around so much, because he is so organised, but he does know what we are like.... he just smiles and leaves us to it.

We had fun at the sewing group and afterwards we visited our local vintage book shops, where we  found some wonderful old books... well quite a few actually. During our time together, we went into town and stopped for the odd coffee or two.... oh yes and we enjoyed some wonderful Italian food at Carluccio's. The food was fabulous, but the desserts.... they are just a little bit special.  I had the lemon tart.... and it was so delicious. There is nothing like good food and good company.... a recipe for a lovely evening.

We rounded off the week by attending the Remembrance Service at Newcastle's War Memorial.

We sang hymns and said prayers in remembrance of the men and women who had fallen in past and present conflicts.

At 11 o'clock, we heard the sound of gunfire from the guns of the 101st Northumbrian Regiment, Royal Artillery.

We bowed our heads and we remembered.

At 2 minutes past eleven, we heard another round of gunfire to mark the end of the 2 minutes silence.

Shortly afterwards, these words, were spoken by a veteran soldier,

"They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn":

A young cadet continued,

"At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
we will remember them."

And we all joined in
with the words,

"We will remember them."

When the Bugler sounded 'Last Post', I could not hold back the tears any longer, they just flooded down my face.... both George and I remembered our dear friends.

After the service, we hugged each other, wiped our eyes and gathered ourselves together, as it was time to take Natasha to the train station, to begin her journey home.  It is always a hard thing for me to say goodbye to our daughters. The time I spend with both Natasha and Danielle, is wonderful, but it also reminds me of how much I miss them both.

.... but I gave myself a good talking to, and reminded myself, that when Natasha and Danielle were growing up, I would tell them, that there was a big wide world waiting for them to explore.

.... and they both took my advice.... they are like George, they are both adventurers.

After saying goodbye to Natasha, George and I returned home.  I know I have mentioned to you before, that the house always seems so very quiet when our daughters have returned to their homes. There are no sounds of 'busy', there are no sounds of chitter chatter from our girls.... just quiet. You see, we get used to a noisy house and we love it.

.... but the days have moved on and we are returning to the rhythm of our own lives again.

So, to help this settling down process, I really needed to bake something which would be comforting.... and I feel sure you will agree,

that Apple Pie is the perfect pick me up.  Now some of you will love ice cream with your apple pie and some will love double cream, but today, what I need to make my apple pie perfect.... is custard, yes custard.... and Barbara, I have to tell you, I timed it just perfectly,  the skin did not even have time to form on the custard.... and it was scrumptious.

We are not making custard today, I will leave that for another time, when I have another recipe up my sleeve.  So today we are making apple pie.

.... but first, it's 'on with the pinnie' and the music I am listening to is,

the beautiful voice of Madeleine Peyroux.  I have featured Madeleine before, but her voice is so beautiful I felt it was time to re-visit the album.

I just know my French friends will so enjoy, listening to,

So while I gather my ingredients together I am listening to Summer Wind a song I love and I just can't help singing along to. Singing makes me feel so happy.



340g plain flour
85g unsalted butter
plus a little butter to butter the pie plate
85g shortening, I used Trex
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
plus 1 tablespoon to sprinkle on the pastry
1 egg yolk to glaze the apple pie


4-5 Bramley Apples
1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons of cornflour
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 160C if fan assisted.

I usually put the oven on after I have made the pastry and when I start peeling the apples.

You will need a 10" round enamel plate.


Sift the flour and

the salt into a large bowl.

Add the butter and the Trex to the bowl and gently rub with your finger tips until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

Add the caster sugar.

Using 1-2 tablespoons of iced water, combine the ingredients together.  

Sometimes I find I need 1-2 tablespoons of water,
 sometimes I need a little more.

Cover the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge
 for half an hour.

Now it is time to organise the apple filling.

Peel and core the apples and cut into chunky pieces.

Place the apple pieces into a large bowl filled with water and lemon juice.  This prevents the apples from turning brown.

Set aside for the moment.

Grind the cinnamon... I have a coffee grinder which is perfect for the job.  The only thing is, please don't use the grinder for coffee, keep it to grind spices as you don't want your spices infused with coffee.

Grate the nutmeg.

Place the cinnamon, 
the nutmeg, the cornflour


the demerara sugar

into a bowl and mix together.

Set aside for the moment.

Butter the pie plate.

Remove the pastry from the fridge
and roll out.
Cut around the edges, but leave a bit of an over

Return the pastry to the fridge, to keep it cold.

Remove the apples from the water and place on a clean tea towel.  Working quickly, gently pat the excess water from the  apples.

Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cornflour and sugar mixture to the apples and toss together.

Remove the pastry shell from the fridge and fill with the apples. You will find the apples will be piled high.
Brush the ege of the pastry with water to seal the pastry lid.

Roll out the pastry lid, but as we have piled the apples high, you will find you will need to roll out a pastry lid which is much larger than the plate.

Cut away the excess pastry around the edges and cut 4 leaves from the left over pastry. 

Brush the pastry lid with egg wash and arrange the pastry leaves on the top of the pie... brush these
 with egg wash.

Sprinkle with caster sugar.

Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden.  Ovens do vary, so check after 40 minutes of cooking.

Remove the apple pie from the oven and if you can bear it, allow the apple pie to cool a little.... I know, it's hard, because the smell of a baked apple pie is just fabulous and so tempting, it makes you just want to dive straight in and eat it.

 I've just had a thought.  Rather than waiting for
the whole pie to cool,

cut a piece of apple pie, leave it to cool for a few minutes, serve with your cream of choice,

You may have noticed in this recipe that I have used half butter and half Trex. The reason for this is, years ago when I first started baking, I always used Trex, then it was recommended that we use half Trex and half butter. Then it became the fashion to use all butter and just egg, without water to combine. For some reason or another, this time, I decided to use, half and half... I'm not sure why, I think my mind must have been on other things, but if I am perfectly honest, I think I prefer using half butter and half Trex, there seems to be a nice crispness to the pastry. The trick is not to use too much water as this will make the pastry hard. I asked George to do a taste test and he agreed. He said he loved the pastry.

Actually what he said was 'the pastry is just like my dad used to make'.... now you don't hear that every day.

Oh and before I go, just incase you are wondering who on earth Barbara is, well Barbara is a blogging friend who lives in France.... and we have one thing, amongst many others, in common.  We both love custard.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



Wednesday, 4 November 2015


Good Morning to you,

Oops..... apologies. 

My kitchen is closed this week. I know you will understand, when I tell you my lovely daughter, Natasha, is visiting. 

So take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...